JLFM - wrote on 06/02/13
*This review contains spoilers.*
Ever wondered what Jurassic Park would look like if it were made exclusively for kids? Probably a lot like Jurassic Park III, an almost unwatchable third entry in an otherwise solid film series. Lacking the fun, suspense, and overall entertainment value of the first two films, Jurassic Park III is filled with moments of unintentional humor, tedium, and disappointment all around.
Jurassic Park III begins almost identically to Jurassic Park: The Lost World. A few people are enjoying their vacation a little too close to the dinosaur-infested Isla Sorna, and ends in disaster. One of these unlucky victims is an unlucky boy named Eric. Eric's divorced parents (who curiously were not with the boy at the time of this accident) are determined to go to Isla Sorna and find him, despite the dangers. They also manage to trick Dr. Alan Grant to come along with them (as well as a friend of Grant's named Billy Brennan). As expected, chaos ensues when they reach the island and there doesn't appear to be a way back home.
I wonder if Jurassic Park III was initially planned as a children's film. The body count is much lower than that of the previous two films, and there's more chase scenes than actual violence. The characters seem more like cartoon characters than actual people, and the tone of the film feels more like a sitcom than a Sci-Fi action flick. Not to mention one scene that where three of the main characters are digging through dino doo, as well as an unbelievably awful dream sequence involving a talking dinosaur.
My theory is further supported by Eric, the 12 year old son of the Kirbies (the couple that convinced Grant to come to the island with them) who survives on the island by himself for eight weeks and proves remarkably resourceful. This is a dramatic change from the children of the previous Jurassic Park films, but not a positive one.
The fact is, the Jurassic Park films already require you to suspend your disbelief a bit, but Eric's impressive survival skills (among almost a dozen convenient escapes) pushes it all over the line.
On the bright side, Jurassic Park III doesn't have a the horrendously slow beginning that the first two films had. The original film took at least an hour to really get going, and it took The Lost World a good 40 minutes. In Jurassic Park III, the chaos starts in about 20 minutes (which also shortens the overall run time to about 90 minutes). Unfortunately, the "chaos" isn't much more exciting than the talking in the first 20 minutes.
While the first two Jurassic Park films were extremely suspenseful and unpredictable, Jurassic Park III is almost the opposite. Any and all "boo" moments can be seen from a mile away, meaning that successful scares are few to none. The action scenes are uninteresting and lack excitement. One scene in particular seems almost an exact copy of the "dangling trailer" scene from The Lost World, only much shorter, and lacking any suspense.
Much of the suspense comes from the small body count. Now, there's no right way to say this part, but here goes: More people needed to get eaten. I already mentioned that relatively few people get eaten, but it needs to be emphasized. Adding to my theory that this was initially supposed to be a kid's film, basically all the main characters live. At one point, it seemed Jurassic Park III might have changed it's mind and killed off a semi-important character, but we later discover the character didn't die at all (and I might add that this weak twist was also highly predictable).
The entire film seems very cheap and just thrown together. The special effects, while not bad, are far less impressive (and believable) than those of the first two Jurassic Park flicks. And editing seems to be rushed as I spotted a large number of continuity issues.
The acting is weak, though this has more to with the script than the actual performances. Because the characters in the film are mostly idiots (some seems unusually stupid), the actors appear to be idiots as well, which is something a film should never do. Especially irritating is Tea Leoni as Amanda Kirby, portraying the single-most stupid and annoying character in the entire Jurassic Park film series.
John Williams did not score this third entry (despite his involvement with the first two), which only adds to both this film's slopped together feeling, and my ever-growing respect for the composer. However, replacement composer Don Davis does a pretty commendable job at utilizing Williams' existing themes. While Williams refrained from frequent use of the original's themes for The Lost World, Davis uses them freely and frequently. The score isn't as skilled as either of the previous entries in the series, but it's plenty of fun, and includes some very spirited arrangements of the main theme (especially at the end).
Downright awful in almost every respect, Jurassic Park III isn't funny, isn't exciting, and isn't memorable. Having more in common with the Honey I Shrunk The Kid sequels than any of the Jurassic Park films, Jurassic Park III is a highly flawed and highly disappointing movie in just about every regard. And yet, this is not the end. After over a decade of being in Development Hell, Jurassic Park IV is finally getting made, which will hopefully wash out the bad taste that Jurassic Park III has left behind.