Grade: DJurassic Park: The Lost World (1997)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Vince Vaughn

Release Company: Universal

MPAA Rating: PG-13

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Spielberg: Jurassic Park the Lost World


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Thanks to Steven Spielberg, I'll never again suffer a sleepless night. At least it has worked the past two nights, causing me to drop off to sleep within 30 minutes of watching Jurassic Park: The Lost World. I did see the full movie one time when it was first released in theaters, and remember emerging from the theater and immediately forgetting the experience--a really bad sign for a movie.

I wouldn't have purchased this disc alone either, but when I got a decent deal on the new DVD set of both Jurassic Park films (with all the extra features), I splurged a bit and gave The Lost World another chance. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to stay awake through the whole film on my DVD player--another bad sign.

It's not that Spielberg doesn't understand the rules for adequate sequels. He relates this on the background film by explaining that the audience will expect more in the sequel, so he did plan to deliver the goods. Spielberg delivered some interesting sequels in the Indiana Jones series, even though none could possibly top the original. But at least we were treated to some monkey brains, some failed heart surgery, and Sean Connery in the two follow-ups.

Unfortunately, Spielberg's concept of offering more in Jurassic Park: The Lost World just means more of the same but less originality. Instead of one Tyrannosaurus Rex, we get two T. Rex parental units with a baby, and instead of a couple of nasty raptors, we get a whole herd of the vicious beasties. Only one lawyer got munched in the original; to increase the impact, several more people meet their Jurassic doom in the lame sequel, including one poor fellow who is treated like a wishbone by the T. Rex parents. The only interesting demise is Peter Stormare's (of Fargo fame), when he is destroyed by swarms of 12-inch piranha-style carnivores.

More isn't always better. That's just mindless lazy ass film construction. A few creative tweaks would work better than the formula sequel material we've seen all too often in teen slasher-flicks. Spielberg attempts an interesting twist by making rising star Jeff Goldblum the leading character, with talented actress Julianne Moore as his paleontologist fiancée and sidekick. Too bad Spielberg's script does little to develop their characters. They spend most of their time dodging Stegosaurus tail swipes, T. Rex-bashing, and Raptor-gnashing.

The ending is hardly more than a rehash of King Kong and Godzilla movies, with a T. Rex stomping around San Diego. (How original of Spielberg to change the setting a few miles away from Universal Studios this time.)

Pete Postlethwaite does interesting work and could have contributed to this dinosaur disaster if Spielberg hadn't left his best moments on the editing floor. There's a nice scene that develops his character and demonstrates his motivations for wanting to hunt big game, but Spielberg deletes it and goes for the straight action shots that just make Postlethwaite's character look like a stereotypical mercenary big-game hunter. I had a bit more sympathy for him after watching the deleted scenes, but it made me realize how Spielberg had cheapened his film for the summer masses.

I remember watching Jurassic Park: The Lost World only because I felt obligated to do so. I'm not in the automatic Spielberg-bashing camp, and enjoyed Jurassic Park to a degree. After all, I grew up fascinated with dinosaurs and always hope that the next dinosaur movie will be enjoyable and intelligent.

I left the theater that summer of 1997, dutifully knowing that I had fulfilled my obligation but I left feeling empty and unsatisfied, with no intentions of ever returning to the Lost World. After falling asleep twice to the DVD version, I am reminded how weak this sequel is. But at least it's good for something--definitely more effective than Sominex.

 


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