Jurassic Park III (2001): **
Directed by Joe Johnston
You know, this really wasn't as bad as I thought it was gonna be. It's a pretty lean, trim, focused action flick. The action moves well, is easy to follow, and is relatively exciting. Joe Johnston has returned to his fine Rocketeer form after his disasterous Jumanji. There are a few really, really, dumb things, though (being able to hear a phone ring from about a quarter of a mile away... when it's in a dinosaur's stomach).
But the film is inexcusable. This script should never have been made. I'm not saying there shouldn't have been a Jurassic Park IIIoh, no, quite the contrary. In fact I would have been horribly upset if there hadn't been a third film. The franchise left itself too open just to die after The Lost World. But let me explain to you some basic sequel theory.
Each film in a series/franchise (unless it's a static series like the James Bond films, Sherlock Holmes films, or Dracula films, but that's a notable genre exception) should be somehow more than the film that came before it. One (crappy) series that gets this right is actually the Lethal Weapon series. For better or worse, each progressive film in that series got more and more crazy and over-the-top loony. But at least it progressed. The Phantasm films also get progressively more epic in scope.
Let's take a look at the progression of the Jurassic Park films. In the first film, all the action takes place on an island. There are about ten characters or so stuck on the island and all craziness happens. Okay. In the second film, there are a whole heck of a lot more characters. Dozens, I would say. The film starts out on and island wehre all craziness happens, but then at the end of the film a dinosaur actually gets loose on the mainland (in San Diego no less). Okay, so in the third film... there are only eight characters and it takes place entirely on an island. *Sigh*
This is exactly the same problem I had with Alien3. In a film series, each sequel should be somehow more than the film that came before it. In the first Alien film it was a crew of half a dozen versus one alien. In the second it was a small contingent of Marines verses around 150 aliens. So obviously in the third film it should be a small group of unarmed prisoners versus... a single alien. Again.
You can't have the promise of a huge epic with dinosaurs running around on mainland America like at the end of The Lost World, and then take an enormous step backwards like Jurassic Park III and not piss me the hell off. Jurassic Park III was just an excuse to patch together a whole bunch of action sequences that they weren't able to cram into the first movie.
Which is no excuse at all.
-Christopher Grant Harris
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