14.8.07

movie review: jurassic park 3

the flood continues to keep me stranded in salmond hall
haven watched nearly all the jurassic park series lately it seemed about high time i finished them off. while i'm at why not finish my review of the series too?

the other two jurassic parks by steven spielberg were a real treat to watch from the perspective of a dinosaur, but with the third installment a new director was brought in to bring the mesozoic to the future... would it carry on the lost world's trend of being an amazing dinosaur movie (from a dinosaur perspective mind you) or would it fail to meet the high standards of the jurassic park franchise...
let's find out...

Jurassic Park 3

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Summary of Review

(Remember this is all from a Dinosaur point of view)

Score: 20%

Good Points:

  • The most extensive non-documentary cast of dinosaurs EVER in one film!
  • amazing herd scenes with a realistic mix of animals (especially from my home province of alberta!)

Bad Points:

  • The casting of most of the main theropods begs to question why isn't this movie called "Jurassic Park 3: Attack of the Fish Eaters"
  • overall this movie sets dinosaurs back into the olden days of dinosaur films. showing us as nothing more then mindless killing machines
  • an extremely inaccurate portrayal of it's main theropod antagonist spinosaurus
  • The exclusion of any meaningful herbivorous dinosaur scenes or moments, except for the brilliant herd scenes.
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Plot

this film centers around palaeontologist extraordinaire alan grant from the first movie once again, and his own exploits on island site B (the lost world... check out my opinion on this topic in my lost world review).

unlike the other two jurassic park movies which had some minor plot points that were mostly ignorable this one has some HUGE ones that even i picked up with my tiny brain...

the first of these is the beginning scene of the movie. a human father and son pair are paragliding off the shore of site B when suddenly something terrible happens to the boat that is towing them. the boat driver has been somehow eaten causing the boat to crash and the two to glide onto the island. setting up the story that is about to happen.

as to what ate the boat driver or how it caught up to a motor boat at full speed is never once addressed which is a little silly. even i could have written something better then that! none of the dinosaurs in this film (or any dinosaur frankly as we all live on the land) are capable this sort of speed swimming, and there aren't any marine reptiles in jurassic park (mozzies can't bite water animals without drowning and if cloned and put in the ocean these guys would be all over the world anyway).

so with that "great" start to the movie we join dr. grant in the middle of a press conference talking about how palaeontology isn't dead despite living dinosaurs being around for study. he's kinda down on his luck, and could really use some money to keep digging fossils.

right then a solution appears in the form of a couple who want to hire him to be a tour guide on a fly over tour vacation of site B. initially grant refuses, but after some manipulation by his assistant is persuaded to go.

in the middle of flying over the island suddenly the airplane lands causing grant to freak out...


thirty seconds after landing all the convenient extras and the airplane are eaten in a surprise attack by the new saurian foe of the film spinosaurus...

we are treated to an extreme demonstration of this new theropod's menace in which it trashes the plane, eats all but the main billed humans, and even fights and kills a tyrannosaurus rex (which to be honest would be impressive, but i rant about this shortly) all in it's first 3 minutes of screen time...

as to why it chases JUST the humans for the whole film makes no sense. after ridiculously killing the t-rex mr. spinosaurus ignores the huge feast of rex carcass for a futile and silly pursuit of tiny snack sized morsals... which being human weren't even in his diet 95 million years ago


the plot then just becomes an ongoing chase around the island with the humans being a single step ahead of the super spinosaurus.



in the midst of this they find the island B cloning lab, and dr. grant is shocked to discover that spinosaurus isn't on the official cloning list... meaning it was cloned some other way... even i know that makes no sense! you can't copy something you don't have! and why didn't ubber predator spinosaurus show up in the other movies?



in the lab suddenly the band of humans runs into a pack of raptors... who sad to say... were the highlight of the movie. they take up chasing the humans... not wanting to be left out of the chasing human games (it's possibly going to be a new sport in the next summer olympics!)...


just when it seemed we couldn't enough chasing in the humans run amok some pterandons. after losing a human in the bird cage the humans pick up where we left with the spinosaur...


right when all hope seems lost the humans get the raptors to stop chasing them by giving back some eggs they stole? (wait what happened to the spinosaur? since when were raptors the problem?) to make the raptors happy again dr. grant talks to them through a fossil he had?


yeah with a brain the size of a peanut this doesn't make sense to me either...


right when i thought the movie was making too much sense the navy shows up to save everyone... all cause of a two second phone call... man humans in movies are both smart and efficient...


ugh so now i have to review that... oh man...


Dinosaur Stars and Celebrities


well one thing i have to give this movie is the cast list itself is pretty awesome... if not for terrible execution there was some real potential in here. the majority of the dinosaur extras and side characters could make up a pretty sweet dino movie in prehistoric alberta!

Ankylosaurus- first of the albertan dinosaurs on the list. this is not the first appearance of a tankosaurus (my name for them... cause man they are just no fun to try and kill), but their first appearance in a jurassic park. too bad they were only seen in the background this film cause even though it is scary when they use that tail club of theirs against us theropods, it would be cool in a film...

Brachiosaurus- well after unrealistic delusions of grandeur from the attention it got in the first jurassic park the brachiosaur was written out of the sequel due to ridiculous salary demands, but comes back to find itself back in the third installment. the rumoured reason was after not only missing out on the lost world, but then being a very minor token appearance in walking with dinosaurs' jurassic episode, brachiosaurs was desperate for any work they could get in hollywood. this time around they only get a bit part... though the full on jurassic park theme is played for this appearance which is more then the other herbivores in this movie can say...


Ceratosaurus- these primitive horned theropods are no stranger to the screen (i say their primitive not cause i disrespect them... well okay maybe a bit... but because they have 5 fingers... theropod freaks!) having appeared in nearly half of classic dinosaur movies. here in their first major modern appearance they get very minor roles and next to no screen time... right when their set up to join in the great human chase they are chased away by the spinosaur... oh well... who'd want to watch a freak show anyway...



Compsognathus the tiny coelorosaurs are back, but are in this movie only show up a couple of times on screen.

Corythosaurus one of the prettier of the duck bills from alberta FINALLY makes a none documentary appearance in this film. it surprises me as their dinner plate crest gives them a very nice look that lends its self well to the movie screen. sadly these guys are only really seen in the herd scenes of the movie...

Parasaurolophus the most famous of albertan duck bills returns making him one of the few ornithischian to be in all three jurassic park films... however like all the other plant eaters in this film these guys are only extras in the herd scenes...


Pteranodon these flying reptiles are no stranger to film, but after a brief cameo in the lost world the public demanded a more prominent role for these guys in the third JP. as of such they get a big long action chase sequence in a big metal bird cage.

Spinosaurus has remained ignored by hollywood despite he's being around since the turn of the century. the fin backed fisher from africa breaks out big in JP 3 having a scene fighting down us T-Rexs. Though this introduction of spinosaurus went down well with human movie goers, spinosaurs took a big hit to their reputations within the theropod community. by taking this ridiculously inaccurate role and popularizing an image of spinosaurids that just isn't true ALL other meating dinosaurs have lost a lot of respect for the fin backs, who frankly have become a second class of saurian these days because of it (helped all the more by the fact plant eaters as a rule don't get along with any meat eaters)


Stegosaurus enjoying a triumphant return to the movies with the lost world are mitigated to a mere extra on this film...

Triceratops just can't get a break in the jurassic park movies. either their seen completely pathetic and powerless or their a bit cameo player. Nothing changes in the third chapter with these guys only showing up in herd scenes...


Tyrannosaurus returns to the third installment, but for a very noteworthy and EXTREMELY controversial cameo. my cousin larry arguably mr. jurassic park himself returns to this film but for only a 2 minute appearance. the story behind this is an outrage to the whole theropod community, and has had lasting effects on the jurassic park franchise. i'll tell you about it in a second.


Velociraptor jurassic parks gem untapped talent find return as the secondary villains of the film. ironically due to the handling of this movie overall the raptors that were in the other two films detrimental to dinosaur image and perception have somehow become the highlight of this movie.

so that's the cast. in written form this is an amazing cast, and reading all the promotion as a young hatchling i couldn't wait to see this movie like so many other living dinosaurs. what none of us knew is what a disgrace this film would be...


you see the politics and dealings that went into this movie were a nightmare. i remember listening to my cousin larry's tales of this at a family reunion (the fact i listened should tell you how interesting they were... me and larry don't get along so much... what with his being a big JERK! and all).


steven spielberg departed the franchise for the most part as of the lost world taking with him his normal crew meaning a new one had to be assembled for the third film. immediately they called for a bigger and better cast which filled the dinosaur community with excitement as news came they were planning to showcase many new species. it was looking to be another great addition to the jurassic park franchise


there was only one problem. this new team had no experience working with dinosaurs, and only a slight bit more knowledge about them. meaning they had no clue who they were working with or how to best portray them in a culturally sensitive manner... now granted we dinosaurs are used to this from hollywood, but we were expecting a lot better from a jurassic park movie (which by this point had built up a reputation).


the director interested in expanding the theropod component of the jurassic park mythos (why i'm not sure... we already had a carnivore for every 2 plant eaters, and we theropods need a lot of prey... adding more into this fictional ecosystem didn't make much sense) looked up the largest meat eaters. he was interested in a meat eater called spinosaur that he found on this short list, that slightly out sized a tyrannosaur, and had an idea...

if his movie had a bigger badder carnivore then speilberg's then his jurassic park would go down in history as the best. the casting crew set out and found a spinosaurus who was more then willing to take the star billing in a JP film.

initially the movie had called for an ongoing tyrannosaurus presence, and if i understand larry's version of things would have had the spinosaur appear later in the film and take out the t-rex to demonstrate it's power.

had giganatosaurus been a known entity in those days and cast in this part larry might not have taken offense. giganatosaurus is a large prey hunter too, and a tyrannosaur can respect losing out to one of them (possibly).

the thing is spinosaurs are NOT large prey hunters... their fish eaters!!!

larry reading the script flat out refused to appear in the film instantly after reading the battle scene. somehow larry was able to, no one is quite sure how, convince every other tyrannosaur not to accept the role either due to the insult (but it is public record how almost every other t-rex was approached... minus me cause i'm too small... stupid hollywood!). this left the new team in a pickle.

they had intend to over shadow t-rexs in the film, but had counted on still having some in the film. without an appearance of the franchises long standing stars the public might not shine to this new film. desperate they entered negotiations with larry that at any cost they must have him appear in the film. larry stated for every minute he was on the screen it'd cost his entire salary from the lost world. much to larry's surprise they met this... for two and a half minutes!


larry grudgingly took the part (who wouldn't?!? he's easily the richest dinosaur in the world now), but was a very vocal critic of the movie before and especially after its production. due to this incident larry's relationship with speilberg was weakened to the point that jurassic park 4 is only just being made now!

spinosaurus enjoyed a brief moment in the spotlight as a false mega theropod, but lost this attention shortly with the emergence of a new large carnosaur named giganatosaurus who more rightfully deserved recognition.

if only this negative saga had stayed off screen... however the dinosaur rookie crew of JP3 had a lot more mistakes to go...


Dinosaur Portrayal

the best way to describe this movie portrayal-wise is ATTACK OF THE FISH EATERS!!!

not only is spinosaurus a fish eater turned terrestrial killer, but so is pteranodon.


now some of you out there might think traumador you're splitting hairs over this. fish is meat therefore these guys can kill and eat any kind of meat, but trust me as a large prey hunting guy whose tried catching fish i'm not equipped to do that at all, and it is vice versa!

in the film spinosaurus is faster then a speeding tyrannosaur, more powerful then a triceratops, able to smash solid metal cages in a single bunt. now in fairness spinosaurs are lighter built then us T-Rexs and could probably run faster then us. as for the rest of it...

today we in math you'll be learning that spinosaur=fish eater...

you need to be fast and agile to catch fishys... not the incredible hulk!

the movie tries way to hard to make spinosaurus something no single theropod was... even though all us carnivorous dinos have day dreamed about it...

top most on this wish list for OTHER theropods is the fantasy of taking on and beating a tyrannosaur in battle... funny how this happened in jurassic park 3.

i mean it's funny. the entire scene is a joke to a dinosaur or anyone who knows stuff about them. if this weren't presented in such a dramatic and serious tone jurassic park 3 would be the greatest dinosaur comedy ever made...

sadly the spinosaur and the director didn't see it that way, and the sequence is played as seriously as it can be all things considered. what things need considering?

it's only one thing, and that's larry.

due to him the scene had to be rushed from suspenseful pacing to olympic dash due to larry's salary demands. as of such it isn't all that much of a brawl or slug fast. Rather each of them exchanging bites and larry taking a fall.

perhaps the most detracting aspect from the fight though is larry's performance. normally larry is the best dinosaur in any movie he's in. in jurassic park 3 he's calling it in, and if you know dinosaur body language it's worse then that. he's actively either trying not to laugh OR kill the spinosaur

perhaps not a widely known fact about we tyrannosaurs, but we have the strongest bite of any animal known. 3000 pounds per square inch. in the battle there is a moment where larry is called on to bite the spinosaur in the neck...

in real life this is a t-rexs main killing tactic. we do go for the neck, but with our bite force and teeth design (not a steak knife like books tell you... that's sauropod killers teeth, we're ornithischian killers... our teeth are like nails they puncture solid stuff... not cut soft) we t-rexs literally shatter the bones of our victims. meaning with a neck shot we totally shatter their spine...

you can tell watching that bite it takes everything larry has NOT to kill that spinosaur. it is easily the most impressive thing the spinosaur does in the movie. i'd NEVER let larry do that stunt on my neck...

i still can't help but laugh out loud that that part though. the spinosaurus (whose spin is apparently made of steel) shrugs off larry's neck chomp, and then bites larry's neck killing him (in the worst acted and funniest dinosaur death in a movie... and that's saying something... there are some pretty bad dino deaths in old movies... larry puts his final stamp of contempt on this film).

this has to rank up there as one of the worst dinosaur movie scenes of all time!

not cause it's a insult to tyrannosaurs mind you (though that does effect my judgement i'll admit), but more because this movie tries to wrap itself in the jurassic park flag and come across as an accurate dinosaur portrayal...

back to our theme of attack of the fish eaters... pteranodon

well our flying reptile friend (who of course as you should know is NOT actually a dinosaur) is no stranger to hollywood casting them as man eating/killing machines. many a old era movies featured pteranodon and other pterosaurs (the family name for winged reptiles) swooping down and carrying off people.

what came as a surprise was that a jurassic park movie included this extremely inaccurate cliche.

in reality pteranodon lived by oceans and inland seas catching fishys. their bodies only weighted as much as a fully grown humans, and their beaks were toothless... leaving one to wonder how is it they suddenly have the power to fly with a load that weighs as much as they do, and how their going to kill said struggling human when they get it too the nest.

the pteranodon attack sequence adds yet more to this being a dinosaur comedy. not only due to this inability of pteranodon to hunt humans realistically (watch when they pick up billy and carry him off... you can SO see the wires helping lift him...) but also due to a great dinosaur movie punch line.

ray harryhausen the master dinosaur director of the olden day dinosaur movies knew all too well his pterosaurs problems with these scenes in movies, and always had in the script any human caught by a flying reptile to escape the ordeal in the end. just check out 1 million years BC and valley of gwangi to see what i mean.

guess what? either one of the screenwriters was a big fan of harryhausen or their the biggest fluke in the universe. because the one human caught by the pteranodon's in JP3 manages to escape. leading to this being dinosaur viewers favourite part of the movie... just not for the reasons their supposed to!

Dinosaur Perception

fortunately the public had taken from the first two jurassic parks the right messages about us dinosaurs.

at the same time there was a period of about 3 years after the movie that at the tyrrell we got people asking about the spinosaurus thinking it was as portrayed in JP3... BOO!

Dinosaur/Human Relations

if there is one thing this movie hurt me with more then the spinosaurus (which as a t-rex hurt to watch) was the backward steps it took in dinosaur human/relations...

the basic plot boiled down is that theropods exist to do NOTHING else but hunt humans...

the spinosaurus literally spends the whole movie doing nothing but mindlessly chasing the human characters around the island...

presented with a meal and a half after killing larry, who had been scavenging a carcass at the time, the spinosaurus abandons the main course sized t-rex feast to relentlessly pursue a couple chicken nuggets...

in other words we're back to the 1960's where dinosaurs were nothing more then monsters to be feared and destroyed.

funnily the raptors who in the other jurassic park movies had been the source of much of my criticisms suddenly shine in this third movie. the one thing the writers manage to get right is supposed raptor intelligence that had been missing in JPs 1 and 2.

though the raptors join in on the great human chase their motivations we learn are driven by more natural and believable causes (note i said more believable... as in compared to the spinosaurus' "chase all humans" imperative).

through the course of the plot we discover the raptors chase the humans in an attempt to get back stolen eggs. this one plot twist (as random as it was) is a nice salute to the human exploitation of dinosaurs explored in the lost world.

it also elevates the raptors in this movie to suddenly sympathizeable and realish creatures... after a fashion anyway.

it also leads to my favourite dinosaur human coexistence yet in a film! despite the fact it is a ridiculous scene and concept, the part where alan grant saves the humans by talking to the raptors with a fossil cast (this i learnt was actually sam neil who speaks raptor amazingly well!) is a truely inspiring moment.

not for what it is on surface. more what it represents. a moment where dinosaur and human meet an understanding, and both leave the other in peace. i was deeply moved and touched by this scene.

imagine a world where this was actually the case! i would no longer have problems fitting into the post dinosaur world...

Favourite Scene of the Movie

despite the aforementioned dino/human relations moment another sequence in the film stole best moment for me.

it wasn't a theropod moment either... which to me shows the greatness of this scene...

it was a moment when the humans are running from raptors through a massive herd of hadrosaurs...

here we finally after half the movie finally had a brief glimpse back to the jurassic park series' heart and soul. dinosaurs shown and written as though they were real animals.

the shots of the parasaurolophus and corythosaurs could easily have been filmed 75 million years ago in dinosaur provincial park. it showed the majesty, awe, and the realness of saurian existence.

for this short 2 minutes one could have believed that we dinosaurs were more then just great human killing robots...

too bad the rest of this movie was made...

5 comments:

max.livingstone26 said...

I totally and whole-heartedly agree with you, brother! I couldn't have put it better myself!

I'm so keen on dinosaurs that I like to think of myself as one, too. So I can tell you from the perspective of a dinosaur and a human film buff that "Jurassic Park III" needs to rot in hell!
I was 12 when I saw it for the first time, in the cinema in 2001, and I was such a big dino fan that I just accepted it. The truth's been eating away at me all these years. And now that I'm 19 and I've come to my senses, I just gotta come clean and honest, man! I just gotta let it all out!
This movie is fucking TERRIBLE!

And I wish everyone else would wake up and realise that!
"Jurassic Park III" missed the mark altogether... and deep down, we all know it did.

max.livingstone26 said...

And there's something else I just thought of that I'm not sure whether or not you mentioned.
You know the scene where the people lock the door against the Spinosaurus, just before the birdcage scene? That is RIDICULOUS! The Spinosaurus just crashed straight through that huge steel fence, Hulk-style! Now, if it can break through that, why can't it crash straight through a simple locked door and pull the bolts out of their sockets?

This movie makes no sense!!!

Raptor Lewis said...

I agree with you max. And since when is a bird cage underground. The only theropod they helped were the Raptors.This movie sucks!!!!!!!!!! The only reason that I'm not selling my DVD of this film is because I collect Jurassic Park stuff. It's still Jurassic Park. I'm obsessed with dinosaurs. I love theropods because of how intelligent they were/are. I like ceratopsians. I think I was a theropod in a former life. Not only that, how come the Pteranodon switches from fish to humans instantly. They were not adapted to hunt land animals. There's no science in it. there's only one scientist (Dr. Grant) and he is the only intelligent one in the whole film. Why doesn't the spinosaur hunt any of the Hadrosaurs? It hunts chicken nuggets. It's a brainless moron and since when can it swim. They also stole from Godzilla. (swimming dinosaur)

Raptor Lewis said...

This movie mocks Dinosaurs, Sam Neill, Universal picuters, Michael Crichton, and Paleontology!!!!!!!!!!!! I agree with max and traum! THIS SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!

nathan scott stirling said...

the movie sounds pretty wierd, that is why i havent watched it yes