Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Jurassic Park III: Dinosaurs in Love (2001)

Here's the thing about Dr Alan Grant. Dude is 100% about the cash. On three separate fictional occasions (two more after he already knows how dumb it is) he accepts cashmoney to go to an isolated island and hang out with dinosaurs. In my head I imagine a doddering 80 year-old Alan Grant sitting in his nursing home and some suit coming up to him and saying "Dr Grant? Look I have a proposition for you... it looks like someone left the gas on last time we were on Jurassic Park. How 'bout it? 50 bucks." Cue private helicopter and that Indiana Jones cribbin' theme tune and drooly old Dr Grant crackin' wise at the suits.

To my mind this is the only way one can make sense of Dr Grant agreeing to be dragged back to Dinosaursville for another round of running away in the third outing of the film franchise. Dr Grant gets the familiar check waved in his face by two wealthy and kinda slimy business types, Tea Leoni (gettin' some work) and William H. Macy (slummin' it), to accompany them on a low flight over Isla Sorna - the other Jurassic park - to describe shit for them. I guess Dr Grant figured being wikipedia for a few hours was good work.

Oh, but I forgot the weird opening bit where this kid and Captain Yuppie are tandem parasailing near Isla Sorna and the dudes operating their boat get munched by something (confidential to producers: you missed the opportunity for a kickass Icthyosaurus action figure here) and they drift off onto the island. This only makes sense after the vague twist where we realise Macy and Leoni aren't wealthy morons, they're poor morons who LET THEIR KID GO PARASAILING OVER A DINOSAUR INFESTED ISLAND WITH A YUPPIE JERK and are now trying to find him.

This is followed by another pointless non-sequitor where Dr Grant goes to visit Laura Dern's character (Ellie Sattler) and both reminisce about the good old times of almost being eaten by genetically engineered things. I assume Sam Neil and Laura Dern also spent some time reminiscing about the good old times when they had acting careers. Laura Dern goes off to cash the paycheck for appearing in the third and worst installment and Dr Grant is off again on what will surely be a trouble free outing to Everythinghasfangsland. Right?

Wrong. The assembled geniuses (Neil, Leoni, Macy, weird little dude Michael Jetter and two nameless mercinaries) land on the island and things go extremely pear-shaped extremely quickly. One of the accompanying hired guns draws a dinosaur that looks like a cross between a duck and dragon to them (its a Spinosaur. That is seriously what it's called in real life), they crash their plane as they try to flee and they're stranded on the island. The other mercenary gets helpfully chomped out of the film by duckosaurus (setting up a real humdinger of a gag later on by being swallowed with the satellite phone in hand) and its 'fleeing through the jungle from cgi dinos III' time.

Soon enough the least inspiring 'sudden realisation of dinosaur vicinity' moment in the franchise occurs as the aforementioned phone gag gets trotted out. Sonny boy hears Pappa Macy's tiling business jingle on the sat-phone through 3 feet of duckosaurus flesh and everyone converges on the spot. Duckosaurus is cruelly frustrated again and has to live with no dinner AND a shitty monophonic phone ring in his stomach (no Flo Rider, ducky. Sorry dude).

The gang then get on with more fleeing-from-action-figure-tie-ins until the JP franchise finally jumps the Icthyosaur by introducing Pterodactyls of extreme crankiness. Sonny boy is saved from being fed to Pterodactyl chicks by Shia Lebouf's even less talented look-alike who plays Dr Grant's extreme-sports assistant Jimmy or whatever his name is. Here Jimmy makes penance for his foolish earlier nabbing of raptor eggs that endangers them all (raptors, see, are like angry chickens with memories) by being pecked to death by the cranky Pterodactyls (OR SO WE THINK!!!).

Finally the gang are almost at the coast when the raptor pack catches up with them to demand their eggs back. I gotta admit I was really disappointed that the raptors didn't rapidly evolve the ability to speak in hissy broken English - "Want eggsssssss! Give back to ussssssss!". The next best bullshit thing happens though when Dr Grant remembers the fossilised 'resonating chamber' of a raptor he packed. Tea Leoni urges Dr Grant to attempt to reason with the raptors because, after all, they're all gentlemen and there's no use having such a big to-do over a silly misunderstanding! So Alan blows on the mystical raptor nose flute and convinces the raptors that, really, it's all just a jolly silly episode and no hard feelings, old sport! pip-pip and off you go with your progeny!

Then they get saved by the army or whatever because who really cares anymore (Jimmy's ok! He's just a little banged up and will be roller-sky-bungee-climbing again soon!). And as they sail off into the sunset 'nature finds a way' again as the Pterodactyls who escaped their cage fly overhead. Its all meant to be very majestic and illustrative of the power of nature, but you know what? Its gonna just be bigger, wrinkly seagulls we're all gonna have to put up with from now on.

And for your schadenfreudy pleasure - various people try to explain why 'Jurassic' is such a great franchise:


tristan said...

Hahah, awesome stuff, J. I've never seen this one before. It's never a good sign when Spielberg hands over the reigns to a second-rate ringer like Joe Johnston who I think directed Jumanji. I like the way they describe the film in that making of as simply "Jurassic." "When we first started making Jurassic..." Sounds like a designer drug you'd use in a future-noir world! And poor Michael Jeter. I just want him to always use that New Orleans accent he used in The Green Mile.

Bizarrely enough, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor were credited with helping to write this, which is bizarre as they've been the writing team behind Sideways, About Schmidt, Election, etc.

Jrrd said...

Didn't Payne and Taylor write something truly awful that Dane Cook was in or something? Maybe those dudes have expensive tastes? "Man, I NEED a jetski. Gonna have to write Jurassic 4."

Mitch said...

Joe Johnston should have directed another Jumanji. That was a hilarious romp starring Robin Williams.

Matt said...

didn't grant only go back once? The second movie had ian Malcolm (jeff goldblum) in it.

Jrrd said...

@ Matt - oh noes BUSTED! You're right no slammin' Sam Neil in number 2, I got that wrong. And that takes away a bit from my argument. But no doubt Alan read the papers after New York or LA or whatever got T-Rex'd so he'd at least be aware of it.


dirttree said...

Haha, yeah. Not the greatest movie of all time.

Anonymous said...

"mystical raptor nose flute" is my new favourite potential band name