The Lost World, Steven Spielberg's sequel to Jurassic
Park, will likely please fans of the first movie while offering
little for the rest of us. Like its predecessor, the film is a
visual effects masterpiece with a shallow, predictable plot. Why
do movies that look this cool have to be so stupid?
The story goes like this: Jurassic Park was merely a playground
for the genetically engineered dinosaurs that wreaked so much
havoc the first time around. Their breeding ground was actually
a remote island some 80 miles away known as Isla Sorna. InGen,
the company responsible for Jurassic Park, has experienced a hostile
takeover, dividing the corporation into two camps: those who want
to conduct unobtrusive scientific studies of the beasts and those
who want to stuff them in the San Diego Zoo. Jeff Goldblum returns
as Dr. Ian Malcolm, the chaotician who survived the first movie.
He agrees to visit Isla Sorna on a scientific expedition when
he learns that his girlfriend, Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore),
is already on the island. For Ian, this is a rescue mission.
And of course, it wouldn't be a bad Steven Spielberg movie without
bratty, precocious children. Introducing Vanessa Lee Chester as
Kelly Malcolm, the 12-year-old daughter we never knew Ian had--and
wish he hadn't. Vanessa overacts lines like, "You never keep
your promises, daddy," and stows away on the ship to Isla
Sorna. I was hoping Vanessa would be the first to get chomped
by a T-Rex, but no such luck. In fact, no one dies until about
halfway through the movie, and even then it's fairly tame for
The "never-violate-the-prime-directive" scientists (to
borrow a "Star Trek" phrase) are forced to team up with
the "let's-make-a-zoo" sadists when all the dinosaurs
on the island go nuts and kill people. What follows is pretty
much like the original Jurassic Park movie: people run,
scream and get eaten by dinosaurs. In the end, there is potential
for a sequel.
As can be expected from Spielberg, the special effects in The
Lost World are superb. The computer-generated dinosaurs are
successfully integrated with the live cast to create a perfect
illusion, as opposed to, say, Anaconda, in which the title
snake looks like something from a Nintendo game. One scene that
made me laugh out loud involved Peter Stormare of Fargo
fame being eaten alive by scores of tiny, piranha-like lizards.
I don't know how such an effect was achieved; I'd like to think
it really happened.
Unfortunately, the greatest special effects in the world cannot
save a poorly scripted film. There is lots of faux-clever dialog
like, "Watch it, this suit cost more than your education!"
And some of the action sequences are ridiculous. Twenty interminable
minutes are spent on a dull, literal cliff-hanger; we know no
one's going to die because it's too early in the movie. And later,
young Kelly Malcolm uses her gymnastic skills to defeat an angry
velociraptor. It sounds funnier than it is. Despite the film's
insipidness, most theater-goers will probably enjoy it--especially
the younger members of the crowd. So, while I may prefer the stop-motion
tragedy of King Kong--a film which laid the groundwork
for Jurassic Park and The Lost World--Spielberg's
latest blockbuster may be a great movie to see with the kids ...
as long as your kids don't mind a little human dismemberment here