It’s hard to imagine a movie more iconic than Jurassic Park. Packed with classic moments that movie fans can quote at the drop of a hat, Spielberg’s blockbuster masterpiece helped to usher in the modern age of ultra-high-budget cinema, and its practical and special effects are still yet to be bested in many ways. If you’ve just finished a Jurassic Park screening and you’re hungry for more, we don’t blame you. Here are 15 movies that are similar to Jurassic Park.
1. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1997)
This sequel suffers from diminishing returns in many ways. The original Jurassic Park simply can’t be bettered, and although Spielberg tries his level best here, he just can’t quite recapture the magic of the first movie. However, the CG effects are jaw-dropping, especially for the time, and Spielberg remains a master of directing tense action sequences that never feel muddled or difficult to follow. The writing and character work isn’t as good here as it was in Jurassic Park, but this is still a very solid movie.
2. Jurassic Park III (dir. Joe Johnston, 2001)
Spielberg handed over the reins to Joe Johnston for this third movie in the Jurassic Park franchise, which, just like the second film, won’t satisfy you if you’re looking for deep, affecting character drama. However, if all you want is more excellent CGI-animatronic hybrid dinosaurs wreaking havoc, then Jurassic Park III will more than provide. Sam Neill and Laura Dern also return from Jurassic Park, and it’s always nice to see them on screen again, even if the movie itself is slightly derivative.
3. Jurassic World (dir. Colin Trevorrow, 2015)
Reviving the Jurassic franchise after it went dormant in 2001, Jurassic World picks up with Chris Pratt’s charismatic Owen Grady, a dinosaur handler who works at the titular Jurassic World park. A dinosaur that’s been subject to genetic experimentation breaks free of its containment and proceeds to rampage across the island of Isla Nublar, which means that Grady and Claire Dearing (played by a game Bryce Dallas Howard) must put a stop to the madness before all hell breaks loose. This is a fun popcorn blockbuster.
4. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (dir. J. A. Bayona, 2018)
Although Trevorrow didn’t return for this second instalment of the Jurassic World franchise (he’s currently slated to come back for Jurassic World: Dominion), J. A. Bayona proves himself more than capable of handling the dino antics of the series. Pratt and Howard return once again, joined this time by British veteran Toby Jones, among others. Fallen Kingdom is an altogether bleaker and more edgy interpretation of the Jurassic mythology, and while it doesn’t always quite add up, it’s entertaining nonetheless.
5. Jaws (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1975)
Like Jurassic Park, Jaws revolves around a giant animal of some kind rampaging through a natural setting and killing people, but unlike Jurassic Park, it’s only one animal. The novel version of Jaws contains a subplot revolving around adultery that the movie cut, leaving an extremely taut, accomplished story about a shark chasing people down and eating them. Spielberg’s penchant for creating thrilling blockbusters effectively got its start here, but it’s very safe to avoid the sequels.
6. King Kong (dir. Peter Jackson, 2005)
Fresh from his award-winning take on The Lord of the Rings, New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson brought us an epic, expanded remake of a 1933 classic. King Kong is three hours long and change, but it never becomes boring, largely thanks to typically sterling work from Andy Serkis in the title role. The human actors, like Naomi Watts and Jack Black, also bring some much-needed humour and humanity to proceedings, ensuring that the movie doesn’t become too self-serious either.
7. Godzilla (dir. Gareth Edwards, 2014)
Technically speaking, Jurassic Park could be seen as a disaster movie, and it’s that exact energy that makes it similar to 2014’s Godzilla. Though this might look like yet another tired reboot on the surface, Godzilla is packed with superb actors and some truly stunning visuals. The HALO jump sequence near the movie’s conclusion is worth the price of admission alone, but Godzilla has much more than that to offer, so check it out if your favourite part of Jurassic Park is the dinosaurs themselves.
8. Planet of the Apes (dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)
Jurassic Park’s DNA can be seen all the way back in this seminal sci-fi movie from director Franklin J. Schaffner. Planet of the Apes is iconic; you’ve probably heard many of its killer lines (which we won’t repeat here, because you might still not have seen it and we don’t want to spoil). With surprisingly effective practical effects, an excellent score by composer Jerry Goldsmith, and a narrative that shocked and astounded audiences at the time, it’s well worth revisiting Planet of the Apes now.
9. Tremors (dir. Ron Underwood, 1990)
Tremors injects the classic monster movie formula with a jot of humour. While it’s certainly not short on scares – the worm monsters causing the titular tremors ensure that’s the case – there’s a self-aware comedy touch to the movie that makes it more fleet-footed and less heavy than some of its compatriots could be. You can put this one in the Gremlins camp (more on which in a moment); it’s still legitimately scary, but it’s not trying to out-horror true horror movies.
10. Gremlins (dir. Joe Dante, 1984)
Bear with us on this one. While Gremlins isn’t a Spielberg movie per se, he has an executive producer credit, and it feels like it espouses his particular brand of sentimentality mixed with practical effect monsters and small-town Americana. “Never feed your mogwai after midnight”; so goes the legend, and it’s a legend that Zach Galligan’s Billy fails to heed after he’s tricked into doing so by one of the titular gremlins. What follows is a riotous, chaotic, and surprisingly touching tale.
11. Independence Day (dir. Roland Emmerich, 1996)
Like Jurassic Park, Independence Day also stars Jeff Goldblum, and he’s playing a knowledgeable scientist in this one as well. Of course, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park aren’t aliens (as far as we know), and Independence Day hews far closer to traditional disaster movies than its dinosaur cousin, but it provides the same kind of tense thrills as Spielberg’s masterpiece, albeit less effectively. This is a fun romp that Emmerich directs with skill, although it’s also just as leaden and jingoistic as his movies can often be.
12. Dinosaur (dirs. Ralph Zondag, Eric Leighton, 2000)
Disney’s Dinosaur is a much less mature and more child-friendly take on our great lizard predecessors. Aladar is a young iguanodon who is adopted by a mammalian family and who must set out on a quest to help his dinosaur brethren migrate and find somewhere safe to live. They’re being hunted by predators, though, so he’ll need to use his wits and cunning in order to outwit his pursuers. It’s an inherently silly premise, but it’s delivered with heart and life, so it’s extremely hard to scoff at it.
13. Raiders of the Lost Ark (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1981)
Hat-loving, whip-wielding hero Indiana Jones makes his debut in Spielberg’s adventure masterpiece from 1981. Set in the mid-1930s, Raiders follows archeologist Indy as he attempts to stop the Nazis from recovering an artifact which they believe will make them invincible. As you’ll know if you’ve watched Raiders, the movie is a rip-roaring good time, made all the more irresistible by John Williams’ iconic score and Harrison Ford’s effortless charisma and guile.
14. Deep Blue Sea (dir. Renny Harlin, 1999)
Sharks supposedly came into existence before even the dinosaurs did, so if there’s one predator that can reasonably claim to be even more ancient than those terrible lizards, it’s sharks. That’s probably why Deep Blue Sea manages to be genuinely terrifying in places, despite being ropey and half-baked in others. The shark sequences are the reason to watch this movie; the character drama doesn’t really work, but every time a character gets got by a shark, there’s something about the movie’s cinematography that makes it hard to look away.
15. Rampage (dir. Brad Peyton, 2018)
In our eyes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can truly do no wrong, and nothing proves that better than Rampage, his 2018 vehicle based on the cult video game series. Johnson plays Davis Okoye (although it doesn’t really matter, since he’s essentially playing The Rock), who must work alongside a genetically modified albino gorilla in order to stop other mutants destroying his city. It’s all extremely silly stuff, but The Rock injects proceedings with an affable lack of self-awareness, making it easier to take the movie at face value.
As you’ve doubtless deduced, many of these movies are only similar to Jurassic Park in terms of actors or general atmosphere, but they should all provide an entertaining watch if you’ve just come from Spielberg’s masterpiece and you’re looking for a double bill companion piece. What are your favourite Jurassic Park-adjacent movies?