Revisiting the Jurassic Park Franchise – Part Two

The Lost World posterAfter the huge success of Jurassic Park in 1993, author Michael Crichton was pushed by both fans of the original novel and director Steven Spielberg to write a sequel. The Lost World was released in 1995 and the rights were immediately purchased by Spielberg with pre-production on the second film quickly following. Fans were hungry for more as the dinosaur craze was in full swing.

Unlike the first film, Michael Crichton was not directly involved in the screenplay process for The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). However, Steven Spielberg was back as director and John Williams once again created the musical score. There were some familiar faces amongst the cast, most notably Jeff Goldblum returning as Dr. Ian Malcolm, this time in a more expanded role. Richard Attenborough is back as John Hammond, now the former CEO of InGen, in a reduced role with Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello on screen for only cameo appearances as John’s niece and nephew Alexis and Tim. The rest of the cast are new characters as the story moves the franchise to a new island called Isla Sorna.

The movie opens four years later and we see a wealthy family spending time on a beach on Isla Sorna. A little girl is soon attacked by what initially appeared to be cute little lizards (actually carnivorous dinosaurs named Compsognathus). We soon discover that the island is actually site B to the original Isla Nublar in the original Jurassic Park. Here is where the dinosaurs were created before being relocated to the main island. The incident allowed John Hammond’s nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard, True Blood) to seize control of InGen. Isla Sorna was actually shut down after a hurricane destroyed the facilities and John hoped to let the dinosaurs roam free. John wants to document what is happening on the island to build public support in favor of InGen.LW 1

Dr. Ian Malcolm has been disgraced after the events of the first film. He wrote a paper that left his academic reputation destroyed. John reaches out to him in hopes that he’ll help but Ian initially says no. However, upon finding out that his girlfriend Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore, The Hunger Games-Mockingjay parts 1 and 2), herself a paleontologist, is already on the island, he reluctantly agrees. The rest of the crew is comprised of equipment engineer Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff, Man of Steel) and cameraman Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn, Psycho, The Cell). Of course, hiding along for the ride is Ian’s daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester), filling in as the wide-eyed youngster in the absence of Alexis and Tim. Of course, Peter Ludlow has other ideas as his own team of hunters and mercenaries soon arrive on the island with hopes of bringing the dinosaurs to their own theme park in San Diego. But the local Jurassic residents of Isla Sorna have their own plans and dinosaur madness quickly ensues.

LW 2The Lost World: Jurassic Park is actually a very good sequel and showed how quickly CGI technology was advancing at the time. The T-Rex and velociraptors were once again the real stars of the film, continuing to make us believe they were real. There were some questionable CGI and special effects moments, which seem to support the Spielberg’s own confession that he became frustrated and disappointed with the film as production continued. It was good to see Goldblum in a bigger role this time but I do wish we could have seen more of John Hammond. Vanessa Lee Chester did okay in her role but wasn’t as entertaining as Alexis and Tim from the original. Dinosaur action was ramped up and we had several incredibly intense scenes that attempted to rival the first film. And, of course, it’s always fun to see dinosaurs destroy modern civilization, even if the setup was a bit contrived.

John Williams would create an entirely new score for this film, only occasionally hinting at what I feel was a superior soundtrack in the first film. The majesty was somewhat missing and that really goes hand-in-hand with the entire film. It was certainly entertaining and holds up rather well. But it just can’t match the awe and wonder of the original. Nonetheless, it broke box office records at the time and became the second highest grossing film of 1997 behind a little flick called Titanic.

LW 3 The Lost World: Jurassic Park may not live up to the fun of the original but is actually a good sequel and logical follow-up despite its flaws. It’s certainly worth revisiting if for no other reason than to watch Goldblum do what he does best on screen and to see a young Vince Vaughn actually pull off an action role.

Next up, we go back to 2001 for the third chapter in the series, Jurassic Park III.

3 thoughts on “Revisiting the Jurassic Park Franchise – Part Two

  1. I didn’t like this one as well when it came out, despite the dinosaurs — and I think the reasons are several: the set-up is too long, and the final act makes no sense. Sure, it’s fun to see a T-Rex on the rampage in CA, but the “Dracula Ship” thing totally doesn’t work. How in hell did the Rex kill _everyone_ aboard the boat, nevermind doing that and then getting back in the cargo hold? 20 years later (!) I like the film better than I did. The dino parts are great, even the city ones. But the “story problems” still bug me. For these reasons, I actually liked JP3 better when I saw it.

    (And at this moment, I think I’d put JW second to the original on my list. But we’ll see how it does on repeat viewings.)

  2. Having rewatched the entire franchise at this point as well as “Jurassic World”, I can give you a sneak peak and say “Jurassic World” is also second on my list to the original. I would still put “The Lost World” #3 and “Jurassic Park III” last. I agree with your thoughts on “The Lost World” but “Jurassic Park III” comes across as very padded even with the 95 minute running time. The aviary sequence saved the movie for me.

  3. For me, Lost World was a film that failed on several levels — the story not quite working, the SFX seeming to overwhelm the characters, places where it was too long. Whereas Jurassic Park 3 just trying to be a “B-Movie” and, I though, succeeding. (I loved the aviary sequence, too.) However, I haven’t rewatched it recently, so we’ll see what I think when I do. Jurassic World, on the other hand, seemed to really (re)capture a lot of what I liked about the original.

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