johnlink ranks THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997)

I remember this as one of my first big theatrical disappointments. I had seen bad movies, to be sure. But after being so enamored with the first JURASSIC PARK, I was all-in for number two. I had already read the Crichton novel when the movie came out. I went to the theater all ready to be hit with an experience that took all the intensity of its predecessor and upped the ante by eliminating fences and increasing dinosaurs. Instead I got THE LOST WORLD.

I watched THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997) on 6.15.12. It was my third viewing of the film, and first since the 20th century.

Let me just get this out of the way first: This isn’t an absolutely terrible movie. While it does not live up to the expectations of the first in nearly any way, it is more of a film which did not need to exist rather than being an embarrassment to cinema.

Much of the failure of this film has to do with its structure. JURASSIC PARK worked, in part, because we rooted for almost everyone (with the exception of Newman). LOST WORLD introduces what my father would always refer to as ‘cannon fodder’. That being a litany of faceless or dimensionless characters who you knew would be dead. The biggest mistake of THE LOST WORLD is that we don’t get invested in nearly any of the new characters.

The exposition of this movie explains any of the questions as to how there is another island full of dinosaurs, and how they beat the systems put into place which would prevent them from being wild. Why there would be a second island (without fences) where animals were free to wander is not explained. If a company was planning on caging these animals for their entire lives, why would their impulse be to let them wander free for a while first? Compared to some of the larger leaps in logic this film makes, that question is probably unimportant. But it does seem to point to the fact that the entirety of this film was constructed as a means to make a second profit, rather than looking to make as good of a story as the original.

But Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is back, and his contribution is solid. Pete Postlethwaite excels as the villainous teams’ dino hunter. Julianne Moore is slightly wasted as Malcolm’s love interest. Vince Vaughn is funny to see as a Greenpeace type in the years before he devolved into playing himself in every movie he appears in. The cast isn’t the problem. The acting is okay. Not good, or great, but passable. But this second movie certainly misses the presence Dr. Grant. The hole left by his character’s absence just never gets filled.

There are some good action sequences in THE LOST WORLD. The trailer going over the edge is great right up until it actually falls giving us a silly moment where they all somehow survive. The final raptor bit, starting with an exceptional shot of the raptors moving through tall grass to take out some humans, is a great ending and allows the humans to actually act upon the ending (my sole big complaint about the first movie is how the heroes have to be saved by a T-Rex). But in the climax of this film the raptors do seem to be slower and dumber than they need to be.

And therein lies the biggest fault of the film. The dinosaurs are molded to be what the story calls for, rather than being consistent animals. The raptors are silent and smart killers one second, and clumsy the next. The T-Rex is thunderously loud in some bits, but manages to sneak up on people at least a half a dozen times. Same with the stampede in camp. All these animals get loose and are completely silent, until the movie needs them to be loud and scary. Reality is just not something THE LOST WORLD concerns itself with, which would be fine if it created its own, but it never does. I blame the script for that.

I also blame the script for a ridiculous moment when Malcolm explains someone’s failures as saying that ‘talent skips a generation.’ A fine enough notion except for the fact that he is walking hand-in-hand with his daughter who completely ignores this statement after being regularly confrontational throughout the film. Again, this movie just doesn’t have any attention to detail, and that is unusual for a Spielberg film.

The San Diego invasion by the T-Rex is absurd (including him killing all the crew without ever getting out of his holding pen…). A backyard scene with the T-Rex and a family is the sort of inanity which Michael Bay usually deals in. That whole sequence should have been scrapped.

But this is entertaining enough for a couple of hours. Malcolm is funnier than he is in the first. Vaughn adds some humor, and a couple of the action segments work. It had a tall task to try and stand up to its predecessor, and in that sense it certainly failed.





~ by johnlink00 on June 16, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997)”

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