Since Jurassic Park III is a sequel, I'd like to begin with a few words about the previous films of the series. I thought the first Jurassic Park was a fantastic film, blending great storytelling with amazing state-of-the-art special effects. The concept of a dinosaur theme park lends itself to many imaginative ideas, and the film was nearly as good as the book upon which it was based. The second film, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, was not quite as good as the first, but did have some great moments. The storyline concerning dinosaurs being hunted in their own habitat was inspired, the computer-generated effects and animatronic dinosaurs were more realistic than in the first film, and there were some good new characters, especially Roland, the big-game hunter. Also, there were many memorable scenes in which the hunters become the hunted. The low point was the Godzilla-like ending, but with a grand sense of wonder and awe, both films did succeed in portraying an incredible world where dinosaurs and humans dangerously co-exist.
Many moviegoers were less than thrilled with The Lost World, so when Jurassic Park III came along, I hoped that it would attempt to recapture some of the magic of the first Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, that magic remains lost. Jurassic Park III is a generic adventure movie on autopilot from beginning to end. Here is the extremely basic, by-the-numbers storyline:
1) People go to that dinosaur island again.
2) People upset the dinosaurs again.
3) Dinosaurs attack the people again.
4) People run, scream and get eaten by dinosaurs again.
5) Dinosaurs attack some more people.
6) More running and screaming.
7) Survivors get off the island again.
8) Audience is bored beyond belief.
There is absolutely nothing special about this movie. The script(?) was almost nonexistent, the special effects were not up to the standard of the previous films, and even the dinosaurs seem to have less screen time than in The Lost World. The sense of wonder present in the first two films, that captured the imagination of moviegoers, was nowhere to be seen. Why was this movie even made? Okay, I guess the ever present factor of hundreds of millions of box-office dollars had a hand in that, but couldn't there have been at least one new or exciting idea in this movie, maybe something we haven't all seen before?
Also, it appears that director Joe Johnston, the fine director of October Sky and The Rocketeer, doesn't quite have a handle on the action/adventure genre, as most of the supposedly shocking scenes go on far too long, making them more laughable than frightening. The rest of the film suffers from erratic pacing and surprisingly unimaginative direction, eliciting more yawn than awe.
So, while many movie reviewers may say that fans of the first two Jurassic Park movies will enjoy this one, I am a fan of the first two movies and I suggest that others be wiser than the characters of this sequel:
Don't go back to Jurassic Park!!!
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Written By: Peter Buchman - based on characters created by Michael Crichton
Starring: Sam Neil, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Laura Dern
Rated: PG-13 (Violent Dinosaurs / Gore)
Running Time: 92 Min.