Both islands of the Jurassic Park project have now been classified out of bounds since the disastrous results of the experiments conducted there, research to recreate dinosaur life and reintroduce it to the world, or that part of the world at any rate. However, since the incident in San Diego which saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex escape and run rampage, the public at large have been well aware of what happened at the islands, and though nobody is allowed to land there that does not prevent a great deal of interest in the site and its creatures. Obviously there will be sightseers, and young Eric Kirby (Trevor Morgan) is taken paragliding by his stepfather near to one isle to see if they can catch sight of a dinosaur. Of course there's an accident...
Although Steven Spielberg's The Lost World: Jurassic Park was a big hit, there were plenty of grumbles about it from moviegoers, but thanks to it being the sequel to one of the most successful films of all time they had flocked to see it anyway. Naturally, with profits to be made a second sequel was ordered, with Spielberg, who had expressed dissatisfaction with his work on the previous entry, taking the executive producer role and Joe Johnston, who had a proven track record with special effects, was the director, so this was a fair-sized hit as well, though it would be some time before moves to follow it up were made. That was possibly down to this third instalment being technically proficient but undeniably hollow.
It was a film crafted in apparent apeing of the Spielberg style, including his regular themes of family which here applied to the human characters as well as the dinosaurs, but it still felt like a facsimile rather than a strong movie in its own right. Jeff Goldblum had been given the elbow, so Sam Neill returned as Dr Alan Grant to guide a new set of suckers through the dangerous territory of the park, ostensibly so he could be a source of information to a rich couple - William H. Macy and Téa Leoni - who want a fly past of the site as tourists. Grant is reluctant but eventually agrees in light of how much money he and his new assistant Billy (Alessandro Nivola) are offered, but what do you know? It's all been subterfuge and the couple have an ulterior motive for bringing him along.
As you may have guessed, the couple are the parents of Eric and after everyone turns them down to rescue the boy, they take matters into their own hands. Which is why Grant finds himself crashlanded in a jungle filled with potential reptile death at every turn, and none to happy about it as you can imagine; could Eric still be alive having gone Tarzan on the island? What do you think? Therefore the plot lumbers from setpiece to setpiece, all very accomplished in its visuals but somehow there's something lacking, the scientific messages of before overtaken by unimaginative regurgitation of typical Spielbergian tropes. Fine, he was present in the production, but you might be wishing this had branched out on its own to offer something new instead of a rehash of what had already happened.
To the extent that Johnston used sequences that had been planned for the previous efforts and plonked them down here, again contributing to the second hand mood (same went for the music). So finally we had the Pteranodon bit as the characters negotiate a giant "bird cage" and fend off the airborne assault, which fans may have been waiting for during the past few years, but the only person we're especially bothered about is Dr Grant seeing as how he was in the first one. Everyone else, save perhaps Eric, was hardly sympathetic and often designed to have the audience rolling their eyes as they performed yet another stupid act, wth Leoni in particular geared to driving the audience up the wall with her screaming and blundering for reasons best known to the filmmakers. Aside from a brief couple of scenes with Laura Dern (whose Ellie didn't stay with Grant, disappointingly) Leoni was the only woman in the movie with a substantial role - did the film want us to see her eaten? With a subplot involving velociraptor eggs for chase excuses, this was a B movie with an A budget.