Foreword by Adam Brannon. In a new series, I look through an entire back catalogue of films to bring you Franchise Reviews. These weekly articles will review each flick in a particular movie series in under 100 words per film – trust me it’s harder than it looks.
To inaugurate the series, I’m taking a look back at Jurassic Park and its four films. What better way to begin. I hope you enjoy them.
Released 25 years ago, Steven Spielberg’s take on Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name unbelievably holds up to this day. By holds up I’m referring to the incredible special effects that brought dinosaurs to life like never before.
The technology in the film however, doesn’t fare so well. Interactive CD-ROMs haven’t been relevant since the early 00s and Unix systems, well, the less said about that the better.
But this is a thrill ride like no other. The human characters rightly play second fiddle to the dinosaur cast. For pure popcorn entertainment, Jurassic Park is hard to beat.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Spielberg has said on record many times that taking this job was one of the worst decisions of his career. He shouldn’t be so hard on himself though as for the most part, The Lost World is great fun.
The characters are fleshed out more and the special effects are once again top-notch but there’s a spark from the first film that’s notable by its absence. Things pick up through the much-maligned finale in San Diego but the franchise began to take a tumble only halted 18 years later…
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Jurassic Park III
Spielberg bowed out of the franchise and Joe Johnston (Jumanji) took over proceedings for this third instalment with composer John Williams also leaving the series.
The script was also not completed by the time the film started shooting which is never a good sign. However, the finished product did have some merits. Sam Neill and Laura Dern’s return to the series was great and the new Spinosaurus proved a fitting antagonist.
But the raptors became cartoon villains and Tea Leoni was just dreadful. At only 80 minutes long, it needed some serious padding out too.
⭐ ⭐ ½
14 years after Jurassic Park III disappointed audiences the world over, Spielberg hand-picked indie director Colin Trevorrow to helm a long-awaited fourth instalment.
In June 2015, Jurassic World was born and the resulting film was the sequel the franchise and its fans deserved. The special effects, whilst hardly ground-breaking breathed life into the series and casting Chris Pratt was a genius decision.
Michael Giacchino’s incredible score also showed why he is the composer of the moment and Bryce Dallas Howard was a great leading lady – despite some negative press pre-launch.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
With J.A. Bayona at the helm, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was always going to be a beautifully put together film, and for that it succeeds on every level. It is the best looking movie in the franchise by a mile.
The story is a welcome departure from the series norm, with the majority of the action taking place off Isla Nublar and in a grand, gothic mansion in California. However, it would have been nice to spend a little more time saying goodbye to the island we have called home for 25 years.
Elsewhere, the script is clunky at times with some poor dialogue, but the acting is on-point from all the characters. A solid and beautifully filmed entry to the franchise with a cracking volcanic destruction scene.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2