- The Jurassic Park franchise has a loyal worldwide fan base and has generated over $6 billion at the box office.
- Jurassic World Dominion (2022) is the final installment of the Jurassic World trilogy and received generally negative reviews from critics.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) is the second installment in the Jurassic World trilogy and had mixed reviews, with critics feeling that the franchise had run its course.
The Jurassic Park franchise has a loyal worldwide fan base. Steven Spielberg was the original director who set us off on the quest or escape mission from these threatening lizards and evil henchmen while we marvelled at seeing dinosaurs brought to life onscreen. The world of Jurassic Park has collectively generated over $6 billion at the box office and shows no signs of stopping as a seventh film is currently in development. Running and hiding from these gigantic and vicious creatures is too exciting for viewers, and so, as a result, studios cannot stop releasing such films. Jurassic Park is fun and, when done right, can be the most exhilarating experience cinema-goers can have. When done wrong, they can be a drag and these supposedly epic films become tedious and silly. If you’re a lover of the franchise, come along as we count down the best Jurassic Park movies.
6. Jurassic World Dominion (2022)
At the bottom of the list, we have Jurassic World Dominion as the final instalment of the Jurassic World trilogy. The film is set four years after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). In this film, we see the inevitable happen where the resurrected dino species have left their life of isolation and containment on a faraway island and are now living side-by-side with humans and sharing habitats with other wildlife on earth, sea and sky. What the hey!?
It should have been fascinating to explore what this meant for the order of things in the animal kingdom, natural resources, etc., but the movie misses the opportunity to do so. Understandably, this couldn’t have been focused on in-depth, but perhaps a bit more attention could have been given to this. Instead, we end up having to watch giant dino locusts! Of all the creatures to choose from, really? Locusts?
In the context of the story they tried to tell, you know about the evils of animal testing/exploitation/genetic engineering, pharmaceutical company experimentation and profiteering, and genetically modified food. It makes sense, but they could have built a story around any of the animals.
In the film, giant locusts are decimating crops throughout the U.S., and veteran stars from the original Jurassic trilogy team up with stars from the two former movies to investigate the matter and put an end to all of it. The film received generally negative reviews from critics, but fans faithful to the franchise made it a financial success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide.
Although it was great to see Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum reprise their roles, it simply wasn’t enough to muster the greatness of the original trilogy where we first fell in love with the characters. Essentially, the film lacked any real suspense, which was a key factor for success in the previous films. One of the main themes of the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies is the evil of man, and how he chooses to engage with living creatures who inhabit the planet, we all live in.
This film tips the scales too heavily toward the ‘evil of humankind’ focus and not enough toward the ‘yikes, please don’t eat me’ end, which puts it at the bottom of the list.
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5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the second instalment in the Jurassic World trilogy. There’s a volcano in this one, and…wait for it… it’s about to erupt and kill all our beloved dinos on the island! The film brings up an interesting debate, though. Should these animals be left to die to correct John Hammond’s mistake of cloning them in the first place, or should they be saved?
The United States Senate seems to think that nature should run its course without human interference, but lucky for us, another old rich guy steps in, and our heroes are called upon to save the animals, who are in danger of extinction…again. They are tasked with relocating the animals to a nearby island where they will again be safe and free to live in peace. Unfortunately, humanity’s greed and desire to exploit the dinos for profit interfere with these plans as a mercenary team is on the island to bring them all back to the U.S. homeland for big bucks.
Fans loved it, as evidenced by the over $1.3 billion it made worldwide, making it the third Jurassic film to pass the billion-dollar mark. However, reviews for the film were mixed. It had spectacular visuals, still drawing on the success of the grand spectacle we all felt with the first films.
Critics also praised the cinematography, music and darker tone of the film but weren’t too hot on the screenplay and, by this point, felt the Jurassic film series had run its course.
Although it was really entertaining, the main problem with this film is that it was essentially split in two, like two separate films. The first half took place on the island (the island dino rescue mission), and the second half took place in a creepy old mansion (the mansion dino rescue mission).
This distinction significantly impacted the pace of the film and the suspense that the Jurassic films are famous for, which inevitably made it one of the poorer films in the franchise.
4. Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic Park III is the final instalment in the original Jurassic trilogy.
It’s also the first film in the series not to be directed by Steven Spielberg and the first not to be based on a Michael Crichton novel, although it continues to use both the characters and core ideas created by Crichton. With that being said, it’s probably safe to say that they must have been really nervous with this one.
They knew they had a great following, but would fans stay committed to the franchise with this much change from the first two films? Well, it worked. Their gamble paid off, as the film was a box-office success, grossing $368.8 million worldwide. However, it is the lowest-grossing instalment in the Jurassic franchise to date. I guess the fans were a bit nervous about this one, too.
The plot follows a divorced couple who trick Dr Alan Grant (the palaeontologist from the first two films) into taking them to dino island (Isla Sorna), seemingly for an aerial tour but in reality, they hope to use his help in finding their son who went missing on the island eight weeks prior. The film follows the same recipe as the previous two, which makes it entertaining, but it follows the recipe perhaps a bit too closely.
The main criticism of the movie was that it lacked creativity and was simply rehashing what worked in the previous two. The basic premise of the film is dull, the dialogue is poor, and the casting is not great. It also lacked the element of child actors, one of Spielberg’s favourite film-making tricks. There are plenty of thrills and chills to make up for this, but it still lands at the lower half of the list.
3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
We’ve arrived at the top half of the list of the best Jurassic Park movies. This is where the really good stuff happens. These films are what made the franchise great, so let’s get into it. The Lost World: Jurassic Park is the second film in the series and the second (and last) film in the series to be directed by Steven Spielberg.
We have the pleasure of seeing Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Joseph Mazello and Ariana Richards return for the sequel. They’re joined by perfectly cast Julianne Moore (Goldblum’s palaeontologist girlfriend), Vince Vaughn (who has a small role but still manages to stand out) and Vanessa Lee Chester (Goldblum’s exceptionally talented daughter).
The plot follows four years after the first film, only now Hammond (Attenborough) has lost control of his company to his nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard). However, the company is on the verge of bankruptcy, and Ludlow plans to capture the dinosaurs from the island to open a new theme park in San Diego. At the same time, Hammond sends a team led by Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) to the island to document the dinosaurs. The real fun starts when the two groups come into contact with each other and battle it out.
The film got mixed reviews, with the main criticisms being a lack of exciting characters and feeling like recycled material. Still, it was praised for its special effects and the powerful impact of life-sized animatronics. Despite these mixed reviews, fans loved this movie and still love it to this day. The characters seemed plenty exciting to most; some might even say it’s one of the most appealing features of the movie.
The chemistry amongst the cast alone, especially between Goldblum and Moore, makes this movie so good you’ll want to watch it on repeat. This, combined with an exciting storyline and witty dialogue, makes it one of the best in the franchise. And, of course, who could forget the closing scene? One of the most gratifying and memorable scenes in the entire series is at the end of this film, where bad guy Ludlow is served up as prey-killing training for baby T-rex.
2. Jurassic World (2015)
Jurassic World is the first film in the second Jurassic trilogy, and boy, it delivers. Fans weren’t sure what to expect 14 years after the original trilogy. Would it live up to the greatness of the first series, or would it destroy the warm and fuzzy memories we have of a beloved franchise? They, in fact, surpassed expectations with this one. Jurassic World infused some much-needed fresh faces and new energy into the Jurassic series.
One of the main strengths of this movie is the stellar cast. Chris Pratt embodies the character of Owen Grady, a cowboy-like, rebellious Navy veteran and ethologist tasked with training Velociraptors and unlocking the key to harnessing their skills. Bryce Dallas Howard is also well cast as Claire Dearing, the uptight rule-following operations manager, aunt to the two boys lost on the island and Owen’s love interest.
Chemistry between characters is so important and they hit the nail on the head with Pratt and Howard who had a great spark on screen. And for the first time, introducing a dinosaur as one of the recurring characters in the second trilogy, Blue. Jurassic World also returns to the Spielberg tradition of incorporating child actors, which worked really well in this film, with the two brothers we see running for their lives throughout the movie. Another distinctive feature would be the visuals. They had lots of fun with the advancement of visual effects and CGI and brought to screen some of the most amazing images and sequences we’d seen of this Jurassic world since its inception.
This film returned to the dinosaur theme park idea, which was really well executed, gave the terrifying velociraptors a bit more screen time and introduced a new bad-boy dino, the Indominus rex, who had a showdown with the good old faithful T-rex at the end of the movie.
Critics and fans alike loved this movie, with some even calling it the best Jurassic Park sequel. It grossed $1.6 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the series, the highest-grossing film released by Universal and the third-highest-grossing film of all time.
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1. Jurassic Park (1993)
And, of course, sitting comfortably at number one on the list of the best Jurassic Park movies is the very first Jurassic film, Jurassic Park—the golden standard to which all others have been held. The film is set on the fictional island of Isla Nublar, where old rich guy, John Hammond, and a team of scientists have created for the very first time a park of dinosaurs that they’d cloned from the DNA found in a mosquito who’d been drinking lots of dino blood, that had been preserved in amber. An act of sabotage led to a massive power failure, and everything keeping the humans on the island safe from the dinos was no longer in place. What an exciting plot!
None of the movies that follow will ever match the power of this film because it was the first time characters in the film were introduced to these creatures whom everyone thought were lost forever. To realise that dinosaurs had been brought back from extinction is a wow moment and then to witness the characters seeing them for the first time in real life is a moment we won’t forget.
Nothing can compare to the very first time we saw Michael Crichton’s world of resurrected dinosaurs walking, living and breathing in our time. This first film perfectly captured the awe, the beauty and the spectacle of what it would mean to see dinosaurs sharing the earth with humankind again. It also captured the horror, the dread and the bone-chilling suspense of what it means to be face-to-face with such a formidable foe.
The first time we heard the deafening roar of the Tyrannosaurus Rex in cinema surround sound and saw it on the big screen, we were in love. One of Steven Spielberg’s directorial gems, this movie just delivered on every count. The audience was enthralled, and they had secured a loyal and captivated audience for decades to come.
What do you think about our list of the best Jurassic Park movies? Which Jurassic film would you put at number one?