Ranking the films in the “Jurassic Park” franchise

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Tomorrow, audiences across the globe are going to be treated to the latest “Jurassic” film when Jurassic World hits theaters. No longer under embargo, I’m allowed to say that it’s pretty enjoyable, if really rather ridiculous. The movie isn’t the best of the franchise, but it’s nowhere near the worst either, so it makes for a perfect opportunity to rank the films in the series to date. I’ll also include a few extra thoughts below on Jurassic World (basically a mini review), since I had to keep it vague earlier this week, but I’ll be talking about all four films in the franchise, from Jurassic Park to third sequel/reboot Jurassic World. I hope you all enjoy!

As promised, first an initial take on Jurassic World, just to start painting a picture for everyone. Again…it’s ridiculous. In short, it’s like eating a bowl of ice cream for breakfast. What do I mean by that? It’s got no nutritional value and it’s not something you want to think much about later in the day, but in the moment it’s delicious. Essentially, it’s just another popcorn film, but an enjoyable one, so there’s that. Chris Pratt is solid, Bryce Dallas Howard has a few nice moments, and Jake Johnson is quality comic relief, but the dinosaurs are the main event. Co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow wisely apes Steven Spielberg in holding back on the mayhem, but he does seek to replicate the spectacle, this time with a functioning park. The results don’t always work, including the imposing Indominus Rex being a bit ridiculous, but for popcorn entertainment, this certainly does the trick. You could definitely do a lot worse this weekend…

Without further delay, here now is how I would rank the films in this franchise:

1. Jurassic Park – An all time great summer blockbuster, Spielberg made something instantly iconic here. A liberal adaptation of the Michael Crichton bestseller, this thrill ride upped the game not just for special effects work, but also effects driven storytelling. It holds up brilliantly still today, making it not just the clear best installment of this franchise, but one of the best action adventure tales of all time. An instant classic then, it remains one to this day. As such, it’s far and a way the tops of this series. The first is still very much the best in this particular case.

2. Jurassic World – As mentioned above, this isn’t the best in the franchise’s history, but it’s the best of the sequels to date. Trevorrow and his co-writer Derek Connelly went from the tiny Safety Not Guaranteed to this massive endeavor and managed to make it work. Is it silly? Of course. Should it have probably been a bit better? Most likely. Could it have been a lot worse? Without question. As such, this is an easily enjoyable flick that’s best enjoyed with your brain turned off. It’s no threat to the top pick, but it’s well ahead of the other two sequels in this series.

3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park – A bit of a red headed stepchild among Spielberg fans, I actually find this first sequel to be a bit underrated. Anything following up Jurassic Park was bound to disappoint a bit, so it was inevitably going to suffer by comparison. It hasn’t especially aged well, but I maintain that it’s a flawed yet solid movie sequel. Nothing about it is too special, but nothing really makes me cringe either. It’s got plenty of entertainment value, I’ll say that much, and stand by it too.

4. Jurassic Park III – The least of the sequels, this is a still entertaining but clearly half hearted endeavor. The budget is lower, Joe Johnston is no Spielberg (though he makes an effort), and everything just feels kind of obligatory. Everything done in this one was already done better in The Lost World: Jurassic Park or would be done better in Jurassic World. As such, it’s incredibly disposable and the only one in the franchise that I would say could be ignored. It’s something you can dig while watching, but it’s hard to get up much enthusiasm for it, unless you’re a real franchise die-hard.

Jurassic World trailer 2015

Be sure to check out Jurassic World in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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