Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of the franchise born from a simple question: What if dinosaurs lived again?
For over three decades now, the Jurassic franchise has dwelled happily at the intersection of horror and action, but when digging into them, what stands out is how the ones which feel the least successful are the ones that feel compelled to treat this as a monster movie franchise. Yes, aesthetically a T. Rex and Godzilla have some similarities, but the reason Jurassic Park remains a masterpiece is that it’s a tightly made disaster movie, where dinosaurs are just one facet of the disaster (and entirely blameless as to its initial cause). Other films on this list… maybe get a little confused about this idea.
Which is why one thing you’ll notice immediately about this list is that while typically, ranked features of this type begin with the worst entries before eventually celebrating the best, we’ve reversed things here. This is because — spoiler alert — there really isn’t much of a question as to what the best Jurassic movie is. But while the franchise peaked early, like a high school quarterback who ends up working at Jiffy Lube, that makes the race to the bottom all the more interesting, as every attempt to capture the magic of the original since 1993 has failed to succeed on some level, but usually for very different reasons.
In addition, the other five films of the franchise do have their moments, and with Jurassic World Dominion looking good at the box office its opening weekend, it’s unlikely we’ll stop talking about these movies anytime soon. Because, if nothing else, watching bad people become dino kibble can be an awful lot of fun.
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Jurassic World Dominion.]