For the third installment of the Jurassic Park trilogy Steven Spielberg stepped aside (while remaining on as an Executive Producer) which made way for Joe Johnston. Johnston quickly made his impact on the franchise by making his film, Jurassic Park III, a very different movie from its predecessors. Jurassic Park III functions as a survival movie more than anything else. While there were segments of the previous films that were similar, the difference here is that it’s all this movie actually is. This time around a divorced couple Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) travel to Isla Sorna, looking for their son Eric, who crashed there while parasailing. The Kirbys were accompanied on their search by some mercenaries (that I guess were there to protect them, which they did a poor job of), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and his assistant Billy (Alessandro Nivola). This is the premise of the story and while it’s simple, it is also affective. Survival stories don’t need complex narratives, the narrative just needs to make sense and this one does. That simplicity leaves plenty of room for action set pieces and a lot of fun, which is what Jurassic Park III thrives on.
Jurassic Park III is a lot of fun. The survival aspect is both thrilling and exciting. Once everyone gets to the island the pace picks up and stays pretty consistent throughout the movie. The movie only slows down for short reprieves from the action and never stays slow long enough for it to get boring. It essentially moves from one action set piece to the next and that makes for an entertaining ride. The characters also work for an entertaining story. William H. Macy provides a little comic relief and Tea Leoni is always fun to see. Sam Neil is great to see in this environment and Alessandro Nivola is fun because he carries most of the action. The other movies spent some time on the dinosaurs themselves, while this one doesn’t really bother with any of that. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III are simply predators, nothing more, nothing less. This plays into the action affectively and leads to some scary set pieces. Those set pieces are really the only reason to watch this movie and the only reason I enjoy this movie.
Make no mistake; Jurassic Park III is not a good movie. The screenplay isn’t overly clever and there isn’t much depth to the story at all. If you are not into survival movies or this type of action, then you’ll probably hate this movie. There are plenty of corny scenes and some odd dialogue and characters arcs. However, this movie isn’t really about any of that. Jurassic Park III is simply meant to be a good fun time at the movies and on that front it’s successful. It’s short and doesn’t spend too much time getting to the action. There isn’t anything to think about and it never gets old. This is one of my favorite bad movies and it’s a movie that I can watch at any time, simply for its mindless entertainment. If you like mindless entertainment, especially if it involves dinosaurs, then give this a chance (or another chance). Just don’t think about it and you’ll enjoy it.