Jurassic Park Movies Ranked From Best to Worst

No points for guessing what the best one is

Jurassic Park Movies Ranked
Illustration by Steven Fiche

    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.]

    01. Jurassic Park (1993)

    Runtime: 127 minutes

    Director: Steven Spielberg (perhaps you’ve heard of him?)

    Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards

    Plot: Very rich man John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough) had a dream: to create a theme park where all the attractions were totally real — the attractions being flesh-and-blood dinosaurs. Being a very rich man in possession of a cutting-edge biotech company, he was able to make his dream come true. But during a test visit to prove that the park would be a safe and profitable investment for the company’s shareholders, with guests including Hammond’s own grandchildren and some science experts, well… Let’s just say there are a few snags.

    Best Quote

    “God creates dinosaur. God destroys dinosaur. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaur.”
    “Dinosaur eats man. Woman inherits the earth.”
    — Dr. Ian Malcolm and Dr. Ellie Sattler


    With just seven words, Laura Dern gave birth to an entire generation of proto-feminists. A true hero for our times.

    Okay, There Are a Lot of Runners-Up for Best Quote: Sam Neill’s pitch-perfect delivery of “Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided, not to endorse your park.” And also, of course, there is the one and only Samuel L. Jackson with this early career highlight, a real piece of wisdom that resonates to today…

    Samuel L Jackson hold on to your butts

    Jurassic Park (Universal Studios)


    Which Children Are In Danger? It’s not really a Jurassic movie unless at least one minor is in serious danger of becoming dino dinner, and the first children to kick off this proud tradition are the aforementioned grandchildren, Lex and Tim, who Hammond brings to the island as a distraction from their parents’ divorce. Tim’s a huge dino geek! Lex loves computers! Both of those skill sets will come in very handy for both of them, with Lex’s interest in UNIX systems also proving formative for any young person who might have watched this movie at her character’s exact age and as a result began dreaming of becoming, just like Lex, “a hacker.”

    Who Most Deserves to Be Eaten By a Dinosaur? A lot of people die over the course of the film due to dino attacks, but probably the one whose death feels the most deserved is Gennaro the lawyer (Martin Ferrero), who abandons Lex and Tim like a damn coward at the Tyrannosaurus Rex paddock.

    Does He Get Eaten by a Dinosaur? Hell yeah he does. For his cowardice, he’s awarded perhaps the most embarrassing death in the film — literally sitting on a toilet before being gobbled up by the T. Rex. Suck it, Gennaro.


    MVD (Most Valuable Dinosaur): A fun thing about the release of this film is that prior to Park, the scariest dinosaur in the public consciousness was the T. Rex (you don’t get a name that literally means “King of the Tyrant Lizards” without being a little bit of a badass, after all).

    But with this film, Spielberg created one of the all-time great screen villains in the velociraptor — all of the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar are scary to some degree, but whose childhood wasn’t haunted by the kitchen sequence from this film? When Sam Neill delivers his iconic monologue to the “six-foot turkey” kid at the beginning, it’s impossible to imagine just how scary such a creature could be… until, of course, Spielberg goes ahead and shows us.

    Stupidest Human Decision: The fascinating thing about the plot of Jurassic Park is that while the dinosaurs are in fact scary, everything bad that happens can technically be traced back to one key decision: Hammond’s decision to hire a contractor for the job of creating the park system based on the lowest bid. Nedry is ultimately the film’s biggest human villain, but if Hammond had hired someone else, or if Nedry had been paid properly for his work versus taking a loss on the job (inspiring him to look for additional sources of income), the beta test might have gone a lot more smoothly.


    The Verdict: The GOAT for so many reasons, Jurassic Park forever defined a generation of film, while also still remaining timeless in a way that ensures its legacy will go on and on. Beyond its technical achievements, it’s still a whip-smart, tightly paced adventure that delivers no shortage of wonder alongside its thrills — one of the best blockbuster movies ever made.

Personalized Stories

Around The Web