Jurassic Park - a series review

Cover of Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
May 10, 2024

In 1824, the English theologian and geologist William Buckland wrote a description of a long dead animal he called a Megalosaurus or “great lizard.” Working from a 166 million year old piece of fossilized jawbone, Buckland imagined an amphibious creature about 60 feet in length and weighing upwards of 3 tons. His description and the naming of Iguanodon just a year later inspired biologist Richard Owen to coin the term Dinosauria to describe this emerging clade of the evolutionary tree. 

Megalosaurus statue in Crystal Palace Park

200 years later, dinosaurs retain their popular fixation in society. Separated from our own existence by a time span that can boggle the mind, these creatures inspire awe and wonder in many to this very day. It should be no surprise then that when director Steven Spielberg’s made a film based on a Michael Crichton novel about cloned dinosaurs in the modern world, it was so successful it would spawn an entire franchise with 5 feature film sequels to date. 

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first dinosaur and the 30th anniversary of these films, I rewatched the entirety of the Jurassic Park cinematic releases. I present my here my review of each, and an overall takeaway from the experience. 


Jurassic Park – 

If I had to guess at just one reason this series has continued to inspire new additions on for three decades, I would have to credit the strength of the storytelling in this first film. At all ages and times of my life I have found new things to enjoy in this movie, and on this re-watch I was most impressed by the amount of story depth that can be implied in just a few lines. By paying attention to not just the words he said, but also the actions he had taken, I felt like the character of John Hammond came across as less kindly and parental to me and more ambitious and insulated from the concerns of others by his wealth. Other characters like Dennis Nedry and Ian Malcolm also felt refreshed in this watch, with more depth than I recalled. All of this played against great tension building and a rousing final action montage that left me very happy with the time I spent watching this movie. 


The Lost World: Jurassic Park – 

Growing up, I would have said this was my favorite movie in the franchise, and I think the story is still compelling if a little bloated. The massive expansion of the scope of this world by adding a second island cannot be understated, and cool technology at their disposal is like candy to folks into props and movie replicas. Plotwise, I just think they tried to do too much, and it ended up feeling rushed through the whole expedition. That added to the unnecessary addition of the t-rex loose in LA, and I have to knock it down a couple pegs on my overall rankings. 


Jurassic Park III – 

A 90-minute chase sequence with very little plot, and none of the subtlety or tension of the first film. Even Alan Grant returning to the franchise does little to boost opinion, especially in his incredible gullibility in the face of a verbal offer of research funding with no actual written contract. At least the hired guns are quickly written out of the film, and they can focus at least a little on a more compelling redemption arc for Mr. Kirby, who does end up slightly less annoying by the end of the movie.


Jurassic World – 

Set 22 years after the first movie, Jurassic World is a return not just to the island from the first movie, Isla Nublar, but also a return to the idea of a dinosaur theme park. In contrast to Hammond’s claims in the first movie to have “spared no expense” set against his clearly glitchy technology and bare bones staffing, the park presented in this film is high tech, well-funded, and successful. The main conflict comes in the form of humanity pushing the boundaries of genetics into hybrid designer dinosaurs, and the unforeseen repercussions. Exciting action scenes, and an interesting evolution of the message about man’s interference in nature. 


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

This movie had problems, one of which was that it clearly suffers from an artistic scope that saw this movie as a transitional phase between the first and third Jurassic World, and not really a standalone film. In addition, the movie strains believability in the incredible superhuman reflexes and scientific ability of the main characters, timing of travel across the globe by boat in hours rather than weeks and reducing Owen Grady to an action movie one liner machine. The horror villain typing of the new hybrid dino was almost comically arch, but at least they are only in the movie for the last 30 minutes. 


Jurassic World: Dominion – 

Remember the first movie, and the guy who hires Nedry to steal the embryo’s at the beginning? Well guess who is back and running a large genetics corporation? That’s right, its Dodgson! We got Dodgson here! Just like that little outdoor café though, the profit hungry CEO with loose morals is a largely forgettable character, and the movie is a mess of storylines and jumps from one set piece to another to show how dinosaurs are now everywhere you go in the world. I did like the CGI and the clear evolution to a more realistic feathered theropod look, but there was never really one big threat that felt really important, and thus the movie felt overall pretty flat. 


Overall, I am happy with the series as it stands, though there are rumors of a 7th film in the works to be released in 2025. For those looking for a tier ranking, I will include that below. Hopefully you take some time to watch your favorite dinosaur movie or read about the history of dinosaurs this year as well. Happy 200th anniversary, and here’s to 65 million more in the future!

6. Jurassic Park III- easily the worst of the franchise with the one upside that it was also the shortest

5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom- Too much plot here trying to set up for Dominion, seems to lack identity

4. Jurassic World: Dominion- Almost a straight action movie and very preachy at times, but some fun scenes 

3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park- Could have been higher on the list, but there is so much story packed in that everyone feels slightly underdeveloped.

2. Jurassic World- The nostalgia of this reboot, combined with a cool big bad, and some stunning animation made for a fun ride

1. Jurassic Park- The original film still stands triumphant as one of my favorite pieces of media, even 31 years after its release 

Reviewed by Charles H
See their Lists and Reviews in our Catalog!