This is a huge month and year for the Jurassic Park cinematic franchise. It marks the 25th anniversary and so happens to coincide along the release date for its newest fifth installment. The title, score, and quotes all have taken over pop culture, and for good reasons. It passed the $4 billion mark and continues its course as the best dinosaur franchise of all-time. There is a lot to celebrate as a fan and to keep up the hype I decided to let you in on how I would rank the films. Beyond this fence, you’ll find dangerous spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
#5: Jurassic Park III (2001)
What a mess. As if the troubled production wasn’t enough, the movie was a major flop, both financially and critically. Granted, it was nowhere near a box-office bomb, however, it was the most expensive film in the franchise at that time that grossed almost three times less the original. This went way below studio’s expectations and put the franchise on a 14-year long hold.
Finding out your favorite characters from the original are returning was enough to have me on board. Well, the movie bursts those hopes by not following through on the relationship between Alan and Elle. That’s some way to open a movie. As a fan, I decided to forgive this minor pet peeve and gave it my benefit of the doubt. What followed was only worse.
You don’t care whether the main characters live. I actually would’ve preferred if they were all eaten except for Grant (only because of the original). The rest of the plot consists of going from place A to B to C and so on. It’s basically watching characters you care little for reacting to different and uncreative scenarios.
The beautiful thing about the franchise is how it spends a good amount of time on the set-up to then naturally allow the chaos to kick in. None of that here. The dino reintroduction has no effect on you. The story acts clever, but it isn’t. It’s full of conveniences and if I’d get more into the infamousdream sequence, we might be here all day.
At least we got this:
I could go on ranting about how terrible Jurassic Park III was. That would deserve a post of its own.
#4: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
I had problems deciding whether this should be above or below the #3 spot. This is where we move on from the awfully bad to the simply okay. This definitely wasn’t Steven Spielberg’s best outing. Finding out he directed it was an unpleasant surprise. All of it felt like an inferior version of the original in every aspect.
The Lost World in many ways feels like the sequel no one asked for. Everything about it seems weird for the fact that the first movie felt so contained that it didn’t need a follow-up. I understand this movie was based on the second book in the series. This doesn’t change the creative mishap that it was.
I did find its cast of characters more compelling than the modern one. There wasn’t much chemistry between them, but they did stand on their own. Each had something distinct to offer and none of it felt annoying or forced (except for one thing that we’ll get to).
The action is boring at most. Other than the intense dangling RV scene there was nothing noteworthy. It all came down to people running away or characters thinking of solutions that felt watered down and cartoonish. They try to awkwardly up the ante in San Diego, but that’s not what makes action engaging. Neither did this:
Not a fun fact: this is the only scene in the Jurassic Park series where a human kills a dinosaur. Sort of makes you think.
#3: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Now we venture to the rip off of The Lost World. The story beats are so identical. I guess this one commits to the direction they wanted to go with even if the idea to begin with doesn’t really fit the universe. Fallen Kingdomhas had mixed reactions and all for good reason. Even though its characters are rather dull or annoying it has an edge over The Lost World.
What we love about the first Jurassic Park is how each action set piece has its own rule. I believe the action in this movie generally has that, even if some rules it ignores. It’s especially engaging in the first fifty minutes. You also have the brilliant mix of CGI and practical effects, and the devastating death of the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar.
On the other, we have annoying secondary characters, mind-boggling reveals, and the disregard for the rules it sets up. Claire also changes her morals from a greedy businesswoman to an animal rights activist for no clear reason. The faults stick out like a sore thumb.
Maybe my opinion will change when Jurassic World 3 comes out and it somehow surprises me. I doubt that will happen. Going too far from what made the original idea so beloved is tainting the franchise. If you love these creatures this would be the main if not the only reason to watch this movie.
#2: Jurassic World (2015)
I loved this movie. It was great and I have no problems admitting it. A Jurassic Parksequel done right. Going away from the park theme seemed like reaching to make more and more. This, however, expands on what we loved. Instead of moving the dinosaurs into a city, you keep it true to the core.
The characters make for entertaining passengers to keep company. I also love how Jurassic World‘s society shows a sign of disinterest in seeing a dinosaur in the modern-day. A sort of commentary that doesn’t stray too far from our world a bit.
Jurassic World somehow found the right dosage of creating a senseless blockbuster without becoming stale. We have our big dinosaur fight in the end. Claire with her heels and now wavy hair lures the Tyrannosaurus Rex to team up with a Raptor. When you think this couldn’t get any more glorious, they somehow find a believable way of defeating this unbeatable beast by having the Mosasaur devour it.
Indominus Rex is a complete plot device. Even though I eye rolled whenever they would make up new abilities as they went along, it didn’t have much of an effect on me. The last act felt tacked on, but it gave us the final battle which as you can tell I loved. If you dislike this movie, I totally get it. For me, it was the most fun I had since The Avengers (2012).
Before the movie started I had the worst theater-going experience of all time. Definitely needed this to shine in its light on my gloomy day.
#1: Jurassic Park (1993)
The perfect blockbuster. It’s a masterpiece no one can recapture. It also has the integral piece no follow-up contained: great human characters. That’s right, not the dinosaurs or the big fights, but the figures running for their lives. Each of them is a conduit of an energy to the story that keeps us engaged whenever they’re in a situation of life or death.
I earlier referred to the characters from Jurassic World as passengers. With Jurassic Park, you’re not only there to see what’s happening, rather there to worry about our beloved heroes. These creatures are only beautiful because we see the awe on the faces of Grant and Elle. We feel a sense of peace because we know Grant and the kids finally get a chance to rest after what they’ve been through. By the end, we feel the loss of Hammond’s dream because of how much it mattered to him.
You’re along for a journey unlike any other. It was the recreation of the adventure movies we’re so fond of in the 80s. The main conflict of the story doesn’t kick in until the one hour mark. The two hours fly by twice as fast as Jurassic Park III. That’s the value of a setup.
Jurassic Park also reached a milestone. Effects finally reached a spot of believability and I’d be criminal if I didn’t mention the legendary score brought down from the gates of heaven. John Williams outdid even himself.
Jurassic Parkmarks a classic, a day in history that forever changed cinema. No matter how much you hate the other, you will always love the franchise because of this one movie.
Thanks for reading! How would you rank the Jurassic Park movies? Comment down below!
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