The Jurassic Park franchise has been an unstoppable force since 1993, when Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park roared onto screens worldwide and made audiences believe the impossible could become a reality. Not only did the maverick filmmaker and his creative team pioneer some of the best visual effects in cinema, but they also created one of the most beloved action-adventure franchises of all time.
The original film was based on the Michael Crichton novel about a theme park of dinosaurs that eventually break loose and wreak havoc on visitors. It inspired a sequel novel as well as a series of films, each expanding the world-building of the last. As incredible as the franchise is, each film's writing both helped and hindered its progress. As a result, it hasn't aged as magnificently as you might think. Read on below for 10 reasons why.
10 JURASSIC PARK 1 & 2: THE TECHNOLOGY
Something that's immediately salient to modern viewers watching Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World, is the outdated technology on display. When compared to the sleek tech featured in the Jurassic World films, it becomes ironic that the characters of the first two films in the franchise are talking on cellphones derisively called "bricks."
Comically large cellphones aside, there's also the computers and their interfaces, which look completely archaic by today's standards. It works on some levels though; the tension is only amplified by the slow loading displays as Lex desperately tries to hack into the park's systems and restore power, before a velociraptor bursts into the computer lab and eats everyone.
9 JURASSIC PARK: "THEY DO MOVE IN HERDS"
In 1993, the panoramic scene involving Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, and Hammond watching herds of brachiosaurus and parasaurolophus was mind-blowing. CGI had never been used so seamlessly to blend into a natural environment, much less bring to life creatures that had been dead hundreds of thousands of years.
While the scene still holds up in terms of giving movie wizardry credit where credit is due, there's still the matter of the poor texturing on the brachiosaurus, which gets even more patchy as we close in on it attacking a tree for its daily lunch of leaves.
8 JURASSIC PARK: "THEY'RE FLOCKING THIS WAY"
No one can deny that Jurassic Park was a groundbreaking film for visual effects. CGI was still very much in its infancy in 1991 when the film was in pre-production, the use of which would set the tone for blockbusters to come. That being said, while good for its era, some of the CGI just doesn't hold up today.
The "flock of Gallimimus" scene comes to mind, with the dinosaurs looking out of place in the environment around them. The coloration of their skin looks oddly bright and untouched by shadows, and they very much look super-imposed onto a backdrop.
7 THE LOST WORLD: CORPORATE BAD GUYS VS. GOOD ENVIRONMENTALISTS
Sometimes there's something innately comforting about the black and white, good versus evil aspect present in the '80s and '90s action-adventure films. The Lost World keeps the trope alive and well by pitting environmentalists (like Vince Vaughn's "Earth First character") versus the corporate baddies of InGen.
Of course in real life, people are so rarely broken down into those sorts of binary archetypes, and it was the fact they weren't in the original Jurassic Park that made the characters so complex. There's good and there's bad in The Lost World, and it means you can cheer extra loud when bad guys get eaten, but it doesn't make the film age any better.
6 THE LOST WORLD: GYMNASTICS KILLED THE DINOSAURS
While you might have thought a giant meteor wiped out the dinosaurs, it was, in fact, a teenager with mad gymnastic skills. And not just any teen, but Ian Malcolm's estranged daughter who's recently been cut from the gymnastics team.
She's given the opportunity to show off her skill against a velociraptor, part of a species that's been shown to be the most cunning predators of the series. The scene where a raptor waits patiently while she goes through her routine on a pole, gaining enough momentum to kick it through a window is painful to watch and ruins the tension.
5 THE LOST WORLD: SAN DIEGO RAMPAGE
In the grand tradition of King Kong and Godzilla, The Lost World set out to leave the terrifying isolation of the island and bring the danger of dinosaurs to the mainland. A T-Rex descends on San Diego and rampages through the city streets, in both an homage and a mockery of the monster movies that came before it.
While parts of this sequence are undoubtedly epic, there are several that are full of such campy humor that pulls you out of the moment. What should be nothing short of horrifying becomes humorous when a T-Rex drinks from a swimming pool and a Japanese ex-pat screams at it like it's the second coming of Mothra.
4 JURASSIC PARK 3: SCIENTIFIC FALLACIES
As the final film in the Jurassic Park trilogy, Jurassic Park III tried a combination of things to satisfy fans; it rehashed elements from the other two films and souped-up its dinosaurs. It introduced new dinosaurs like the Spinosaurus, as well as gave viewers their first look at the sort of hybrid dinosaurs they'd see later in Jurassic World.
It's not so much that the dinosaurs look bad, it's the fact that after so many years since the original film, filmmakers had no interest in being accurate with the science behind them. The scientific community bemoaned the fact that filmmakers were still using research from the '80s to depict their dinosaurs, as well as continuing the myth that DNA doesn't have an expiration date.
3 JURASSIC WORLD: RUNNING IN HEELS
The more one watches Jurassic Park with the intelligent and competent Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) as its heroine, the more one bemoans the character Bryce Dallas Howard plays in Jurassic World. As the prim operations manager, she has a Romancing the Stone moment and heads into the park with roguish Chris Pratt's raptor tamer in her all-white business suit.
Unlike that adventure yarn, she doesn't hack off the heels of her shoes to bushwhack through the jungle. Instead, she keeps her heels on and improbably survives a series of dangerous events while maneuvering in them. She's still wearing them at the end of the film when she sprints to outrun a rampaging T-Rex.
2 JURASSIC PARK & JURASSIC WORLD: SCIENCE IS HEARTLESS
Michael Crichton, author of sci-fi thrillers like The Andromeda Strain, Prey, Westworld, and of course, Jurassic Park has long explored the belief that scientists are heartless individuals who, if left unchecked, would doom the world with their hubris and monstrous creations.
Both Jurassic Park and its reboot Jurassic World reflect this archetype, exploring the inherent dangers of genetic research to the extent of having souped-up dinosaurs on the loose because scientists lack any sort of basic restraint, common sense, or judgment. It feels not only uninspired but wildly out of touch.
1 FALLEN KINGDOM: MAD SCIENTIST
Like some maniacal mad scientist out of Frankenstein, the one-dimensional character of Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) continues to pop up in the Jurassic World films to figuratively twirl his mustache and genetically engineer more dinosaur hybrids.
The character was much more interesting in Michael Crichton's book, where he had much more to do with the process of creating the theme park than was even hinted at in the Jurassic Park film. His inclusion in the later films in the franchise as a contrived villain removes all the moral ambiguity that existed when it was focused on the avuncular John Hammond and his pursuit of legacy at the expense of his grandchildren.