My stepson wanted to watch all the Jurassic Park movies this week, so we did. I wasn’t too enthusiastic ahead of the 1993 original since I felt I’d seen it countless times and so many of its hallmark moments have been parodied to death, but before I knew it I was glued to the screen. This is a symphony of blockbuster filmmaking, a truly fulfilling experience. What’s the worst thing about the first Jurassic Park? They never explain why the triceratops is sick? That’s about it. I imagine the triceratops is in poor health because it’s a clone created for an amusement park. Just a wild guess!
I didn’t want Jurassic Park to end, but throughout The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) my brain was screaming for a reprieve. I’m astounded that this middling, creatively bankrupt sequel was also directed by Steven Spielberg. How many nondescript white guys stalking the jungle with guns do we need? Every action set piece is three minutes too long and a hundred decibels too loud. And bringing the T. Rex to San Diego — look, I’m not saying that’s a bad idea, I just think the way they handle it punctures the reality these films are trying to present. Still, Jeff Goldblum has some funny lines.
Jurassic Park III (2001) was directed by Joe Johnston, the guy who did The Rocketeer and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and that was the perfect energy to bring to this franchise. The spirit of true matinee adventure returns. Part tres also has enough new tricks up its sleeve to make it distinct. That said, the dinosaurs look better in the original, and I’m not entirely convinced that the Spinosaurus is a more dangerous foe than the T. Rex. I mean, I guess I’ll take their word for it.
I appreciate that Jurassic World (2015) just throws us into the bigger, better version of the founding attraction. There’s no preamble about who rebuilt the park and why. You know why! Humans are stupid! I was surprised how much I liked this sequel considering the number of clichés it upholds (broken family, smarter and more dangerous central dinosaur, raptors out the effin’ ass). As for Chris Pratt, I hate to kick a guy when he’s down (Chris Pratt is not actually down) but his work in Jurassic World is pure cheese.
With the franchise in danger of growing stale, the ridiculously titled Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) takes the prehistoric action to strange new places (relatively speaking). If you haven’t seen this one yet I think it’s worth not spoiling anything for yourself. I will say the villains in Fallen Kingdom are some real mustache-twirlers and Bryce Dallas Howard’s character starts to get a decent arc. Chris Pratt continues to be a corny yutz. Charlie Chaplin’s daughter is also in this killer dinosaur movie.
And so the saga concludes with Jurassic World: Dominion (2022), an entry many people take issue with because it ignores the major plot point set up at the end of Fallen Kingdom (thereby sort of ignoring the dinosaurs altogether). My problem with Dominion is that jettisons a couple of the more interesting characters introduced in the previous film. Well, they had to make room for the three returning stars from the original Jurassic Park. They don’t really do anything aside from wear their old costumes, get recognized by children, and reiterate that evil is afoot. Dominion probably should have been tightened up in editing but it is not as bad as the heads would have you believe.
My stepson gave each Jurassic Park movie more or less the same review — “That was great, but a little intense in parts.”