Main cast: Sam Neill (Dr Alan Grant), William H Macy (Paul Kirby), Téa Leoni (Amanda Kirby), Alessandro Nivola (Billy Brennan), Trevor Morgan (Eric Kirby), and Laura Dern (Dr Ellie Settler)
Director: Joe Johnston
Jurassic Park III is more of an epilogue than a sequel. It screams “dinosaur field trip”. It, after all, occurs over what seems like only a few days, has a simple plot, and is nothing more than a series of action sequences glued together, but surprisingly, it works.
Dr Alan Grant, last seen in the original Jurassic Park, declares that nothing will drag him back to that island again. But when Paul Kirby and his wife Amanda offers him a choice on any number Alan wants on that cheque, Alan and his student/apprentice Billy are soon on the plane to Isla Sorna. Amanda and Paul seem to be an adventurous couple who wants nothing more than an air tour around the dinosaur-plagued island. No problem, right?
The plane lands, they encounter the gigantic Spinosaurus that puts the T-Rex to shame, and soon all is revealed: Paul isn’t a multi-millionaire, he runs a small plumbing/kitchen/bathroom business, he and Amanda are divorced, and they actually are looking for their son Eric. In the opening scene, we’re shown how Eric gets stranded in Isla Sorna.
The plane has crashed, and now all they need to do is to (a) find Eric, and (b) get to the coast. No biggie. All they need to do is to handle the ever-pursuing Spinosaurus, crash a pterodactyl tea party, and play in a velociraptor court. Fun. There are many fresh meat in form of disposable secondary characters, and don’t forget Eric, the obligatory spunky kiddie that takes the place of the family dog in this type of adventure stories.
It’s obvious Sam Neill is in this just for the money. He looks bored most of the time, and his sanctimonious one-liners (“This is how we play God… you are no better than the people who created this site…”) just grate on my senses. William Macy at least is very watchable as the loser who tries so hard to be a hero to his ex-wife and kid, and Téa Leoni, in a thankless role as the stupid, screaming bimbo, still manages to shine. And that Eric boy is decent too in a Walt Disney super kid hero way. Alessandro Nivola barely registers as Billy. Laura Dern, however, has a delightful cameo as Dr Sattler, although the ending makes me wonder if she isn’t a spy for some secret government agency.
The plot is nothing to get excited over, but the action sequences are cool. The pterodactyls just rule, and they are scary and plain evil. The spinosaurus is a disappointment, however, while the talking velociraptors sound like asthmatic chickens. Funny for all the wrong reasons. Maybe because Jurassic Park III doesn’t try too hard to be intellectual – it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a “We want your money!” action monster movie – it works very well.
Oh, and that Fargo tribute when Amanda and Paul meet Alan, that one is great too.