Since 1993, Dinosaurs have been back amongst us. Spielberg’s monster-blockbuster was a hit with audiences and critics alike, while also revolutionising movie-making at the same time. It also spawned four sequels with a fifth on the way. So, while we wait for Jurassic World: Dominion to the drop, let’s have a look back and rank the current instalments in the franchise. (Spoilers ahead)
5. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
I hate to start with some gripes, but the one question I continually asked myself while watching this film was ‘why?’. Why is half of it set in a Californian mansion? Why was the little girl a clone? Why did Owen agree to go back to the island? Why does Claire now suddenly care deeply for her former ‘assets’? Why did the first dinosaur to ever be auctioned fetch just £10m? (Around the same amount as an average Premier League footballer). It starts off well and all the stuff on the island is pretty good, even if it was a bit of a re-hash of The Lost World. However, as soon as the island is gone and we’re back in California, the questions really takeover and I start to zone out. It ends in an interesting way with around a dozen dinosaurs, including the T-Rex, a Velociraptor and the massive Mosasaur, are set free into the world. I assume the next film will pick up here, which will be fascinating to see.
4. Jurassic Park III
The only film in the series to have a numbered title rather than a subtitle, which makes me think they couldn’t think of an appropriate one. We could spend some time helping them out, but in fairness I don’t think this film deserves the effort. Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) returns to the dinosaur island after being tricked into taking a rich couple on a low fly-by as his archaeological dig is running low on funds… again. He quickly runs into the massive Spinosaurus, which I thought must have been made up but it turns out it’s actually a real dinosaur, who quickly takes out a T-Rex and forces the group to travel across the dino-infested island to safety. That isn’t bad as a premise goes, sadly the characters are beige and frankly I wouldn’t have been fussed if they had all been the main course in a dino buffet. The introduction of flying dinosaurs was an interesting addition and when one gets loose, it threatens so much more… but it’s dropped by the time the next film is out. It’s not too bad this one to be fair, but that once scene where Dr. Grant dreams of a velociraptor calling his name definitely doesn’t help its overall score.
3. Jurassic World
This is a kind of a reboot for the series. Set in a now fully-operational park, we see what Jurassic Park could have been. It’s all fun and games until actual people are out-smarted by a hybrid-dinosaur who can turn invisible to both the naked eye and thermal optics. Otherwise, it’s a pretty good reboot/remake of the first film complete with screaming damsel and two kids — although these two brothers are much more annoying that the original siblings. I do like this one and rewatch it fairly regularly. It’s fun to see what a fully-functional dinosaur zoo would be like. The Lego game is fun too. Shame the characters are still a bit cardboardy.
2. The Lost World
As sequels go, this one is pretty good. We find one of the heroes of the original film, Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) back in chomping distance of some prehistoric teeth as he embarks on a mission to rescue his girlfriend Sarah, (Julianne Moore) from a second dino-infested island. He is joined on this adventure by Vince Vaughn, Richard Schiff and his young daughter Vanessa Chester, who stowed-away. We then get some great tense scenes with a pair of T-Rex, a pack of velociraptors causing havoc and some really annoying little Compsognathus who nibble the crap out of Peter Stormare’s character midway through. The best stuff comes towards the end however when a T-Rex is loose on the streets of San Diego and it’s up to Malcolm and Sarah to entice it back to the cargo ship from whence it came. Great movie that gets more stick than it deserves in my opinion.
Unsurprisingly, number one on my list is the original and best. Spielberg’s 1993 epic was, and still is, a classic. A group of scientists are invited to visit and give their approval to the opening of a new theme park, set on a scenic island near Costa Rica. The theme of the park, living, breathing and hungry dinosaurs. Looking back now, the idea of having a dinosaur in a movie is old hat. Loads of films do it and the CGI probably isn’t really that difficult to do. However, in 1993 it was something completely new and it needed the combining of computer generated images with good old-fashioned models and animatronics. The dinosaurs look real. They sound real. They feel real. Much more so than any movie made now does. I strongly advise anyone to go back and watch the ‘making of’ this movie. It’s almost as mind-blowing as the film itself. One of my top 10 films of all time this.