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programming note: Jurassic Park 3

tn_jurassicpark32001posterOkay, I’m confusing myself here. In preparing for my Summer of 2001 10th Anniversary Retrospective I skipped watching JURASSIC PARK III (which was released July 18th, 2001), because I watched it again last summer to re-evaluate and my opinion had not changed from my original review.

Except the thing is now I cannot find any original review. Did I never write about it? I thought I did but I can’t find it in the review list or using Google. So I’m not sure why I didn’t write it up last summer. Whoops. This is not a review because it’s not fresh in my mind, but I will say a few things about it so we can discuss it in context of the other ’01 joints. This is the 10th anniversary and director Joe Johnston has a new movie coming out too so this is a good time to hash it out.

JURASSIC PARK III is not a terrible movie, especially when you consider the generally lackluster movies that came out that summer. Spielberg left the dinosaurs to do something more interesting with A.I., and I now see what a solid movie THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is, but most of the other stuff is pretty crappy so far. So maybe in comparison this didn’t seem that bad.

The problem is you do have two previous movies to hold it up to, and I don’t think it can stand the comparison. I know THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK 2 is widely hated, and alot of people I know consider part 3 better. I still can’t figure that one out at all so I’ll go over it here briefly off the record so you can all tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

My problems with part 3 as opposed to part 2:


JP2 was a good sequel in the sense that it took the concept of the first one bigger. You were amazed by a theme park full of dinosaurs? Now let’s show you an island after they’ve gotten loose and overrun the place. We’ll show you a bunch of hunters being sent in to capture and wrangle them. We’ll show you them making it to a beach or getting loose in a city.

Part III doesn’t do that, it doesn’t seem interested in new ground or escalation. Just more people stuck on the island again, getting chased again. It’s not even a more-of-the-same sequel, it’s less-of-the-same. It goes backwards. It says “Oh, so you were impressed by all those dinosaurs? What if I were to show you alot less dinosaurs, in the same locations  – but now there’s a couple that fly in one part! With wings!”


I’ve always considered the JP series to be a little on the dumb side. It seems smart compared to some later summer hits (the works of Emmerich, Bay, Sommers, etc.), but it doesn’t respect the audience’s intelligence the way JAWS does. It has silly elements like a lawyer getting eaten off a toilet because hey everybody, don’t you hate lawyers?

I can understand why people have a problem with them continuing this tradition in part 2. Pretty much everybody I ever discussed the movie with has a chip on their shoulder about that ridiculous scene where the little girl does gymnastics to fight a raptor. I get it, but why do the standards suddenly go back to part 1 level for part 3? I’ve never heard anybody have a problem with the less original but equally stupid antics of the little boy who’s one of the main stars of part 3. To me it’s more enjoyable to see the one goofy gymnastics scene than the jokes here, like the ringtone that can be heard from inside the beast that swallowed a satellite phone. Not only do you gotta accept that a swallowed phone could be heard clearly from inside a dino’s belly, but also that they don’t see or hear the giant fucker standing behind them until the phone rings. I’m sure Spielberg used some cheats in setting up his scenes but I didn’t remember anything jumping out as that preposterous.

And these characters, geez. I’m not saying any of the characters from the other ones are classic screen icons (Ian Malcolm comes closest), but William H. Macey and Tea Leoni as bickering rich assholes is not my idea of good companionship during a dino-adventure. I know Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor worked on the script, but this is not the ol’ Taylor & Payne blisteringly observant portrayals of flawed humanity. It’s just some obnoxious nitwits. It’s like if the lawyer survived the toilet and acted the same for most of the movie but then you were supposed to care about him at the end because he loves his wife.

Sam Neill’s character is the most likable one but he’s pretty bland. Just giving him the hat doesn’t make him Indiana Jones.


JP2 has a whole bunch of great tension and excitement in my opinion. The scene of the little girl on the beach being surrounded by tiny dinosaurs, at first cute and then terrifying. The epic shots of the hunters driving through the dino stampede trying to catch them. The whole thing with Julianne Moore on the cracking glass as her trailer is attacked by a t-rex. The unmanned boat coming toward land. The t-rex loose in the city. (despite a couple lame Godzilla jokes.)

JP3 has… nothing that made much of an impression on me. I mean I’m sure you guys can remember a set piece that you liked. I can’t. There was something with pterodactyls, I believe. I’m sure they got chased a couple times.


One obvious factor in the success of these movies is the great effects, both digital and rubber, that made the dinosaurs seem like real animals. At the time the big deal was “they did this with computers!” but the reason they hold up is because most of them weren’t. It was a combination of the absolute state of the art animatronic effects and the freshly invented computer animation technique. By the time of part 3 it was possible to be lazy with computers.

To me, the dinosaurs in part 3 seem more like monsters than animals. They run in and roar. They don’t show as much signs of thinking or spending their off time grazing or wildlife documentary things like that. The animation is not as subtle. I was surprised to see on the behind the scenes featurette that they built a full-sized animatronic t-rex that could really move around. It’s an impressive engineering feat but I’m not sure that comes across in the movie, which looks like a bunch of CGI.

I know I’m in the minority on this one, both in thinking part 2 is good and in thinking part 3 is not very good. And it’s come up a bunch of times in the other threads, but I’ve tried to stay out of it. So give me your best argument: what am I missing on this one? What makes it more than a mediocre rehash?

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140 Responses to “programming note: Jurassic Park 3”

  1. Vern, you’re not missing much of anything. Part 2 is strangely underrated. The scene in the trailer hanging over the edge is top-notch Spielberg and possibly worth the admission price all on its own. I did not realize people elevated 3 above 2, so I guess maybe I was missing something. Part 3 is thoroughly workmanlike and fine, but it does little or nothing as well as 2 and nothing or less than nothing as well as the original.

  2. The reason why JP 3 works for me IS that they got smaller. Instead of giving us another 2+ hours movie, filled with long winded exposition and heavy handed “man played God” dialogue, they just went on purpose for a balls out PG13 B-movie approach and let the stranded people run from one hairy situation to the next, without apologizing for it. It’s just a lean, mean, at times surprisingly dark humored and slightly sadistic (the pile of shit was apparently Michael Jeter!) Dinosaur action movie. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love part 1 and don’t mind its near endless exposition and preachiness, because even almost 20 years later it’s still one of the most suspenseful popcorn movies ever. And even part 2 has lots of redeeming qualities (although I always found it more stupid that apparently 1 Richard Schiff is enough for 2 T-Rexes, than when a kid uses her abilities to fight of a killer machine) but as far as a-group-of-people-stranded-on-an-island-with-dinosaurs movies go, part 3 is one of, maybe even THE most entertaining.

  3. And by the way, am I the only one who is glad that people now finally start to realize that the trailer-over-cliff scene in part 2 is awesome? I remember that when it came out, people complained that it went on and on and on without any suspense. I always thought those people had lost their mind.

  4. I’m with you, Vern. I’ve seen this one two or three times and I still can’t remember a damn thing about it. I do not get why people prefer it to the second one, which has at least three excellent set-pieces.

  5. Cool set pieces in JP 3: The crashed plane, the bridge and the William H. Macy Vs Spinosaurus while everybody else is about to drown in a cage scene.

  6. I like part 3. I don’t love it, but it feels like a lean movie that sets its goals and executes them in a professional manner.

    Like Mr Holden I’m glad it went smaller. I like the premise of dinosaurs and people on an island. That’s enough for me. If they added in some interesting character dynamics I would be a lot happier, but it’s not bad.

    The Fast And The Furious works because it’s a fun concept that is well executed and inhabits a stylized world that has some interesting characters that make for some good dynamics. I think JP3 could have been great had they kept everything the same but had better characters and more meaningful of relationships.

    But yeah, it’s not bad. It would be pretty passable if it was released today.

    I keep hoping the long rumored JP4 will happen where they engineer the dinosaurs to be smarter and there’s a team of smart special op raptors going on a mission or something. I just remember reading something about it 8 or 9 years ago and loving how insane the concept was.

  7. I saw JP3 at an after hours soiree with a bunch of multiplex employees & friends a few days before it’s theatrical release. We were all happy & excited. I was buzzed. A bunch of us took off our shirts and shared a flask and yelled & had a good time, but this movie is terrible. The ending is beyond stupid. This ties the horrible Mummy sequel for 2001’s worst buzzkill.

  8. Vern, you forgot that JP2 also had Pete Postlethwaite in it:
    Also as an aside, the laywer from JP1 actually survived in the book, but then in “The Lost World”, we find out he later died of dysentry overseas. Kinda weird that.

  9. CJ: See, there’s the problem. I watched the movie for the third time less than a year ago and I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  10. caruso_stalker217

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I agree with everything you said, Vern. Except the part about JPIII not being terrible. I can’t in good conscience condone such a thing.

  11. Wow, I’d never heard of anyone who liked JP3 better. Or even at all. JURASSIC PARK is a popcorn classic on the level of JAWS in my book. It may be a little jokier but I think the tone is consistent and the scale and scares alone make it one of the most effective summer films out there. LOST WORLD is more of a parody, and there’s a few weird amateurish touches which is unusual for Spielberg (someone here told me he directed a lot of it via video uplink, which would make sense). LOST WORLD is aggressively stupid a lot of the time, but in a kind of endearing way. If you can accept its amiable goofiness it’s a lot of fun and has a few sequences which are the work of an obvious master.

    JP3 — nothing sticks at all. There’s no weight to any of the characters, no one seems to be trying. It’s really the only film I’ve ever seen Sam Neill really phone in. In the few scenes he looks half-awake, he just looks embarassed. Macy and Leoni are both great performers and are just painfully amateurish throughout, they seem to think they’re in some sort of 40s bickering comedy. There’s no effective atmosphere, the thing just looks cheap and tossed-off, like a slightly more expensive SyFy channel movie. None of the scenes generate much tension, and the spectacle it does manage is old hat by this point. Yuck. Johnson did manage to create the surprisingly effective OCTOBER SKY, but everything else he’s done as a director has been a dissapointing mess of tepid, atmosphere-free fluff. Might not be a problem with some superficial action films (his action sequences are suitably kinetic, if not exactly exciting), but he keeps taking projects which require some tension and substence, like JP3 and his heartbreakingly dissapointing WOLFMAN. I do like his work as a designer on STAR WARS, though, so I can’t completely write the guy off.

  12. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I must say that I agree with CJ Holden on this one.
    The lack of scale is what makes it a great movie. There is no awe, there is no magic, there is no huge conspiracy… it is fucking dinosaurs chasing people all over an island.
    The awe was worn out by the time the first one was over.
    I think of JP3 in much the same way as I think of Jaws 2. “We are never going to be able to capture the brilliance of the first movie- so lets just get the shark on screen right away and make him chase and eat as many people as possible…”

    I like several of the setpieces from The Lost World. I just didn’t like the story at all and liked the characters even less than those in 3.
    3 has no real story… it is people getting chased and eaten by dinosaurs for 2 hours and that’s it… with no attempt at being anything more than that. If it was the FIRST movie in the series, I would have been disappointed with that, but by the third, why pretend to be something else- I can’t think of any way to really elevate the material at that point, so why NOT strip it to its core and go hog wild?

  13. I saw this dung in the cinema and can barely remember anything about it at all. Don’t the main characters all get rescued by some helicopters right when they needed it at the end? Gee, what a lucky break. That’s just swell, guys. Glad everything worked out okay.

  14. I think the Planet of the Apes remake is a bigger let down, Mouth. It looked gritty and cool and Tim Burton hadn’t yet become a parody of himself by then. I was legitimately looking forward to it.

  15. caruso_stalker217

    July 18th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    They get rescued by the whole fucking Navy. And the Marines. And Captain fucking Planet.

  16. I wonder if Joe Johnston tries to hide this one on his resumé, because http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0163025/goofs

    Jesucristo. Sloppy business.

    “. . . like a slightly more expensive SyFy channel movie.” Yup, Mr. Subtlety, them’s the words I was thinking of saying myself. Also, “Yuck” indeed.

  17. Shit, Caruso. For any reason your comment made me think a few minutes long about what Captain Planet would think about genetic engineered dinosaurs. WOuld he love them, because they returned after being extinct and he loves every fucking animal on the planet or would he hate them, because they are a danger for this planet’s dinosaur-free eco system and were made by more or less profit oriented business men?

    Then I realized how stupid that it and stopped thinking about it. I guess I will turn this into an open discussion on Twitter tomorrow.

  18. Actually CJ, the one thing I remember about the reviews for JP2 was the critics saying how odd it was that the most tense (Spielbergian, even) moment (the cracking glass) was only tangentially related to dinosaurs. But maybe that wad just the Irish/UK critics.

    I liked the high angle raptors in the long grass shot too. I saw JP3 with a FX engineer and he was gushing over the amount of computer pixels (or something), but I just didn’t get it. And it made the raptors ‘human’, which was just silly. Breaking Michael Jeter’s neck… Pft.

  19. You know what else looks like crap? That new Planet of the Apes movie. I would love to see a full-on revenge of the monkeys movie, but since there doesn’t appear to be a single live money in the entire movie, it’s just not gonna work. I get not one iota of the natural sympathy and amusement that I have for real monkeys from these CGI abominations.

  20. If there was a CAPTAIN PLANET movie, Seagal would have to star as one of the good guys, maybe the voice of Earth or something. Sorry, off topic, can’t help it, too many good memories with that cartoon.

    CJ, The Planeteers would re-train the pterodactyls to go around the world collecting litter, and they would drop off the garbage at a worldwide series of eco-compost sites operated by velociraptors.

  21. Casey – that dinosaurs-on-mission (The Dirty Dino Dozen?) script was by John motherfucking Sayles!

  22. I’ve laughed more during the 2 times I’ve seen the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES trailer than I did the whole (mercifully short) 85 minutes of JPIII.

    That shit has got to be a joke, right? I mean, Franco — that’s what he does now, right, strange roles in strange projects that are supposed to be one big joke?

  23. Just in case anyone has any lingering vestiges of respect for Johnson as an artist, you should know that he authored a novel titled, “The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense.” Teebo is an Ewok. That should put to rest any doubts you may have about whether he should make another Jurassic Park movie.

  24. Yeah, that new APES movie…am I the only one who has noticed that the FX shots look worse with every new trailer? When we saw the first, short clip of the main ape, it looked awesome. The first real trailer already had some dodgy effect shots, but the latest one comes awfully close to JUMANJI territory.
    Maybe it can convince on a script level, but judging by the one trailer where we see Lithgow’s ape getting arrested because of a stupid misunderstanding and then tortured by Draco Malfoy (who looks an awful lot like Jesse Pinkman from BREAKING BAD, if you ask me!), before he starts a revolution, I don’t think so.
    It will most likely be just another “Oh noes, man played God and now is fucked because of that” movie, full of all those cliches that these movie bring with them.

  25. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 18th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    JP3 is just an excuse to get back on the island. Nothing wrong with it really. I am scared to say anything about how I think Lost World is better really, I think Paul is going to bust a nut over this and I don’t want to get caught in the cross fire.

  26. The story looks pretty retarded, too. I mean, I don’t care how smart the monkeys are, humans outnumber them like a million to one. And we have tanks and missiles and shit. I’m sure these issues are addressed but most movies don’t need you to suspend your disbelief just to watch the trailer.

  27. Does Johnston’s Ewok protagonist use magic to win 2 national championships and a Heisman with the University of Florida?

    Oh, no, wait, it’s like one of those kinda nerdy Ewok books, isn’t it, not one of the cool jock type Ewok books?

  28. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 18th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Does anyone know what the big dino is in JP3? I wasn’t even sure if it was based on a real dinosaur.

  29. Ace: It was a Spinosaurus and IS a real dinosaur, from what I’ve read.

  30. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 18th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Ok, just looked it up on wikipedia. That surprised me, I always thought they made up a bigger, meaner dino than the T-rex. Silly me, eh?

  31. Mouth — I think it would be unethical to use magic to win a Heisman. I was uneasy enough with Michael J. Fox using his werewolf powers to win basketabll games, but magic is just going too far. There should be a rule or something.

    CJ — It will most likely be just another “Oh noes, man played God and now is fucked because of that” movie, full of all those cliches that these movie bring with them.

    Watching the original JURASSIC PARK, that’s the one thing which really bothers me about it, especially knowing what a fucking asshole homophobe Michael Crichton was. The movie is so fucking preachy about Man Not Venturing Into the Areas Which Only God Should Control but it doesn’t even make a good argument for it! There would have been no problem if they’d just built stronger fences which wouldn’t be useless in the event of a power outage. It’s an argument for better engineering and better employee vetting, not against cloning dinosaurs. What a bunch of anti-scientific hysterical crap.

  32. Mr Subtlety

    I agree with the Crichton-bashing. Pray continue.

  33. I do remember a JP3 review by you, Vern. You brought up the scene where they introduced the Spinosaurus killed the T-Rex, the obvious “see? that guy was a pussy – this one’s the real fuckin deal!” moment. Or maybe that was in the context of a different review? Can’t remember.)

    Anyway, I don’t know anyone who has anything good to say about either equel. But I agree with the general consensus that both 2 and 3 have got great tand-out moments, but neither of them really connect on an emotional evel. For that matter, part 1 has got plenty of its own problems but I won’t get into that now.

    I think all 3 have good opening scenes: transporting the raptor turning into a disaster (“Shooooot herrrrrrr!”), the tiny dinos that swarm the little girl (they couldn’t come back for Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds?) and the cloud-covered hang-gliding attack from part 3.

  34. Jurassic Park is probably my favorite movie (it’s without a doubt the best blockbuster of the 90’s), JP was my Star Wars when I was a kid

    and I’ve hated JP3 since I saw it in theaters ten years ago, I agree with you 100% Vern, what a crushing disappointment for me it was

    what sums up this stupid fucking movie for me is the scene near the beginning when the kid is parachuting off the back of the boat, then a cloud passes by and then the guys driving the boat disappear for no reason, I mean what the fuck? there’s no dinosaurs in the water, the pterodactyls were still in their cage, so what the fuck was supposed to have happened? lazy writing that’s what

    ad Mr. Subtlety I think you’ve gone too far, Michael Crichton was homophobic? what on Earth are you talking about? (I have not read all of his books, so maybe you’re referencing something from one of them)

    I actually re-read the novel of Jurassic Park earlier this year and it’s great, I thought it had some thought provoking stuff and wasn’t just “anti-scientific hysterical crap” (the movie had to simplify the moral of the book for time)

  35. I know a little bit about Michael Crichton and what I know is all negative. I remember a few years ago when climate change was an actual topic being discussed, now that we’ve elected a Democrat president we don’t seem too worried about actually doing anything to fix it, and Michael Crichton wrote this piece about how humans were too insignificant to destroy the planet. It became a big deal on the right and even Charleton Heston did a reading of it.

    Of course, Michael Crichton is right. We can’t destroy the world. We can make it totally fucking unlivable for us, though. That he didn’t know the different just made me think he didn’t have anything else worth reading or caring about.

  36. Usually if I have forgotten a moment in a movie, a description of said moment jogs my memory. I’m with Mr. M, none of what is being described above rings ANY bells (shit, I remembered more about EVOLUTION for Vern’s review)

    I am also in the camp that the whole “Man shouldn’t play in God’s bouncy castle” theme is just bullshit. Cloned fucking Dinosaurs. Sure somebody will get eaten eventually, but of course we would clone fucking Dinosaurs if we could and it wouldn’t even be a discussion.

  37. I’m okay with us playing G-d as long as we don’t end up having sex with our creations.

    Adrien Brody is a fucking pervert.

  38. Casey – I knew his beliefs on global warming would be a sore spot with you guys

  39. (^spoiler^)

  40. I will actually go see OF THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES OF THE. Looks like dumb fun to me.

    I want JURASSIC PARK on Blu Ray but the upcoming release seems to be only in trilogy box-set form. I’m assuming they’ll release them individually after a while, like ALIEN(S)(3)(:RESURRECTION), but it’s a bummer having to wait. I don’t want the second or third one sullying my collection.

  41. See, I think if climate change is phrased as though he can be opposed to the science it tacitly gives validity to his beliefs.

    He doesn’t deny climate change. Instead, he implicitly believes in is a global conspiracy of scientists in every field imaginable coming together to fabricate the farce of climate change.

    He’s not a “skeptic”. That’s like calling a ghost hunter a “skeptic” because he refuses to believe the science that oppose his idea that ghosts actually exist.

  42. the only thing that bothers me about Michael Crichton is that he didn’t seem to be a big fan of the Japanese

    although I haven’t read that book Rising Sun and did read an interview where he said he has nothing against Japanese people, just Japanese corporations (which to be fair he seems to be a pretty anti-corporate guy in general)

    I do know however that in the book of Jurassic Park it’s made clear that the investors for the park are Japanese and that’s supposed to be some sinister thing (in fact at one point John Hammond makes reference to plan for a “Jurassic Park Japan” which makes me picture cute schoolgirls screaming when they see a T-Rex)

  43. Griff– well shit, I had read a number of places (I thought??) that Crichton advocated violent overthrow of the US goverment if gay marriage was legalized and had veered into far-right insanity by the end of his life. But a quick search of the internet reveals no corroboration for that (although he was a pretty obnoxious climate change denier, even making environmentalists villains in one of his later books). Does anyone else remember hearing this, or did I dream it or am I thinking of Orson Scott Card or something?

  44. Orson Scott Card is indeed who you are thinking of, who’s Mormon

    the only really controversial belief Crichton held was global warming related

  45. Fuck that guy. Ender’s Game is overrated anyways.

    (ducks for cover)

  46. I’ll be damned. I retract my accusation of homophobia. Sorry Michael, fuck you Orson. But the subtext to JURASSIC PARK about God’s Domain is still insipid. If I remember correctly, though, thats more in the movie than the book.

  47. All I know about Crichton is that he is:

    A – a doctor and/or scientist, or had studied in this field, and integrated a great deal of research in his fiction.

    B – very tall.

    C – deceased.

  48. D – The Ex-Husband of Sledge Hammer’s partner.

  49. I did a book report on Crichton’s A CASE OF NEED, an old book that was probably over my head in 8th or 9th grade, but I remember not caring for it. I recall then reading a newspaper or magazine article during a spike in public interest in Crichton (This is around the time of Sphere, Lost World, etc., and I think a bunch of journalists collectively decided it’d be a good idea to regularly ask Crichton about current events for this season.) and learning that he was an imbecile despite his ability to write fiction with some measure of scientifically credible underpinnings. I was proud of myself for disliking A CASE OF NEED and never read his other stuff.

  50. The only thing of his I ever read was TIMELINE, which was moderately entertaining despite Crichton’s slavish fetish to replace ‘time-travel’ with a convoluted and unconvincing theory of parallel-dimension every couple of pages.

    Dude, it was time-travel. Don’t beat yourself up over it. If it was good enough for Mark Twain, it’s good enough for the guy who (quick Internet search) wrote DISCLOSURE.


  52. I thought he was just riding the wave from BASIC INSTINCT.

    And from having Kirk Douglas as his dad, which is fucking boss.

  53. I have neither read TIMELINE nor seen the movie, but if the parallel dimension/time travel theory you talked about is the one that says that it’s impossible to travel through time, because every trip to the past just creates a new parallel universe, which is why we haven’t been visited by time traveler’s from the future yet and our world wasn’t destroyed by a time paradox yet, I think it’s a pretty fascinating theory. Mostly because of it’s mind fuck ability.

  54. Having read many (and endured some) of Crichton’s books, I will say they began better than they ended. ANDROMEDA STRAIN is good, JP is excellent, even AIRFRAME is pretty good, but beyond that he seemed to believe his own hype as a futurist and predictor of global technology trends and he’s almost as bad as Stephen King at losing the plot at the end.

    And speaking of King, has Vern reviewed DREAMCATCHER?

    That’s a review I would LOVE to read.

  55. I haven’t seen JURASSIC PARK III since it opened, but I’ve seen THE LOST WORLD half a dozen times. TLW is my favourite JP movie, even though it’s generally accepted as the worst. The original is fun, but more catered toward children and content to play as a theme park ride. LOST WORLD amplifies the ferocity, as well as the comedy. I’ve heard those rumours about Spielberg directing it via video conferencing. Even if that’s true, I feel it boasts the best filmmaking of the series–the most palpable terror, kinetic camera movements and suggestive edits. Plus, if a t-rex smashing a city bus into a Blockbuster isn’t a standout moment in film history, we really need to rethink our lives.

    My main memory of JP3 is that Tea Leoni’s character demanded an early death. It went back to the kid-friendly light-heartedness of part 1, but without Spielberg’s mastery. (There’s nothing as evocative as the time and technology collapsing cut between flying birds and a helicopter at the end of the original film.) THE LOST WORLD is a standout action film of the ’90s. JP3 is acceptable but anonymous.

  56. I think one reason JP2 was so reviled (at least by me anyway) is because it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the book upon which it was based, and the book was 100 times better.

    At least the first one was reasonably faithful to the book (although I still hold out hope that one day someone will have the balls to put out a hard R rated dinosaur movie with the same budget, reboot anyone?), but JP2 pretty much jettisoned anything even remotely resembling the book other than a couple of set pieces (the trailer scene for example) and the island location itself.

    JP3 actually used several sequences that got left out of the first movie that were in the book, so maybe that’s why people hate on it less. Although the whole Spinosaurus thing was dumb, anyone who knows anything about dinosaurs knows the T-Rex was the biggest of the carnivorous bipeds.

  57. “To me, the dinosaurs in part 3 seem more like monsters than animals.” I think this is why people tend to like JP3 more than 2. Neither is a great film, or even a particularly good film, but 3 knew it was a B-movie and made an entertaining, if largely forgettable, film experience. JP2, on the other hand, was a slog to get through, but at the same time didn’t know whether it wanted to be a credible sequel or a B-movie cash in. The only positive thing I can really say about 2 is that Pete Postlethwaite was pretty damn good, but he leaves the film halfway in.

  58. I remember seeing tons of B-movie cash-ins for Jurassic Park whenever I would go to the rental shop as a kid. Which was the best of them? I think the only one I saw was Carnosaur or something similar. I honestly can only remember something about small dinosaurs, I think they were animatronic, chasing some people in a lab or something.

    Were there any good ones? I figured if anyone knew a good DTV JP ripoff it would be the Outlaw Nation.

  59. JP1 was far from a masterpiece. It is quite boring for many long stretches in my opinion. Its characters are much too cliched for me to care about them all that much. It did however have a few fantastic set pieces.

    JP2 didn’t seem to have the long boring stretches but it was still a little embarassing. The gymnast thing was awful. The characters were wooden. However it had a few more fantastic set pieces than JP1.

    Either way I would rather watch a half hour highlight reel of both JP1 and JP2 put together than either movie. By far. And that is not the mark of good cinema.

    A highlight reel of all three movies would not have any part of JP3 in it, at all. It is that bad.

    But it does have Tea Leoni. If I were a dinosaur I would eat her first. Yum.

  60. Just going to throw a shout out to Michael Crichton’s Looker, which is not a great movie but 1) has its moments, 2) is batshit crazy, and 3) is like Videodrome’s retarded cousin.

  61. CJ nailed it. I haven’t seen JPIII in a long long time but then again I haven’t seen JPII since it was in theaters. I just remember coming out of JPIII having had enjoyed all it’s zaniness with dinosaurs running amock. I don’t think it asked to be much more.

    While I came out of JPII wondering if there was a way I could get a refund on a 2 1/2 hour waste of time. It tried so hard to be a legitimately good movie on par with the original and it failed on almost every level. To it’s credit thought that trailer scene was pretty good the only thing that sucked was that the one likeable character got shredded by the t-rexes and flipped like a pancake. While the annoying younger guy (Vince Vaughn) got to live.

    None matched the brilliance of the original but the thing is when the original dropped we NEVER saw anything like that before. That freshness at that time in terms of it’s use of practical FX and CGI coupled with it’s scale and execution made it lightning in a bottle. By the time of THE LOST WORLD and especially JPIII most people were accustomed to and even sick of CGI so of course that sense of wonder is completely gone. Considering that I think Johnston took the better route by just rolling with the big budget b-movie flavor and not the “let’s try to recapture the magic” desperate vibe that TLW reeked of.

    My favorite thing related to Crichton is still WESTWORLD though. Matter of fact it’s high time I pull that one from the collection and give it a rewatch soon.

  62. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES got my money the minute the trailer showed an ape in a suburban bedroom spying on a sleeping human couple. That shit seems too fucking hilarious to pass up. Looks like pure gold especially since they seem to be playing it so damned straightfaced and not just having fun with such a ridiculous concept. Could be the unintentionally hilarious sleeper of the year.

  63. it always makes me sad to see people diss Jurassic Park

    it also makes me said to see people diss Michael Crichton, I have not read a whole lot of his books yet, but the book of Jurassic Park rocks and that makes him fine in my book

    not to drag things off topic, but it seems like people always give authors a hard time though

    Stephen King for example is pretty damn popular on the internet, but you always hear how he doesn’t know how to end his books, even from fans, almost as if people are embarrassed to admit to liking him and have to temper their love for him with harsh criticisms of his endings

    Sweetooth0 – I would only be ok with a remake if it was hard R

    that’s one of the major differences between the book and the movie is that the book is surprisingly gory (by gore I mean descriptions of stuff of course), the velociraptors are absolutely vicious in the book, ripping peoples guts out and stuff

    the beginning of the book is great, it starts out with a worker being flown to a small hospital in Costa Rica who got mauled by a Raptor and has extremely deep cuts on his back and legs

  64. Was this the summer of yearning for Indiana Jones? Tomb Raider tried to be him. Brendan Fraser tried to evoke him. Sam Neill pulled his hat down like him. Weird.

  65. caruso_stalker217

    July 18th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Jeff Goldblum in THE LOST WORLD was a sexy motherfucker. I wish I were half the man he is.

    And TIMELINE (book, not movie) was pretty legit, from what I recall. And it was half time travel half inter-dimensional nonsense. I believe it was something like… in OUR reality, Roger Ebert, we construct one half of the time travel whatsit, while in some other different but extremely very similar universe they have the missing component or something. Time travel in that dimension is possible, or some bullshit, and when people travel back in time from our reality they are actually destroyed and replaced by the different yet identical in every way version that is capable of traveling through time. This information is kept from the rookie time travelers as that is pretty fucked up, in my opinion.

    Man, they really fucked up the movie though. Shame. The book was pretty badass.

  66. What the hell is up with all the bitching about Planet Of The Apes prequel? You can’t suspend your disbelief enough for that film? That’s just so strange to me – A lot of classic movies have a lot more far-fetched concepts than POTA prequel. The trailers for it have been FAR better than I would have expected, and the filmmaking seems very good to me, judging by actual scenes from the film:


    Sure the CGI can look iffy in places. But so what? Since when are the effects the most important thing? I like that footage because it comes off as very well written and directed. I’m now officially looking forward to seeing this in the opening weekend.

    And if you don’t know how a few hundred apes could possibly win a few billion humans… Well, it seems kinda obvious to me: The film deals with viruses.

  67. I find it suprising that people prefer JP3 over Lost World because JP3 is according to them a more “straightforward”, “lean”, “mean”, “dark”, etc, B-movie.

    What did you think Lost World was, then? THAT is the ultimate B-movie roller-coaster ride of the franchise. It has a lot more action, more laughs, more brutality and more outlandish scenarios than JP3. It’s basically a collection of awesome action set-pieces, each one more over the top than than the other. It also has the most badass characters in the franchise (Jeff Goldblum and the awesome Pete Postlewheite), as opposed to the somewhat boring family guys of JP3.

    JP3 is a lot more tame and safe family film in comparison to Lost World, so the arguments of it being the ultimate B-movie of the franchise make no sense whatsoever. As a balls-to-the-walls exploitation action film, Lost World trumps it in every way.

  68. I never referred to JP III as “dark”, but as “dark humored”, which is a difference. And yes, if you rate the JP movies by their on-screen violence, part 2 is the “best”. (Richard Schiff getting ripped in half, a guy getting squished by a T-Rex and sticks under his foot for a while and so on)
    But to be honest, I prefer the “Oh shit, why are we in the middle of this” hilarity of Tea Leoni hanging upside down from a tree while a bunch of Raptors is jumping at her or the group running from a Spinosaurus, just to run into a T-Rex and getting caught right in the middle of a fight between the two.

  69. On why a lot of people don’t like Lost World, these are the main arguments I’ve heard over the years:

    1. It’s not really a story, just a collection of set pieces. But IMHO the same is true of both sequels, and to and extent the first movie. The first movie had the novelty factor, which made it feel more of a story.

    2. It’s completely over the top. Some people mistakenly think that this means the film is dumb – They are wrong, it’s in fact often a very clever film. But after the more cerebral first movie, the “anything goes” B-movie mentality of Lost World just rubbed many people the wrong way.

    3. It has “unlikeable” characters. Meaning that the characters are a collection of cynics and anti-heroes, instead of the more likable and warm characters in the 1st and 3rd movies. Again, personally I find this collection of anti-heroes a lot more likable than the somewhat bland and boring characters in the other movies.

    About the smartness of Lost World: It has probably best dialogue Koepp has ever written. Some of my favorite quotes, this is really funny stuff:

    [After one member of the party disappears and gets eaten by dinosaurs]
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Did you find him?
    Roland Tembo: Just the parts they didn’t like.

    [Ian and Nick talking about Nick’s background in political activism]
    Nick Van Owen: I do some volunteer work for Greenpeace once in a while.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Greenpeace? What drew you there?
    Nick Van Owen: Women. 80 percent female, Greenpeace.

    [searching the island for Sarah]
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Sarah! Sarah!
    Nick Van Owen: Sarah Harding!
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: How many Sarahs you think are on this island? Sarah!

    [John Hammond is determined to not let the events of JP1 happen again]
    John Hammond: Don’t worry, I’m not making the same mistakes again.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, you’re making all new ones.

    [Ian has to leave Kelly, to find some extra help]
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: I’ll be right back. I give you my word.
    Kelly Malcolm: But you *never* keep your word!

    [Sarah Harding talking to Dr. Ian Malcolm, her ex-fiancee]
    Sarah Harding : I’ve worked around predators since I was 20 years old. Lions, jackals, hyenas… you.

    …That stuff is hilarious. :D The film is endlessly quotable.

  70. CJ HOLDEN, I think that Lost World is also a lot more “dark humored” than JP3. It has a very macabre sense of humor – A guy getting ripped in half in the jaws of two dinosaurs and the other guy getting stuck on the foot of the T-rex are not only examples of gruesomeness, but also of the twisted sense of humor the film has. Another good example is the unfortunate dog who gets eaten in the city, and the death is visually played as jokey punch-line. It’s a very blackly comic film, which shows not only in physical jokes, but also in the sarcastic dialogue.

    Lost World is basically Spielberg reveling in his juvenile tendencies. Anything goes in this film, and nothing could ever be too over the top for it. Which is exactly why I love it. It’s a way more edgy and badass film than either JP1 or JP3.

  71. caruso_stalker217

    July 19th, 2011 at 1:06 am

    “Personally I would’ve squeezed just a little bit harder.”

  72. caruso_stalker217 – I’m a little miffed that you just spoiled Timeline, but it’s ok, that only makes me want to read the book even more

    anyway it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen The Lost World (I don’t think I’ve seen it since it came out on VHS, yes that long ago), so I can’t really too fairly judge it, however I do remember it being better than 3

    one cool scene I do remember well is John Hammond giving a speech on CNN about the dinosaurs at the end of the movie and then it cutting to a T rex roaring on the island, that was pretty cool

    also storytime boys and girls, The Lost World is in fact the first “event movie” that I clearly remember seeing in theaters and oh man was I pumped for it, good Lord, I was 7 years old and it felt like I had been waiting my entire life for it (which I pretty much had)

    what’s cool is I knew absolutely nothing about the movie, I hadn’t seen the trailer and I didn’t even know what the story was gonna be, I do remember being disappointed that Alan Grant wasn’t in it

    also one of my teachers from my school sat right behind me in the theater, that was a lot of fun, at one point (I believe it was when a raptor sticks it’s head under a door) she jumped out of her seat and said “whooooo!”

    so yeah, the movie was an experience in theaters to be sure, however I never liked it as much I liked the original and subsequently it never got watched at home as often as the original did

    I bet I just made you guys feel old huh?

  73. Vern – I think it’s revealed that Leoni/Macy are actually not rich assholes, but middle-class people who bluffed about being rich to hire these Mercs. Which shouldn’t really make them any more sympathetic if you don’t like the characters but I liked them.

    Which is why i prefer JP3 to JP2. Besides the running time and “lean” story, the characters are alot more likable to me than in JP2, especially because they don’t cause the deaths of a bunch of people (looking at you, Vince Vaughn’s character). I like Pete Posthlewaite the actor, but found nothing badass about his character as seen in his screen time of JP2. I mean, I understand the IDEA his character is supposed to be badass, but it’s not developed at all.

    JP2’s ONE likable character (Schiff) is killed in a way that’s supposed to be kinda funny and make 10 year olds (or fanboys) go “AWESOME!”. I guess some people like that mean-spiritedness (along with the “stuck to the foot” scene and the dog scene), and I do too sometimes, but shit like that should be in Snakes on a Plane or Piranha 3D or something, not a JP movie.

    I haven’t even brought up the “lazy Hispanic stereotype eats a candy bar while blasting Mariachi music and hilariously can’t hear his friend dying” scene. Or the fact that scene is supposed to be an awesome comeuppance for Stormare b/c he messed with nature and tased a cute Compy earlier, even though said Compy probably ate Camilla Belle. But it’s cute and man is the real enemy, blah blah.

    JP3 is by no means very good – it really DOES look like a SyFy movie as mentioned above, and the special FX in a lot of scenes are atrocious. It also makes the same mistake as JP2 where they bring a bunch of armed mercs to an island and then nobody shoots a dinosaur (and even worse, in this one they even have a scene to show how awesome the .50 cal is and then they never use it!) Also witness the neck-breaking scene. And the ending with the skull-flute thing is dumb. And the army saving the day. And the assistant showing up alive at the end. I guess I like JP3 over JP2 the same way I prefer Scream 3 to Scream 2, or Beverly Hills Cop III(!!!) to Beverly Hills Cop II. As in, they’re both not very good but 3 at least isn’t as nasty and mean-spirited.

  74. I was 14 when Lost World came out, I also seen it with my class. I have to say I was significantly less enchanted by it than you were, it was by then only just hitting the ”pretty neat” button.

    When the first JP came out, I really loved it. There was a real side show feeling about it, See REAL DINOSAURS! REAL DINOSAURS! Man was I a sucker for anything with dinosaurs, and for the first time I looked at the images and thought ”Wow that’s probably how they were…”

    But there just isn’t anything there once you get over the initial theme park ride style plot of the first film. Think about it, what can you really do with the story and characters that would be genuinely interesting? Sure, let someone like Wener Herzog or Cronenberg go wild with the idea of resurrected dinos and maybe something interesting could be seen. But that isn’t the type of story or setting Crichton created. It is a theme park scale story and a theme park scale world.

    As for Crichton the author, I was a huge fan as a kid. I read his older adventures titles first, Jurassic Park, Eaters of the Dead, Congo, and then Rising Sun when I was 11, several times. How proud I was to be reading an adult book about adult things like ”the economy” and ”international politics”, oh how proud. And when Disclosure came out I read it and once again was so proud… Except by the time I finished it, I wasn’t really. I thought about it and realized that Crichton was writing books for people that didn’t really use computers, while acting like he was a scientist, or at least futurist. His description of ”VIRTUAL REALITY” and its application to business/the court room in Disclosure was kind of laughable. But wow was that sex scene hot.

    As an adult, looking back on those stories, I think Crichton was probably kind of an ass. He talks really big about technology, but none of his ideas were even as interesting as a common article in Scientific American magazine. He writes great page turners, but whenever he tries to talk about real life issues it gets kind of embarrassing. Look at Rising Sun. That book is often jokingly compared to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for a reason–it portrays ”The Japanese” and their ”Ways” as one would write about a type of rare bird or alien species, an inherently hostile, emotionless, nearly inhuman species, make no mistake. So it is embarrassing. His thoughts, such as they are, on the nature of America’s relationship with Japan in those days are deep enough to impress and eleven year old, but about as insightful as what your drunken bitter grandpa might say when he hears you bought a Toyota instead of a Ford.

    Also, I’m sorry, but adding a paper thin ”good” background character among the bad guys or a postscript to your book about how fair and balanced your story is, does not make your story fair and balanced. This shit also shows up yet again in Disclosure, which might have also been titled ”An Evil Succubus/Career Woman Heartlessly Wrecked my LIFE– oh wait it turned out to really all be the plot of some dude so hey guys I don’t actually hate powerful women, ok?”

    If you turn off your brain, the guy is a great writer, but if you think about his ideas and think about the more broad implications of his sense of justice and world view… well as I said, he seems like a bit of an ass.

  75. oh. that comment was kinda directed at Griff. Damn I need to not yammer on so long.

  76. neal2zod: The fate of the two hard boiled mercs in JP3 is one of my favourite weird touches of the movie. You see them and you know they will be responsible for one or two action scenes. Then right at the beginning they go into the jungle and we don’t see what’s happening, but only one comes back…crying. (And gets killed seconds later.)
    I think that was more hilarious than all eaten dogs in part 2.

  77. gingersoll: Yes, part 1 has a paper thin story, but you can’t tell me that the T-Rex attack or the kitchen scene are in terms of suspense right up there with any random scene in JAWS!

  78. CJ: Oh I agree! He was a great page turner, his books did not sell millions because they had fancy covers. The guy really knew how to take an intriguing idea and build a thriller around it.

  79. CJ – yeah i still can’t decide if the fate of the two mercs is a ripoff or hilarious.

    Also, has anyone read Crichton’s Prey? I read it solely b/c I kept hearing people talk about it re: The Black Smoke from Lost. And (not really a spoiler), coincidentally me and a friend were just discussing movies and how stupid it is that a really powerful movie villain, who can do ANYTHING, eventually will end up just grabbing the hero and tossing him around the room.

    So imagine my surprise when the monster in Prey (a swarm/cloud of nanobites that can kill you in a myriad of ways) eventually takes human form….and keeps grabbing the hero and throwing him around the room! I still want to see a movie version though.

  80. I’ve only read two Crichton books and one Dan Brown book and they seem to both be the same. Neither are especially good at writing or inventing interesting characters but they both manage to write books that tap into the zeitgeist of business air travelers and middle aged women.

  81. Didn’t Crichton write CONGO?

  82. I’ll see your “bickering assholes” and raise you “divinely protected bickering assholes.” As I recall, the entire family was obnoxious. Can’t remember how Tea Leoni got trapped in the dangerous situation, but moneybags Macy was well aware of the danger and gets people to help him by throwing cash around. Movie then kills off everyone whose need for money (and maybe their compassion) edges out their better judgment, leaving the jerkwad clan united so the audience is sent out with a warm smile. Fuck that. Vile people who have a tie amongst themselves are still vile people, and this movie is engineered to convey that unobjectionable people without visible bonds are expendable, and that if you’ve got a cash advantage there’s no responsibility to whatever deals you strike with them. The underlying ethos of this family adventure is “I got mine – too bad for you”, and it’s sickening.

  83. Man, as the person here who is probably most in favor of recreating dinosaurs and having them devour the bourgeoisie (seriously, if a politician promises that they get my vote) I still didn’t end up hating the family in JP3. I didn’t like them, but I never found them especially disagreeable. I guess they seemed secondary to the hat guy and his 20something assistant and their whole thing that the bourgeoisie just existed as a pretense to get to the island.

    What I’m trying to say is this: if the proletariat are unable to eat the rich than I am okay with dinosaurs doing it instead.

  84. In this massive thread about Jurassic Park and Crichton, how has no one brought up that he was repeating himself/ripping himself off when writing that first book? No fans of “Westworld”, eh?

    Wanna see a good Crichton movie adaptation? Avoid “Congo” and “Timeline”, check out “The 13th Warrior” based on his book “Eaters of the Dead”.

  85. If you’re in the right mood for big-budget stupid then CONGO can really hit the spot. There isn’t a second of the movie that isn’t profoundly dumb, but everyone is obviously having such a good time chewing scenery it makes it enjoyable to me (I swear Ernie Hudson and Tim Curry had a bet on who could crank out a more ridiculous accent, then Delroy Lindo wins).

    They also shoot Albino Gorillas with a laser.

  86. Jaimerey – I LOVE The 13th Warrior, there’s a sparseness and simplicity involved that makes it feel almost like a lost classic or foreign film. It’s really underrated.

    But I do like Congo alot as a guilty pleasure. Curry and Hudson’s wacky accents, and Delroy Lindo’s scene alone are worth the rental. (Btw, wasn’t Congo supposed to be made back in the 80s with Brian DePalma and Sean Connery? What I wouldn’t give to see THAT movie)

  87. I’m a huge King of the Hill fan and one of my favorite episodes involves Peggy helping a prostitute get her GED and part of their study plan is for her to read and talk about Congo. Them talking about shooting lasers at gorillas as though it’s fine literature makes me laugh.

  88. Really? This far in and nobody is going to mention the obscene ridiculousness of that kid surviving on his own for like three weeks on an ISLAND OF DINOSAURS? And then Grant asks him where he got that dinosaur piss, and he’s like, “You don’t wanna know.” ACTUALLY, YES, YOU ARE A KID ALONE ON DINOSAUR ISLAND I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW YOU GOT DINOSAUR PISS WITHOUT DYING.

    Once I saw that kid pop up alive, I remember thinking, “Oh. This one is a kid’s movie.”

    Jurassic Park was one of the most memorable moviegoing experiences of my life, I loved every second. And then the second one was alright, some sequences are great, there’s genuine craft and great setpieces. And the audacity to put a T-Rex on the mainland was too ridiculous to not begrudgingly enjoy. But I have tried to get through a second viewing of Jurassic Park III for years now, and the bickering of totally-unlikable Macy and Leoni makes me want to throw the DVD in the garbage. Aside from Grant (coasting off his residual good will from being in the first film), NO ONE is worth rooting for in this movie.

    Even the beginnings of the first two films were pretty great. Once this one begins with a terrible green-screened paragliding kid and his hammy uncle, it just feels tacky.

  89. Re: CONGO: Plus, Bruce Campebll plays a corpse!

  90. caruso_stalker217

    July 19th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Griff —

    That wasn’t too big a spoiler as it probably comprises only a handful of sentences and is never mentioned again.

  91. Gabe, really? Come on, after two movies full of dinosaur mayhem, where kids survived even the most vicious attack with nothing worse than a bloody knee, you thought letting the kid survive in part 3 was some kind of a surprising cop out?

  92. I wonder what the hell kids who can’t remember the 90s must make of the VR stuff at the end of DISCLOSURE?

  93. In many ways Congo most clearly represents Chricton’s prose on screen. He’s pretty much a hack writer, but an often enjoyable hack writer. I remember liking his stuff when I was in middle school. In a lot of ways, I think it is much easier to adapt a pulpy action or sci-fi novel than to adapt a classic. Mediocre books can be turned into fantastic movies.

  94. Westworld. That’s more like it… “Draw!”

  95. Holy shit, guys, they really are making a Captain Planet movie. It was just announced today.


    What are the fucking odds?

    Maybe now somebody can explain to me why anyone thinks this is a good idea in a post-Green Lantern world.

  96. This is especially strange for me, as I visited captainplanet.com or http://www.turner.com/planet/index_splash.html just yesterday to research one of griff’s comments. Today I became confused as to whether I was psychic or if this was already news or. . .?

    I ended up perusing that website for longer than I care to admit, but maybe my clicking on all the links there served as the straw breaking the camel’s back, where the camel represents the world without a Captain Planet movie. I know nothing of Green Lantern and I support this move.

  97. Mouth – what comment did I make that made you research Captain Planet? I don’t remember mentioned Captain Planet

    RBatty024 – I’m ok with hack writers so long as they’re still entertaining, as I mentioned in the Hobo With A Shotgun review there’s a horror author named Richard Laymon who is definitely a hack, but damn if his stuff isn’t entertaining

    I read purely for fun, so sue me, I’ve never read “War and Peace” or anything like that, heck Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon defeated me

  98. Oh, my bad, whoever it was that mentioned that awesome cartoon. Apparently I need the services of Captain Cure For Memory Loss. Drinking Kombucha has not the desired effect on my brain cells.

  99. I prefer JP3 over 2, but I don’t regard either as a classic. Come to think of it, even JP1 is wicked overrated. Part 1 holds up as a good film and as a special effects breakthrough, but when you strip away the “Gee whiz, Spielberg does a summer tentpole about Dinosaurs” hype, I just don’t think it’s that great. And it takes a wicked long time to develop any real momentum or suspense. Anyway…
    I remember that at the time I thought Last Action Hero was much better and that the world had gone crazy.

    W/ JP2, it did just seem like more of the same, and kind of forced. If I recall, there was a very brief scene w/ Attenborough that seemed contrived to get them back on the Island as soon as possible. It just seemed like a very forced and unconvincing set up. For whatever reason, the JP3 set up that gets Neil back to the island seems more credible. JP2 doesn’t justify it’s existence as a sequel–it’s too derivative of part 1, and it may give us bigger and more, but I don’t think that’s enough if you can’t also deliver a more compelling and clever story.

    JP3 doesn’t offer much new either, but like others, I appreciate what seems like a deliberate choice to make a smaller-scale survival/rescue film that takes place in the world of (a dilapidated) Jurassic Park as opposed to a ponderous “man plays God” epic. It doesn’t take itself so seriously, and I think it’s more fun, more distinct from part 1, and I have to admit that if I’m only going to get one of the two characters (and not the dynamic between them), I like the Sam Neil character more than the Goldlbum character. Neil has an earnest, unpretentious quality that I prefer to Goldblum’s self-importantly eccentric oddball.

  100. Last Action Hero better than Jurassic Park? I think you’re the crazy one

    I mean you can’t be serious

  101. caruso_stalker217

    July 19th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    It was I who made the original Captain Planet reference.


  102. You know, I think I gotta side with Last Action Hero over Jurassic Park.

    At the time I would have said Jurassic Park. As an adult and with the context of what’s come after I have to say that Last Action Hero is “better”.

  103. I remember enjoying both movies in theaters that summer. LAST ACTION HERO is one of the best satire ever at points. One of my favorite McTiernan movies because of how he pokes fun at his own directing tropes. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s HAMLET is too classic. I think that alone stands up well against the best of JP. JP may have been better well received and the one that was also a non-flop but it wasn’t as fun as LAST ACTION HERO was and even as a kid I did feel this. Despite the fact that LAH went over everyone’s head apparently. So I could see how someone could prefer LAH to JP. Simply because LAH will always hold a special place in my heart along with the original JP.

  104. Is this some sort of really early viral marketing to clue us in that BIZARRO-WORLD is going to figure into Snyder’s Superman?

    I mean… Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?!?!?!

  105. Ok, I didn’t like it better than JP, but Last Action Hero is really really under-rated. I damn-near pissed in my pants during the Hamlet scene and the “shooting the guy hiding in the closet” scene. I like the two hits – “Big Gun” by AC/DC and even “Two Steps Behind” by Def Leppard (sssshhhhh….) That was my second most anticipated movie of ’93 (after Cliffhanger – I didn’t give a shit about Jurassic Park and saw it over a year later – STILL in theatres strangely!). It’s always bothered me that Arnold publicly dissed LAH and cracked jokes about it being terrible, which I guess you have to do, but there’s lots of good stuff in there and he’s fantastic in it. It’s probably his second or third best performance, and that’s saying alot.

  106. As a kid I watched LAH it more than JP. I liked so many of the strange gags and props and set ups… The jokey comic book action randomly interrupted by sudden moments of cold (PG13) brutality. The utter weirdness of how none of the movie logic makes sense despite how much they keep trying to explain it over and over.

    Also, for me, JP really bombed on the small screen. I had the pleasure of seeing it on the big screen, but after the let down of Trex on 25 inches I kind of just let the film be for many years. LAH was wild and weird no matter what size screen it was on, so I watched it quite a bit back in fourth grade.

    Also, I loved that dude with the rain coat and the axe. He was so creepy and withered, yet when Arnold talks to him the dude is surprisingly coherent. And Ron silver with his red beard and cool eye, acting like such a dick you can’t imagine his dickness factor could possibly increase. And the Hamlet scene and the Seventh Seal scene, and the hot daughter who was just young enough for fourth grade me to think ”yeah if I had a magic ticket I’d have a chance”, and the old man who realizes he had a magic ticket all those years and can never get to use it now, and Arnold with his pitiful speech about his ex wife… I dunno, it was a fun movie as a kid.

  107. Btw, it was Charles Dance as the baddie, not Ron Silver, but they did look similar!

  108. Oh crazy. My foggy memory I could have swore it was Silver.

  109. Sweetooth0 wrote: “Although the whole Spinosaurus thing was dumb, anyone who knows anything about dinosaurs knows the T-Rex was the biggest of the carnivorous bipeds.”

    Actually Spinosaurus was indeed bigger, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2006/feb/08/internationalnews …a side-by-side diagram of those guys along with “Giganotosaurus” (also bigger than T. Rex) is at http://tyrannus-rex.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=wwwwww&thread=102&page=1

    I’m a big dinosaur nerd. That thing verne said about the dinosaurs acting more like real animals in part 2 and more like generic rampaging monsters in 3 was one of the main reasons I didn’t like 3…I mean why was the Spinosaurus constantly chasing the humans anyway? They would have been pretty insignificant morsels for it, I’m sure there were bigger dinos around for it to eat.

    I think of all movie dinosaurs I still like Harryhausen’s the best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9kmjW73-v4

  110. hear me out on this one but i have this strange feeling michael bay will be directing JP 4. Hes going to find a way to keep working with spielberg again just to convince himself of credibility while the fact it has summer spectacle written all over it seems like an obvious choice for him. Starring Ewan Mcgregor‚ Shia Lebouf, Will Smith, and Martin Lawrence. More clones‚ more explosions‚ and more reasons to use unecessary laughs and CG! Did we mention this is another sequel titled with a really long subtitle! JURASSIC PARK 4: The ISLAND with BAD BOYS. Coming soon to break box office records and hearts of film go-ers around the world.

  111. Unless his schedule will prevent him from doing so, I think it’s pretty clear that Joe Johnston will return to the director’s chair.

  112. Only here could a critical comparison of the three Jurassic Park films transition so easily into an honest and sincere Last Action Hero appreciation thread. Yet another reason why this is my favourite place on the internets.

  113. Ah, Last Action Hero. There is one scene in that has always stuck in my mind and it’s right after the Kid has come into the movie world and been in his first big action car chase. Arnold and the Kid are walking up the steps into the police station and as they go in two recognizable people pass them on their way out. Two the left is Robert Patrick as the T-1000 and to there right is Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell from Basic Instinct. That one moment where two different Villains from two Very different movies intersect always makes me thing of the movie that could have been. When Charles Dance starts talking about all the movie bad guys he could bring against Arnold it just sounds like the greatest idea ever! Instead we get Sir Ian McKellen as Death from The Seventh Seal. Cool but it could have been so much more. The crossover potential was (and still could be if the powers that be ever wanted to remake it) limitless. Hell they could even bring in the Spineosaures from JP3 and bring everything full circle!

  114. hey now, I’ve seen a lot worse than Last Action Hero, I can dig it’s early 90’s style

    but better than Jurassic Park? you guys are crazy, them’s fighting words, come at me bro

  115. Yeah,
    Don’t get me wrong, Last Action Hero is a fun movie and I enjoy it, but it is not even in the same stratosphere as Jurassic Park (which I also agree is a deeply flawed movie, but it’s pros outweigh its cons x100).
    I do not think Last Action Hero is any kind of clever deconstruction. Black’s script may have been, but it’s execution is far too cartoony to be taken seriously as a true genre deconstruction.

  116. One thing that bothers me in LAH is that they play up the idea that in the movie universe, bad guys can’t ever win and everything always ends up fine, but that’s kinda undermined by the reveal that Slater’s kid was MURDERED at the end of the previous movie.
    Charles Dance was and IS awesome. Love that scene where he kills the guy in the street just to guage police response time. He’s pretty good as a ruthless prick in GAME OF THRONES too.

  117. You wanna be a farmer? Here’s two ‘achers.’

    I rest my case.

  118. I did also like that scene where the bad guys just happen to crash their truck into a building full of lingerie models doing a photo shoot

  119. Man, you guys started something. I not just finally bought the whole JP Trilogy on DVD, Spielberg has also apparently announced at that nerd gathering, that he is going to direct part 4 “in the near future”. Okay, he is saying this since 10 years, but hey, why not?

  120. I could also never reconcile the death of Slater’s kid with the kind of movies he was supposed to be in. Could you really imagine one of Arnie’s movies ending that way? I mean, it would be awesome, a total kick in the nuts, but it just wouldn’t happen, and if it did, the movie wouldn’t then immediately have that AC/DC song over the end credits like Slater had just offed a bad guy with a chainsaw crossbow or something. And then the next movie in the series starts with him cracking jokes like nothing happened. It just doesn’t scan. It’s doing something that would never have happened in the kinds of movies they were deconstructing.

    Still, LAH is awesome and I have probably watched it as many times as I’ve watched JP or JP2.

  121. Yeah, the “Slater’s Kid” storyline never made sense to me. I understand why they did it, for the whole surrogate father-son/Ripley-Newt thing, and so Jack would be resentful of how the screenwriters or whoever made his life a living hell for their amusement/the box office grosses. But it was just too unrealistic. It would have made more sense if the son character was just “written out” like most unpopular franchise characters are (i.e. Jar Jar Binks in most of Episode II or III), and Arnold could be mad about that instead. He doesn’t get why his son’s always with the ex-wife, something like that.

    Also, (and Harry Knowles brings this plot point up over and over again) – the hero defeating the same villain he already defeated at the beginning is usually a bad idea, tension and story-wise. When Charles Dance talks about bringing Dracula and King Kong through the screen to wreak havoc, it really does make you wonder why the hell he only brought some chump that Slater already killed. (That’s basically my only complaint with the awesome Undisputed II as well)

  122. I can imagine that he brought the Ripper out of the movie for psychological reasons. Just to torture him with the idea that the guy, who killed his son because the script was written that way, now even is alive again and has a good chance to win.

  123. Plus, injecting more Tom Noonan into your movie is never a bad idea. I like how the Ripper, a cartoon psycho in a movie within a movie, manages to have more soul than any other character in the flick.

    But some King Kong would have been appreciated. A Kong/Noonan team-up would pretty much rock my face off.

  124. My problem with LAST ACTION HERO is the same as the one I have with SHOOT ‘EM UP. They both make fun of action movie one-liners, but their jokes about bad one-liners are not as funny (or as badass) as most of the one-liners they are parodying. I think if you are going to make fun of something like that you should have the decency to actually be funnier than your target. That just seems like the respectable thing to do.

  125. the reason why Jake is that one liners (at least of the Arnold variety) are meant to be funny anyway, you can’t parody something that’s already a joke

  126. I agree with CJ and Casey on this one. My opinion is that JP3 is not in any way as good as JP1, but it’s far, far better than JP2. I kinda get Vern’s point about Macy and Leoni, although I didn’t mind them myself (the film needed a few non-professionals to “ground” it, and I think these two did the job adequately). BUT…

    In “JP2” every single one of the “main” characters is stupid, deluded, incompetent, ungrateful, and just plain annoying. They’re also directly responsible for the deaths of the “bloodthirsty” marines that we’re supposed to root AGAINST because – erm – they’re bloodthirsty marines? Never mind that as it turns out, they’re the ones in the right?

    I mean, I think I made myself clear in my “Buried” review (now there’s an ironic title for a film if ever there was one) that I do not consider spending one and a half hours trapped in a coffin with an asshole a fun or productive use of my time. In “Jurassic Park 2” every single character fits this description, with the exception of the ones who sacrifice themselves to SAVE the assholes. Seriously, did anybody remember how Jeff Goldblum made Ian Malcolm both smart and likeable in “Jurassic Park”? What the hell happened to him?

  127. Yeah, I just finished rewatching part 2 five minutes ago and holy shit, was that a dumb movie. I enjoyed it when I was 15, but now I just dislike any aspect of it*. It should be renamed into “Lots of idiots do stupid things”. There is not one single character in the movie, who makes any sense! Maybe Ian Malcolm, but…I don’t know, even he became a cold asshole. I mean, they tell us two times that Julian Moore’s character knows how to deal with predators from all over the world, but apparently she doesn’t knowsthat you DO NOT TOUCH AN INFANT or walk around with a bloody shirt when you are hunted by large, carnivorous animals!
    Not to mention when Malcolm and his girls run away from a Raptor, that is busy with Moore’s “lucky pack”, just to make a left turn and run around RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM and are then surprised when he sees and attacks them.
    Not even the dinosaurs make any sense! The T-rexes push the trailer of the cliff, stop when it’s still standing for 50% on solid ground and disappear, then come back 10 minutes later, share one Richard Schiff and disappear again, because he apparently was nutritious enough for two fucking big animals!
    And the Compies? The tiny ones? They are apparently not dangerous enough to kill a little girl (as we learn after the dramatic scene ends in a jokey smash cut, “she is fine”), but suddenly eat a full grown Peter Stormare?
    No, sorry, THE LOST WORLD is just awful. Apart from the trailer scene, none of the set pieces works! Most of them is just people running and screaming and the San Diego scene, which was seriously cool in my memory, is one short scene of a T-Rex in a backyard, followed by another short scene of the T-Rex, walking through the streets and making people run and scream. Again.

    *Minus the still great looking FX, the in parts seriously awesome cinematography (especially the steadycam shots) and the two or three moments where Julianne Moore reminds us, that she is a good actress. (Like when she just stands in the trailer, that is about to go off the cliff, frozen from fear. That’s just great acting, if you ask me.

  128. So sorry I missed all this, but you guys know how I feel.

    I was busy at the Comic Strip Convention which was a rousing success. I met Tawdry Hepburn in person, got some quotes from The Beard and Nicolas Mega Cage, and had the greatest conversation of my life about Total Recall with Len Wiseman. (And I did a college class on Philosophy in Film with a chapter on Total Recall. They didn’t get it.)

    So what’s the verdict here? Lost World FTW?

  129. oh man, I wish I could have gone to Comic Con, maybe next year…

    and I say bring the fuck on a JP4, I’m game

  130. I guess before I read the Planet of the Apes review (the 2001 review I’ve been most waiting for), I should add that I haven’t seen JP3 since it came out and I don’t remember much but I liked it. I think there’s room for some sequels to be generic episodes. You like the series, here’s another one. And it’s reusable because you won’t remember it by the next time you watch it.

    At the time, a colleague referred to it as a big budget Carnosaur sequel which I guess was the equivalent of Syfy Channel movie 10 years ago. Lost World still rules though. I remember everything, from the trailer drop to the hunters to the gymnastics to the Godzilla T-rex eating the dog and all of Goldblum’s lines. I still say I don’t make the same mistakes twice, I make all new ones.

  131. yup Vern, once again you hit the nail on the head

  132. Whoa a JPIII thread I didn’t know existed! That I apparently commented on several times! Man, I guess everything associated with JPIII is forgettable. Anyways, I just rewatched it to get ready for the new one and second my comments above – the scale is ridiculously small and stripped down which isn’t inherently bad, but it also looks really cheap in some parts (the Spinosaurus attack on the airplane in particular, with it’s Benny Hill-style sped-up film and really unconvincing animatronic head, LITERALLY looks like something from the SYFY channel). The big T-Rex vs. Spinosaurus fight, which should be the movie’s entire raison d’etre, is about 10 seconds long. The Spinosaurus is also a lame villain – he makes no sense story-wise (wouldn’t he have killed all the other dinosaurs by now?), he doesn’t really do anything a T. Rex couldn’t, he only exists as the main villain as a gimmick but it’s an empty one. The ending is so slight that it should be a slap in the face but it’s so inconsequential you can’t really be bothered by it. (If I was in a movie theatre paying full price, however…)

    But as a plus, the runtime is like 85 minutes, there isn’t much bloat, and the characters, while not particularly memorable, are likable and unlike the characters from Lost World, don’t act like smarmy assholes and cause untold deaths (except they ARE the ones who don’t lock the bird cage, so if the pterodactyl ends up eating some small kid on a nearby island, that’s on them).

    So basically, yeah, I’ll still take this one over JPII but would be totally fine if neither one existed. Btw – I still don’t get how Alexander Payne had anything to do with this movie (except for a few decent one-liners and the Mid-Westernesss of Macy and Leoni).

  133. Oh one thing I noticed on this watch was that I think the kid complaining about Malcolm’s book and it being “too chaotic!” might have been a meta-commentary/Spielberg-ian apology for The Lost World. And that the guy who gets killed parasailing at the beginning was the teacher friend who gets arrested for statutory rape in Election.

  134. He was also Milos the horrendous tennis player who ran a tennis shop on SEINFELD.

  135. I always had a soft spot for this one, rewatching it last night that hasn’t changed, but I can see why it’s not terribly popular. The main issue, as mentioned in the review, is that there aren’t any really memorable set pieces. But in the barren early 00s climate, it seemed perfectly sufficient

  136. Finally gotta chance to rewatch this and wow is it bad. From the opening shoddy parasailing effect, this is like Syfy accidentally released a Megacroc movie theatrically. Was there ever a time when “con artist tricks experts into a dangerous mission with money he doesn’t have” was a good twist?

  137. Ha, the funny thing about that twist is how needless it is – Macy and Leoni being middle-class not only serves no purpose (other than make them more “likable” to us for not being rich), it actually kinda muddles the story – Grant would have helped them rescue their son without the money anyway (I hope), but what about those poor Mercs? Were they even going to get paid or were they risking their lives for nothing? Kinda shitty to use them like that. (This might be a reason Billy magically lives at the end, it’d be kinda terrible if he died after being tricked to the island via a lie by people who are supposed to be the heroes of the story).

  138. It’s just average; average isn’t necessarily bad. Greatest achievement of the movie besides making sure Grant stuck to his “no kids” convictions was that it was the last time the series will sadly use Stan Winston’s animatronics. It went out on a pretty good note in that regard. As dorky looking as the spino is the actual animatronic puppet is very impressive to look at and adds a lot of weight and character to what could’ve just been a much more generic monster.

  139. I really thought it was below average. Perhaps without a Spielberg at the helm, the mix of CGI and animatronics was far less seamless. What’s the opposite of seamless. Seamful?

    It also reminded me of the press screening for JP3 when a few excited press members exclaimed, “I think that may have been the best one!” I knew it was just the excitement of seeing a new Jurassic Park movie in theaters and I’m sure they’d all deny saying that today. But I didn’t mind it at the time. The revisit was really shocking.

    I had completely forgotten about the talking raptor. I can’t believe the complaint is that it says Alan’s name in a dream sequence. The complaint should be that it’s ON THE PLANE. How would a raptor ever get on a plane, let alone one of those puddle jumpers?

  140. I don’t know, I think introducing Macy and Leoni as rich folks joyflying and revealing thems as middle class divorcees coming together to find their son IS quite clever in the way it pushes general audiences’s buttons, and in keeping with the kind of characterisation throughout the series. The JURASSIC PARK screenplays have always had the feel of someone who came top of their Screenwriting class without developing a particularly organic style; clever, learned audience manipulation, no more or less.

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