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 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 Genre Savvy 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.
Also it was Ludlow who broke its leg by accident, not Tembo; Ludlow was startled by a noise and jumped, landing feet-first on the baby's leg. Though Tembo still agreed to use the crying infant T-rex to bait the parents.
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. 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.
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.
Fridge Horror: 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.
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. Infant Immortality 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.
Moral Event Horizon: Peter Ludlow crosses it in his very first scene, sneeringly gloating about his campaign of Malicious Slander and recent usurping of InGen from John Hammond. If that weren't enough, he later forces the hunters to bring back a T. rex instead of sensibly avoiding his stupid campaign to bring dangerous, highly lethal animals to the mainland, and gets plenty of people killed and injured in San Diego as a result.
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.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: This movie saved Malcolm from being The Scrappy for some people. While he is still a divisive character overall, here he is more levelheaded and less of a smart-aleck after his experiences in the first movie, and he is also a Papa Wolf over the safety of his daughter.
In the scene where it destroys the conference tent at the InGen camp, there's a clipping error with the CG Triceratops' tail.
Sarah has to duck to avoid getting hit by a Stegosaurus tail early on. Unfortunately, there's a puddle nearby that fails to reflect the tail.
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.
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.
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.