Like Lex and Tim before, Kelly is this. Some like her for being one of the few sane characters and for being a Little Miss Badass by using her skill in gymnastics to kick a Velociraptor to its death, while others hate her for that very reason along with being a Kid-Appeal Character and The Load for most of the movie.
Nick Van Owen, with half of the film's Broken Base seeing him as a firm example of a Designated Hero and the other half seeing him as a badass second only to Tembo.
Broken Base: As Jurassic Park films go, this one is particularly divisive, owing to a strong environmentalist theme compared to other entries in the series. Arguing about the moral merits of the heroes and the villains is not uncommon.
Contested Sequel: This film might have as many fans as opponents. The upside is that there are more dinosaurs and the action sequences are really exciting. The downside is that the script is sloppy and the characters are, well, divisive.
Designated Hero: The so-called heroes, chiefly Nick Van Owen, is just as directly or indirectly responsible for every death that occurs in the movie as the villains. The dinosaurs they free proceed to destroy all the InGen hunting party's equipment, cars, and communications, leaving them stranded on an island full of lethal, genetically-engineered predators. This also results in the destruction of their own equipment after they bring an injured T. rex baby back to their trailer, leading the adults to their location, which also results in the death of their own equipment specialist after he tries to save them. Thus our heroes (and Peter Ludlow) are responsible for all the deaths and destruction in San Diego as well. However, the "heroes" are never held responsible for their actions.
Designated Villain: Roland Tembo is supposed to be one of the main villains but ends up being the Ensemble Darkhorse because A.) he's the only character that doesn't have his head up his ass, B.) is most concerned with the safety of those around him, including those who willfully screw him over, C.) is smart enough to depart quietly after seeing how destructive it is around the dinosaurs, and D.) he's played by the late Pete Postlethwaite.
Tembo's awesome is enhanced by a Deleted Scene where he gets into a bar fight with several drunken idiots who provoke him by harassing a waitress. He wins. Easily. With one hand tied behind his back. The scene definitely makes him more likeable than the "heroes" of the story, which is probably why it was deleted in the first place.
Though most people tend to forget or sometimes outright disregard the fact that Tembo was the one who injured the infant T. Rex and used its cries as bait in an effort to kill at least one of its parents for no other reason than, as he put it "to live". In fact, if he hadn't kidnapped the infant, Nick wouldn't have brought it to the camp and Eddie would not have had to die ... at least in the final film. The deleted scenes show that the injury to the infant was an accident. Spielberg left this bit out to make Tembo more villainous, which probably goes to reinforce the Designated Villainy.
Ludlow is debatable. Being an arrogant, condescending corporate executive he isn't especially likeable (even Roland doesn't care for him), yet he does little that's objectively evil beyond opposing the protagonists. His worst action is maneuvering to take over InGen and oust Hammond, which isn't admirable but isn't entirely unjustified based on the first film's events. Granted he is arrogant to a flaw and far too overconfident to the point he consistently has horrible, often lethal ideas (like setting up a base camp in the game trail and taking the Buck T.rex to San Diego) in his ambition to outdo his uncle. Like Roland, he features in a deleted scene that inadvertently makes him more sympathetic, or at least more reasonable, than he is in the finished film. Interestingly, the LEGO adaption actually makes him more clearly evil, with voice lines about how only a few in a thousand people dying to sauropod slides is "within safety margins".
Ending Fatigue: Once the main cast gets rescued off the island, we see that InGen has successfully bagged a T. rex which makes the heroes feel they have ultimately lost. This seems like a decent drop-off point and Sequel Hook, but the film continues for another thirty minutes so the T. rex can terrorize San Diego for a second climax.
Seeing how Stark died makes you much more horrified about the fate of Cathy, the little girl from the opening, and much more relieved that she survived. Nevertheless, Cathy was immediately rescued by her parents and at least half a dozen servants. Dieter wasn't. The Irony of it is that Cathy only had a bathing suit and was much smaller. Stark was a full grown man, fully clad, and even had a good portion of his gear still on him. Improbable Infant Survival at its finest.
On the subject of Stark regarding the above detail, it's extremely likely that, having realized after the first two attacks how awful sweaty clothing/boots taste, the compies simply targeted the exposed areas of his body in his final moments i.e. his hands and face. The point is, he was "still alive when they started to eat him".
The Velociraptors ambushing and killing the unsuspecting hunters wandering in the long grass brings in mind of Pokémon to modern audiences, especially with the line "Don't go into the long grass!"
Any scene between Nick and Sarah, given Vaughn and Moore's roles in Gus van Sant's Psycho remake the following year.
For Black Humor, the fate of Dieter Stark, likely reduced to Ludicrous Gibs by the compies is this regarding the infamous woodchipper scene from Peter Stormare's previous film, Fargo. Spielberg even joked that Stark's/Stormare's fate was deserved for this very reason (as well as the fact that Stormare's characters from both films were complete jerkasses).
The Bakker Expy, Burke (whose first name also happens to be Robert), gets eaten by a T. rex. This prompts the real Bakker to call his rival Dr. Jack Horner (who was a consultant on the film and staunchly advocates that T. rex was a scavenger) and gloat "See? I told you T. rex was a hunter!"
Just Here for Godzilla: Just here to watch the T. rex rampage through San Diego. All the marketing focused on that rampage.
Memetic Mutation: Professor Oak warned you about the long grass!note It's a popular joke to combine Pokémon with the Velociraptor scene - only wild and potentially dangerous pokemon lurk in long grass in all games.
Aside from being rebellious towards Malcolm here and there, Kelly seems fairly mature. But, then there's an out-of-nowhere moment while they're in the wilderness, where she whines "Carry me" to him, the way a 4-year-old would.
Additionally Compys were supposed to appear in the first film and scenes featuring Compy models were even filmed for the scene where Rexy escapes her paddock.
On top of that, both also featured in the original novels. (Technically it's Procompsognathus in the novels, but they fill the same roles and are virtually identical—one of Burke's lines even acknowledges this by flubbing the compy's name as Compsognathus triassicus, combining the genus of one with the species of the other.)
In terms of aesthetics, at least, the Roland Tembo character takes a lot of cues from Dr. Snare, a non-canon character from the Jurassic Park Series 2 toy line.
Strawman Has a Point: The InGen corporation are portrayed as evil because they want to recapture the dinosaurs from Isla Sorna to recoup their losses from the first film. While they were pretty ruthless, as well as dicks with the exception of two (hunter Roland Tembo and his friend Ajay), their argument that the dinosaurs are their rightful property does have at least some merit. When the protagonists accuse them of destroying the island's 'natural' environment, the Corrupt Corporate Executive points out that they created the dinosaurs and introduced them to the island in the first place, millions of years and thousands of miles from their actual long-gone natural habitat. The heroes can only respond to this with Nick trying to start a fight. This is one of those cases where what's right legally may or may not be what's right morally, but it's certainly not as cut-and-dried as Malcolm's party (or his detractors) likes to present it. However, Spielberg expects us to see the InGen team as objectively evil and Malcolm's team as unquestionably good, ruining any opportunity for nuance.
Poor Eddie, who's the only one lucky enough not to be in the trailer with the baby, hence when it goes over the cliff is able to come to the rescue, is one of the few genuinely likable characters, is one of the few truly heroic people on the 'heroic' side, saves the others' lives by wrapping the line around the tree, and puts up with them jokingly ordering fast food when he asks if they need anything else … and his 'reward' is to be ripped in half by the Tyrannosaurus parents while the others can do nothing to help. Worse, his poison dart gun got stuck at the wrong moment, meaning his death could have been (narrowly) averted but for sheer bad luck.
Roland's reaction after discovering what happened to Ajay, and his departure shortly afterwards.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The film is radically different from the plot of the book. Many fans would have preferred if the film had stayed closer to the book's plot and had Lewis Dodgson and Biosyn as the film's villains.
Too Cool to Live: Eddie Carr. He's a tech expert who brings with him, among other things, a never-compromised high hide and an instant-action poison dart gun. When Nick and Sarah go to release all the dinosaurs from the InGen camp, he wisely heads set up the high hide instead. He also quickly thinks up and executes a plan to save both the trailers (with their communications equipment inside) and his colleagues, just minutes after encountering the carnage wrought by the Tyrannosaurus family. Sadly, he gets gruesomely killed for his troubles, his equipment is either abandoned or destroyed, and after a few comments by Ian and Roland, the film basically forgets all about him.
Took the Bad Film Seriously: Roger Ebert noted in his review that Pete Postlethwaite was the only cast member who "seem[ed] convinced that he [was] on an island with dinosaurs, and not merely in a special-effects movie about them." As such, everybody roots for him.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: John Hammond is supposed to come across as a benevolent old man who just has the dinosaurs' best interests at heart, but it's pointed out within the film that he's knowingly bankrupting a global conglomerate which no doubt employs thousands of people to do so, for a problem Hammond himself created in the first place because of his pride. Also, given the implications that he's in poor health, his sudden conversion to environmentalism seems more like a rather selfish deathbed confession than a real act of altruism.
Visual Effects of Awesome: Has the same effects team as the first movie with several more years of experience and refinement. What do you expect?
The full size Tyrannosaurus rex animatronics sport more detailed skin, greater mechanical power, and finer movements than the original. The result is a pair of machines who could operate in torrential downpour and inside a waterfall, physically tear apart a car, and lift up actors by their legs to yank them through the air without hurting the stunt actor.
The CGI also is widely regarded to have help up even twenty years later. Stand out scenes that are well regarded often include the tall grass attack, game trail dinosaur roundup, and the buck T.rex having a rampage across San Diego after breaking out of the boat.
Sarah Harding. Where to start? Despite allegedly being an expert at working with animals, the first time we see her she makes possibly the worst mistake imaginable (and one even an average person would know to avoid): She deliberately walks up to a young Stegosaurus and touches it. Several moments later its parents nearly kill her. Further highlights of her 'expertise' include helping let the dinosaurs out of their cages, whereupon they go on a rampage; and keeping a shirt that is soaked with the blood of the T. rex baby.
Nick van Owen brings the injured T. rex infant to camp immediately after freeing all captured dinosaurs on the InGen base, leading directly to the loss of both campsites and the untimely demise of Eddie Carr. He later unloads Roland's rifle, leading to even more mayhem and carnage when the T. rexes track down their new camp.
Astonishingly, experienced hunter Roland Tembo does not examine his gun and its ammunition when picking it up after it has been out of his sight and control. He should have opened the rifle, checked to see that the shells were intact and undamaged and that the barrel was clear (something everyone should do when picking up any firearm). This is after he sets it down and wanders away, leaving it in sight of a known eco-saboteur. He's also the first person to notice Sarah's dinosaur-blood soaked shirt, but does not advise her to get rid of it.