Jurassic Park 3 (stylized as Jurassic Park ///) is a 2001 American science-fiction adventure film, and the third sequel in the Jurassic Park franchise. The film stars returning actor Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, along with co-stars William H. Macy (Fargo), Téa Leoni (Deep Impact), Alessandro Nivola (Face/Off) and Trevor Morgan. This is the first Jurassic Park film in the series to not be directed by Steven Spielberg, instead being directed by Joe Johnston (October Sky, Jumanji). It is also the first Jurassic film not to be based on a Michael Crichton novel, but taking characters and ideas from them.
Despite being a box office success, the film received mixed to negative reviews from both critics and fans alike, citing the short runtime of the movie (92 minutes compared to the previous films average of two hours), as well as the overall quality of the film. It is often blamed for creating a dry spell between the sequel release and caused much division among the fan community. 14 years later, its sequel, Jurassic World would be released on June 12th 2015.
Ben Hildebrand takes Eric Kirby on an illegal parasailing trip (entitled ‘DINO-SOAR‘) around the waters surrounding Isla Sorna (otherwise known as Site B), off-limits to the public. During the trip, their tour boat is attacked by an unseen creature (whose identity is never officially revealed), killing the boat crew. Before they crash, Ben detaches the line and the two are forced to fly into the island interior.
Eight years have passed since the Jurassic Park incident, and Dr. Alan Grant has been subject to undesired fame as a result. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Grant’s former love) has married someone else and has two children. At dinner, the two discuss Velociraptor behavior together before Grant leaves to attend a college speaking event (which is unsuccessful for the most part, as the attendees are interested only in Jurassic Park: San Diego, which upsets Grant). At the same time, military specialist Udesky (hire by an as-yet unseen man) prepares for a dangerous expedition with his associates Nash and Cooper.
Grant returns to the dig site in Montana and meets with his assistant, Billy Brennan. He shows him the “future of paleontology”, a 3-D printed resonating chamber of a Velociraptor, which he demonstrates to an awestruck Grant. Suddenly, a man named Paul Kirby shows up at the dig site and meets with Grant, offering him to dinner with his wife that night, which Billy forces Grant to accept to. At the dinner, the couple says they want Grant to navigate an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, which they would be willing to compensate for. Grant reluctantly accepts, and the group (joined by mercenaries M.B. Nash, Udesky and Cooper) fly to the island.
Initially, all things go well until Grant learns the group wants to land on the island. Attempting to protest, he is knocked out by Cooper and wakes up, the plane having landed already. Billy tells him that they are looking for someone, with Amanda yelling into a megaphone. The commotion lures the attention of a Spinosaurus, which chases and eats Cooper. The plane attempts to take off but strikes the rampaging Spinosaurus, causing them to crash. The Spinosaurus tracks down the plane and eats Nash, with the group barely managing to escape. Soon, the group encounters a sub-adult male Tyrannosaurus rex (feeding on a dead Parasaurolophus), which gives chase to them, encountering the spined theropod again. The two super-predators fight (giving the group time to escape), with the Spinosaurus eventually overpowering the inexperienced theropod by snapping its neck.
Soon, Grant learns that the Kirbys are actually a middle-class divorced couple who wanted Grant to help them search for their son Eric (the same child in the introduction), thinking he had been on the island before (Isla Nublar, not Sorna). The group explores more and finds the remains of Ben Hildebrand, with a nest of Velociraptor eggs nearby. The group flees (with Billy secretly stealing some of the eggs), and they soon come across an abandoned InGen compound (the Embryonics Administration). The group explores the ruins, and Amanda is soon ambushed by a Velociraptor. The Raptor chases them through the building and into the jungle, where the group is forced to flee into a herd of hadrosaurs (Parasaurolophus and Corythosaurus), which causes a stampede. The group is forced to split up, leaving Grant and Udesky to fend for themselves.
Udesky gets trapped and attacked by a Velociraptor. Billy, Amanda and Paul discover him lying face-down in the dirt, but he begins to stir. Amanda attempts to climb down and help him, but the Raptors appear and almost kill her, having set a trap. Before leaving, a Raptor snaps Udesky’s neck, killing him. Grant hides behind a tree and soon is found by a Velociraptor, the pack beginning to circle him. Suddenly, smoke flares up around them, scaring off the Raptors. An unseen figure grabs Grant and runs through the jungle, leading him to a water truck, who is revealed to be Eric, beaten and bruised but alive. The two talk and take shelter in his makeshift home from Compsognathus, while Billy, Paul and Amanda stay in a tree for the night.
In the morning, the two groups venture out in search for each other. Eventually, the two hear the sound of Paul’s satellite phone (coming from a yet-unseen location), and the two meet again at a strip of fencing. Soon the group realizes they are being stalked by the Spinosaurus, which chases them into a building. Grant soon discovers that Billy stole the Velociraptor eggs, which he stops himself from confiscating and soon leads the group underground to an aviary. The group investigates the abandoned Aviary which Grant realizes is “a bird cage”.
A Pteranodon emerges and abducts Eric, taking him to it’s nest, where dozens of hungry baby Pteranodons wait eagerly. The group tries to rescue Eric, when Billy uses the parasail to fly to Eric. He manages to do so, but his parasail gets snagged on the cliffs, where the Pteranodons soon attack and seemingly kill him. The group escapes and drifts down the river away from the Aviary, which was left unlocked thanks to Amanda Kirby. Eric mourns the loss of Billy with Grant, and they soon come across an open field where Brachiosaurus, hadrosaurs and other herbivores are feeding and living.
At night, the group hears the satellite phone again and comes across a pile of Spinosaurus feces, where the group hastily tries to find the phone. A Ceratosaurus is attracted to the group, but soon leaves upon smelling the Spinosaurus feces (likely knowing it was in it’s territory). Later, the group comes to a wide section of river where the Spinosaurus reappears and attacks the boat. The group takes shelter in a built-in cage, and is soon dragged into the water. Paul scales a piece of construction equipment and lures the Spinosaurus‘ attention away from the group, who manages to escape. Paul is seemingly killed (the Spinosaurus being scared off by the fire Grant set off), but he soon emerges and embraces with his family.
The next day, the group nears the coastline. Hearing the sound of the ocean, the group sprints for the beach, but the Velociraptors return, surrounding the group. Grant figures out that they want the eggs, and has Amanda surrender them to the female. Using Billy’s resonating chamber, Grant confuses the Raptors momentarily, but the sound of a chopper scares them off. The group runs to the beach to find the U.S Navy and Marine Corps waiting to rescue them (sent by Ellie and Mark).
On the chopper, Grant finds that Billy is injured but alive. As the chopper takes off, the group spots a flock of Pteranodons flying away from the island, where Grant states that they could be looking for new nesting grounds, and that it’s a “whole new world for them”. Amanda jokingly dares them to nest in Enid, Oklahoma. As the choppers fly to Costa Rica, the Pteranodons soar through the clouds. Roll credits.
-Pteranodon longiceps “hippocratesi”
-Spinosaurus aegyptiacus “hammondi”
-Velociraptor antirrhopus “sornaensis”
Sam Neill – Dr. Alan Grant, a paleontologist who ventured to Isla Nublar in the first film. He is invited to Site B by a supposedly wealthy couple for an aerial tour.
William H. Macy – Paul Kirby, the owner of an Oklahoma hardware store (Kirby Paint and Tile Plus) who poses as a wealthy businessman to fool Dr. Grant into joining him on the trip to Isla Sorna.
Téa Leoni – Amanda Kirby, the former wife of Paul Kirby who joins him and the group to Isla Sorna in search for her missing son.
Alessandro Nivola – Billy Brennan, a graduate paleontology student and Dr. Grants assistant. He accompanies Grant on the trip to Isla Sorna.
Trevor Morgan – Eric Kirby, a child who get’s stranded on Isla Sorna for eight weeks before being rescued by Grant and the group.
Laura Dern – Dr. Ellie Sattler-Degler, a paleobotanist who survived the Jurassic Park incident with Dr. Grant. Calls for help to rescue the group off the island.
Michael Jeter – Udesky, one of the mercenaries hired by the Kirbys for the trip to Isla Sorna. Killed by a Velociraptor.
John Diehl – Cooper, a mercenary and weapons specialist hired by the Kirbys for the trip to Isla Sorna. Killed by the Spinosaurus.
Bruce A. Young – M.B Nash, a mercenary hired by the Kirbys to fly them to Isla Sorna. Killed by the Spinosaurus.
According to Kathleen Kennedy, Joe Johnston had previously asked Steven Spielberg if he could direct the second Jurassic Park film (The Lost World), which Spielberg rejected but offered to let him direct the third.
Universal Pictures officially announced the film on June 29th, 1998. Michael Crichton had planned to work with Spielberg to devise a plot line, with the initial script involving Dr. Grant residing on one of ‘the InGen islands’ (referring to either Isla Sorna or the Las Cinco Muertes island chain), “like Robinson Crusoe”, but the storyline was never picked up.
A year later, Craig Rosenberg began creating the first draft of the film. This draft reportedly involved a group of teenagers vacationing to the Himalayas crash-landing on Isla Sorna. The draft was rejected in September that year, with new writers being hired for a script revisal in December 1999. Joe Johnston was announced as the films director in August 1999, with a slated production start date of the early 2000s.
The second official script of the film involved a group of Pteranodons escaping from Isla Sorna and killing locals on the mainland, which would be investigated by Dr. Grant and other characters. A second group would crash-land on the island as a parallel investigation/side-plot. Sets, costumes and props were created for this version of the film but apparently weren’t utilized in their original manner.
Filming was slated to begin in New Zealand around February 2000, where scenes from The Lost World: Jurassic Park were planned to be shot but were scrapped due to difficulty (this once again was later opted for Hawaii). Sam Neill signed for the film in June 2000, with co-stars Trevor Morgan and Tea Leoni signing on August 2000. At the time, titles for the film were considered to be Jurassic Park: Extinction and Jurassic Park: Breakout. A mere five weeks before the official film start date, both Spielberg and Johnston rejected the script due to a dislike to it. 18 million dollars was said to be spent on the script already. The film would later adapt the “rescue mission” plot suggested by screenwriter David Koepp.
According to Johnston, the script for the film was never officially completed during production, stating that pages were shot that “eventually went into the final script”. Principal photography started on August 30th, 2000 at Dillingham Airfield in Mokulēia. Filming would later continue on Oahu up until September 9th, and finishing in Hawaii on September 20th. Production then shifted to California. Scenes were shot at Occidental College in Los Angeles on October 10th.
Scenes would later be filmed at Center Bay Studios in LA, with other locations in California including South Pasadena and an Irwindale rock quarry. After filming scenes on Stage 12 in Universals Backlot, the crew returned to Hawaii in January 2001 with the ending being filmed on Kauai’s Pila’a Beach.
The first teaser trailer was released on the Internet in September 2000, and for the most part was the only true early-marketing pushed by Universal (who had the mindset much of the public was aware of the film after the success of The Lost World: Jurassic Park). The marketing campaign began around April 2001 (three months before release), and was in conjunction with Kodak, LEGO, Playskool, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola. Unlike the previous films, no burger-chain restaurant was attached outside of Canadian Burger Kings (who released toys of the film with kids meals).
Hasbro released a series of 3.75″ action figures of the film (which included playsets, dinosaurs, human figures and vehicles). These toys were made of plastic (save for one, the Electronic Spinosaurus) and were the first toys produced of Jurassic Park that did not involve Kenner (which became defunct in 2000), and are among the worst toys in terms of quality amongst Jurassic fans.
The movie first premiered on July 16th, 2001 at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, California and would officially premiere in the United States and other countries two days later.
The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics and fans alike. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 50% rating based on 163 reviews with an average rating of 5.2/10. On Metacritic, the film has a 42/100 rating, meaning “mixed or average reviews”. On both sites, the film is the lowest rated in the Jurassic Park franchise. As of 2002, author Michael Crichton (author of the original Jurassic Park and The Lost World novels) has stated he has not seen the film (and is presumed he hadn’t before his death in 2008). In total, the film has won two awards (the Sierra Award for Best DVD and the BMI Film Award for Best Music, respectively).
Among the fan community, much division has been created as a result of the film. Many fans were displeased at the general sloppiness of the production stage (lack of a completed script being used and basically ‘winging it’). The biggest source of displeasure came from the Spinosaurus emerging victorious from the fight with the T. rex. Many fans viewed this as a slap in the face to the ‘legacy’ of the tyrant lizard, and over the next fourteen years and beyond caused much in-fighting and hatred among the fan community. From Youtube comment sections to message boards, many argued over who would truly emerge victorious in a battle between two extinct superpredators who would never meet up in reality due to their separate locations and time periods.
Many also disliked the sudden change in look with the Velociraptors, which caused a bit of a headache realizing how they fit in with the Jurassic Park canon (they have been determined to be species variation, see our Velociraptor article for more information). Overall, the general consensus among the fandom is that Jurassic Park 3 is the worst film in the franchise.