Most people, the kind who don't mind the occasional big budget popcorn flick anyway, had good things to say about Jurassic Park when it came out in 1993. The sequels, however, didn't impress quite as much. I can agree that The Lost World took the franchise to puzzling levels of goofiness, but I think the series redeemed itself somewhat with the third installment. It wasn't perfect, and the raptors by that point conveniently switched from intelligent to dimwitted as arbitrarily as Homer Simpson, but at least some elements of realism were brought back and the kitsch of the previous episode was tastefully discarded.
The lesson, perhaps, is that you can never go back. Michael Crichton is an intelligent man, but he's far too left-brained to write a truly compelling story. This made Jurassic Park the perfect vehicle for Spielberg, as he could take the best elements of Crichton's tale of science vs. nature and flesh it out into the mega blockbuster it became.
So what of Jurassic Park IV? Producer Frank Marshall says the script has been written and production will begin next year. Nothing is really known about the script, though it's been rumored the story will focus heavily on the character of Lex, the granddaughter of the billionaire investor, John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough), who funded the park. It is doubtful, however, that Ariana Richards, who played Lex in the original movie, will reprise her role. I don't see how the series can duplicate the original movie at this point, and I don't think it should try to. Jurassic Park III was a step away from The Lost World, and it was a wise step to take. If the fourth installment continues on that path, so much the better.