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The UnPopular Opinion: Jurassic Park III

07.27.2017

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

In my opinion, there are two types of sequels: narrative ones and formulaic ones. A narrative sequel is a continuation of the story featured in the first film. These sequels are far more natural than the other type because the characters evolve and change while the stakes get raised. Everything from the CAPTAIN AMERICA and STAR WARS franchises to the TOY STORY and BACK TO THE FUTURE films are great examples of narrative sequels. Formulaic sequels, on the other hand, are movies in a franchise that don't offer much new to the audience aside from another setup similar to the first movie. By the name, you may instantly discount formulaic sequels as being lesser films. But just because a movie does the same thing at it's predecessor does not mean that it is not an enjoyable film to watch. JURASSIC PARK III is a prime example of a formulaic sequel that is a rousing and highly fun movie to watch.

You may be questioning my logic, especially since JURASSIC PARK filmmaker Steven Spielberg failed to succeed with a sequel to his own film. THE LOST WORLD was a bad movie and one that almost sealed the fate of JURASSIC PARK III. Spielberg did not return for the third film and instead handed the reins over to THE ROCKETEER directed, Joe Johnston. Johnston is the very definition of a journeyman director but he consistently makes solid films. They are enjoyable, fun movies even if they don't reinvent the wheel. The key here, folks, is that sequels don't have to be unique to be fun. Yes, I expect some originality in my movies and I also tire of seeing the same thing over and over again, but sometimes you just want to see a shit ton of dinosaurs chasing Sam Neill through the jungle. JURASSIC PARK III is by no means as good as the first film in the franchise, but it is heads and tails superior to THE LOST WORLD.

The UnPopular Opinion, Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston, Jurassic Park III, Michael Critchton, Tea Leoni, Sam Neill

JURASSIC PARK III is all action and not a whole lot of story. The core plot is there: Dr. Alan Grant is called in to help rescue the missing child of a rich, divorced couple. Visting a different island, but one still covered with the resurrected creatures, Grant leads a team of mercenaries to find the boy but instead encounters velociraptors that can communicate vocally and a giant spinosaurus that is supposed to make the T. Rex look lame but instead comes across as a nightmarish Big Bird. At it's core, JURASSIC PARK III sets up the plot, returns a fan favorite character, and throws everyone onto the rollercoaster ride. This movie is all action and not a lot of sense. I could say tha the orignal Michael Crichton novel was imbued with a deep scientific base which informed the insane story, but I won't. This is a franchise about dinosaurs being resurrected. It is pure fantasy. As in the most recent film, JURASSIC WORLD, nostalgia can carry a film very far.

Sam Neill is a very entertaining actor. As much as I love Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm, THE LOST WORLD ruins what makes him such a great character. Neill is able to return in JURASSIC PARK III as Alan Grant and essentially do what he did with the role in the first movie. Nothing is lost nor gained by the weak script for JURASSIC PARK III, but Neill's charm buoys the proceedings. Tea Leoni and William H. Macy are tolerable as the feuding parents searching for their son and both Michael Jeter and Alessandro Nivola are odd choices to play characters with talents you would not expect. While JURASSIC PARK III is propelled by virtually non-stop action, you do see these characters develop through the film as more than just cliche, two-dimensional creations. You care whether they live or die within the context of the story.

The UnPopular Opinion, Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston, Jurassic Park III, Michael Critchton, Tea Leoni, Sam Neill

While I thoroughly enjoyed JURASSIC WORLD, the overwhelming use of CGI took me out of the moment and prevented me from really connecting with the story. JURASSIC PARK III uses more CGI than the Spielberg films, but it still felt more tangible than Colin Trevorrow's remakequel. Not being a paleontologist or expert in any of the science behind dinosaurs or ancient life on our planet, I have to take the creative team behind these films at their word. Maybe the raptors communicating with grunts and noises seems ridiculous, but no more so than an amusement park built on an island inhabited by dinosaurs resurrected using DNA from a mosquito. To argue the logic behind these movies is asinine. At least JURASSIC PARK III doesn't have a girl defeating monsters using gymnastics or a T. Rex going on a rampage in an urban environment. JURASSIC PARK III doesn't reinvent the wheel but uses what was already created to great effect.

What Steven Spielberg brought to the first two films in the franchise was a sense of wonder and awe. JURASSIC PARK III replaces those elements of spectacle with thrills like a theme park ride. Make no mistake, once the first movie was released, no sequel would ever have been considered a work of art. But, you cannot neglect that there was still an incredible amount of work that went into realizing this film. The script may have lacked some of the magic of JURASSIC PARK, but the movie is still one hell of a fun adventure. Spielberg has lost some of his magic in recent years and tried to replace it with craft and it just has not worked. Joe Johnston, a veteran of special effects work, uses some of that lingering magic to make this movie come together. Much of that is aided by the sleek run time which helps JURASSIC PARK III from never losing momentum.

The UnPopular Opinion, Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston, Jurassic Park III, Michael Critchton, Tea Leoni, Sam Neill

I read one review for JURASSIC PARK III that likened it to an ice cream cone: you love it while you are enjoying it but once it is gone you forget all about it. The JURASSIC PARK franchise is one that I often return to but rarely find myself rewatching the second film. Instead, I skip right from the original to JURASSIC PARK III. I will never mistake this movie as the work of Spielberg in any way but that does not detract from the enjoyment I derive from it. JURASSIC PARK III is everything I want in a summer blockbuster: fun, fast, funny, and never takes itself too seriously. I would have liked for the film to have been acknowledged by JURASSIC WORLD but I understand why this is the red-headed stepchild of the franchise. I recommend that any of you who have not revisited Isla Sorna in some time give it a shot as you will be pleasantly surprised by how well it holds up.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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