Having at long last watched Jurassic Park III and been pleasantly surprised, I now feel able to give an informed opinion about their relative quality, from best to worst.
1. Jurassic Park. The original and still the best. The special effects have aged tremendously well for a film that’s nearly 30 years old, the characters are brilliant and the combination of wonder, terror and pacing is still unmatched.
2. Jurassic World. A surprisingly effect restart to the series, hitting all of the classic notes but in pleasantly new ways. The genetically modified ‘Indomitus Rex’ and the trained raptors struck the right balance between being new innovations within the Jurassic framework and there were some nice but not heavy-handed homages to the original.
3. Jurassic Park III. A simpler story than the others, consisting of ‘go to the island to rescue a boy’, but the characters are likeable, the dinosaurs suitably perilous and the film itself, at just over 90 minutes, doesn’t drag. Surprisingly successful.
————————————–Line of ‘would recommend’————————————
4. Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom. Whilst avoiding the disaster that is The Lost World, Fallen Kingdom still has the major problem that in most cases you’re rooting for the dinosaurs. Setting the scene in an isolated manor is certainly more plausible than having a T-Rex rampaging, unnoticed, around San Diego, and there are some nice moments, but it still falls flat.
5. The Lost World: Jurassic Park. A travesty from beginning to end, from the unsympathetic characters, the unbelievable T-Rex episode and the lack of anything uplifting or inspiring. Ultimately, we’d all have been better off if the dinosaurs had eaten everyone 30 minutes in.
All Jurassic films contain certain themes – T-Rex, raptors, tense escapes from dinosaurs and so on – but there are two essential elements that distinguish the successful from the unsuccessful: (1) That your sympathies should be with the humans, who must therefore be likeable and sympathetic; and (2) that the film, despite the peril, conveys a sense of awe and wonder at the dinosaurs themselves. Both of the ‘below the line’ films fail at at least one of these elements, but those above the line, particularly Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, have them in spades.