The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

the lost world IMDb

For Christmas our eight year old nephew asked for “all the seasons of Jurassic Park,” and we of course obliged. Two days later he came up to me wanting to discuss The Lost World. He liked it, but was concerned that so few of the original cast returned. “Why didn’t the doctors come back? Do they come back in the third one? What about the kids? Why didn’t they go to the island?” He wasn’t completely satisfied with my answer of “Well, they weren’t in the book,” but for all the changes The Lost World made to the novel they might have been better off bringing back Dr Grant, Dr Sattler, Lex, and Tim.

My biggest problem with The Lost World is that it lacks the originality of the first. This movie (and the same can be said of the book, as well) feels more like it’s trying to capitalize on the success of its predecessor rather than being a well thought out extension of the story. There are some positive elements, but not nearly enough to detract from the cookie cutter story.

What I did like was putting Jeff Goldblum’s Dr Ian Malcolm front and center. He was a standout character in Jurassic Park, despite being kept out of the action for most of the movie. That said, Ian is almost a completely different person in The Lost World. He’s less funny (almost getting eaten by a T-Rex might do that to you), and he’s also saddled with his stowaway daughter that he must protect. I really could have done without the “kid in peril” angle. It was enough for me to have him exchanging witty banter with his ex-wife (Julianne Moore) and trying to save her, but I guess that would take things too far from the family friendly tone that was established in the first film. However, this installment is darker than the first anyway, so I’m not sure what the filmmakers were exactly going for here.

The special effects in The Lost World are also excellent. The CGI technology used to help create the dinosaurs improved a lot in the few years since Jurassic Park, but again, Spielberg combined this with a lot of mechanical models creating a better end result than if he had relied on CGI alone. As much as I hate to say it, these effects are best appreciated during the climax as the T-Rex rampages through San Diego. I do not like admitting this because I don’t care for this sequence at all. It’s not in the book, for starters, but it also feels like the laziest way to up the ante story-wise.

I don’t know… I always contend that The Lost World sucks, but every time I watch it I’m surprised how entertaining it actually is. Would it have been better if it hewed a little closer to the novel (minus the kids)? Possibly. Is it better than the third installment? Absolutely.

Rating: C+

How do you follow up the most successful movie of all time? This is the challenge that director Steven Spielberg was faced with after creating the first Jurassic Park film and having it go on to become one of the highest grossing movies of all time, beloved by critics and fans alike. After the success of the first film, fans badgered the original book’s author, Michael Crichton, to write a sequel. He initially refused, but I am assuming he was eventually swayed by the almighty dollar to re-enter the world of Jurassic Park.

The sequel sees Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) returning to an island full of dinosaurs. This time he ends up on Jurassic Park’s ‘Site B’, an island where the dinosaurs were created and raised until they were old enough to be transferred to the actual park featured in the first film. This island contains no electrified fences and the dinosaurs have created their own instinctual habitats after the island was shut down following the events of the first film. Malcolm is on the island to find his girlfriend Sarah (Julianne Moore), who has travelled to the island at the request of John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to document how the dinosaurs are living without the interference of humans. Malcolm is joined by two other guys (a very young Vince Vaughn and Richard Schiff) who are there to take photos and work the equipment. Malcolm also realises his daughter (Vanessa Lee Chester) has stowed away on their flight after they had a fight and she was upset. Things get complicated when Hammond’s company InGen show up without his knowledge intending to remove these dinosaurs and set up a new Jurassic Park in San Diego. The crew need to find Sarah and get off the island, and if they can, stop InGen from making the same mistakes Hammond did in the first film, except this time in a highly populated city.

I am not even sure why the studio requested Crichton to write a sequel because what ends up on screen is so very different than what eventuated in Crichton’s story. The only real plot point this film takes from the book was an existence of a Site B. Nearly everything else is different. The book and movie also contradicts the original book. In the first book, both John Hammond and Ian Malcolm are presumed dead by the end. They make up some goofy story about how Malcolm was found barely alive, but it was really just an excuse to get Jeff Goldblum back into this story after Sam Neill and Laura Dern both said they wanted no part of it.

Look, this film isn’t great, but it is not as terrible as people say either. There is some fun to be had here, the dinosaurs still look amazing. The CGI technology has come on leaps and bounds since the first film and the dinosaurs still look amazing this time around. The final set piece featuring a T-Rex rampaging through San Diego is a lot of fun, even if it does feel tacked on because Spielberg thought it would look cool.

The Lost World was never going to meet the expectations that the first film left us with, it does an admirable job of trying to match the first film, but in the end, can’t get near those heights.

Rating: B-

One thought on “The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

  1. Pingback: Jurassic World (2015) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s