The original Jurassic Park trilogy concluded on this day 20 years ago. On July 18, 2001, Jurassic Park III premiered in theaters, serving as the final installment of the Jurassic Park movies before the franchise was later rebooted as Jurassic World. Despite its success at the box office, the sequel drew a lot of criticism at the time, though many fans have since come around to enjoying JPIII in more recent years. Now, it's getting a lot of attention online in honor of its 20th anniversary.
Joe Johnston directs Jurassic Park III using a screenplay by Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor. It brings back Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, reprising his role from the original Jurassic Park. William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, and Michael Jeter also starred. Steven Spielberg, who directed the previous movies, served as an executive producer.
The sequel picks up with a 12-year-old boy going missing near the island of Isla Sorna, where cloned dinosaurs freely roam the land. To find him, the boy's parents enlist the help of Dr. Grant, unaware that he had only been to Isla Nublar - making him just as lost as everyone else. They manage to escape by outsmarting Velociraptors thanks to Dr. Grant, though they inadvertently release Pteranodons in the process, teasing a follow-up movie that wouldn't come for another 14 years.
Jurassic Park III was not without its criticism, but star Sam Neill was pretty happy with how it turned out. Earlier this year, Neill looked back upon the movie in an interview with Collider. Though he agrees with the complaints that the ending of the sequel was a bit too rushed, the actor feels that Jurassic Park III is otherwise a very solid movie and didn't deserve its bad reviews at the time.
"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 10 minutes are way too easy and way too hurried, but I think up to that point, it's pretty damn good," Neill explained.
"For me, by the time I got to #3, probably a bit late in the day, I'd sort of worked out how to play that character, which I hadn't really quite gotten around to in the first one," he added. "I was still trying to work out, how do you play that guy in the hat? .. And you have to think how to do that. It's a special skill. You're not just playing a character. You need a whole skillset. You need a whole armory to play an action hero and I wish I had known what those skills were when we did the first one, but there we are!"
Fortunately for Neill, time has been kind to Jurassic Park III and many fans look back fondly at the movie in retrospect. We'll also see Neill back in the role of Alan Grant soon enough, as he joins fellow Jurassic Park stars Laura Dern and Jeff Golblum in the upcoming sequel Jurassic World: Dominion. That movie will be released on June 10, 2022. The Jurassic World account on Twitter has been posting clips from Jurassic Park III to celebrate its anniversary, and you can see what some of the fans are saying about Jurassic Park III's 20th anniversary on Twitter.