Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 9 min.
Release Date: May 23rd, 1997 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Steven Spielberg Actors: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Richard Attenborough, Vince Vaughn, Vanessa Lee Chester, Peter Stormare, Harvey Jason
verything is bigger and grander in the sequel to “Jurassic Park”; mayhem, violence, locations, sets, the quantity of characters, death scenes, dinosaurs, fight sequences, and the general scope of the action all attempt to outdo the original… except for the story. Sadly, despite so many excesses in every element of filmmaking, the story for “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” still can’t equal the sheer brilliance and originality of its predecessor. The dinosaurs themselves are the most thrilling things to watch, which means that audiences are treated to more T-Rex and velociraptor footage, as well as screen time for a few new creatures – and the standard explosions and destruction. But the entertainment value has noticeably dropped (a lagging runtime doesn’t help), though not significantly enough to make this Spielberg-directed work a total loss.
Theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is shocked to learn from Jurassic Park creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) that a second island, Isla Sorna – the original test site for dinosaur bioengineering – has been thriving for four years without the interference of man. That is, until a little girl (a very young but recognizable Camilla Belle) is attacked by dinosaurs when her vacationing family goes ashore. The original, deadly failure of Jurassic Park is covered up by the InGen company, which subsequently ruined Malcolm’s reputation as it settled lawsuits. But Hammond sees a last chance at redemption in the forgotten dinosaur world by sending a research expedition to document the various species’ progressions. Ian sees it differently – his scientist girlfriend has already departed for the island and now he must lead a rescue operation.
The kid factor is back, this time in the form of Ian’s daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester), except that instead of adding to the scares, she becomes a principle annoyance. Independent but troubled and mouthy, her scenes are contrived and unrealistic and the father/daughter relationship-repairing moments are disappointingly dull. With a second unit of big game hunters and soldiers joining the research team, there are plenty of possibilities for dino bait (not unlike “Aliens’” inclusion of colonial marines), all of who ignore Malcolm’s pessimistic yet valuable warnings and boast overconfidence and recklessness. They’re better armed and less educated, but Isla Sorna doesn’t have any fences. “Let’s get this moveable feast underway!” commands Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite), the tough hunter who waives his regular fee for the chance to hunt a T-Rex.
This follow-up film runs way overlong, stuffed with subplots and character development for unimportant supporting roles – although the diverse cast, including Vince Vaughn and Julianne Moore, is notably star-studded. Dieter (Peter Stormare), one of InGen’s henchmen, receives a painfully lengthy demise, the research team plots to save a baby Tyrannosaurus, and InGen wants to bring specimens back to San Diego – resulting in a second climax back in the populated city (an amusing changeup in setting but with underdeveloped ideas that could have composed another entire movie). There’s still plenty of action, adventure, and suspense (it’s difficult not to appreciate a big-budget dinosaur flick, since they come by so infrequently), but far less attention to the scripting and the pacing. Ultimately, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” is another project that supports the trend that sequels are rarely as good as the original.
– Mike Massie