Genre: Action and Adventure
Director: Steven Spieberg
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Richard Attenborough
Release Date: May 23rd, 1997
In early 1997, I remember seeing trailers for the upcoming sequel: The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It looked as exciting and intriguing as the original and I remember really liking it when I first saw it that summer. I was thirteen at the time.
Now, eighteen years later, it’s easy to see the abundance of flaws in this over-stuffed sequel. With Jurassic World arriving in theaters this Friday, I’m re-watching the original trilogy in preparation. The first Jurassic Park was as wonderful as it ever was (save for some of the dated technology). The second one was, to say the least, a major disappointment.
The film picks up only four years after events of the original film. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the creator of Jurassic Park, is no longer interested in making money from his experiment. He’s more interested in maintaining a preserve for the dinosaurs on site B, a second island that was used for the birthing and the rearing of the dinosaurs before they were sent into the park. When a young girl is attacked on that island, Hammond goes on the offensive hoping that he can protect the island from his greedy nephew Peter (Arliss Howard), who has taken control of InGen Corporation– the company that financed the original park.
Hammond attempts to recruit mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to join a research expedition on that second island. He only succeeds after Ian realizes that his girlfriend— paleontologist Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore)— has already traveled to the island.
This plot sets it up for Malcolm to return to the world of dinosaurs and mayhem with Hammond’s crew of researchers. Unbenownst to them, Peter has sent some hunters to the island as well to capture some of the animals and bring them to a zoo in the United States.
With sequels, there’s always a temptation to make the film more excessive than the original and such excess is on clear display here, undermining so many of the great elements of the original. Because there’s such a large hunting expedition on the second island, there are more characters and more death scenes, meaning that little time is allocated to character growth.
Here we learn precious little about Malcolm’s relationship with Harding. What we see in its place though are several less-memorable T-Rex attacks, numerous raptor attack sequences and a scene where a T-Rex attacks San Diego.
The awe that once met visitors who visited Jurassic Park has been undermined by a B-movie tone. There’s a campiness here that didn’t exist in the earlier movie. One example of this is a out-of-place scene where a minor character goes into the woods to use the bathroom and is attacked by a group of little dinosaurs (Compsognathus is what they are officially called). That scene seems straight out of a 70s creature feature rather than a Steven Spielberg film. Another groan-inducing scene takes place when Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester), Malcolm’s daughter who stowed away on the trip), shows off her gymnastics skills and knocks a raptor out of a building.
It’s tough to really compare this sequel to its brilliant predecessor. As a sequel, its inferiority is clear and undeniable. As a stand-alone film, it does offer a few memorable scenes that do really stand out. One such scene features a raptor attack in a field and another one depicts a large van hanging off a cliff.
The movie is still highly-watchable and oftentimes compelling but it’s a major letdown from the original film.
Review by: John Hanlon