As the sequel to the gargantuan blockbuster and game changer Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park has big footsteps to follow. And while it’s impossible to compare to the classic that was the first movie as the magic has worn off quite a bit, The Lost World still has moments of awe and thrills to keep you entertained in this adventure.
Following the events of the first film, survivor and chaos theorist Dr Ian Malcolm( Jeff Goldblum) has been written off as a lunatic after he spoke about the devastation and horror of the botched attempt at opening the park. Interestingly, the sarcastic Ian is summoned by the billionaire John Hammond(Richard Attenborough) , the man behind the original park. It transpires that there was a second island where the dinosaurs where bred by the InGen company, that was abandoned following a hurricane. The species of prehistoric creatures where set into the wild and have been living there ever since, despite originally being programmed to not live long due to a build in deficiency. There are no cages or fences on this island so the genetically modified dinosaurs roam free. Hammond is in a pickle as the company he owns is under scrutiny and his leadership is being undermined by his own nephew Peter Ludlow(Arliss Howard), a most weaselly and greedy upstart who has a flagrant disregard for the feelings of others . After a young girl was savaged by some dinosaurs on the island after her family docked there , an investigation was launched into the area . Hammond wants Ian to travel to the island and with a crew document the creatures in order to rally some public support and stop the evil takeover planned by . For wishes to make money off the dinosaurs on the island. After discovering that his girlfriend, the impulsive palaeontologist Dr Sarah Harding( Julianne Moore) is on the island, he decides to go even though he isn’t thrilled with the idea. Joining him are the photographer and part time environmentalist Nick Van Owen(Vince Vaughn) and equipment specialist and engineer Eddie Carr(Richard Schiff) . Once they meet up with the promising Sarah, they discover that Ian’s estranged daughter Kelly( Vanessa Lee Chester) hid away in the travel so she could tag along. This doesn’t bode well for Ian who is often at loggerheads with Kelly as they argue over how much he is away from any parental responsibility. Such disagreements are put on hold however once Ian realises that they aren’t the only humans on the island. Around this time another team soon follow with the hunter Roland Tembo(Pete Postlethwaite) at the helm and with a desire to capture a Tyrannosaurus. He is alongside the slimy Ludlow, whose plan is then revealed as one that involves taking the remaining dinosaurs and creating something of a zoo in San Diego. Attempts by Malcolm and his group to help the dinosaurs are thwarted and with the other group with mercenary intent in mind, it inadvertently causes chaos as the prehistoric beasts begin a vicious attack against the humans. Now it’s another fight for survival against the creatures, from T-Rex to velociraptors. Everyone on the island is at risk as the rival groups have to band together in an escalating battle to make it out alive.
The shadow of Jurassic Park is still over this movie( I mean how could it not be?) and the movie somewhat stumbles as it reaches for impossible heights. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered that The Lost World is rather underrated and I’ve began to reassess it. Admittedly it’s still flawed and doesn’t quite have that snap of its influential largely down to a long winded plot and how it moves a bit slower than it should, but it doesn’t mean that the film isn’t at least thrilling and watchable in large stretches once the action kicks into high gear. The Lost World has always been the entry of the series that I’ve been in two different mindsets on and I still am in both. It just seems that now I view it with a more positive outlook than before while still seeing that it’s definitely not as magical as it could be. Steven Spielberg is once again on directing duties and shows his immense skill in many a set piece. The Lost World feels quite a bit darker and there is more than a bit of grisly savagery that’s surprising yet jaw dropping( watch out for a ripped apart death scene, onslaught on a hunter who soon regrets his treatment of the Compys.) And not forgetting the intelligent and stealthy raptors sneaking up on people in the long grass in a sensational sequence and a waterfall stained with blood after the giant T-Rex has snacked on a terrified victim. This is backed up by some moody cinematography set mainly at night and impressive camerawork that puts us at the heart of adventure.
Spielberg displays a fantastic knack for entertaining an audience and making sure that no nail is left not bitten. Case in point is the scene in which the two big T-Rex come looking for their infant. Although Sarah helped nurse it following its brutal treatment, the dinosaurs don’t take to anyone messing with their offspring. Attacking the trailer that houses, it leaves the terrified trio on a precipice quite literally as the trailer is forced halfway off a cliff. Sarah falls inside the trailer and her plunge is stopped by a sheet of glass. The only thing is that once she comes around the glass begins to splinter slowly underneath her. It’s heart-stopping stuff as she attempts to remain still and not allow the glass to break any quicker, which would result in her death. You’re seriously holding your breath as the scene plays out and it’s the main set piece of that sticks in my memory from The Lost World. Other sequences like the attempted capture of dinosaurs by the evil company that resemble a wild safari are stunningly action packed, but the glass scene is where it’s at for me as I’m a sucker for suspense. When it comes to the effects, the film does deliver the goods. And though some of the novelty and magic has worn off , it’s a thrill to see many return as well as some newer ones. There’s the diminutive but vicious Compys, that stun prey before devouring it, huge Stegosaurus that Sarah photographs and it’s a thrill to see the velociraptors back and as cunning as ever. The effects are still of a high standard and further enhance the adventure aspect of this sequel. John Williams aids events with a thundering score, with a heavy percussive feel that fits the jungle setting and the rising tension with rattling drums. The music bristles with excitement and menace, both things that Williams truly excels at providing us with.
While the characters aren’t quite as compelling as before and are sometimes rendered as not the sharpest in terms of brains, the handsomely assembled cast still does very good acting with what they have to work with. Jeff Goldblum, who is always a fun actor to watch, plays the sarcasm and cynicism extremely well. Goldblum balances both humour and a feeling of seen it all weariness that suits the film down to the ground. Julianne Moore, who many readers will know is one of my favourite actresses, has some great moments as the main female in the film . Her character isn’t exactly written with much in the way of depth, but the always talented Moore imbues her with wits, impulsive curiosity, terror and fun that’s nice to watch. Vince Vaughn has a sense of action and humour to him as an activist not afraid of a fight. Pete Postlethwaite is one of the big standouts here, essaying the role of game hunter who is seemingly singled minded but has his own set of scruples that make him more complex. The part could have just been one dimensional but the gifted Postlethwaite infuses it with a certain level of depth, gravitas and experience. Arliss Howard is a slithering presence as the nasty Peter Ludlow; a smug, self satisfied man with no compassion or sense of decency in his body. Howard plays this villain for all its worth, backed up by the scene-stealing Peter Stormare as a vicious hunter who is bad to the bone. Vanessa Lee Chester is saddled with the typical role of kid in danger and isn’t required for much else. She even gets the films most eye-rolling moment that just feels so out of place. Richard Schiff is nicely understated as a courageous member of the team who puts his life on the line. Richard Attenborough, though appearing briefly, is still effective at showing how John Hammond has changed from eccentric billionaire with grand ideas to a man making amends for what he’s done. As previously mentioned, the characters can come off as holier than thou but most of the acting rises above that.
So it’s not rivalling it’s predecessor on the epic front and it isn’t a masterpiece, but The Lost World: Jurassic Park has grown on me a bit. I can accept it’s flaws in the development department, as there are quite a lot of moments that do stand out in this sequel that treads familiar ground. Though it does this it still knows how to push many of the right exciting buttons for the audience and keep you entertained.