Whereas Steven Spielberg's original JURASSIC PARK filled viewers
with awe over the grandeur of nature, his sequel, THE LOST WORLD:
JURASSIC PARK, achieves 134 minutes of tedium. After a long and boring
introduction, the movie slips into its rhythm of attack, lull, attack.
The mean time between dinosaur attacks gets shorter and shorter until
we have one every other minute. Those subscribing to the
more-is-always-better philosophy may enjoy Spielberg's overkill, but
most viewers will probably find the film more tiring than scary.
The two films look different as well. The original had gorgeous
cinematography by Dean Cundey. The sequel, as filmed by Janusz
Kaminski, is strikingly ugly. Every scene looks flat and dirty as if
the camera lens had gotten too much jungle grime on it.
The strikingly bad camerawork is a shame since the best part of
the film, and the only reason to see it, are the impressive special
effects. Special effects technology has advanced significantly in last
four years. The result is even more realistic images than last time.
This can best be seen when the humans interact close-up with the
dinosaurs in the same frame.
The story this time has John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) back,
but converted from capitalist to naturalist. He summons his favorite
chaos theoretician, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), to tell him that
there is another island full of dinosaurs, and John wants Ian to go to
the island to observe the creatures with 3 others, one being Ian's
girlfriend, world famous paleontologist Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne
Moore). Moore brings nothing to her underwritten role, and Goldblum
plays a type of character he has done many times before, but he seems
to have lost interest. He was stronger and funnier in last year's
blockbuster, INDEPENDENCE DAY.
Joining the two are gadget expert Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff), who
almost has the word "expendable" written on his forehead, and
photographer Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn), who joined Greenpeace
because that's where the babes are. Eighty percent female you see.
Ian doesn't want to go, but John assures him, "Don't worry, I'm
not making the same mistakes again." Giving him a yeah-right look,
Malcolm retorts, "No, you're making all new ones."
Since it seems that Ian's girlfriend has already gone alone to the
island, Ian reluctantly agrees to go anyway. That she would go totally
alone to a island full of ferocious dinosaurs is the first of many
ridiculous parts of David Koepp's script, based on the book by Michael
Crichton. I'll discuss more of these problems later.
Ian now has an African-American daughter, which I thought reeked
of tokenism given the otherwise all-white leads, named Kelly Curtis
(Vanessa Lee Chester). As soon as you see her, you know she will
become a stowaway and will be in danger many times.
Soon after they get to the island, another group arrives. Pete
Postlethwaite (IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER), in the only memorable
performance of the movie, plays big game hunter Roland Tembo.
Postlethwaite steals every scene he is in. Playing it dead serious and
always angry, he makes the show come alive when he is present. "Saddle
up," he barks out to the scores of people around him. "Let's get this
moveable feast underway."
Roland is accompanied by a greedy businessman named Peter Ludlow,
played blandly and unconvincingly by Arliss Howard. Ludlow wants to
build a Jurassic Park in San Diego near Sea World and the San Diego
Zoo. Profits should be incredible near the Southern California
As realistic as the dinosaurs are, the attacks come so often that
I never found them scary. The single truly frightening scene has Sarah
laying on a piece of plate glass hung over a canyon. You can hear it
rapidly breaking, and if she moves, it will shatter, plummeting her a
thousand feet below to certain death. The choreography of this, and
only this, scene is worthy of a Hitchcock.
Now, about the film's absurd aspects. Let me give just a few.
Would you take an injured T-Rex baby back to your trailer knowing full
well that his parents will smell his scent and hear his cries? If you
were camping out among carnivorous dinosaurs, would you stay at the
edge of the camp listening to loud music on your headphones, oblivious
to the sounds of attacking dinos? Would you wander off from the others
just to go to the bathroom? Would you sleep with a light on in your
tent if you knew that hungry T-Rexs are roaming nearby?
And in my favorite unbelievable part, how does a T-Rex get out of
the locked cargo hold of a ship at sea, eat everyone on deck and then
lock himself back in?
At some point in this story you will crack. The sum total of its
stupidity will overwhelm you, and you will burst out in laughter. For
me the moment came when a kid looks outside his bedroom window to see a
ferocious T-Rex who has eaten his dog and still has the dog house
hanging from a chain with the other end attached to the dog in his
mouth. Is the kid scared? Not too much. He gets his flash camera and
takes a picture. Soon his family will be dinner.
"Hang on," Ian says early in the film. "This is going to be bad."
THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK runs an incredibly long 2:14. It is
rated PG-13 for dinosaur violence with people eaten alive and body
parts strewn everywhere. The movie is fine for teenagers, but kids
under 13 will need strong stomachs. As a rule of thumb, I'd say if
they can handle JURASSIC PARK with no problems, they would be okay for
the sequel, but if the original troubles them at all, pass on its
sequel. I cannot recommend this mess and give it just barely ** for
the great special effects and for Postlethwaite's performance.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes