Jurassic Park Franchise Ranking
One of the biggest Summer Blockbuster franchises of the last 30 years, the Jurassic Park series dominates the hearts and minds of dinosaur-loving kids of all ages!
Now that the final movie in the sequel trilogy has hit theaters, it’s time for me to rank all 6 Jurassic Park and Jurassic World film, from lowest to highest.
— — #6 — —
In at Number 6, is the worst of the worst, a film so-bad, even the dinosaurs couldn’t wait until the end of the first act to get killed off.
MOST of the Dinosaurs get killed off in the first 30 minutes, leaving us a film about the auctioning process, and moralizing about human cloning.
2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom returns us to Isla Nublar: site of the original Jurassic Park, and where the Jurassic World theme park opened and closed just three years prior.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return as Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, with a bookend performance by Jeff Goldblum that feel like he came in for ONE day of shooting, just so they could include his character in the trailers.
Beyond teasing Ian Malcolm who was barely in the movie, Fallen Kingdom repeats the Jurassic Park Cardinal sin they should have ALREADY known. DON’T wrap up action on the island too soon and try to continue the action on the mainland.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park already learned that one the hard way in a move so bad, Steven Spielberg apologized for how bad the ending was in the Blu-Ray Director’s Commentary. So why, oh WHY did Fallen Kingdom try the same thing 20 years later??!!
— — #5 — —
One up from the bottom is the ONLY true sequel Steven Spielberg has ever directed, proving EXACTLY why he hasn’t done them before or since. The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
**76 BALL ROLLING… SCREAMS**
The Lost World: Jurassic Park might be the only time Steven Spielberg actually apologizes for one of the movies he’s made.
During the DVD Director’s Commentary, Spielberg explains that he had a vision of the 76 Gas Station Ball being knocked over by a T-Rex and chasing our heroes down the street — EXACTLY like the Round Boulder chasing Indiana Jones at the beginning of Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
He further explains that while studio execs and members of his own production team questioned ending the time on Isla Sorna, just to have that chase in San Diego, Spielberg still insisted because his instincts on the scene were that strong. He even admits he was wrong in the Commentary.
Beyond the 76 ball, Lost World lacks clear character logic and development. Julianne Moore, plays Ian Malcolm’s EX, who blithely ignores the dangers of being around dinosaurs, and then acts surprised when the danger starts to happen.
Vince Vaughn’s Nick Van Owen as the undercover environmentalist turned photographer, doesn’t even stick around until the end of the film in San Diego when it would’ve been useful to the plot. And, the kidnapping of the T-Rex baby makes zero sense, as most animal experts would warn AGAINST taking in a seemingly abandoned wild animal.
On top of all of that, there is ZERO chemistry between Ian Malcolm and his daughter, Kelly, played by Vanessa Chester. Roughly 12 at the time of shooting, Vanessa gives a fine performance, but there’s little to no Father/Daughter bond, even after being chased by a T-Rex.
All of this, plus BOTH teams on the island not knowing about each other? Seems like one of them SHOULD have known going in.
— — #4 — —
In at Number 4 is Jurassic Park III… A film so divided and confused, we even have a talking dinosaur, albeit in a dream scene.
While we do get the return of Sam Neill as Alan Grant, we return to Site B… AGAIN, instead of Isla Nublar. The first of many disappointments and misdirections.
We have an amazing cast with William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, and Michael Jeter, but none of the three come as advertised. Macy and Leoni play Paul and Vanessa Kirby, pretending to be wealthy business people looking for an aerial tour guide. Instead they are normal, non-wealthy parents, looking to kidnap Alan Grant to help find their son.
Micheal Jeter’s Udesky lies about being a bad ass survivalist, putting the survival of the whole group at risk once they’re on the island. And, Alessandro Nivola’s Billy Brennan lies to the whole group by stealing Velociraptor eggs when he’s supposed to be Alan Grant’s protege.
The subterfuge between characters doesn’t add intrigue, it just adds disappointment and confusion. While this movie came out in 2001, well before the ‘subverting expectations’ movement of movie making; it manages to disappoint 15 years ahead of schedule.
The opening paragliding scene was a great set up for the film, and the Spinosaurus had potential to be the new Big Bad Dinosaur. But, the potential of BOTH was wasted by sloppy character development and an execution — just like the Spinosaurus’ immature fight with the fan-favorite T-Rex.
The ultimate underwhelm test for this film is that it killed the franchise for 14 years, until Jurassic World came out in 2015.
— — #3 — —
In at Number 3 is Jurassic World: Dominion, the most recent and most META Jurassic Park sequel to date.
Dominion is the first Jurassic Park sequel NOT to try recreating the formula from the original film. Instead, Jurassic World 3 is free to tell an original story with it’s own formula without having to recapture lightning in a bottle.
Jurassic World Dominion also takes time to introduce and re-introduce us to each and every member of a relatively large cast. It’s been two decades since we’ve truly seen any members of the original Jurassic Park cast in action, and it’s been FOUR YEARS since we’ve seen the members of the sequel trilogy, as well.
Much like the first Jurassic Park film, Director Colin Trevorrow takes his time setting up all of our characters, BEFORE we start to see them running from T-Rex’s and Velociraptors.
Unlike any of the four previous sequels, we take the time to get to know, or re-know our characters; and actually care about the people running from the clearly CGI monsters.
Dominion does suffer from preachy messaging on Environmental issues that don’t even exist in real life. It picks on the preachy messaging about human cloning from Fallen Kingdom, and dials the Environmental preaching to ‘11’. It’s NOT what they’re saying, it’s the WAY they’re saying it.
After the first half hour, the preachy-ness goes away, and you can enjoy the rest of the film.
Despite some highly un-realistic action scenes from Bryce Dallas Howard’s character in the second act, the action, and story lines really pick up in the second and third acts.
— — #2 — —
In at Number 2 is the first film from the sequel trilogy, 2015’s Jurassic World.
‘It’s in the cage! It’s in there with you!’
Jurassic World takes a look at what could’ve happened if the original Jurassic Park actually opened, but with modern 2015 technology, and even more of a conservative safety precautions.
We get to see a fully functional dinosaur theme park, safely handling attractions for people of all ages, from petting zoos with baby triceratops, to a Jaws-like aquatic predator that swallows Great White Sharks in a single bite.
We see a benevolent Billionaire in charge who puts safety as his top priority, and we even see the new leading man putting a team of velociraptors on the same team as people!
What could possibly go wrong??!!
While the high concept for this movie for Jurassic World is one of the best in the franchise. The actual execution of the plot points and character development gets sloppy at times.
The control room in the original 1993 Jurassic Park handles much more extreme problems in a much more logical way. Jurassic World’s control room has the benefit of 2020 hindsight, AND more modern technology as the result of ONE dinosaur escaping captivity.
The OTHER logic hole that does not make much sense, is the control room LOSING the Indominous Rex inside the cage itself. Even if I believe that they would consciously make an invisible dinosaur that fans could not see, the biggest dinosaur detection tool from the OG Jurassic Park gets completely ignored! NO WATER MOVEMENT IN CUPS!
It’s made very clear in the first Jurassic Park movie, and every one since, that large dinosaurs, like the T-Rex, are so heavy that shockwaves from their steps can be seen in a water glass. So, why oh, WHY does the BIGGER-THAN-A-T-REX Indominous not create ANY vibrations while in it’s own cage??!!
The control room has Hi-Def video feeds, heat-vision, but can’t detect a Tyrannosaur-sized-Super-Predator moving in it’s own cage??!! NOPE!
— — #1 — —
In at Number 1 is the one that started it all! The original film from 1993, the O-G Jurassic Park!
‘Dr. Grant, my dear Dr. Sattler… Welcome to Jurassic Park!’
If that clip doesn’t send chills down your spine, even 29 years later, I don’t know what will!
Everything about Jurassic Park hits on all cylinders! John Williams score, casting of our three lead characters, the kids, and even the supporting cast made up of Seinfeld’s Wayne Knight, Bob Peck as the ‘Clever Girl’ Muldoon, Martin Ferrero as the Blood-Sucking Lawyer, and Samuel L. Jackson as the surprisingly NON-swearing Arnold.
It’s amazing to consider that the run time of 127 minutes comes in 19 minutes less than Dominion. The film balances many short scenes that fill in story and character beats, yet doesn’t take up a ton of screen time, or feel rushed.
The fact the first shot of any dinosaur comes twenty minutes into the film, but FEELS like it’s roughly 10 minutes, shows just how masterful Steven Spielberg is in this film.
The Computer Generated Images in Jurassic Park weren’t just one of the first wide spread uses of the technology for FULLY CGI characters; they are indistinguishable with the practical effects and models used on set, and look more realistic than every subsequent movie, except ‘Dominion’.
The balance of greed, hubris, and philosophy, mixed with science fiction and action elements makes for the perfect Summer Blockbuster… And, the number one movie on my Ranking.