FILM REVIEW // Jurassic Park III

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Published June 18, 2015 for the film review site I created, Crowd vs. Critic. Each film is reviewed twice, once from the Crowd perspective for its entertainment value (Popcorn Potential) and once from the Critic perspective for its Artistic Taste.

CROWD //

“There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness.”
—Frank Capra

The Lost World: Jurassic Park may have had some storytelling problems, but it’s hard to call it a snooze-fest. Even if some of the characters didn’t gel the way they were intended to, it kept viewers on their toes until the dinosaurs would pop out from the shadows for their next attack.

Jurassic Park III avoids many of the issues that movie never overcame, but its worst crime is far greater: it’s just plain ol’ boring. If Lost World scrambled ingredients in the wrong proportions, III is the movie that forgot to add seasoning.

You can find many of the same elements as in the other films: Threatening new creatures, resourceful kids, moral gray areas. In this installment, however, motifs have been recycled until they’re worn out. The new main characters (played by William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, and Michael Jeter) don’t bring anything fresh the to the franchise, and if any of them meet his or her predictable death, it feels largely inconsequential. None of them even play the consistent comic relief.

The new flying pteranodons bring a few moments of excitement and suspense, but we’ve seen velociraptors creep up behind our heroes and T-Rexes thump onto the scene many times before, and in cleverer ways. (You know you’re not doing something right when T-Rexes feel like old news.) And if that wasn’t enough evidence, just consider that the soundtrack ends with a Randy Newman song called “Big Hat, No Cattle.” It probably sounds just like you imagine it. (Maybe it was cut from the Toy Story soundtrack?)

The most original part of this movie is the poster, with slashed claw marks creating the III. You can get a good shot of it at the end of the trailer. In fact, I would recommend just watching that if you want the SparkNotes version of the best parts. Unless you’re really set on watching every Jurassic Park chapter or you need some background noise while you do housework and it happens to be on cable, I can’t recommend turning on a movie you’ve already seen done better two times before.

POPCORN POTENTIAL: 6/10

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CRITIC //

Let’s play a game of Good Decision/Bad Decision with these 5 scenarios:

  1. Good decision or bad decision? Parasailing with a kid right next to an island that is known for being the home of dangerous dinosaurs.
  2. Smart idea or silly idea? Lying to a dinosaur expert so he will take you to said island to save this said kid who crashed parasailing.
  3. Sound logic or flawed logic? Not doing enough research to realize the said dinosaur expert has never actually been to said island before.
  4. Awesome plan or dumb plan? Being said dinosaur expert that has witnessed firsthand the terrors of said dangerous dinosaurs, yet still going to said island because money.
  5. PhD thinking or elementary thinking? Repeatedly screaming, running off by yourself, and/or not following directions of said dinosaur expert on said island with said dangerous dinosaurs while searching for said kid.

I could keep going, but I think we will know the answer to any scenario put before us. (I didn’t even get to the part where someone steals velociraptor eggs.)

Jurassic Park is a series dependent on its characters making awful decisions, but Jurassic Park III takes it to the max. In addition to introducing a slew of players who are mostly empty-headed except when the plot demands that they aren’t, they somehow manage to dumb down the only major returning role, said dinosaur expert Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill).

Mind you, this same character rolls his eyes at luck, calling it “Reverse Darwinism, survival of the most idiotic.” He also preaches, “Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.” This is the same man who starts the movie saying “no force on Earth or Heaven” could get him to go to Isla Sorna yet makes the trip when someone he has no history with offers to fund his personal research. I want to tell you that was intentional dramatic irony on the writer’s part, but I couldn’t do it with confidence.

And you expect me to believe that Grant is dense enough to let Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) go sometime in the 8 years after the original movie so he can grow into a crusty bachelor, thus negating his character growth in said original movie? Nope, nope, nope—I refuse to believe it. I am deeming this movie non-canonical so I can continue believing they ended up together with a picket fence and 2.5 kids with dinosaur fetishes.

If your greatest fear for Jurassic World has been that it would tarnish the legacy of Jurassic Park, stop your worrying—it’s already been done. Thank your Reverse Darwinist lucky stars for Jurassic World. Otherwise the series would’ve ended in an era worthy of extinction.

ARTISTIC TASTE: 5/10

Photo credit: IMDb.com