THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK


1997

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

May Contain Spoilers!

1993 saw the release of Jurassic Park, a film which had a massive impact on my view of films as a 13-year-old. So, you can imagine my anticipation for the long-awaited sequel, four years after the original.

Michael Crichton’s follow-up novel to the original 1990 bestseller, The Lost World was written by popular demand after the success of Spielberg’s blockbuster but the plot differed somewhat from the final film adaptation.

This film introduced, quite proficiently, Site B, another island, a production island as it were, were the dinosaurs seen in the first film were populated from. This Island would later suffer at the hands of a hurricane and the dinosaurs were let loose to thrive and create the titular Lost World, in reference to Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel of the same name.

Problem. Jurassic Park worked because it was all there. A neat package, striped down from a more complex and procedural book, with less characters and a smaller set up. The island creator John Hammond stated in the first film that he had leased AN Island from the Costs Rican government, not TWO. We were shown the production facilities with Dr. Wu working to breed dinosaurs. The embryos that Dennis Nedry would shut down the park to steal were contained in the main complex on Isla Nublar, or Jurassic Park.

Isla Sauna, or Site B, would surly have been the home to the embryos af this was the “Factory Floor” to quote Hammond from this film. Granted, this can be explained away by simply accepting that Hammond didn’t become head of a multimillion dollar company by saying too much or revealing trade secrets, but it all seems to be somewhat contrived and creates plot holes which were not present in the original film.

The other issue is that this film is much more complex in both its plotting and the subtly of its world. More dinosaurs, dilapidated building and more characters, it was bigger, bolder and messier than the first. This was indeed a true vision of a Lost World with a fully realised dinosaur culture and habit. But it was also less appealing to watch. Jurassic Park was a safe haven where the danger was supposed to be contained, meaning that when the fences came down, the audiences sense of safety came down with them.

But this was a dangerous habitat from day one, a world dominated by dinosaurs living without fences and without human contact. This was a dangerous adventure of choice, rather than one thrust upon our characters as in the first film. But most the story elements made sense, though I was not convinced by certain scenes which stood out as being difficult to swallow, let alone the San Diego finale, which was just a step too far for me.

Overall, Spielberg NEVER makes a hollow film. Whether filled to brim with subtext or detail, he is a very intelligent filmmaker, bringing this intelligence and integrity to his audience, but this is an example of Spielberg failing to recapture the magic of one of his finest achievements. The effects were great, the acting was okay and the scenarios were acceptable, but the film just seems to be difficult to swallow at times and it certainly wasn’t the sequel to Jurassic Park which I’d hoped for.

But the integrity of the film cannot be questioned, just the fact that its elements are held together by safety pins rather than cement. This is an example where the first film had the set the bar so high that nothing short or a miracle could have hoped to have matched it.

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