“Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”
“So you went from capitalist to naturalist in just 4 years. That’s something.”
“Taking dinosaurs off this island is the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas. And I’m gonna be there when you learn that.”
There have been Steven Spielberg movies that I have not liked very much. Among those are “1941” and “Always”. Even considering those duds, I have never felt like he phoned in a directorial job like he has with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. One can almost hear the conversation between the star director and the production studio, “Yeah, we need another Dino movie because the last one made so much damn money.” Spielberg realizes that even he likes to be paid and perhaps reluctantly agrees.
Spielberg made “Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List” in 1993. Four years later, he would return with “The Lost World” and “Amistad”. I’d like to think that with Spielberg making his best film about Oskar Schindler and an important historical dramatization of rebellion on the slave ship, Amistad, that his passions were elsewhere focused.
What can we say about the plot of “The Lost World”? Well, Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm and one of the wonderful things about the movie is his sarcastic barbs seemingly making fun of the story. At the beginning, we meet John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) again. Of course, he announces to Malcolm that there is another island with dinosaurs (of course!) where he bred the species for placement in Jurassic Park. The island is Isla Sorna and the bad corporation InGen wants to use the dinosaurs there to recover the losses that they received during the first Jurassic Park. Talk is that they want to open a theme park in San Diego.
Hammond has come around from his greedy capitalist vibe in the first installment and wants Malcolm to join a team to go to Isla Sorna to stop InGen’s profit plan. Balking at the idea because of his past experiences, Malcolm gets persuaded by Hammond when he learns his girlfriend, Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), is already on the island. The team consists of a video documentarian, Nick Van Owen (a young Vince Vaughn) and engineer/ equipment specialist, Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff). Why would you send these people given their respective fields to an island with dinosaurs to stop a big corporation? And why would Malcolm’s daughter, Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester) stowaway to go to the island? So she could be put in dangerous situations and need rescued!
The entire setup is absurd and when you think about the plot…well, just don’t. Honestly, there is some fun to be had. A scene involving InGen mercenaries walking in a field of tall grass as they are slowly picked off by velociraptors is spectacular. Audiences will be witness to stampeding stegosauruses and the little dinosaurs, Compsognathus’s, get screen time as they eat one of the unfortunate InGen mercenaries.
A problem to try and write about dinosaurs with human beings in a modern setting is exactly where to take the story. “Jurassic Park” is a great film which engineered a science fiction way to bring dinosaurs back to life in order to place them in a theme park. What approach do subsequent chapters take after that? Excuses are invented to get people back to the islands where they can get chomped on for entertainment purposes. The central plot of both “The Lost World” and “Jurassic Park 3” involve that same story device. “Jurassic World” has a fully functioning theme park like a zoo but there still must be something that goes wrong that makes that film similar to the first.
Just when we think this movie is ending with some of the characters escaping the island after a really nutty climax, the evil corporation decides to bring a T-Rex to San Diego. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the movie because it is so crazy that the proceedings become funny. People are seen running through the streets of San Diego as a T-Rex walks around knocking down buildings and making the orange “76” ball at a gas station roll down the street.
I don’t think anyone would call this movie great. Rather this is Spielbergian entertainment that is lesser than his other classic pictures. Yeah, it is fun to watch dinosaurs munch on people and throw vehicles around but we really could just watch the superior first one.
Lester Lauding Level: 2.5 (out of 5)
Ranking of Spielberg Movie (so far):
Schindler’s List (Review here)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Review here)
Jaws (Review here)
Jurassic Park (Review here)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Review here)
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Review here)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Review here)
Empire of the Sun (Review here)
The Color Purple (Review here)
Duel (Review here)
The Post (Review here)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Review here)
Hook (Review here)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Sugarland Express (Review here)
Always (Review here)
1941 (Review here)