Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park will always be regarded as one of the greatest blockbusters to ever come out of Hollywood, as well as one of the most important. It didn’t just capture the imagination of audiences around the world to become the highest-grossing movie in history when it was first released, it also booted the doors open for the CGI revolution by seamlessly mixing animatronics with visual effects, and they still hold up today.
Inevitably, a franchise was born, with The Lost World being an entertaining if hardly original retread of many of the first installment’s major plot beats, while Jurassic Park III wound up getting a pretty bad rap. Not only did box office takings drop by $250 million between the second and third films, but the reception from both critics and fans was even less enthusiastic.
Jurassic Park III suffers without Spielberg at the helm, but Joe Johnson still delivers a solid enough adventure, with Sam Neill acquitting himself well as a rugged action hero, despite having doubts over his own abilities to do so. In a new interview, the actor defended the movie from criticism, admitting that he remains a big fan even 20 years later.
“I was just talking to someone earlier in the day who said, ‘I really like Jurassic Park III and it gets an unfair treatment’. And I said, ‘Thank you very much’. I agree that the last ten minutes are way too easy and way too hurried, but I think up to that point, it’s pretty damn good.”
The script is the weakest part of Jurassic Park III by far, which is hardly a shock when the shooting draft was torn up just five weeks before filming started, with Johnston coming close to quitting the production several times in fear of torpedoing the franchise. The fact that it turned out to be a decent effects-driven blockbuster is an achievement in itself, then, especially when the screenplay was being rewritten on an almost daily basis, to the extent that a final draft was never actually completed.