Jurassic Park Sequels: Why Did They Never Work?
Jurassic Park remains one of the most critically and commercially successful movies of all time. At release, it garnered almost universal praise from critics and audiences. It held the distinction of being the highest grossing motion picture of all-time until Titanic took the title in 1997. It won three Academy Awards. It sold a boatload of toys. Clearly, sequels were on their way. Would they capture the same excitement and adventure? No! They would be average action movies at their best and silly parodies of their predecessor at their worst. But why were the Jurassic Park sequels so poor? A couple of reasons.
A Return Trip?
This is my biggest problem with the sequels. Those guys are never ever going back to that island. Or any island, dinosaur infested or otherwise. After the trauma that Grant (Sam Neil), Sattler (Laura Dern), Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and the kids faced on Isla Nublar, there is no situation on God’s green earth that can get those people back on that island. None. Every single member of the group watched someone get eaten by a giant monster. I don’t care whose girlfriend just happens to be in the island next door or how much money a couple of fake billionaires are willing to give you. After the events of that first Jurassic Park, it just doesn’t make sense to have the main characters return to the island.
The Jurassic Park sequels sacrificed good storytelling for familiarity and turned into contrived messes. It would make far more sense to just start fresh with new characters. They could form new relationships and get into new debates about man’s control over nature or whatever. Unfortunately, it was a lot simpler to just say, “You remember this guy right? He’s cheeky and wears black? Get ready for more of him. And you’ll never believe it but he has a daughter too!”
The Jurassic Park films are, at their core, stories about a safari gone wrong. It’s pretty simple. Obviously, the fun comes from the fact that we’re not messing around with the normal safari animals. Although that might make for a fine adventure, we’re dealing with something far more exciting. Look at the original. The scene in which Malcolm, Sattler, and Muldoon are driving for their lives would only work with a T-Rex. There is no other predator that is that large with jaws that size. Or look at all of the scenes at the film’s climax where our heroes are running from a herd of velociraptors. The raptors are smarter than any other possible predator. They can open doors, for heaven’s sake! Every action scene in Jurassic Park answers the question “Why Dinosaurs?” The same cannot be said for the sequels.
While there are a handful of action sequences in the sequels that work, none of them really need to take place in Jurassic Park. They could be in any movie where animals are attacking people. The scene from Lost World in the tall grass stands out as good example. By all accounts, it is a good scene. People are running through grass and one by one getting snatched down by dinosaurs. It’s fun. However it has nothing to do with dinosaurs. You can’t even see them. It might as well have been tigers attacking our crew. Without some really dinosaur focused moments, you can’t have a memorable Jurassic Park movie.
There are too many individual issues with the second and third movies to list all of them. Here are just a few things from the sequels that stand out as horrible.
The Lost World is a huge mess. Malcolm’s kid manages to sneak into the expedition (because why the hell not) and scores the single human on dinosaur kill of the franchise. You want to guess how she does it? She gymnastics kicks the raptor out of a window and onto some spikes. Yup. Also in the finale, the T-Rex invades San Diego and eats some poor dog. There is no way it should be free to roam around or even leave the boat it starts on. It doesn’t make any sense.
Jurassic Park 3 might be even worse than that. For instance, while the team is traveling back to the island, Grant has this really weird dream sequence with a talking raptor. It is bizarre. The third movie also features some of the worst green screen I have ever seen outside of small market weather reporting. In what can only be described as pure desperation, JP3 also attempts to add a new dinosaur to the mix that is designed to make the T-Rex look like a little wuss which would be fine if the new dinosaur did anything half as cool as what the T-Rex did in the original. To its credit the Spinosaurus does explode, so there’s that.
Jurassic Park is a perfect movie. The sequels are not. Don’t watch them. That being said, Jurassic World does seem to show a fair amount of promise as is looks able to evade my first big two issues. The only member of the original cast to return will be B.D. Wong. Awesome. We get new characters like Chris Pratt and dinosaur trainer and Bryce Dallas Howard the dinosaur geneticist (?) with a heart of gold. Either way, their new points of view should make for a fun sequel. Also the “Why Dinosaurs?” question was definitely answered. The trailer shows cool new chases with the gigantic I-Rex and a bunch of fun Pterodactyl bits, which the original three movies were severely lacking (and yes I remember that JP3 has pterodactyls but they just were awful so I am pretending it didn’t happen). All and all, I am optimistic for another Jurassic Park sequel. I mean its Jurassic Park. What could possibly go wrong?
Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome staff writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. He focuses on film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He loves U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. He can also occasionally be found writing lists on Topless Robot and his twitter handle is @NationofNando