Friday, February 7, 2020

Green Phoenix -The Lost World: Jurassic Park Review

The Lost World – Jurassic Park poster.jpgBack in October of 2019, I took a look at Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic Jurassic Park. Based on the bestselling novel by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park is a monstrous success when it came out. With its incredible effects and beautiful integration of new technologies with masterful cinematography, cinema of the 90s was forever changed by Spielberg's dinosaur epic.

So naturally, talks were given about making a sequel. Thing is, Michael Crichton had never wrote Jurassic Park with plans of making a sequel, and the main character of this second film was effectively killed at the end of the first novel. But with the popularity of Jurassic Park on the rise, fans pressured Crichton to work on building a sequel to his bestselling book. That would result in the publication of The Lost World in 1995.

With the release of the book, Spielberg was given the green light to begin production of a sequel, which would be released in 1997. The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a very different film from its novelization. The film brought together much of the same production crew, including Director Steven Spielberg, who saw the project with the potential of creating a powerful new film franchise.

Did they succeed? Or is The Lost World: Jurassic Park doomed to spin the wheels of the franchise from the original, like so many other sequels?

  • Directed by Steven Spielberg
  • Produced by Amblin Entertainment
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 129 Minutes



Four years after the incident of Isla Nublar, Dr. Ian Malcolm, a survivor of the original Jurassic Park, has found his professional career destroyed by the cover-up instigated by InGen, the company behind the park. However, following an incident where a civilian was attacked by dinosaurs on another island, Malcolm meets up with Hammond, who has a dangerous secret and proposal.

Before the Jurassic Park theme park was created, a second island was used for research and development. Following another hurricane, the island was abandoned and the dinosaurs were left to roam freely. The recent assault on the civilian allowed Hammond's ruthless nephew to take control of InGen, with plans to exploit Isla Sorna and bring dinosaurs to the mainland.

Hammond tries to recruit Malcolm to create a nature documentary of the island in able to garner public support for a biological preserve, but it is only when Hammond reveals that Malcolm's girlfriend is already on the island that Malcolm transforms the mission of a nature documentary into a rescue mission.

A rescue mission that quickly spins out of control when both Malcolm's team and a team of InGen poachers find themselves stranded on an island with no fences, no radios, and ruled by dinosaurs.



I'm going to prompt and succinct in my assessment of this film.

While I cannot say that The Lost World: Jurassic Park is as good as the original Jurassic Park, the film does possess a unique feel from the rest of the franchise. The film is much like its setting, far darker and more wild than its predecessor, leaning much heavier into the pure horror elements which only colored the original's science fiction edge.

The film is equal to its predecessor in all aspects save for character and story, which are simply not as strong as the original. The film is far simpler, more B-movie in its general aims; though it accomplishes those aims quite nicely.

VISUALS - 9/10

The Jurassic Park franchise has always been notorious and legendary for its incredible integration of computer and practical effects. The dinosaurs feel like real living creatures and much of that is the result of the hard work of Industrial Light & Magic and Stan Winston Studios. When the original Jurassic Park was released, Spielberg elected to underplay the appearance of the dinosaurs in the promotional material, stating only that the dinosaurs would be the most scientifically accurate and realistic looking up to that point.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park, surprisingly, not only reaches the same level of effects quality as its predecessor, but I actually think that the uniquely dark tone of the film actually works even better for its effects.

Image result for raptor lost world

Generally, darkness and rain works really well to make animatronics and computer graphics, since you don't have much of an issue with lighting (though advancements in computer effects make many of the lighting rendering issues that early CG films like the first two Jurassic Park films dealt with have become largely moot.

The visuals of The Lost World: Jurassic Park are really unique to the rest of the franchise. I gave an experiment to my family by showing them two separate stills of the environment from the first and second film and without fail, they were able to distinguish between the two. On the whole, the cleanliness and human elements of the original Jurassic Park are replaced with some more monstrous and untamed. The characters truly feel trapped and in a constant state of paranoia.

This gives us a film that is unmistakable in its visual identity and an identity that really plays into the overall horror and darker feel that this sequel aimed to achieve. Even the San Diego finale plays into so much horror, especially given my family's personal experience with that very scenario.

For those who are interested, when my father first saw the original Jurassic Park, he actually had a nightmare of a T-Rex walking around in his childhood neighborhood. So when that very scene plays out in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, it became an unmistakable and iconic moment in our family's united experience of the film.

The visuals are so important to this franchise and The Lost World: Jurassic Park scores incredibly high not only for its high quality effects, but also for its dark imagery which beautifully realizes and improves the terror of the audience to create a singularly unique experience in the Jurassic Park franchise.


Much like the visuals, the soundtrack of The Lost World: Jurassic Park is built upon the magnificent and iconic work of John Williams' original. Williams' returned to this compose this films soundtrack and it really shows.

The film utilizes and recontextualizes many of the original film's soundtrack. Of course, there is the original Jurassic Park theme song that everyone loves so much, but The Lost World: Jurassic Park has some unique elements which play into the more wild jungle aesthetic. Listening to this soundtrack really is a heck of a lot of fun and adds so much to the overall experience of the film, playing into both horror and awe and any good Jurassic Park film should have.

I can't go into too much more detail, except to say that listening to this soundtrack is a hell of a good time, even outside of the film. And the fact that this soundtrack matches so perfectly with the tone and intentions of the film are just the highest of positives.


I wish that I could say that the characters in The Lost World: Jurassic Park are as iconic, memorable, and important as the characters from the original. The first film didn't exactly have much in the way of "complex" characters, but as far as The Lost World: Jurassic Park is concerned; with the sole exception of the 3 main characters (Ian, Sarah, and Nick) and a single side character (played by the irreplaceable Pete Postlethwaite), everyone else is either a shallow cliche or an nearly empty vessel for amazing dinosaur kills.

Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm and really does do a great job capturing the "Goldblum-y" nature of his original performance, but layers that with the more grounded and hardened edge of a person who had been witness to unspeakable horrors; while Sarah Harding and Kelly give off a more innocent and unprepared vibe that works really as a contrast.

Image result for pete postlethwaite jurassic park
Unfortunately, almost everyone else is laughably shallow. Almost all of the InGen hunters are either nameless, so openly antagonistic to either the main characters or the dinosaurs that you are just waiting for comeuppances, or so stupid that its amazing they even survived making to the island in the first place. And the chief among these is the primary antagonist, Peter Ludlow. the new head of InGen, Ludlow is essentially a mustache-twirling suit of the highest order. Everything he does is ungodly scummy or self-righteous, and you wait the entire film for his just desserts. Unfortunately, I don't feel it was quite enough for his overall personality.

Only the other two members of Malcolm's team and the lead Hunter bring anything of substance to the minor characters, with Eddie being a heroic sacrifice that is legendary among Jurassic Park kills and the Lead Hunter being so goddamn cool, thanks to Pete Postlethwaite, that you just enjoy every moment he is on screen. John Hammond, played by the irreplaceable Richard Attenborough, is little more than a cameo, but he still steals the show with two powerful monologues that are easily the most memorable in the franchise.

In summation, while I can only give this film an average score because of the generally shallow nature of its characters, the few strong characters leave a permanent impact not only on this film but every other film in the franchise.

STORY - 7/10

This is a B-movie. A well-directed, well-acted, multi-million dollar B-movie, but one nonetheless.

The original Jurassic Park already shared narrative and thematic similarities with The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells, when Michael Crichton first released the story. So, trying to explain a second island of dinosaurs and narratively justifying why anyone would want to go to that island is extremely ridiculous (leaving aside the absurdity of Jurassic Park 3 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).

Leaving aside the similar setup for the story, the second film plays out mostly as a monster movie and lacks much of the thematic subtext of its predecessor. The original Jurassic Park was a subtle exploration of human greed and its impact of scientific progress and what occurs when scientific progress outpaces human morality. Through the moral arguments of Dr. Ian Malcolm and Dr. Alan Grant, the audience were shown the dinosaurs not as monsters, but as a consequence of human hubris.

Image result for death of eddie carr
The second film is mostly a monster movie with some very blatant pro-environmentalism messages. The dinosaurs spend most of their time as generic movie monsters, though this does allow the audience the chance to have some really fun moments. Because for as shallow as this movie is thematically, it is narratively a hell of a good time. Most of the kills and scares in the movie are just spectacular to witness, as any good horror film should have. The deaths of Eddie Carr, Dietrich Bader, and the T-Rex/Long Grass scene are just incredible to witness and iconic throughout the entire franchise.

But the best segment of the film, far and away, is the San Diego finale. Like all Jurassic Park films, the San Diego scene was not the original ending, but a re-shoot. There is a part of me that wishes that the future films had explored the concept of dinosaurs on the mainland that The Lost World: Jurassic Park had introduced (and could've have explored it prior to the peculiar ending of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).

On the whole, I love the story of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It's not all that complex and is little more than a high quality monster movie with some environmental overtones, but it is a hell of a good time and is deeply influential to the overall narrative of the rest of the franchise.


The Lost World: Jurassic Park is not as good as the original, I think I can safely say that without much controversy. That being said, I still enjoy watching this film with my family and will easily place it as the second favorite in the entire franchise (that includes the Jurassic World films). The dark and untamed setting gives the film a truly unique placement in the franchise. The visuals and music are so much fun and incredibly immersive, giving the film a horror edge that the rest of the series largely lacks (save for a few moments in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).

Unfortunately the film is stifled by either character cliches or walking corpses and a story concept so thin, that I've seen B-movies with more complexity. This is, at its heart, a high-budget summer blockbuster version of a B-movie. And that is not necessarily a bad thing, as I had a hell of a lot of fun watching this film and I think you will as well. It's not a game changer by any stretch, but it is a worthwhile sequel to a notoriously famous and influential film.

Join me next week as we try a brand new type of editorial that I've been wanting to do since I joined this website, a countdown just in time for Valentine's Day.

  • 9/10
  • 9/10
  • 5/10
  • 7/10

 FINAL SCORE - 7.25/10

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