Ranking the Jurassic Park Movies

Jurassic Park was more than just a blockbuster when it premiered in 1993. It was a phenomena. Merchandising out the wazoo, corporate synergy, parodies and references galore. It dominated the summer. It’s no surprise then that the film spawned a franchise with a sixth film on the way. However, for various reasons, its sequels have only managed to recapture that magic to varying degrees. We decided to rank them – enjoy.  


#5 Jurassic World

A lot of people really liked this movie. Some went as far as to call it a return to form. Which is fine. People are allowed to be wrong. When I first heard the plot I was really excited. It seemed Colin Trevorrow and crew had finally cracked the code on how to do a proper Jurassic Park sequel.  The meta commentary of audiences being underwhelmed at the spectacle of dinosaurs seemed to be a great concept for a sequel to a big budget summer action movie that was more than just a big budget summer action movie that had devolved into a franchise of just big budget summer action movies. The original Jurassic Park was based on a great science fiction novel, and retained a level of that wit and social commentary. Jurassic World had the potential to do the same. Instead, we got a T-Rex that inexplicably teams up with a Raptor who, after saving the day, nod their heads to one another in mutual respect and admiration? Right,  because reptiles learning the value of teamwork wasn’t out there enough, they had to learn subtle human social norms as well. 


#4 Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World

The pressures of his fan base, and the undoubted lure of a big payday Michael Crichton reluctantly wrote a sequel to his wildly successful dino-techno-thriller. The result was predictably tepid as was the film adaptation. While ultimately destined to be a disappointment, following in those literally earth shaking footsteps, The Lost World does manage to pull out some great moments.   The raptors in the tall grass is still one of the best imagery of the entire franchise. And in this franchise that is saying something. But in the end you can’t get over the fact that this movie has no reason to exist. 


#3 Jurassic Park 3

Putting this above The Lost World may seem like a stretch to some. But, this movie doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is – a big dumb dino adventure and a good paycheck for all those involved. And for the most part it succeeds at that. The writers were smart enough to use elements and scenes from Michael Crichton’s novel that didn’t make it into the first film –  creating some wonderful sequences. Bringing in director Joe Johnston was also a great idea. The man has a keen understanding of balancing darkness and humor and maintaining a brisk pace for action without sacrificing story. But even Johnston’s skill isn’t enough to save what is ultimately a paint by numbers action movie. It isn’t bad as much as it is underwhelming given the potential. 


#2 Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom. 

Jurassic World 2 learns from the mistakes of its predecessors. It knows it is a big dumb action movie and embraces it to the fullest extent. It crams a finale’s worth of over the top action and amazing set pieces into the first 30 minutes. Dinosaurs attacks not enough for ya’? What about dinos and lava? I am fairly certain the writers just handed some Jurassic World toys to a bunch of 7 years old’s and recorded the story they came up with for the first act. And God bless them for it. It’s amazing. From there the film just embraces the weirdness of the previous sequels and takes an anything goes approach. Pantomime villains and mad scientists? How about an auction house full? Weaponized dinosaurs? But of course – would you prefer them genetically altered, purely coincidental, or classically conditioned because this movie has em all. Nothing is off the table. This hodgepodge approach eventually brings about an ending that is as much a Gothic horror monster movie as it is a big budget sci-fi action movie. And it works. All of it. It shouldn’t, it should have been god awful, but by golly it does.  It even manages, thanks to Jeff Goldblum in all his Goldbluminess, to eek out some actually poginet social commentary about the dangers of science in a way the franchise has yet to actually do. I unironically loved every stupid minute of this film. 


#1 Jurassic Park

It is a summer blockbuster that, like the T-Rex itself, almost stands alone amongst its kind. It’s visual effects still stand up well (for the most part) twenty years later. It has a score that is among the finest that a genius like John Williams has ever produced. It made a billion dollars without a Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington on the poster. Hell, the movie didn’t even finish some of its effects shots and that wasn’t enough to pull the audience out of the story. A raptor literally disappears for several frames, in a key scene, and people were so engrossed in the tale they didn’t notice for nearly a decade. That’s what I call good storytelling. The movie is literally a collection of brilliant artists (Speilberg, Neil, Durn, Williams – all of freaking ILM, etc) at the top of their game working with a fantastic source material. This movie was lightning in a bottle plain and simple.  


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