An Amblin Entertainment / Universal Pictur Starring: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, and Bruce A. Young Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg Based upon characters created by: Michael Crichton Screenplay by Peter Buchman and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor Director: Joe Johnston Director of Photography: Shelly Johnson Live Action Dinosaurs by Stan Winston Special Effects by Michael Lantieri Technical Advisor / Paleontology Consultant: Jack Horner
All images and logos for Jurassic Park III are (tm) and (c) 2001 by Universal Studios and Amblin Entertaiment, Inc.
It is a pity that Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot are no longer available to review movies for Mystery Science Theater 3000, because Jurassic Park III is the sort of film that deserves a full "MST3K" treatment. Let me blunt: Samuel Z. Arkoff and Roger Corman have made better movies than this B- comedy.
Jurassic Park III is a funny movie, but scary it is not. Scientifically (even science fictionally) accurate it is not. Original it is not. BAD it is.
The closest thing that Jurassic Park III has to bold originality is that "the black guy" doesn't die first -- he dies second. (Well, fourth, actually, but the two Hispanics who die at the beginning of the film get it during the Prologue, and we don't actually see them get chomped, so they don't really count.) Indeed, non-Whites don't seem to count at all in this movie. The government of Costa Rica, one of the world's leaders in environmental and conservation programs, is, as in all of the other Jurassic Park movies, shrugged off as something of so little consequence that any (White, Anglo) private citizen from the U.S.A. can ignore its orders, violate its borders, etc. This contempt is highlighted in the absolutely ludicrous final scene, a deux ex machina of low-brow idiocy unworthy of a grammar-school story-teller.
The movie is not without some merit: William H. Macy is somewhat funny as supposed millionaire-adventurer "Paul Kirby," and Sam Neill does well in his thankless job of reprising his role of "Dr. Alan Grant," this time trying to balance him as a character who is written as equal parts Indiana Jones and George of the Jungle.
It is this very humor which kills Jurassic Park III as a science fiction film, an adventure movie, a thriller, a horror flick, or whatever else audiences who are paying good money to see it are expecting. Any frisson of terror raised by Stan Winston's dinosaurs is flushed away within moments by some cheap wisecrack or scene of buffoonery. Jurassic Park III plays as a comedy, and it doesn't do a very good job of it. A prime example comes near the very beginning of the film, when Laura Dern, returning as "Ellie," but functioning solely as a corporate shill and vehicle for ridiculous coincidences and sloppy story short-cuts, excuses herself from a conversation with Dr. Grant with an aside that her publisher is worried that she will lose a book contract with Jack Horner. Jack Horner is the paleonotology advisor for the Jurassic Park movies. Doesn't knowing that make Ellie's comment a hysterically funny "in-joke"? No, it doesn't. Another knee-slapper is that after spending a large sum of money recruiting mercenaries and hijacking Dr. Grant, Paul Kirby is told by Dr. Grant that his prior experience with Ingen's "amusement park monsters" was on Isla Nublar, not Isla Sorna, where Kirby has taken him. Tee hee hee! And after Kirby went to all that trouble and expense to get him, we all learn that apparently nobody had bothered to read Dr. Grant's books, or any newspaper articles about his experiences, or even listen to him when he was making a speech about his theories. Tee hee hee . . . so not funny. . . .
With all of the jokes (some of which do work, though) and slap-stick clowning around, not even Stan Winston's dinosaurs can hold the audience's attention (or imagination) for more than a few moments when they are not actually on-screen. The scariest dinosaur in this movie winds up being Barney (tm). Yes -- that Barney. Injected into an intense moment of suspense on Isla Sorna, the sight of Barney -- and the horrible possibility of children in the audience suddenly singing songs from his television show -- becomes more frightening to adult audience members than anything happening back on Isla Sorna, especially since the utter simple-mindedness of this movie makes it apparent that nobody important in the cast is going to die -- nobody -- this movie is so obviously written to appeal to the absolute lowest common denominator of audience members (as the ending demonstrates) that anyone who has ever seen a movie before, or read a book, or heard a story told knows that none of the "heroes" will die; things like that don't happen in simplistic stories like this -- they just don't -- ever.
It simply isn't worth paying money to see Jurassic Park IIIin a movie theater. Pass it by.
With the rise in theater ticket prices and the growing international audience of our page, our old NW2: Not Worth $2 (U. S. dollars) to W8: Worth $8 rating scale has become less useful than previously, so, in line with the scale used by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) we have adopted a scale of 1 star to 10 stars, with "1 Star" being a VERY bad movie, and "10 Stars" being a movie classic. Our On-Line Reviewer, however, has gone where IMDb has never gone before: he has added a score of Zero for those movies which are so bad that they are not even good "camp" -- movies so bad that not even "Mystery Science Theater 3000" could could make them worth watching.
On this scale, anything rated "7 Stars" or above is definitely worth the cost of a theater ticket, "8 Stars" is worth standing in line to buy a ticket, "9 Stars" is worth standing in line in a driving rain rainstorm or severe heatwave or moderate windstorm to buy a ticket, and "10 Stars" is a movie worth driving hundreds of miles to go see -- at least in Dr. Shea's own opinion. Accordingly,