Monday, June 6, 2022

Jurassic Park III (2001)

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Dinosaur aficionado Eric Kirby (Trevor Morgan) gets the gift of a lifetime as his mother’s boyfriend takes him parasailing in Costa Rica as close as possible to Isla Sorna where InGen’s dinosaurs are bred. Things go bad when their guides go missing and the duo crash land on the dino-inhabited island. Alarmed, his divorced parents Paul (William H Macy) and Amanda (Téa Leoni) pretend to be a wealthy adventurous couple and enlists the help of paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) by enticing him with full funding for his archaeological dig. He, in turn, takes his student Billy (Alessandro Nivola) with him, and they both discover the ruse as their jet crashes when they are attacked by a Spinosaurus. The mission suddenly becomes a fight for survival as the couple try their best to find their missing son while the scientists find a way for all of them to stay alive.

Oh no they did not. Oh. No. They. Did. Not. Kill the T-Rex??? You don’t kill the T-Rex! They killed the T-Rex. A showdown ensues as the humans try to escape and the Spinosaurus snaps our favorite dinosaur’s neck without much difficulty. Damn. It doesn’t make sense to feel bad for these predators since they would most likely eat you but hey, it feels like Jurassic Park killed its mascot. On the contrary, the velociraptors still get a lot of attention and even a subplot of their own, this time focusing more on their intelligence. Other than that, it’s the Spinosaurus doing all the terrible stuff in this threequel.

This third installment was critically panned when it came out in 2001 and up to now is considered as the “black sheep of the franchise”. With a relatively shorter runtime clocking in at just an hour and a half, this is also the shortest in the trilogy. One can argue that it was just franchise fatigue at that point. After almost a decade of dinosaurs in the big screen, Jurassic Park III just doesn’t offer anything you haven’t already seen in the previous two. On the bright side, plot development here is faster and there is room for more comedy, intentional or otherwise, primarily thanks to Macy and Leoni’s all-out camp acting.

Despite the short runtime, Jurassic Park III also has some memorable scenes such as that aviary scene where the Pterodactyls get to hog the spotlight. Not only does that sequence make your heart race, it also gives you a better appreciation of the flying dinos. After all, most of their cousins in the first two movies have all been land-dwelling. Somehow, we also want to get to know the flying and swimming dinosaurs, you know. And so, that’s one highlight here that cannot be easily dismissed.

Despite its obvious shortcomings, nobody can deny that Jurassic Park III is fun. It feels like a cinematic roller coaster ride, akin to the attractions dedicated to and molded after it at Universal Studios. One can even argue that this might have been Hollywood’s first legit attempt in mounting a “requel”. Come to think of it, the film does look like its main purpose was to finetune the Jurassic Park formula. And finetune, they did. Perhaps the mistake here is that the movie came out too early. You need to at least allow the fanbase to miss it. Once nostalgia hits, clamor immediately follows suit.

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