Movie review: The Lost World – Jurassic Park (1997)

Having completely enjoyed the rollercoaster adventure of Jurassic Park, I was in no doubt that Spielberg would once again deliver the prehistoric goods in The Lost World.

The movie finds billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has lost control of InGen to his unscrupulous nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard). Hammond summons mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) who was present at the incident at Jurassic Park, and asks him to travel with a small team to Site B: Isla Sorna.

Isla Sorna was the island where the dinosaurs were hatched and raised before being transferred to the main park on Isla Nublar for exhibition. He wants the dinosaurs documenting in their natural habitat and then left alone in the reserve. However Ludlow has other ideas for Site B. He intends to send a task force to capture some of the dinosaurs and bring them back to San Diego and put them in another more accessible theme park.

Ian, accompanied by engineer Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) and documentary producer Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) leave for the island, and shortly after arriving find Ian’s girlfriend, palaeontologist Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) and adopted daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester) have also travelled to the island.

The team soon find Ludlow’s task force, headed by big-game hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite), chasing a giant herd of various dinosaurs and ruthlessly and violently capturing them in order to take them back to mainland America. Under the cover of darkness Ian’s team free the caged dinosaurs who wreak havoc in the InGen camp, destroying all equipment. The two teams must then band together in order to escape the giant packs of Velociraptors and escape the island.

Splitting off from the group, Roland tracks down and tranquilises an adult male Tyrannosaurus Rex and its child. The two animals are the only ones transported to San Diego, but when the cargo ship crashes into the dock allowing the dinosaurs to escape into the terrified city it is down to Ian and Sarah to them back to the cargo ship to be sent back to Isla Sorna.

The lost World is a much grittier and dirtier continuation of the Jurassic Park story: Instead of the new, ‘no expense spared’ facilities and trimmed and pruned lawns and compounds of Site A seen in the original movie, we get messed up, weather-worn remains and steamy rainforests of Site B. Then in turn this is a stark juxtaposition to the modern metropolis of San Diego as the Tyrannosaurus Rex rampages through the city.

The standout character of the movie is Dr. Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum. In the original movie Ian was charismatic, interesting, unpredictable and criminally underused, but The Lost World rights these wrongs and allows Jeff Goldblum to shine as the quirky doctor. He delivers lines with wit and conviction, constantly adding elements of sarcasm to everything he says. The rest of the cast, while not as memorable as Sam Neill and Laura Dern in the first movie, do a good job supporting Jeff and are each excellent foils for him to bounce off of.

While many may not agree that The Lost World is as good as its predecessor, I have to disagree. It is basically Jurassic Park – after dark! It is a different, interesting and engaging story that takes the dinosaurs from the unnatural surroundings of their compounds in the first movie and placing them in a more sinister, untamed environment (with the notable exception of plonking a killer dino in Downtown San Diego)! If you enjoyed the first movie, you’re more than likely going to enjoy this one.

Prequels:
Jurassic Park
Sequels:
Jurassic Park III

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