Jurassic Park III (2001) Directed by Joe Johnston. With Sam Neill, Tea Leoni, William H. Macy, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, Bruce A. Young and Laura Dern.
Steven Speilberg vacates the directors chair for this second dino-sequel, handing the responsibility on to Joe Johnston, himself a former special effects-man-turned-director of other big screen success’ such as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Jumanji.
Bringing a sense of continuity, Sam Neill returns to the series after sitting out the second film, reprising his role as paleontologist Dr Alan Grant. Essentially, what the film is, is a PG-rated version of James Cameron’s 1986 masterpiece, Aliens. We meet Neill’s character as he is suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress following his first encounter with dinosaurs in the original film. The plot then conspires to have him, somewhat reluctantly, travel back to the scene of his horror as a guide. Once there, he finds a child who has survived against the odds, alone. After that, it becomes a struggle of family vs family, as the characters face-off against a clan of velociraptors, after unwittingly stumbling into their nest. Still, it reminds us what a memorable film Aliens was.
There’s very much a feeling of film-making by-the-numbers with Jurassic Park III. It isn’t really interested in being its own film, preferring to keep plot at arms length – so to cut the foreplay and get straight to the action. With a thankfully light running-time of just 92mins, this is pure B-movie territory, as the characters are plunged back on to a dino-infested island. It’s very much like watching a theme-park attraction do its work, as an air of inevitability presides over the entire experience.
As has been tradition with these films, the visual effects are a mix of CGI and physical, while John Williams’ grand, memorable main theme is faithfully replicated by Don Davis. In the end, Jurassic Park III is a pretty safe bet. It doesn’t take any real risks and more or less ticks every box it sets out to in a distinctly businesslike manner. The grandeur of Speilberg’s original is hinted at, but the film feels ultimately like more of an afterthought. 2.5/5