Every Jurassic Park Movie, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes
There are currently five films in the Jurassic Park franchise with one on the way. But not all of them were perfect, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was so groundbreaking in its use of computer-generated effects that it inspired George Lucas to make the Star Wars prequels, Peter Jackson to make The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Stanley Kubrick to make A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (although he died during pre-production and Spielberg ended up directing it).
The movie has since been followed by two sequels, a reboot, and another sequel, with varying degrees of quality (the good, the bad, and the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom). None of them have come close to matching the timeless classic status of the original, but some rank a lot higher than others on Rotten Tomatoes.
5 - Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (47%)
Oh, boy. When The Orphanage director J.A. Bayona was poised to helm a darker, more horror-tinged Jurassic movie, fans unwisely got their hopes up. The first half of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom randomly reveals that Isla Nublar has been an active volcano waiting to blow this entire time. The second half is a haunted house movie – Bayona’s bread and butter – in which the house is haunted with dinosaurs. This makes the movie feel like two story ideas got lazily stitched together without fully exploring either of them.
Neither half of the movie is good enough to make up for the other one. The audience is constantly expected to make huge leaps in logic, like Owen getting inches away from molten lava and surviving (following “the floor is made of lava” rules) or Maisie feeling a kindred spirit with the dinosaurs and unleashing them into the wilderness of North America.
Jeff Goldblum’s return to the role of Ian Malcolm was touted as a big deal in the trailers, but in the actual movie, it’s a glorified cameo. He says all his lines from the same chair – it probably didn’t even take a full day to shoot his entire role in the movie. Also, the trailers were filled with shots of dinosaurs terrorizing the mainland like it was a part of the movie, but it was actually a montage at the end, so it was basically a trailer for the next movie.
4 - Jurassic Park III (49%)
Widely regarded to be the worst a Jurassic Park movie could possibly be before Fallen Kingdom came along, Jurassic Park III begins with the notorious dream sequence in which a velociraptor says, “Alan,” and then it just gets worse from there. The story doesn’t even have a proper ending: the army just shows up to put the movie out of its misery.
The threequel has a couple of saving graces: the misty high-altitude set piece with the pterodactyls is pretty unnerving, and Billy Brennan is fun to hate. Sam Neill’s return to the role of Dr. Alan Grant has its moments, but the script completely underserves the character, retooling him as a kind of third-rate Indiana Jones.
3 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park (53%)
Universal wasn’t going to let Jurassic Park be a one-off after it became the highest grossing movie of all time. The Lost World: Jurassic Park is the only sequel that Steven Spielberg has ever directed outside the Indiana Jones series (although he wanted to make a sequel to Tintin, and still should), and it stands proudly beside Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as one of his worst movies.
The sequence with the bus hanging off the side of the cliff is pretty intense, but it has a couple of cartoonish moments and never achieves the heights of Hitchcockian suspense found in the T. rex’s escape or the velociraptors’ kitchen attack from the first movie. Where the original used dinosaurs sparingly, The Lost World flaunts them around willy-nilly – there’s a San Diego-set riff on Godzilla in the final act.
2 - Jurassic World (70%)
Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is the closest that the Jurassic franchise has come to matching the magic of Spielberg’s 1993 original. It gets off to a great start, exploring a whole new premise in the operations of a functioning dinosaur park, but it starts to go off the rails when audiences are expected to believe that live dinosaurs got boring after a couple of years and they need to create a hybrid dinosaur to boost attendance.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard both bring their A-game, but their characters Owen Grady and Claire Dearing are so thinly written and generic that nobody refers to them as Owen and Claire; they call them “Chris Pratt” and “Bryce Dallas Howard.”
1 - Jurassic Park (91%)
It’s no surprise that the original Jurassic Park movie still ranks head and shoulders above its sequels on Rotten Tomatoes, because there probably shouldn’t have been any sequels in the first place. The story of John Hammond’s theme park and the cloning operation that made it possible was told in its entirety in the first movie.
After determining that playing God is wrong and a resort like Jurassic Park shouldn’t exist because the dinosaurs could escape and eat people, there’s nowhere else to go with this story and its themes. The sequels have all bungled their attempts to repackage the same message that was delivered perfectly in the first movie.
This movie was Star Wars for a new generation. In its initial theatrical run, it became the highest grossing movie of all time, following in the footsteps of its bestselling source material. No amount of bad, unnecessary sequels will be able to tarnish the legacy of the near-perfect original.