Carnosaur 3: Primal Species (1996)
COMPANY: Concorde-New Horizons
RUNTIME: 80 mins
PLOT: When terrorists accidentally unleash the last remaining Carnosaurs, a Special Ops team is sent in to fix the problem.
REVIEW: After I managed to get my hands on Carnosaur and then Carnosaur 2, it was only a matter of time until Carnosaur 3: Primal Species came my way via Ebay. After Part 1 met my expectations, and Part 2 exceeded them...well...Part 3 was already in last place by numbering default so I guess it decided to stay there, but not without putting up a decent fight.
I'd go into the inner workings of the plot, except I don't really remember. That's the biggest problem of this movie – it's just so forgettable. Every time I watch it, I've forgotten about 90% of what happens in it almost right away. There is no real plot to this one - Terrorists hijack a Government transport truck they believe is carrying uranium, but instead it's carrying the last three surviving Carnosaurs (two Raptors and one Tyrannosaurus), which wake up and kill the the terrorists. Then some cops go in and check the warehouse out, also getting killed. Then a military Special Ops team is sent in to retrieve the truck, but they get ambushed by the Raptors and retreat. Then they return, get ambushed again, and retreat. Return once more and lead the dinosaurs onto a boat, get said boat out into the middle of the ocean and, going against their orders to capture the dinosaurs alive, blow the boat and everything on it into smithereens. The end. That is literally the entire plot. There were some good ideas scattered around in there, but they mostly just replaced plot with mindless action. Don't get me wrong, mindless action can be a good thing, but not when there is no plot connecting those mindless action scenes.
One of the good ideas they touched on in this that I did like was that similar with the first movie, we actually get to see the Government side of things during these events, now that the Government has taken control of the top secret Carnosaur Project. We of course get a beautiful female scientist who's in charge of the project and has been studying the Carnosaurs and wants them captured and brought back alive as she's near a breakthrough in reverse engineering them. While she's not exactly a saint, she's not nearly as insane or evil as the older scientist lady from the first movie. That one had wanted the dinosaurs to take over the world, while this one is just in charge of the now Government-controlled project, which consists of trying to reverse engineer the remaining Carnosaurs so they can create their own Carnosaurs and use them to somehow (never really explained) unlock potential cures for human diseases and other medical breakthroughs. Can't really fault them too much for that I suppose, although she did come across as a tad bit minor-crazy with her constant insistence the the dinosaurs be captured alive. By way of this subplot, we also get a pretty interesting in-depth briefing on the Carnosaurs and we're given far more information on them then we were in the previous two movies combined, with the reveal that they actually have some human DNA in them which explains why they're incredibly intelligent. It also includes newly revealed information on how these animals are starting to evolve and are becoming even more deadly then they already are. Gotta give props when a sequel takes what we already know from the previous movies and then adds onto it and builds on it to give us something fresh, especially when it's the final movie in the series; gotta up the ante somehow.
I also liked the over all basic plot of terrorists accidentally unleashing the dinosaurs and the military team being sent in - except that's ad deep as the plot goes and the action scenes all take place either in a warehouse (why the dinosaurs never feel the need to actually leave that warehouse is never explained) and then on a boat. Admittedly, I actually liked everything that took place on the boat far more and would have preferred it if the majority of the movie took place there instead of mostly all in the warehouse and just the last 15 minutes on the boat.
Unlike the previous movie, there aren’t really any memorable characters this time around. Granted, the ones we get are likable so that's a step up from the first movie in that department, but really, once the movie is over, there's only two or three that really stick with you. One would be the above-mentioned female scientist in charge of the current incarnation of the Carnosaur Project, another is the Sylvester Stallone look-alike leader of the Special Ops team who doesn't have much distinctive personality but the fact that he looks like he could be a long lost twin brother of Stallone makes him memorable all on its own, and finally we have the character named Polchek, who confusingly, is played by an actor from the previous movie and is given the exact same personality as the character that actor played in the previous movie (Monk from Carnosaur 2), but the two characters actually have no relation to one another at all. Normally that would probably bug me, except that despite his horrible acting I loved that character in Carnosaur 2 and I love him again here, albeit under a different name. Everyone else in this movie is not only forgettable, but pretty much just xerox copies of each other and only serve to be cannon fodder for the dinosaurs. Hell, I don't think most of them were even given names. On top of that, these guys are supposed to be a hardened military unit, yet the electrician tech characters in the previous movie had more testosterone and bravado then these characters do. And don't get me started on the acting. It's not like this series has ever had good acting, but this one takes the cake. You know it's bad when the worst actor of the previous movie is the best actor in this one.
But nobody really watches these movies for the deep human characters. As long as there's gore, the masses are kept happy. And while this is by far the tamest in the series when it comes to the gore, there's still a few good juicy bits in here; an awesome arm-ripping scene, a few scenes with massive blood splotches on the floor and/or walls with body parts strewn about, a head being ripped off, and a couple more that I won't spoil here. Unfortunately they're so spread out and most of the kills are cut away from before we see much that what we do get is just too little and far too spread out. This movie has by far the largest body count in the series...so why is it so damn tame on the gore?
The dinosaurs themselves still look really good for such a low budget movie though. Where the second movie had used different designs and models from the first movie (Tyrannosaurus aside), I was worried about what route they would go with this one, but I was happy to see they kept with the dinosaurs from Carnosaur 2. The only exception to that would be maybe the Tyrannosaurus. They either used a different robotic model this time around, or the thing was already starting to go into disrepair cause while it looked to be the same design as in the previous movies, there was just something totally off about it this time around that I can't quite put my finger on. Another thing that they kept from Carnosaur 2 is the same heightened intelligence of the dinosaurs, constantly setting traps for the human characters and outsmarting them. Actually, the heightened intelligence became quite an important plot point in this one. They did not, however, keep the creepy clicking noises that the Raptors make when they're on the hunt. That was a personal favorite aspect of the second movie for me and I was disappointed that they didn't carry that over here, for whatever reason. Without those creepy stalking noises, it removes a layer of suspense and atmosphere that the second movie was filled with and this movie really could have benefited from, especially once they got on the boat and had to hunt the creatures down in tight claustrophobic hallways.
We do get to see the Tyrannosaurus earlier then usual though, which was a nice change. In the first movie we get one look half-way through, but it's not until towards the end we get a real good look and the creature becomes a main driving force of the plot, and in the second movie it's not until the final 10 minutes that we even get a glimpse of it. But in this one, it makes it's first appearance and goreless kill less then 20 minutes in and then continues to pop up throughout at various points of the movie, which I wasn't expecting and oddly enough liked a lot more then I would have normally thought. After all, we've seen it enough times now between the other movies, there's no point in keeping it hidden until the final few minutes and use it as shock value anymore. Just let it come on out and have fun with the other dinosaurs. Then of course it returns in full glory at the end to once again be the 'Final Boss' of the movie, which this movie changed up and doesn't go with the construction vehicle fight like the previous two, and instead goes it's own route that really worked for me. Actually, dare I say, out of the climatic Rex fights from all three movies, this one is my favorite as the two surviving characters do battle against it on the deck of the transport boat and defeat it in a truly awesome way. They also added a new problem into the mix by having the Tyrannosaurus starting to breed, and as revealed earlier in the movie – each generation of Carnosaur is more evolved, more intelligent, and more dangerous then the previous generation, so that little addition really helped to bring more threat to the movie, which is always good to see for a final entry of a trilogy.
Another welcomed and surprising change is that while the first movie took place almost entirely during night scenes, and the second took place almost entirely in a low-lit cramped claustrophobic facility, this one takes place almost entirely during the middle of the day, with most of the scenes happening in broad daylight. Sure, the darkness adds atmosphere but we already had two full movies of that so for the third one it was good to see it changed up. And for those turned off by that, have no fear as it does return to both night time scenes and low-lit cramped claustrophobic areas once they get on the boat and out into the ocean so those scenes aren’t entirely absent.
When all is said and done, I really loved how they tried to change so many aspects in this entry instead of just copying the previous two movies, and I loved how they really upped the ante here to a level not reached by the first two movies. After all, by Part 3 you kind of have to start doing some things differently to make it stand out above the other two, so I can really get behind those changes and appreciate them. And despite not really remembering much even 15 minutes after its ended, it kept me entertained while I was watching and I never once looked to see how much time was left on it. It also never shies away from showing those addictive low-budget dinosaur effects; I'd say this movie shows them off better then the others, mainly due to lots of bright daylight scenes, and the Tyrannosaurus gets the most screen time here then out of the other movies in the series. Unfortunately, it's also filled with really boring and forgettable characters, a real lack of gore, no plot to speak of, and it's just an all around forgettable entry in the series, which all combines to really stop it from being quite as good as the first two.
On top of that, I feel they really dropped the ball with the lack of plot; you finally have these dangerous creatures that are getting more dangerous by the minute, loose in a damn city...and they just stay in the one building the entire time. What they should have done was had these things running loose around the city while the Special Ops team tries to covertly re-capture or kill them. That would have been an excellent third and final movie, especially with the Carnosaur's version of the Tyrannosaurus Rex standing among skyscrapers and roaring, or the Raptors sneaking into people's houses while they sleep to kill them in their beds or something. Alas, that idea alone is better then almost anything we actually ended up getting.
Despite my over-all disappointment with this entry, two out of three ain't bad and I still enjoy the series as a whole, and even this weaker entry has enough good stuff in there that if you're a fan of the first two then I still suggest you check this one out anyway. If you didn't like the others though, then nothing in this one will change your mind any. If the dinosaur suits and models hadn't gone into unfixable disrepair shortly after this movie was made (or during the making of it in the case of the Tyrannosaurus), I would love to see a 4th movie if for nothing more then to see the classic Carnosaur dinosaurs back on screen again, especially since the end of this movie sets up another movie so perfectly. Hell, with Roger Corman recently having returned to making campy low budget Direct-to-DVD flicks (Dinocroc, Supergator, Dinocroc vs Supergator, Sharktopus, Dinoshark, the upcoming Piranhaconda) maybe there's a little sliver of hope that he may do a Carnosaur 4: Extinction Revenge or something. Just maybe... (but really honestly not likely)
6/10 rooms in the Psych Ward