With the final Jurassic Park movie now in theatres, we look back on the thirty year franchise to crown the king of the dinosaurs...
More than thirty years after Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking adaptation of Michael Crichton's bestselling novel hit theatres – and six films later – Jurassic Park's popularity has yet to diminish. Chalk it up to our innate human fascination with all things dinosaur, coupled with the impact the original had on a generation of viewers around the world when it roared into theatres back in 1993.
The franchise has had its ups and downs – and let's face it, the downs have outweighed the ups – yet very few things are as likely to get people into theatres more than the promise of a pack of velociraptors chasing down a screaming human. Now, to coincide with the release of Jurassic World Dominion, supposedly the last film in the franchise (yeah, right), we look back on the series to date and ask: which of these beasts rules the world?
6. Jurassic World Dominion
The latest – and hopefully last – film in this franchise is also its messiest and least satisfying. A legacy sequel that reunites the cast of the original trilogy with the blander cast of the modern one, it's an insanely derivative ending to the six film series, packed with uninspired set-pieces, terrible CGI and a real lack of love for the dinosaurs who made the franchise. Who thought a movie featuring a velociraptor motorbike chase through the streets of Malta could be such a bad time at the movies? Even the return of Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern does little to elevate what feels like an expensive waste of a cast/concept. The trailer for this movie is ten times more fun than the final product (emphasis on “product”).
5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
What a strange movie! There's a lot of thrills to be had in this divisive fifth film, which moves the franchise into stranger territories and introduces some unnecessary concepts like… human cloning? The opening act makes for good explosive fun (a volcano erupts), but the directionless middle sags and the whole thing feels like it's constantly crumbling under its own weight. Where it really comes together, though, is in the frankly insane final stretch, which unravels as a sort of haunted house movie (presumably the reason the studio hired The Orphanage director J. A. Bayona), complete with a black market dinosaur auction. It's never great, but it's still mostly entertaining.
4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Steven Spielberg rarely delivers anything less than competent, but The Lost World: Jurassic Park is one of the sloppiest films on his resume. It's also, in fits and starts, a pretty entertaining movie with some bravado set-pieces (let's not forget the trailer hanging over the cliff), though with its “secret second island” plot-line it feels engineered backwards in the worst possible way (which it was). Its best decision is to make Jurassic Park's most interesting character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, the lead. Its worst decision is to turn his rockstar scientist into an anxious dad type.
3. Jurassic World (2015)
Jurassic World came with a lot of expectation, and it mostly lived up to the hype in delivering the next chapter of the beloved franchise. Yes, there are logical lapses, and yes, it makes no sense to try and evade dinosaurs while wearing high heels, but for the most part Jurassic World finds entertaining ways to spin a familiar premise (even if its characters show less personality than most of the dinosaurs), and gives us a glimpse of a “working park.” It also introduces the – eventually tired – plot point of “trained velociraptors,” which was admittedly pretty cool at the time.
2. Jurassic Park III (2001)
Short, sharp and heck of a lot of fun, Jurassic Park III went unsung for decades but now appears to be getting a bit more of the love it deserves. At a refreshingly brisk 92 minutes, there's undeniably something “minor” about the whole affair, as Dr. Alan Grant is thrust back into the fray. But mostly this Joe Johnston-directed film offers a satisfying success of set-pieces, many of unused bits and pieces from the previous two films. If it feels a little throwaway, much preferred to the excessive, pointlessly convoluted cinematic universes of today. Also, there is a bit with a talking velociraptor that says “Alan.”
1. Jurassic Park (1993)
It couldn't have been anything else. Steven Spielberg's seminal blockbuster exploded into cinemas in 1993 – amazingly, he directed this the same year he directed Schindler's List – with almost the same level of cultural fever as his Jaws did back in 1975, ushering in a new age of CGI-heavy entertainment. But incredibly, this movie hasn't dated an inch in the graphics department – these creatures look better than their modern day counterparts. Revisiting it again reaffirms just why it was such a colossal hit in the first place: it's a near flawless engine of set-ups and pay-offs, with an irresistible premise that only a director of Spielberg's calibre could have pulled off at the time.
Jurassic Park Dominion is now in UK cinemas.