Joe Johnston. Release Date: July 18, 2001. DVD Release Date: December 11, 2001.
Once upon a time, in a theater with broken air conditioning in California's summer heat, I watched Jurassic Park. At the time, the dinosaurs in that movie were the most perfect piece of movie magic I'd seen. I still think it's the best animatronic work I've ever seen in a movie... or in theme parks, for that matter. Those dinosaurs were BRILLIANT. They were light years ahead of what other people were doing and revamped special effects for awhile.
Was that enough to warrant not only one sequel, but a third installment in the franchise? Probably not. Jurassic Park was a decent novel. The Lost World was less decent. It showed in the film adaptation. When Jurassic Park III was released, bereft of a subtitle, but with most of its important roles still holdovers from the original movie, I was anxious. I did some thinking and decided to wait for DVD. I simply couldn't justify the $8 ticket price when I was so very, very afraid of what the final product was going to be. I suspect that I made the right choice.
This movie has generally what attracted me to the original in the installment. One of my favorite things about movies is when they can suspend my disbelief visually, without uttering a word. Did I care that you can't really harvest DNA from bugs trapped in amber? Nope. Did I care that real geneticists might have worried about what substituting dino-DNA for amphibian DNA might not only be technically impossible, but if it were impossible, it might trigger that little trick where frogs switch genders in a sexually homogenous environment? Not so much. What I cared about was that it looked cool, and they provided more species of dinos from my freak-out amusement.
But I would have hoped that they'd have come up with a story that actually made sense. I know that wasn't possible with The Lost World, even with the novel to fall back on, but I had hope that they'd come to their senses. Instead, what we got was about an hour of velociraptor attacks, proving systematically that humans are too dumb to survive in their own natural environment. If we'd left any major, land-based predator off the endangered species list, we'd be gone.
There was so much going on, so many dangers, so many plots and counter plots involved in what should have been a simple story that I eventually tuned out, watching only for the next dinosaur to fill the screen. There are a few good scares, and a few good lines, and that's about it.