The third film in the “Jurassic Park” series before the development purgatory and inevitable reboot is quite the different animal. Steven Spielberg is no longer behind the camera, only one of the original cast members returns for a fan service supporting performance, new flashier dinosaurs are added to attract gimmicky crowds, and the film is noticeably shorter than its former siblings. Dr. Alan Grant sticks to the Spielbergian archetypes. He’s still Indiana Jones sans the sour disposition, and he’s divorced from his wife Ellie.
Obviously, this is due to contractual obligations, but it adds an obvious turn in the usual Spielberg films where most at war couples never quite make it, no matter how successful they are in their journeys. Joe Johnston directs what is easily the worst leg in the series, a movie so lagging and lethargic it’s almost impossible to fully soak in the conundrum these characters face.
And it doesn’t help that William H. Macy and Tea Leoni play two of the most infuriatingly obnoxious and useless characters ever written for these films. Presenting a vague and clumsy parallel for Dr. Grant, the mismatched poorly cast couple play two divorced parents (Get it? Because Grant is divorced) looking for their son marooned on Isla Turna after a boating accident leaves him stranded with the dinosaurs. The entire set-up is rather goofy considering how high they’re flying not to mention the ridiculous prologue that props the premise up for a search and rescue mission that lacks in excitement or charisma. While Leoni and Macy are strong actors, they’re tough to root for. That’s mainly due to their sheer idiocy in this movie and their ridiculous choices during the search and rescue that put everyone’s lives in danger.
I’m shocked the character Grant remains so calm among their stupidity, because not a single move they make is logical. Match that with the writer trying desperately to convince us they were once passionate lovers, and it’s a bust from minute one. There’s even a back story and romantic banter injected between the two that is about as far-fetched as the dinosaurs are. I rooted for everyone’s death, and Johnston and co. merely seem to be going through the motions rather than delivering a strong story with complex characters. I cared more about John Hammond’s lawyer in “Jurassic Park” than I did anyone here, and Neill unfortunately seems listless throughout this entire ordeal. The only upside is the realization of the pterodactyls, all of whom are apt nemeses for this more stripped down adventure. “Jurassic Park III” very much wants to sell itself as a different kind of “Jurassic Park” adventure, and while it is indeed different, that doesn’t mean it’s any good. The final film in the original “Jurassic Park” trilogy could have been a unique adventure with its own form of creativity and imaginative moments that could individuate it from its predecessors. Instead it’s a clumsy, and poorly written farce with irritating characters I prayed for imminent death to arrive to.