The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Jurassic Park was not what I'd call a "good movie." In fact, it's not really what I'd call a "passable movie." It just downright sucked. If it hadn't had so many cool dinosaurs, I would have walked out. The characters were annoying whiners and I wanted them dead. They took way too much screen time away from the dinos. In fact, nearly every time there would be a good dinosaur shot, they would immediately cut away to the moron gaping face of some Hollywood actor. Spare me. Plus, all the characters who lived to the end were either insane or really stupid. What kind of identification can you make with such losers?

The Lost World: Jurassic Park seems to have realized the mistakes made in the first film. Better than that, the dino-producing technology has blossomed thanks to great leaps forward in CGI technology. Now we can have all dinosaurs all the time. That's all I ever asked for.

I'm not going to try to sell you a bill of goods and say that this movie isn't cheesy. The plot is thin and contrived, though not distractingly so. The one-liners are plenty entertaining, surpassing most other action movies' one-liners by leaps and bounds. In fact, you may never listen to a one-liner the same way again. But they are one-liners. Typical action-movie substitute for dialogue. Oh, well.

Even the plot setup is cheesy. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is summoned to a meeting with John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the creator of the Jurassic Park of the first movie. He wants to recruit Malcolm to go to "Site B," the breeding center for Jurassic Park, which is on another island next door to the one in the first movie. (A distressing interjection here: these islands are part of a FIVE-ISLAND CHAIN which is referred to as "Las Cinco Muertas"--"The Five Deaths"! I don't mention this to frighten you with a premonition of death, but of more sequels! I can see it now. Dinofinger: The Lost World 2: Jurassic Park 3: "Oh, sorry, Ian, didn't I tell you about Site C? That's where we keep the pterodactyls that know sign language." Thunder Lizard: The Lost World 3: Jurassic Park 4: "Oh, didn't I mention Site D? That's where we keep the mean ones!" And so on... Really, this one is fine, but I can only foresee a degeneration if the sequels keep coming. I appeal to the gods who punish greed to send a telegram to Spielberg c/o Universal.) So anyway, Malcolm, understandably, doesn't want to go. He has been ridiculed as a nut for trying to expose Jurassic Park for what it was, and, of course, he was chased by dinosaurs and nearly killed. You can see why he wouldn't want to repeat that experience. But Hammond, evil genius that he is, has thought ahead. He already recruited Malcolm's girlfriend, shapely science girl Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore). Now Malcolm has his motivation: to rescue her.

The best thing about the movie is Jeff Goldblum. I absolutely hated him in Jurassic Park. He was this condescending, lazy whiner who didn't seem to care if he was eaten. He sat around in his leather jacket and sunglasses and said ironic things while dinosaurs hunted him. I couldn't take his blase attitude. He just didn't seem to care.

But in this film, the audience isn't asked to take it seriously. So his one-liners are funny. His attitude has also been altered because of the presence of his girlfriend and his daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester). You feel his strain when they are in danger, and you like him a lot better.

Vanessa Lee Chester's character also does an amazing feat straight out of that old Mr. T cartoon where they beat up villains with their amazing gymno-skills. I loved that show, and I appreciate the nod to all of us fans who have missed it for so long. Also notable in the cast are Pete Postlethwaite as The Great White Hunter (not silly) and Arliss Howard as John Hammond's egomaniacal nephew (wonderfully silly).

Of course, the situations are ridiculous, the tension sometimes collapses into laughs, the science is bad, etc., etc. But the overriding counterargument to all of these criticisms is that we get excitement, lots of beautiful dinosaurs, and even those pterodactyls which were mysteriously missing from the first film. Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, and now it's on to Amistad and Saving Private Ryan and Indy 4 and let's win there.


Links for The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Internet Movie Database Entry

Roger Ebert Review

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