Jurassic Park movies ranked, worst to best

Scene from the movie Jurassic Park. Here we see an overturned car in the rain. A T-rex is approaching a man holding a flare.
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Gather round dinosaur fans as we run down our guide to the Jurassic Park movies, ranked worst to best — we spared no expense.

After this last summer's Jurassic World: Dominion chomped on $1 billion worldwide, the dinosaurs aren't becoming extinct again, but rather going into hibernation for a while. The Jurassic Park franchise now has six theatrical installments (they do move in herds), one short first released on TV, and a five-season animated series. Here's our list of the Jurassic Park movies ranked, worst to best.

The franchise's chronology is very straightforward: each film is a direct sequel of the last one, though we can argue that 2015’s Jurassic World kind of ignores Jurassic Park III (2001). When it comes to the short Battle at Big Rock, it happens between the last two Jurassic World movies.

Maybe the animated show Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is the trickiest entry to approach, as it started airing well before Jurassic World: Dominion hit theatres, and released its last season a month after the movie's arrival – it also happens at the same time as the first two Jurassic World installments and includes some major Dominion nods during its final stretch. Our recommendation is to watch it last of all.

If you need some help to quickly stream, rent, or buy the best dinosaur movies around, then check out our Jurassic Park streaming guide to find the best way to watch the entire saga online. And if you want to learn more about our prehistoric friends then our history of dinosaurs article has you covered too. 

Otherwise, read on below to find out where each installment falls in our ranked list. Hold on to your butts!

8. Jurassic Park III

Scene from the movie Jurassic Park III. Here we see Spinosaurus approaching Dr Grant and Erik Kirby. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Release date: July 18, 2001
  • Cast: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan

While veteran director Joe Johnston’s old-school artistry saved the third Jurassic Park from complete oblivion, Jurassic Park III isn’t a good movie. It achieves the bare minimum you’d expect from an action-adventure flick filled with prehistoric animals, but otherwise feels like the filler episode of the saga. It’s devoid of any major story developments and (more importantly) the franchise’s signature eco-friendly and anti-capitalist plotting.

Indeed, the reception to Jurassic Park III was so cold that it effectively iced a highly profitable movie franchise for more than a decade before serious plans for a fourquel were set in motion. That Pteranodon sequence is an all-timer though.

7. Jurassic World Dominion

Scene from the movie Jurassic World Dominion. Here we see a Owen Grady on a motorcycle trying to evade two large dinosaurs (an Allosaurus and Carnotaurus) whilst they chase him through the streets of Malta. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Release date: June 10, 2022
  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill

In what might be the most underwhelming finale since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (which is funny considering that this movie’s director Colin Trevorrow was attached to that capper at one point), the third Jurassic World entry tried to juggle way too many plot threads and sciencey concepts, resulting in a bloated blockbuster that ultimately feels both rushed and too slow.

It never quite delivers on the promise of dinosaurs co-existing with humans, and the thrills are too scattered throughout its lengthy runtime. After the excitement and wonder of the entire visit to Malta, Jurassic World Dominion goes through the motions and puts an end to 29 years of Jurassic adventures with a whimper instead of a roar. We really appreciate how Trevorrow gave Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler tons to do though.

6. Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

Scene from the animated TV show Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. Darius, Brooklyn, and Sammy with a Kentrosaurus and two baby genetically engineered horned dinosaurs. (Image credit: Netflix)
  • Release dates: September 18, 2020 – July 21, 2022
  • Voice cast: Paul-Mikél Williams, Sean Giambrone, Kausar Mohammed, Jenna Ortega, Ryan Potter, Raini Rodriguez

The Jurassic franchise’s first foray into television has been mostly successful; Camp Cretaceous managed to capture much of magic of the very first Jurassic Park while also expanding on the world and overarching story of the Jurassic World trilogy. Moreover, it regularly feels more adult and intense than you’d expect from an animated show aimed at kids.

If the series had ended with the excellent season 3 finale, it’d be much higher on our list. Sadly, it overstayed its welcome with a dreadfully boring and un-Jurassic fourth chapter that was salvaged by the fifth and final season. The show never quite recovers from that sharp falloff, but delivers a satisfying and emotional ending nonetheless.

5. Jurassic World

Scene from the movie Jurassic World. Member of the Asset Containment Unit (ACU)  holding a gun whilst a large dinosaur (Indominus rex) is charging at him with claws raised and teeth bared. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Release date: June 12, 2015
  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson

Some might argue the relaunch of the Jurassic franchise was a bit too nostalgic, but we believe it actually took some big swings while poking fun in unusually (for a big blockbuster) “meta” fashion at Universal’s money-driven interests. At the same time, director Colin Trevorrow’s emulation of Steven Spielberg’s more adventurous side was notable.

Much of the character work and plotting certainly needed a second pass before cameras rolled, and Chris Pratt really is a bland one-note action man, but this one put the saga on the right track again and squarely delivered on the promise of a fully functional Jurassic Park. Some of the dinosaur science was a bit iffy too.

4. Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock

Scene from the movie Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock. It is night time and here we see a an Allosaurus and Nasutoceratops squaring off over a campfire. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Release date: September 15, 2019
  • Cast: André Holland, Natalie Martinez, Melody Hurd, Pierson Salvador, Chris Finlayson

In an unprecedented move, Universal surprised-dropped a 10-minute, big-budget Jurassic World short on FX in late 2019. Battle at Big Rock is set one year after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and presents a world where the prehistoric animals have begun to alter natural ecosystems.

The Battle at Big Rock short – released afterwards online – was met with thumbs up from Jurassic fans and casual viewers alike as it promised an entirely new kind of adventure for the third Jurassic World movie. Colin Trevorrow’s directing, backed by famous cinematographer Larry Fong, also felt sharper here than in his 2015 movie, giving this short camping trip a scarier mood that is closer to J.A. Bayona’s work on Fallen Kingdom.

3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Scene from the movie The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Here we see a T-rex staring through a barred window whilst a Dr Harding hides inside. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Release date: May 23, 1997
  • Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard

The second Jurassic Park always had to fight an uphill battle due to how great the first one turned out to be. Upon its release, it garnered harsh reviews from both critics and audiences, but still made $618 million worldwide on a $73 million budget. Over time, however, fans and casual viewers have come around to kind of love it despite its many flaws.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Lost World is how much of a darker movie (visually and tonally) it is when compared to Jurassic Park. While Spielberg deviated in big ways from the source material (which he pushed novelist Michael Crichton to write in the first place), the first Jurassic sequel retains much of the book’s wickedness. Also, that King Kong-ish fourth act in San Diego remains one of the most unexpected finales ever.

2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Scene from the movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Here we see a Claire and Franklin facing a Baryonyx while lava drips from the ceiling. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Release date: June 22, 2018
  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda

J.A. Bayona’s Fallen Kingdom – penned by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly – left most critics unimpressed and was a bit too different for general audiences, but hear us out: we firmly think it’s actually the boldest and most visually stunning adventure since the original Jurassic Park.

For starters, the prologue is easily the series’ scariest and most fun. Then, we have an atypical structure that presents the destruction of Isla Nublar in the first half and later takes the action to the mainland (but inside a gothic manor!) in the second part. Poor characterizations and plotting issues abound, but everything else kicks ass. Furthermore, Bayona and cinematographer Óscar Faura’s work is consistently gorgeous and was enhanced by one of Michael Giacchino’s most distinct soundtracks in years.

1. Jurassic Park

Scene from the movie Jurassic Park. Here we see two raptors searching a kitchen, whilst Tim hides behind a counter. (Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Release date: June 11, 1993
  • Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck

There isn’t much to explain here; Jurassic Park is an unbeatable masterpiece of blockbuster filmmaking that delivered on all fronts and pushed technology forward several years in an unprecedented way with its CG-animated and animatronic dinosaurs, which still look terrifying to this day.

Mostly sticking to Michael Crichton’s text, the David Koepp-signed script smartly balanced out smart science talk, sci-fi elements, and a purely Spielbergian sense of adventure (and horror). Moreover, it’s one of the most quotable movies of all time with a smashing soundtrack. What more can we ask for?

Fran Ruiz is an entertainment freelancer and massive dinosaur nerd. He has a BA of English Studies, focusing on English Literature, from the University of Malaga, in Spain, as well as a Master's Degree in English Studies, Multilingual and Intercultural Communication. On top of writing features and other longform articles for  Live Science & Space.com since 2021, he is a frequent collaborator of VG247 and other gaming sites. He also serves as associate editor over at Star Wars News Net and its sister site, Movie News Net.