Jurassic Park Sequels: 5 Things They Got Right (& 5 Things That Missed The Mark)
No sequel will match the dinosaur magic of Steven Spielberg's original Jurassic Park, but its franchise follow-ups have their breathtaking moments.
Between the groundbreaking, masterfully crafted original Jurassic Park movie helmed by Steven Spielberg and the lukewarm, crowd-pleasing, semi-meta reboot Jurassic World, two direct sequels were produced: The Lost World, directed by Spielberg himself, and Jurassic Park III, directed by Joe Johnston. The response to both movies paled in comparison to their predecessor’s record-setting box office numbers and universal critical acclaim.
But after the heartbreaking misfire that is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, fans have realized they may have treated The Lost World and Jurassic Park III a little too harshly. These sequels still have their problems, but there's a lot to love about them.
10 - Right: The Pterodactyls In Jurassic Park III
Joe Johnston got his start working on the Star Wars crew, putting together the miniature effects that make up the original trilogy’s biggest set pieces, so it’s hardly surprising that he brought some incredible new effects to the table when he helmed Jurassic Park III.
The director took the coolest dinosaur that had yet to be featured in the franchise — pterodactyls, the terrifying flying predators — and put them front in center. Every scene featuring the pterodactyls is spectacular, especially the misty high-altitude sequences.
9 - Missed The Mark: Using The Dinosaurs As A Gimmick
The dinosaurs were used sparingly in Jurassic Park to build suspense and mystique and they were depicted as awe-inspiring forces of nature that didn’t always pose a threat. But in the sequels, the dinosaurs were mostly reduced to ravenous killing machines who appeared in as many scenes as possible.
Of course, dinosaurs are the bread and butter of this franchise, but that doesn’t mean the movies should just have wall-to-wall dinosaur eye candy. Telling a compelling story is much more important — the dinosaurs are the cherry on top.
8 - Right: The Lost World’s VFX
The visual effects in Jurassic Park were truly groundbreaking, and although The Lost World overused them, they were just as slickly designed and sharply rendered as the effects in the original.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Jurassic Park III, whose effects are pretty low-rent. It could’ve been because the studio slashed the budget or just because the VFX artists weren’t as good.
7 - Missed The Mark: Betraying Legacy Characters
Ian Malcolm takes center stage in The Lost World and Alan Grant returns to the spotlight in Jurassic Park III, but despite having those names and the talented actors behind them, they don’t really feel like those characters.
The characterization in Jurassic Park is so sharp in making Malcolm a wisecracking nuisance with irresistible charm and Grant a cynic who needs to open up, but The Lost World made Malcolm a bumbling moron and Jurassic Park III made Grant a soft Indiana Jones whose fedora does the legwork for his character development.
6 - Right: T. Rex On The Loose In San Diego
While Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom made the strange choice to move all the dinosaurs to the mainland for the big finale and then confine them all to a single house, The Lost World went all-in with the same midpoint twist and let a T. rex loose on the streets of San Diego.
This allowed Spielberg to play in the sandbox of an entirely different type of monster movie, essentially Godzilla with a T. rex instead of a nuclear sea monster.
5 - Missed The Mark: Alan Has A Bad Dream
There’s a heavily memed scene in Jurassic Park III in which Alan Grant is sleeping on a plane, wakes up to find that the pilots are gone, and then turns his head to see a velociraptor standing next to him. Instead of attacking him, the raptor says, “Alan!,” and he jolts awake from a bad dream.
This scene plays more like a gag from Scary Movie than a genuine moment from the same narrative timeline as Jurassic Park’s raptors-in-the-kitchen suspense sequence.
4 - Right: The Lost World’s RV Set Piece
Perhaps the most exciting set piece from the Jurassic Park sequels is the scene in The Lost World in which some angry dinosaurs knock the team’s mobile lab over the edge of a cliff and it hangs by a thread.
As the RV precariously hangs over a giant drop into some nondescript jungle, the characters desperately try to climb up to safety while avoiding the attacking dinos.
3 - Missed The Mark: A Bunch Of Terrible Characters In Jurassic Park III
Apart from Sam Neill’s dependable performance as Alan Grant and William H. Macy playing one of his classic loser roles as Paul Kirby, most of the characters in Jurassic Park III are terrible. They’re all badly written and some of them are actually bad people.
Amanda Kirby screams through the whole movie, which gets irritating in a hurry, while Billy Brennan endangers everyone’s lives and breaks up a dinosaur family that was minding its own business by stealing raptor eggs.
2 - Right: Jurassic Park III’s Lean Script
Some of the effects in Jurassic Park III are shaky and plenty of its characters are unlikable, but it does have a lean script going for it. It wastes no time setting up each scene and doesn’t let the pesky plot get in the way of the action.
The script is partly credited to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, the writing team behind such gems as Election and Sideways, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s well-paced and well-structured.
1 - Missed The Mark: Never Reuniting The Original’s Trio
Colin Trevorrow is set to fix this egregious error in Jurassic World: Dominion, finally reuniting Jurassic Park’s holy trinity of Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum as Drs. Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm. None of the previous sequels featured all three. The Lost World only featured Goldblum, while Neill starred in Jurassic Park III and Dern phoned in a cameo appearance in the most literal sense.
It’s like if, after the original 1977 Star Wars movie brought Luke, Leia, and Han together, The Empire Strikes Back only featured a watered-down version of Han and Return of the Jedi only featured a watered-down version of Luke and a shoehorned-in phone call with Leia.