When it first came out, the original Jurassic Park movie was absolutely brilliant. It had it all. Action, adventure, not too much of the mushy stuff, and of course, dinosaurs aplenty!
Of course, we were going to get at least one sequel – after all, we never discovered what became of the island off the coast of Costa Rica once the team of scientists fled following the first disaster at Jurassic Park. However, as the franchise wore on through the 1990s, the quality waned.
Looks like we will get Jurassic Park – The Fast and the Furious
First, we headed to “site B” – a secret location that Dr. Hammond was using to keep other dinosaurs for the original park. Chaos theorist Ian Malcolm is summoned to document the ancient creatures living as close to a natural life as possible. However, a second team knows about the location and wants to start a new theme park, this time in the far more perilous location of San Francisco.
The next modern, prehistoric, not-quite-so-classic adventure – Jurassic Park III – sees the action return to the now sprawling dinosaur island from the second movie. Dr Grant is persuaded by a couple to give them a fly-over tour of Isla Sorna to find their son who is apparently lost in the sprawling forest below. The flight crash-lands on the island and the action that follows revolves around rescuing the boy from the million-year-old lizards.
Following the third movie, interest in dinosaurs was perceived to have waned sufficiently for there to be a much-needed break in the franchise. That said, the merchandising arm of Jurassic Park continued almost unabated. For the kids there would be lunch boxes, cuddly toys, action figures, and for adults, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and even video slots (play the free demo at NoDepositRewards) despite there being no new content from the series in years.
Almost a decade and a half later, however, the corpse of Jurassic Park would be wheeled out again. Jurassic World is actually a solid movie. It in no way captures the charm of the original title but it does get a lot right. The action takes place off the coast of Costa Rica once again. The plot is much more akin to the original movie, since it centres around a resort and what happens when the dinosaurs escape.
Finally, the newest movie in the franchise, for now at least, is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. This one departs from the typical Jurassic Park narrative of “humans plus dinosaurs equals danger.” Instead, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing are forced to return to Isla Nublar since the dinosaurs that survived from the previous movie are in danger from a huge volcanic eruption that could cause them to go extinct – again.
What Made Jurassic Park So Good?
The original Jurassic Park was such a success for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it had dinosaurs. Now, we all know that these ancient beasts have a powerful lure over both young and old – I for one had a bedroom adorned in dinosaur posters and pictures for much of my childhood.
However, we weren’t dealing with some low budget effort here. For Steven Spielberg’s now classic, only the most cutting edge in animatronics would suffice. This made Jurassic Park an absolute treat for the eyes and in all honesty, it still stands up well visually today.
This visual magnificence is built upon by the fact that the movie toes the line between pandering to the kids and their parents beautifully – a must for a family movie to be a success. If the adults roll their eyes at the mere mention of the title or the kids hide under their sheets in terror, it’s just not going to work. Fortunately, there is enough in the original Jurassic Park to keep all ages delighted – whether that’s the clowning around of young Timmy or the dry sarcastic wit of Ian Malcolm (masterfully played by Jeff Goldblum).
Throw into this winning mix a legendary theme tune, great performances from across the cast, an original plot and subtext that is believable yet unpredictable, and you have all the makings of a classic Hollywood blockbuster. Frankly, the original Jurassic Park is fantastic. So great in fact, that this entire article could easily be dedicated to the movie alone.
Why the Sequels Don’t Come Close
Jurassic Park set a high water mark that subsequent editions couldn’t come close to. None of the following plots manage to capture the drama of the original and no matter how many times our team of dino scientists visit one of the two damned islands, that much-needed freshness still hasn’t magically reappeared. In Jurassic Park III, the entire plot of movie two was dismissed as being largely trivial by the characters themselves. Even in the very latest movie out last year, the most interesting element of the whole plot was left undeveloped. However, there is hope that the human genetic experimentation angle will be developed in the forthcoming title – which is honestly not called Jurassic Park 15: Flogging a Dead T-Rex.
Along with plot issues, the sequels suffer from a variety of other downfalls that make them difficult to like, let alone love. Take the acting for example. It’s hard to think of a single character in the first movie that lets the side down. However, in the third instalment, we get to witness the truly cringe worthy relationship between Paul Kirby and wife Amanda. The lack of chemistry between the pair is really quite difficult to watch at times.
Then there are the characterizations themselves. Whereas Ellie Sattler was a straight up badass and the ultimate hero of the first movie, the female characters in later editions are frankly embarrassing. Both Amanda Kirby and Claire Dearing (of Jurassic World) are less characters and more caricatures. They play your typical “damsel in distress”, which in the second decade of the 21stcentury, feels dated at best and offensive at worst.
Ultimately, the movies following the original title try to get by on special effects and previous sentimental attachments to characters alone. This doesn’t really work when the writing and directing isn’t on par with the Jurassic Park.
A New Hope?
As mentioned, there is a new Jurassic Park movie on the way. It’s scheduled for release in 2021. Not a great deal is known about the latest in this now-oversized franchise. However, the writers and directors will clearly have their work cut out if they want to restore the magic of the first movie.
The entire series is really starting to feel tired by this point. The dinosaurs no longer have the visual impact they once did and the whole thing could probably use another, longer break. How the team behind Jurassic World III will overcome this is unclear – but please, no more tragically helpless female characters or derelict amusement parks!