The Lost World: Jurassic Park was a highly anticipated follow-up to the massive hit that was Jurassic Park. If there was a moment in Speilberg’s career to look back on as the moment he began to lose some of his spark, in my opinion, THIS would be the film to mark that moment. And I don’t say that as a person who despises this movie at all. I quite like it. But it was the first film of his that I remember being a mixed bag of reviews. Regardless I bought the VHS without seeing the movie previously and trusted it would be a fun time.
Spielberg wasn’t really known for sequels. Before this film, the only sequels he had ever directed were for the Indiana Jones series. However, only one was a sequel and the other was technically a prequel. AND their connections were loose at best. That is until we get to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and we all know how THAT turned out. Makes me glad they never followed through with that E.T. sequel, E2: Electric Finger Broom.
At the end of the first Jurassic Park, we’re kind of left with the question of “what now?” I mean our protagonists escaped the island after the dinosaurs broke free. But where do you go from there? Now I wouldn’t say sequels were rare back then, but they weren’t always a given. Some films that deserved a sequel never got one, while terrible movies seemed to spawn them on a yearly basis. Leprechaun, I’m looking at you. To me, this film could have ended the story at one. Sure there are questions like “what will happen to the dinosaurs now?” or “What about that can of Barbasol that’s buried under a pile of mud that’s now dirt?” Seriously, what IS up with that? That’s one of the most bothersome, unresolved plot threads to me. Who was paying Nedry to smuggle these embryos? FOR GOD’S SAKES I NEED ANSWERS! Ok quick Google search and it’s a company called Biosyn. Who are they? No idea but they were apparently mentioned in the book.
The first book, not Michael Crichton’s The Lost World, which was published five years after the original novel and two years after the film. While one might think he had this idea just waiting to write the definitive follow-up to his hit novel, most critics made pointed observations that this was being structured to fit a film narrative in some way. That said, it seems that the novel and film were being produced simultaneously. And while they have similar plots, the novel does do things differently than the film, based on the synopsis I read. Yes, the synopsis. I’ve never read the book, ok? Why? I’ve never had a copy in front of me, so get off my back! I read. I think I’ve proven words are my strong suit. And that do be facts, yo!
Not to berate the dead or anything, but over the years, my view of Crichton’s work has changed over the years. During the release of Jurassic Park, he seemed like Hollywood’s new golden goose. His name seemed to lend that same amount of confidence and pedigree that Spielberg once had. However, if you look at his body of work, it’s… fine. Just not a list of heavy hits one after another. Again, not knocking his work. Just an observation.
Anyway, let’s dive in here. First things first: the cast. I genuinely believe Ian Malcolm was chosen to return all because of Jeff Goldblum. He was one of the biggest highlights from the original, so why NOT bring him back? He is even more Goldblum-y here! And I love it.
Outside of him, the rest of the cast is all-new, save for the cameos from Lex and Tim plus Hammond himself. All of which were welcome to see… even though Tim should be dead or at least in serious therapy but I’m not here to talk about that. Julianne Moore was an actress I was very familiar with at this point in her career. I’d seen her in quite a few movies by this point, and I was more than happy to see her here. Yes because she’s an amazing actress and also because I have the biggest crush on her. Red-heads, man. They drive me wild.
I wasn’t aware of Vince Vaughn prior to this, and while I like his performance here, he’s not someone I actively seek out to watch. I don’t dislike him. I just don’t go out of my way to see him. It’s like getting a side of coleslaw at a seafood joint. I didn’t ask for it, but I won’t turn it away either. The last film I saw him in was Freaky, and he was excellent in that. Richard Schiff is a great character actor who was one of those faces I knew from things, and always found him to be a delight. He’s now on ABC’s the Good Doctor and he nails it there every week. Eddie Carr was a fantastic character and one of the few tragic deaths in this entire series. He was just trying to save his friends, dammit!
Finally, Pete Postlethwaite is always amazing. I think this was the first film I really took note of him as an actor and loved him in anything I saw him in going forward. He just has a presence about him, you know? I’d love to praise Peter Stormare here, but all he does is act like a jerk-ass. Not one of his finest performances. John Williams does return to score the film, as he seemingly does for every Spielberg film. I’m sure he hasn’t scored all of them. But here he doesn’t phone it in and recycle the original score but creates something new that feels like a nice progression from the original. Still, it’s not as memorable.
So, this film kicks things off with a scene that, to my understanding, was in an early chapter of the original novel. In fact, several scenes found in this film came from the original novel such as hiding from the T-Rex behind a waterfall, and Deiter being killed by those… procompsognathus… pygmy lizards. In fact, that was how John Hammond died in the original novel.
When we are reintroduced to Ian Malcolm and soon after John Hammond, the plot is laid out explaining that there was another island of dinosaurs that is now in jeopardy of being obliterated, I suppose, and Hammond wants it protected. Now, say what you want about the man, but he doesn’t seem like a heartless bastard only looking for the next dollar. Sure, in the first film, it might come off that way. But I see it as a man who has achieved something monumental and wants to share it with the world. Name me a billionaire that would do that without regard to profit? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
In any case, he’s looking to preserve his creations, if that’s what we can call them. But those board members at InGen have taken control away from Hammond and have set their sights on using the island to populate their all-new Jurassic Park in San Diego. This is all well and good. But this SHOULD have been Biosyn, that company looking to steal the embryos from the first movie. But I guess since we didn’t clearly establish them, then what’s the point? At least the book I never read followed through.
Some stuff happens. We see all the oohs and ahhs. Then the running and screaming. I have to say that Sarah Harding has got to be one of the dumbest characters sometimes. Like when she brings the injured baby T-Rex into the base camper or whatever you want to call it, the kid Kelly is the smartest person in that room. She reads the situation and is like, “ I need to get the hell up outta here NOW.” Which turns out to be the smart move.
While that scene on the cliffside is pretty intense, it’s also pretty ridiculous too. The tension as Sarah lies on the glass is on point. That would terrify anyone. You’re practically staring at death, waiting and wondering when your time is up because it’s coming. But then there’s the rope business. Most films don’t seem to give a damn about rope burns, or the amount of strength it would take to hold onto a rope. Hell, they’re all lucky they didn’t lose a limb when the whole camper went right off the cliff, passing them by without injury. But hey, if we’re going to suspend disbelief and say dinosaurs are real, I guess we can let this slide as well. I’M KIDDING!
I really dug the raptor scene in the field. I like the framing of the shot seeing the raptors creeping up on them. Oh and, by the way, those people deserved to die. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m NOT walking through tall grass. I grew up in the deep south. That’s a big “hell no” for many reasons. Dinosaurs are the least of my concerns. I also like how they add these little animalistic touches to the raptors where they attack one another. I don’t know why it amuses me, but it feels true to animal behavior. Even ones that never existed. I’M KIDDING!
I know it’s going to be brought up, so I’m gonna speak up in defense of Kelly and her gymnastic abilities. If ANY of you were being attacked by raptors and YOU had a skill like that, wouldn’t YOU put it to good use? I would hope so. She saved lives, dammit.
Now, let’s talk about this film’s second ending. I’ve heard that the idea of the T-Rex being on the loose in the city was the idea for part 3. Now, whether or not they couldn’t work out the plot details to work overall or Spielberg was just done with dinosaurs, I don’t know. It does feel a bit tacked on. Even tonally, it feels different than the rest of the film, seemingly more comedic because of the situation at play. And while speaking of that, while they didn’t scream, “Gojira,” seeing the Japanese businessmen running from the T-Rex made my eyes roll. Is that joke done with yet because it needs to be. Anyway, I find the San Diego sequence to be one of the more entertaining aspects of the film.
Although, what exactly happened on that boat ride over? How exactly did the entire crew die and their body parts get scattered throughout the boat? I’ve heard that raptors were meant to be aboard, but they are NEVER mentioned. At least, I never heard it mentioned. But, at least that would have made SOME sense. Say, “some raptors got aboard but we killed them.” ADR that in and BOOM, plot hole solved.
The dinosaurs are sent back home and Hammond makes his plea to leave the island in peace. But we all know THAT’S not gonna happen. In any case, I wasn’t expecting another Jurassic Park film because where do you go from here? These movies weren’t setting up sequels. They were telling stories about these fairy tale creatures being brought back to life and attempting to destroy mankind. I’M KIDDING! The Lost World is not a bad film in my opinion. It’s just a film that was never going to meet the high expectations of its predecessor.