Jurassic Park III

Inciting Event: Alan accepts an invitation from Paul Kirby to discuss a business proposition: which turns out to be Kirby’s promise to pay Alan pretty much anything he asks if he will act as the guide on a fly-over of the dino-infested island Isla Sorno.

Up to this point, everything is set-up. The story re-introduces the character of Dr. Alan Grant, touches base with Ellie Sattler who will play small but key role later (and thus definitely needed to be foreshadowed here), and illustrates his continuingly desperate need for funds for his digging. But the moment he intersects with the Kirbys is the beginning of the conflict.

It’s worthwhile to note that the conflict has been ongoing throughout Alan’s intro. We know from the first scene, when the Kirbys’ son Eric crash lands on the island, exactly what is at stake. But the conflict doesn’t matter to the main story until it intersects with the main character’s life.

First Plot Point: The Kirbys land on the island—revealing their duplicity to Alan and that their real intent has always been to find their missing son. Their landing on the island is the Key Event. This is the moment when Alan is forced to leave the safe Normal World of his First Act. But when, moments later, the Spinosaurus attacks, kills the pilot, and cripples the plane—that’s the First Plot Point, in which Alan is thrust irreversibly into the adventure world of the Second Act.

First Pinch Point: In a story like this, it’s sometimes difficult to pick out Pinch Points—since the non-stop action and terror makes the entire story pretty “pinchy.” The key to finding the Pinch Points is remembering that they must always be a turning point within the story. Here, that turning point occurs when Alan and the others discover Eric’s parasail—and the rotting corpse of the man he was sailing with. They also discover video proof that Eric survived the landing. These new clues give them a focus going forward, as well as emphasizing the stakes by showing what might have happened to Eric.

There is also a hidden turning point/Pinch Point here. When the Kirbys discover the raptor nests, Alan’s young partner Billy steals two of the eggs—unbeknownst to anyone, including the views. This is the true turning point in the First Half of the Second Act, because this is what causes the raptors to begin pursuing them.

Midpoint: The raptors come after Alan after he unknowingly picks up the bag in which Billy has hidden the eggs. He is saved by Eric. Eric’s arrival on the scene effectively shifts the entire focus of the story. Even though Alan’s main goal (getting to the coast and finding a way to be rescued) doesn’t change here, his focus does. He can now plow ahead to the coast without any guilty flickers of conscious holding him back.

Second Pinch Point: After Eric and Alan reunite with the others, the Spino chases them into the aviary—where Alan then discovers that Billy stole the raptor eggs. This is a workmanlike turning point on a number of levels: 1) the Spino attack emphasizes the stakes, 2) the arrival in the aviary sets up the Third Plot Point, and 3) the raptor subplot comes full circle from the First Pinch Point and sets up the Climax.

Third Plot Point: After Eric is carried away by the mother Pterodactyl, Billy recklessly uses the parasail to save him. He then sacrifices himself to the Pterodactyls to allow the others to escape. His (seeming) death forces Alan to a low point, especially in light of the fact that they argued over the raptor eggs just before Billy’s death.

Climax: Although this sequel in no way compares to the artistry of Steven Spielberg’s original, it’s been very steady and workmanlike up to this point. But the Climax then turns a little anticlimactic. It’s set up so that the main dino antagonist—the Spino—is the first to be conquered, during a huge set-piece scene that is properly climactic. But then the story switches gears and dials down to deal with the smaller antagonist—the pursuing raptors, who prove not to be much of a threat at all. This is a great reminder of why it’s important to always deal with antagonists in ascending order of importance: save your biggest bads for last.

Climactic Moment: Thanks to Ellie, whom Alan managed to call on a satellite phone, troops arrive on the beach to rescue everyone. They fly away on a helicopter.

Resolution: Alan discovers Billy has also been rescued (and has saved Alan’s extraordinarily important hat). The divorced Kirbys reconcile their differences.

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