A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like its prequels, Jurassic Park III is nonstop action and violence. There are jump-out-at-you surprises and some gross-out moments. Characters are in extreme peril and several are killed, but the movie is careful not to get rid of anyone we really care about. Some children will nevertheless find it very upsetting, especially because one of the characters is a child. But the child is brave, smart, and resilient, which some kids will find very satisfying. Divorced parents reunite and live happily ever after at the end of the movie, which might give kids the wrong idea about how divorce actually works.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In JURASSIC PARK III, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), now assisted by Billy (Alessandro Nivola), is tricked into flying over Isla Sorna by Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni). Unbeknownst to Grant, the Kirbys are searching for their son, who fell onto the island when he was parasailing. Grant's plane ends up crashing on the island, and Grant and company discover the resident dinosaurs are more advanced than previously thought.
Is it any good?
It may seem odd to speak of a made-to-be-blockbuster as unpretentious, but the aspirations of this movie are remarkably -- almost endearingly -- modest. Jurassic Park III doesn't waste time with chaos theory mumbo-jumbo or dumb "dinosaurs come to America" plot twists like the second episode, The Lost World. It just gets right down to business in 90 quick minutes of little people being chased by great big scary things, with just enough plot and character to provide breathing space and a reason to care who survives. It's not art, but it is fun.
There are few surprises. Two good things to have when fighting smart dinosaurs are opposable thumbs and a cell phone. When a man's ex-wife says that he never takes chances, you know what's coming, and you'll probably be able to guess as we meet each character which ones will survive to the end of the movie. But the script has clever moments, including some sly digs at The Lost World. There's a delicious variation on Peter Pan's crocodile that once swallowed a clock, so Captain Hook can always hear ticking when he is approaching. And there's a nice Blair Witch moment when some characters find a video camera dropped by another character and replay the footage to see what happened to him. The dinosaurs are bigger and better than ever. This time, they swim, they fly, and they fight each other. They appear to play a sort of kick-the-can with the downed plane's cabin. They also work together to trap the humans, so it's a war of brains, not just brawn.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dr. Grant's comment in Jurassic Park III that "Some of the worst things imaginable are done with the best intentions." He also talks about the difference between astronomers and astronauts. Is he right in saying that the difference is between imagining and seeing?
Do you want a career full of action and excitement, or safety and time to think?
- In theaters: July 18, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: December 11, 2001
- Cast: Sam Neill, Tea Leoni, William H. Macy
- Director: Joe Johnston
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Dinosaurs
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sci-fi terror and violence
- Last updated: December 11, 2020
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