Jurassic Park III Review

20 July 2001

TITLE:			Jurassic Park III
DIRECTOR:		Joe Johnston
RUNNING TIME:		94 minutes
RELEASE DATE:		18 July 2001
Sam Neill		Dr. Alan Grant  
William H. Macy		Paul Kirby  
Téa Leoni		Amanda Kirby  
Alessandro Nivola	Billy Brennan  
Trevor Morgan		Eric Kirby  
Michael Jeter		Udesky  
John Diehl		Cooper  
Bruce A. Young		Nash  
Laura Dern		Dr. Ellie Degler 
REVIEWED BY: Joshua Gulch

(Out of 5 possible points)

It's been eight years since director Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs back to life in his blockbuster film Jurassic Park, based upon the novel by Michael Crichton. In 1997, a sequel followed in the form of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, also based upon a novel by Crichton. In making the third installment of the series, Jurassic Park III, Spielberg turned over the helm to Joe Johnston. Johnston, who specialized in production design and created the look of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, had tackled directing before with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Jumanji and October Sky. But was he capable of taking on the task of creating a new Jurassic Park?

The answer is YES! Spielberg placed the series in more than capable hands with Johnston, and in my humble opinion, Johnston produced a fine piece of work, earning a three and a half out of a possible five. While, no, it doesn't quite measure up to the original, and no, Crichton didn't write a book to accompany the movie, it's still a great film, and is definitely worth seeing, even if you "kinda liked" the first two. Where The Lost World didn't quite tie with the first, this chapter comes closer to matching what made the original so great.

The story premise is pretty simple. Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) visits his old partner Ellie Degler, nee Sattler (Dern). Yeah, they're no longer together and she's married and has a 3-year old son. Grant stops by to say hi and proposes to Ellie his new theory on Raptor intelligence: That they were smarter than they had ever thought before. After gabbing a bit, Grant scampers off to the new dig he's working on, where we meet Billy Brennan (Nivola), who's a student of paleontology under Grant. At the dig site we're introduced to Paul Kirby (Macy) who offers Grant dinner if he'll listen to his offer. Grant reluctantly accepts and later that night Paul and his wife Amanda (Leoni) manage to talk Grant into going with them on a fly-over of Isla Sorna for their wedding anniversary. Grant balks but only upon their offer to finance his dig does he agree to go. (Lest we forget that Hammond used the same maneuver to get Grant to Jurassic Park in the first film) Arriving at Isla Sorna, we meet Udesky (Jeter), Nash (Young) and Cooper (Diehl), who Kirby has also brought along. Of course, things go wrong and they're stranded. Through run-ins with various dinosaurs, the Kirbys finally come clean and admit that the intent of the journey was actually a rescue of their son Eric (Morgan) who was lost parasailing over the island. It then takes everything they've got to survive.

The action sequences, of which there are plenty are very well done, blending animatronic and computer generated dinosaurs with the live action humans. A fight between Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus ranks among the top sequences. The Raptors do a great job, and a scene in the aviary with the pteranodons in quite nice. All in all, it really is a good movie.

My problem was the ending. The final two minutes of the film left me feeling a bit sour, though. I'm not givin' anything away, so don't ask. But it could really have been done differently.

The music is also a plus. While John Williams chose not to return, being fairly busy with Star Wars Episode II, he turned the job over to Don Davis of The Matrix. Davis, having studied Williams' style, expertly blended the original Jurassic Park themes, giving them a few neat twists and also adding some new themes.

In the end, a very enjoyable flick, and highly worth catching sometime.


20 July 2001.

* * * * *

Admittedly, this movie seemed better when fueled by the excitement of opening day in the theater. On rewatching Jurassic Park III in the years that followed, I can't help but rank up more and more animosity for this film. The enthusiasm with which I initially wrote this article has not stood the test of repeated viewings.

8 September 2009.


Engaged 20 July 2001 | Updated 20 July 2001