Jan 23, 2015

[Movies] The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

The first Jurassic Park movie also represented the first time I had ever read a novel before watching the movie adaptation. And as mentioned before, it was also the first instance of feeling that sense of disappointment when you realize just how much the movie deviates from the source material.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park represents the next level of confusion - when a sequel is created that contradicts the first book, but still pushes forward. It was the time when I realized that you can totally write books just for the purpose of getting it adapted into a movie or into a TV series. And thus retcons of the original material are fair game and what not.

As far as adaptations go, the movie actually managed to do a great job of capturing key moments from the book. And the book didn't exactly pull punches given some of the elements involved. For the most part the story behind this sequel still worked, although it certainly didn't have quite the same level of majesty that the first movie managed to convey.

Synopsis: The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a 1997 direct sequel to the first Jurassic Park movie. It was directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by David Koepp as based on the  Michael Crichton novel, The Lost World.

The movie begins with scenes of a family on a cruise near Isla Sorna. The daughter encounters a Compsognathus there and is attacked, but thankfully not killed. These events help Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) take over his uncle John Hammond's (Richard Attenborough) company InGen, the folks behind the original Jurassic Park. Thus Hammond reaches out to Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to stage an expedition to the island and document what has been going on there.

He reveals that Isla Sorna was known as Site B for InGen, and it's where they bred most of the dinosaurs that were later relocated to Jurassic Park. After the events of the first movie, a hurricane had managed to take out the containment facilities on Isla Sorna, and thus the dinosaurs have been roaming free on the island since then. Hammond hopes that by documenting the dinosaurs in this habitat, they might be able to rally public support to turn it into a nature preserve and thus save it from the clutches of his nephew Peter. Hammond manages to convince Hammond that he has realized the errors of Jurassic Park and no longer hopes to exploit the dinosaurs for profit.

The movie has Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm all front and center, so if you felt like you didn't get enough of him in the first movie then this is his redemption of sorts. Another central character here is Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), Ian's girlfriend who is already on the island. You never quite see any chemistry between the two, but the fact that she's on the island played a major factor in getting the traumatized mathematician to take on this whole crazy expedition to begin with.

The movie has all the markings of a sequel. They tried to maintain a child-friendly element by including Ian's daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester) in the whole thing since she manages to sneak into the expedition. It was a weird element but then kids and movies are cool somehow, right? Isn't that how that works? Oh, and let's throw in way more dinosaurs than the last movie. Superhero sequels have more villains, so dinosaur movie sequels should have more dinosaurs, right? That's part of the Hollywood logic that defined the direction for this movie.

There are a lot of complaints about how flat the characters ended up being in this movie despite the pretty competent acting talent involved. I don't see the bonds of father and daughter between Ian and Kelly. You don't feel any real love between Ian and Sarah. And heck, Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) the documentarian really didn't seem to be all that amazed by seeing dinosaurs.

The real star of the movie was the RV mobile base thing, that felt like something straight out of Battletech or something. It was a pretty cool concept in the book and it was nice to see that they tried to bring it to life in the movie. And given the key scenes that involved this special vehicle, it was a really good thing to see that it made it to the movie.

The overall plot just got weird really fast as you have the benevolent expedition and the corporate takeover team or whatever vying for control. And of course things are never fully in control since it's a Jurassic Park movie and you know that the bad guys are going to get their comeuppance. But the big ending at the end just felt a little odd and somehow you'd think that there should have been more damage or more deaths and all that fun stuff. But that's a sequel for you.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park isn't an entirely bad movie as much as I have my issues. It's a sequel after all and it's rare that a sequel is better than the original and so it feels almost unfair to expect things to get better. But we can hope, right? So this movie gets 3 superfluous dinosaurs added into the mix out of a possible 5.

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