All good things must come to an end, including the “Jurassic World” franchise. This month will mark the third and final chapter for the upcoming “Jurassic World: Dominion” (sneak preview on June 8). The movie not only includes Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard but also the OG trio from the “Jurassic Park” era (Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum).
But before we get our chance to witness “Jurassic World: Dominion” on the big screen, let’s take a look back at the previous 5 “Jurassic Park” movies, all ranked from worst to best.
5) Jurassic Park III (2001)
It’s kind of a pity that “Jurassic Park III” ends the trilogy with a… mediocre third and final movie (at the time). I guess the fact that original director Steven Spielberg, who was responsible for the first two movies, chose to bow out in favour of his longtime friend and protégé Joe Johnston, did make a lot of difference. The difference in question? Paper-thin plot and forgettable characters (yes, even the return of Sam Neill’s Dr Alan Grant after a no-show in 1997’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” is criminally underused). Laura Dern did reprise her role as Dr Ellie Sattler but too bad she is relegated to a cameo appearance.
Well, it’s not that Joe Johnston turned out to be the wrong guy for the job. Besides, his prior experience in directing effects-laden blockbusters like “The Rocketeer” (1991) and “Jumanji” (1995) actually made him the right candidate. The special effects in “Jurassic Park III” are noticeably improved by leaps and bounds. He also has a good eye for thrilling action set-pieces (the aviary sequence that housed pterodactyls comes to mind). And the pace is leaner too, clocking only around 90 minutes long.
But no matter how hard he tries, Joe Johnston is no Steven Spielberg. He lacks the cinematic brilliance that the former had successfully captured the spectacular magic of the dino-sized blockbusters two movies ago. For all the worthwhile moments here and there, “Jurassic Park III” is simply an inferior effort.
4) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
So, how do you follow up a larger-than-life franchise revival of 2015’s “Jurassic World” that made such a dino-sized stomping at the worldwide box office? Well, for J.A. Bayona of 2007’s “The Orphanage” and 2012’s “The Impossible” fame, he opted to go both ways. And that is combining the Steven Spielberg-style theme-park blockbuster and a small-scale gothic horror thriller.
The first half of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” sure feels like an extension of the 2015 movie. You know, rampaging dinosaurs and close calls within the confines of an island. And Bayona does a good job executing the large-scale action sequences that it was such a blast watching this sequel on IMAX.
Then comes the second half, where the movie shifted its focus from the familiar island setting to a gothic mansion-like property. It’s like revisiting “The Orphanage” all over again but without all the supernatural elements, of course. The result? A refreshing change of pace to see a “Jurassic World” movie embracing the gothic-horror territory.
3) The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
“Oh, yeah. Ooh, ahh, that’s how it always starts. But then later there’s running and screaming“. And so said Jeff Goldblum, who reprised his role as Dr Ian Malcolm in the 1997 sequel to “Jurassic Park”. His condescending tones and wry remarks throughout the movie are among the best things in this sequel, even with the notable absence of Sam Neill and Laura Dern from the 1993 original.
I remember watching “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” as a kid and although it may feel like a rehash of the original, returning director Steven Spielberg knows well how to supersize a blockbuster sequel. It has enough dino-size action to keep you occupied in the otherwise lengthy running time (around 129 minutes long). The elaborate scene where not one but two T-Rex dinosaurs attack the trailer on the edge of the cliff is a prime example of how to stage a remarkably tense set-piece. The special effects as usual are top-notch.
2) Jurassic World (2015)
Bringing back an old franchise and making it all relevant again in today’s moviemaking (and moviegoing) landscape isn’t an easy feat. But the makers behind the legacy sequel of “Jurassic World” proved that the once-lucrative franchise is far from extinction.
What’s even remarkable is enlisting the then-untested director Colin Trevorrow, whose previous credit turned out to be an indie sci-fi comedy called “Safety Not Guaranteed”. At the first glance, it sure feels like a huge gamble handling a USD150 million budget to someone who has never directed a large-scale studio picture. But Trevorrow proved to be the man for the job. He’s like a young Steven Spielberg during his prime era. Not to mention his enthusiasm for creating the magic of a summer-movie blockbuster is evidently shown on the big screen.
In other words, “Jurassic World” is the kind of Hollywood blockbuster demanded to be seen on the biggest screen possible (loved the IMAX experience!). He’s an ace visual stylist when comes to staging spectacular action sequences and tension-filled moments. He even insists on combining CGI and animatronic design for the creation of the dinosaurs and they simply look amazing. I also enjoyed the introduction of a new, genetically-modified dinosaur called Indominus Rex — a towering beast that is not only savage in its nature but also capable of outsmarting human encounters and other dinosaur species.
Trevorrow, who also co-wrote the screenplay, even brought a fresh angle to the otherwise familiar story about dinosaurs on the loose. Introducing a new character in the form of Chris Pratt’s Owen, an ex-military expert-turned-velociraptor trainer is a nice touch (yes, his character involves training the raptors). He has that effortless charm and all the distinctive swagger of a leading-man hero.
1) Jurassic Park (1993)
At the time of writing, it has been 29 years since the first “Jurassic Park” stomped the big screen to overwhelmingly positive responses. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 megahit is equivalent of a dinosaur version of “Jaws”. And ironically, both movies defined the very essence of a summer-movie blockbuster.
Having recently revisited “Jurassic Park”, the movie still manages to stand the test of time. The combination of animatronic and CGI, notably the creations of T-Rex and velociraptors are all incredibly lifelike. Spielberg is a maestro when comes to the power of suggestion (he doesn’t reveal the full-scale dino attack until the movie’s halfway point). The same also goes with the way he takes considerable time to build up the tension from the get-go. Then, there’s the high-concept premise of resurrecting the dinosaurs for the modern era, which remains an effective cautionary tale of playing god and its consequences.
“Jurassic Park” also famously introduced Sam Neill and Laura Dern in their respective iconic roles as Dr Alan Grant and Dr Ellie Sattler. And so does Jeff Goldblum in his quirky mathematician role as Dr Ian Malcolm and Richard Attenborough as the eccentric billionaire, who owned the titular park.
And finally, just for the sake of it…
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