Ranking the ‘Jurassic’ Movies

The latest entry in the “Jurassic” series is out, meaning another trilogy in the franchise is complete.

All of the films have been commercially successful, raking in cash at theaters. However, when it comes to quality, it varies.

Having watched the sixth installment, it’s a good time to rank all six films, from worst to best.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

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After thoroughly enjoying the 2015 feature, I was completely let down by this sequel. The very premise of the movie makes it hard to get on board with what’s happening.

The motivation to risk a bunch of lives to save incredibly dangerous animals was absurd, and the story only becomes more ridiculous when the villain’s plot is revealed. The whole idea of a black market for dinosaurs could maybe work, but the execution in “Fallen Kingdom” just makes the whole thing fall apart.

The third act really makes this thing a disaster, with some scenes that outright insult the intelligence of the audience. Moments include a dinosaur basically winking at the camera and breaking the fourth wall, and a young character making a monumentally bad decision that endangers others.

The main characters seem less interesting this time around, too, possibly because they simply worked best in the setting of the previous movie which was a more controlled environment.  Regardless, they’re less engaging this time around.

They’re at least more bearable than the insufferable side kick characters trying to ‘help’ the protagonists, though.

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)

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“Dominion” was better than “Fallen Kingdom,” but that wasn’t a high bar. The biggest issue with the third “World” film is how lame and unsensational it all is. There are dinosaurs running loose across the whole planet, so one expects a lot of mayhem and battles between man and beast.

Instead, we get a film where the major problem is a shady company making locusts that destroy crops. That’s not to say that the locusts weren’t creepy in the movie, but the film isn’t called “Bug World,” it’s called “Jurassic World.”

Yet most of the dino action is contained to a single location, where the evil company is headquartered. It’s the same type of contained jungle action that we’ve already seen done better in other “Jurassic” movies.

There’s at least one great dinosaur-filled action scene on the streets of Malta, but it’s just a single set piece. The entire damn movie should have been like that.

The characters we spend time with for two and a half hours aren’t all that fun to hang out with either. I actually think Claire and Owen started off as good characters in the first “Jurassic World,” but I soured on them in “Fallen Kingdom” and that continues here.

The original trio of characters from the first “Park,” meanwhile, seem inserted mostly for nostalgia bait.

Jurassic Park III (2001)

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I suppose I could just let this scene here do all the talking:

But, there’s more to this movie than just a dream sequence with a talking dino (seriously, though, what were they thinking?).

My biggest gripe with “Jurassic Park III” is that it doesn’t move the franchise forward at all. Love them or hate them, one has to admit that both the immediate sequel and 2015’s “Jurassic World” took the concept and pushed it in a new direction or moved the overarching story forward. Part three, on the other hand, is nothing but filler.

After getting immediately disappointed by seeing that Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler didn’t end up together following the events of the first movie, “Jurassic Park III” descends into an average at best survival/rescue mission. It doesn’t advance the discussion of the cloning debate or even check into what InGen is up to.

It also doesn’t help that the supporting characters are incredibly annoying, with Dr. Grant being really the only likable one in the flick. The movie is also not helped by the series’ iconic T-Rex getting killed in the first act by some long-mouthed asshole dinosaur.

Then, finally, it all concludes with a rather laughable finale. As the conclusion to this trilogy, it’s a massive disappointment.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

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Having the “Jurassic Park” sequel take place on a different island that’s in ruins was a solid idea to give it a separate identity. Unlike its predecessor, “The Lost World” doesn’t take place in a mostly completed park, but on an island with abandoned facilities.

At the very least, the movie had a good concept and didn’t just act as a retread of the first picture.

Of course, the film loses points for some of the characters making dumb decisions. For example, Julianne Moore’s character doesn’t seem to learn that she’s constantly bringing the T-Rex’s close to the group. Also, there’s a laughable scene where Ian Malcolm’s daughter kicks a raptor.

Speaking of Malcolm, while he was solid in the first film as a side character, he didn’t translate very well to being the lead protagonist in this one.

Additionally, that classic Steven Spielberg spark isn’t there anymore. However, the movie does deserve plenty of credit for its visuals, especially during the time where the T-Rex goes to San Diego. There’s some thrilling action included in the movie and it makes for a fun experience at least.

Jurassic World (2015)

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This was such a welcome return. Other franchises have had comebacks before after many years of waiting, but none may have been sweeter than “Jurassic World.” Not only does the film make some wonderful homages to the original picture, especially during a sequence in the old visitor center, but also showcases some new great moments of its own.

Plus, after two full movies of wandering jungles and abandoned facilities, it was great to see the idea of a dinosaur park now fully realized. Watching this high tech theme park slowly but surely come crumbling down as the dinosaurs begin to run rampant was reminiscent of the original, but the fact that it was a completed park made the mayhem more entertaining and suspenseful.

The film also benefits from its characters. Chris Pratt works as a rugged dinosaur wrangler. He’s a fun character, who doesn’t always go by the rules but is going to do the right thing, making him a likable protagonist.

Bryce Dallas Howard is good as the park’s manager, too. Howard’s character commands respect, as Claire is clearly someone who’s worked their way up. While it seems like early on she’s just focused on the company, it’s shown as time goes on that she has a heart. Her two colleagues working in the park headquarters are good side characters, too.

Another positive about this sequel is that it once again digs into the ethics of what the InGen company is doing. The ideas of man Vs. nature once again come into play, as well as technology and science being pushed to dangerous levels because of capitalism.

It may not reach the level of depth that the first movie did, but it adds layers to the experience. This scene is a great example:

Most importantly, the action in this picture is wonderful. The final battle scene was so much damn fun to watch, with a tag-team dinosaur fight taking place. The film has its flaws, but there’s just so much spectacle on display that one can’t help but sit back and enjoy.

Jurassic Park (1993)

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“Jurassic Park” is a true classic. It came out more than two decades ago and has withstood the test of time. From its groundbreaking special effects to its memorable characters, the picture holds up. Under Spielberg’s great leadership, the “Jurassic Park” crew did fantastic work in adapting the novel of the same name to the screen.

One of the best aspects is how the movie builds. The film’s opening is a frightening encounter with the dinosaurs, but we only see the response of the workers, not the dinos themselves. The first look we actually get of dinosaurs is with rather peaceful ones. As a result, the audience is able to get a sense of wonder with the dinosaurs, while still having something to wait for, as the action hasn’t kicked in yet.

Action and adventure movies are also often the perfect vehicle for character actors, which really worked here as the movie featured performers such as Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Samuel L. Jackson. The cast is well rounded out by the supporting performers, too, including Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck and B.D. Wong. Even the younger cast members, Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards pull off convincing performances here.

The flick showcases some amazing action sequences, too, which are full of thrills. Some that of course come to mind include the T-Rex’s first appearance, the T-Rex chasing the jeep, the moment with the raptors in the kitchen and of course the T-Rex taking on the raptors at the end. The moment the banner falls is still one of my favorite shots of all time.

Along with the edge-of-your-seat adventure, “Jurassic Park” also takes time for some good character moments as well as scenes that explore the concept of cloning and recreating these creatures. The best example is the scene during lunch.

There’s so much intrigue at play in “Jurassic Park” that it rises above just being a creature feature.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

3 thoughts on “Ranking the ‘Jurassic’ Movies”

  1. I wouldn’t put Fallen Kingdom as the worst, that’s still the JP3 at the bottom.

    I like moments of Fallen Kingdom that work, it’s just later on it really is… WTF is going on? I never really understand why the new dino is focusing on chasing a kid over a rooftop at all,or creeping around, the whole thing is bizarre.

    I did like the destruction scenes in the first-half though. No doubt it’s a mess in tone as well but has redeeming features.

    Good stuff though, it’s hard for me to EVER shift JP from the top spot!

    Like

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