Saturday, June 1, 2013

Movie Review: The Lost World - Jurassic Park

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Better effects (mostly), some very intense scenes
Cons: Slow start; extremely weak and stupid ending
The Bottom Line:
Great special effects
Several heart pounding scenes
But oh, that ending!




"Oooh, Ahhh.  That's How It Always Starts.  But Later There's Running and Screaming."

I'm going to date myself here.  The Lost World: Jurassic Park came out right after I graduated from college.  I had finally seen the first one the summer before and listened to abridgements of the first book and Michael Crichton's sequel on tape.  I was impressed with the novel and thought it provided some good scenes and a good continuation from the first story.  But then Steven Spielberg got involved in the story and ruin what could have been a fun sequel.

Aside from a few cameos, our only returning character is Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).  He's lost his job and his reputation since he's been trying to tell others about what really happened on the first island four years ago.  And visiting dinosaurs again is the last thing on his mind.

That is until he finds out that his girlfriend, Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) is already on site B.  Site B was created as a place to birth the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park.  It's been abandoned for a number of years, so the dinosaurs are acting much as they did when they were alive.  Sarah has gone in to study them, and Ian immediately goes in to rescue her.

Naturally, she is loving what she is learning and doesn't want to leave.  Then they discover that Ian's daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester) stowed away for the trip.  Complicating matters even more, a second team has arrived to capture the dinosaurs and bring them back to populate a park in San Diego.  When the inevitable terror comes, will any of them make it out alive?

I remember reading one critic review at the time that criticized the movie for just trying to do everything bigger.  One Tyrannosaurus Rex in the first one?  We'll add a second here.  How about an entire heard of Velociraptor?  And to a certain extent, he was right.  However, the movie rises above these comparisons to actually entertain.

Since the first one has set up the science behind the story, we don't go too far into that.  Instead, we get babble about the dinosaurs living in family groups and taking care of their young.  Honestly?  I don't care.  I'm here to see people chanced by dinosaurs, thank you very much.  Can we move the first part along and get to the action?

Once the action starts, about half way through, things really pick up and I am on the edge of my seat.  It doesn't matter how many times I've seen the film, certain sequences, most noticeably the trailer scene, make my heart start to pound.  I absolutely love it.

This is certainly a bloody film, with plenty of people around to be killed.  And we get to see how several of them die in rather gruesome fashion.  It's a little surprising this got a PG-13 rating, but please take it seriously.  It will frighten young kids.
The characters are, once again, only around to run from or feed the dinosaurs.  The only character they attempt to develop is Ian Malcolm, and that comes across as pretty cliché.  (Speaking of which, where did that daughter come from again?)

The actors certainly try to put as much life into their roles as they can.  And I think everyone does a decent job.  While I'm not familiar with most of the cast, I was surprised to realize that Vince Vaughn was in this film.

The special effects have come a long way from the first movie, and it shows.  While I still believe the first movie, this one is even more convincing.  The one exception to that was an explosion.  The dinosaurs look great, but the explosion looked laughably fake.  Go figure.

I have to share a moment that made me laugh.  Early in the film, Sarah is taking pictures right next to a baby dinosaur when her camera starts to rewind, scaring him and his parents.  That's right, folks.  They were using cameras with film in them.  I'm so used to digital cameras that the idea they didn't have them in 1997, when the movie came out, was funny.  On another note, look at gas prices late in the film for another laugh.

You'll notice there is one thing I have failed to address so far, the ending.  What was Mr. Spielberg thinking?  I enjoy the movie up until that moment; I'd actually put it on par with the first one.  Then he has to throw in a coda (that he forced into things) to do what?  The last half hour of the film is laughable and not very exciting.  He should have developed another action scene on the island.  There were several good ones from the book he could have chosen from.  Just about anything else would have made for a better film.

Despite my hatred of the ending, I do still enjoy The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  I just wish they had found any other way to end this film.

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