95. Jurassic Park III

JurassicParkIII1This is not what you might consider a ‘good’ movie, like a lot of sequels ahead, but it does feature a number of key elements that legitimize its place. Number one is Stan Winston Studios dinosaurs, an image of the film canon so wondrous it never threatens to lose luster, even after twenty-one years.

Here we have the return of Dr. Alan Grant after a strange protagonist-drop in The Lost World. Unfortunately, everything from The Lost World gets dropped here, so if you combine the two sequels, you might equal one Jurassic Park (but you wouldn’t). From The Lost World, we don’t have any of the mythology, explored I believe in the ill-fated game Jurassic Park: Trespasser.

Now, either you’re thinking — jeez, what a nerd. And giving that broke-ass game the time of day? Yes, I’m one of those nerds who explores the expanded universes of various properties. Or maybe you’re thinking — jeez, but you actually liked the mythology? Of Jurassic Park?

I know, it’s not the strongest material to base a ‘mythology’ on, but the idea of InGen as a kind of contemporary (in more ways than one) Weyland-Yutani is interesting to me. They’re a bad company, and what they’re doing in The Lost World is pretty dumb, but it does make for two things: visuals and ideas, motherfucker.

For the idea side, the whole ‘lost dream’ thing is appealing — nature triumphed. Sucks. For the visuals, The Lost World had some incredible overgrown resort and industrial space imagery that made for perfect, if often unexploited playgrounds for dinosaur action.

Jurassic Park III is back to basics, perhaps, but certainly is a film lacking in magic and wonder of any sort. We actually see what Dr. Grant looks like off an island and not at a digsite in the badlands. He doesn’t seem so legendary anymore — no longer anticipated by a guy examining the amber mosquito and comparing himself to ‘Dr. Grant.’

Also there, he didn’t end up with Dr. Sadler. I’m sure that put some fanfic back a few paces, but that’s one area I haven’t (yet) explored.

William H. Macy and Tea Leoni hire Dr. Alan Grant to help them rescue their dumbass kid, which should’ve played more like ‘help us recover his bones from a comically-sized mound of shit,’ but hey — this is a world where dinosaurs exist, and people seem largely unperturbed. I guess for most, they don’t exist until they’re up-close and hissing.

Jurassic Park III is notable for daring to suggest a villain even greater than T-Rex, even though the Velociraptors were always the more insidious threat. I suppose size matters (lol) to kids, who want to see a big dinosaur, and not one of those leaf-eating fruits with the necks.

We introduce here the Spinosaurus, and the thing about introducing a new villain to the Jurassic Park canon is that one would have to consult both the fiction and the science. This movie didn’t seem to do the latter, unless Dr. Horner was on vacation that day. Look at the jaws on that thing. It was designed for fishing, not biting down on other large dinosaurs. Yes, it’s bigger than the Tyrannosaurus, but so is everybody. If the Giganotosaurus didn’t look identical, you should’ve gone with that.

Not that I should really complain, because it is cool, and the T-Rex vs. Spinosaurus fight is the major contribution to film this movie gives us. It’s like every paleo-nerd’s wet dream, realized before only in ludicrous ‘documentaries’ on the Discovery channel.

But for a paleontologist, that Billy was also taking vacation. “It’s some kind of superpredator,” Grant says. Billy guesses, “Suchomimus?” No, bigger. “Baryonyx?” What are you kidding me? Just look at a size chart! That’s worse than the typos in the first movie. And how, when considering that class of dinosaur, not think Spinosaurus first? Come on, Billy. You’re worse than the people who built this place.

That’s our cue for human drama.

Oh, who am I kidding? I saw this movie in theatres, so I must’ve been six. Every scene of this movie is classic to me, deeply embedded. It would be like if Phantom Menace sucked only as hard as Attack of the Clones.

But instead of Jedi, it had fucking dinosaurs.

6 thoughts on “95. Jurassic Park III

  1. I don’t remember much about this movie; I really just remember the horrible deus ex machina ending, where OH MY GOD RUN WE’RE NOT GONNA MAKE IT, oh look someone showed up to rescue us, the end. And someone suggested that Alan should have a dream in which a raptor speaks to him, and for some reason that person was not fired on the spot. It felt sort of like a TV pilot that somehow wound up in theatres by mistake, didn’t it? Oh well… I don’t remember ever feeling embarrassed for everyone involved, which is more than I can say for Terminator 3, so they must have been doing something halfway right.

    1. JP III and T3 are so analogous — ‘farmed out’ to different directors, and completely atonal. Spielberg movies, especially the adventure ones, feel a certain way, and Johnston’s sequel has little of that magic. T3 is much worse — Jurassic Park III is the worst a JP movie could be will still being good, but Terminator 3 torpedoes everything good about T2

      1. I used to hate T3 for reversing the “no fate” message of T2, but then I remembered that T1 was arguing pretty heavily in favor of fate, so that doesn’t bother me anymore. (If anything, T2 is the outlier in that regard.) What still bothers me about T3 is how lazy the whole thing feels. There’s at least a passion and energy behind JP3 because Joe Johnston was clearly a fan and wanted to be there, but everyone in T3 seems like they’d rather be somewhere else, anywhere else, and the laughable dialogue they’re given doesn’t help. Even T4, with its awful script, was more enjoyable. I can at least watch that one for the action scenes, if little else. T3 feels dull as shit even when it’s blowing up an entire block of downtown LA. JP3 is forgettable, but there’s nothing I hate about it. T3 is just loathsome. I can abide a bad movie that was at least trying, but I have no patience for cynicism.

        I only recently checked out the TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I avoided when it was on the air because the trailers looked awful. I blew through both seasons pretty quickly, and while I’ve got my usual list of nitpicks and complaints, I can say that overall it’s a far, far better follow-up to the first two movies than the last two. The action scenes are never anything more than decent, but it makes up for that by having the common courtesy to actually understand the characters. In fact, at certain points it even starts acting smarter than Cameron’s films: toward the end, it starts to argue that trying to prevent the inevitable advent of the machines is stupid and naive, and that we should make more of an effort to work with them, to incorporate them into our lives, and to understand them better so that they won’t want to kill us. Not bad for a broadcast TV spin-off of an old action film franchise that nobody really expected anything from.

    2. The show benefitted from showrunning by not only a pro in Josh Friedman, but a good writer — no doubt he had a hand in making 2005’s The War of the Worlds more intense than anyone expected. While the second season did drag a little bit, it was overall a pretty good show.

      As far as female representation on television, it’s a far cry from what I’ve read of Headey’s latest work, but that’s not really her doing. And then again, Sarah Connor is as old as strong female characters anyway — so no revolution there

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