The Lost World: Jurassic Park Raises The Stakes

Jeff Goldblum, Richard Schiff, and Vince Vaughn in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park seeks to raise the stakes from the earlier 1993 classic but the sequel doesn’t improve upon the original.

Four years later, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) sends Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Golblum) to an island full of dinosaurs.  Malcolm is reluctant to go on the research expedition until learning that girlfriend Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) is already on Isla Sorna.  At which point, it becomes a rescue mission and Malcolm is in a hurry to bring the paleontologist home.  The other team members are field equipment expert Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) and photojournalist Nick Owen (Vince Vaughn).  Hammond knows that his nephew is going to bring another team so Nick soon becomes key in what very well becomes a rescue operation.

The villains in the film don’t come in the form of Dennis Nedry.  Instead, it’s a character that is even worse: Hammond’s nephew, Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard).  Peter wants to build a smaller vision of Jurassic Park–not on a remote island that can be quarantined and contained but in San Diego.  Secondary to Ludlow is game hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite).  All he really wants–and this only proves to be disastrous later–is the opportunity to hunt the male Tyrannosaurus Rex.  And thus paves the way for what Jurassic Park experts refer to as the San Diego incident.

I don’t kid around when it comes to my love for Jurassic Park.  Over twenty years later, I love this film just as much as I did in 1997 if not more.  Sure, it might note have reached the heights that Steven Spielberg wanted but this doesn’t make it a bad film.  Not at all!  I would have loved to have seen a bit more of Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello) in the sequel.  The same goes for Hammond–his glorified cameo would prove to be one of his final appearances on film.  But what little we get of Hammond plays up the relationship with Malcolm from the previous film.  Malcolm got taken out for much of Jurassic Park‘s second half so it’s nice to see him leading the way in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Spielberg takes advantage of the updates to CGI in terms of visual effects.  There are hundreds more digital shots when compared to the predecessor.  But knowing Spielberg’s filmography as I do, he’s is the type of filmmaker to take advantage of practical effects when possible.  It is in that regard that Stan Winston’s work manages to improve upon the earlier film.  We have more dinosaurs!  A baby T-Rex would play a role in a major plot point.  Following the Compies in the film’s cold open, the first dinosaurs we see are a herd of Stegosaurus.  It’s a way of making up for not including the dinosaur in the earlier movie.  The visual effects team as a whole–including Dennis Muren–deserved the Oscar nomination.

Michael Crichton’s novel provided a solid manual for the narrative.  However, David Koepp’s screenplay would combine characters while outright ignoring other parts of the book altogether.  Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester) wasn’t Malcolm’s daughter in the book but Koepp’s script changes make for added family drama in the film.  It’s no shock that Malcolm is separated from his ex-wife, who is also Kelly’s mom.  Not only does it work for the film but it also plays into the usual Spielberg themes that we find very familiar.

Janusz Kaminski takes over from Dean Cundey behind the camera as cinematographer.  The Oscar winner brings a darker look to the sequel.  A lot of the film takes place at night but the film still captures the magic.

John Williams brings back the film theme that we love–okay, so they aren’t featured as prominently–while setting up a score for The Lost World that plays up the action.  Williams drives the music with drums during the action sequences.  Overall, Williams gives viewers (or listeners) a scarier score with two primary themes leading the way.

DIRECTOR:  Steven Spielberg
SCREENWRITER:  David Koepp
CAST:  Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Vince Vaughn, Vanessa Lee Chester

Universal Pictures opened The Lost World: Jurassic Park in theaters on May 23, 1997. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.