THIS IS THE worst idea yet in the long history of bad ideas,
and I'm going to be there when you find that out."
Uttered by the geeky-yet-suave chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm, this
is as prophetic of the film itself as anything in it.
The Lost World (subtitled Jurassic Park 2, in case
anyone wasn't sure) proves to have its share of bad ideas, as
well as a considerable amount of no idea.
Viewers of Jurassic Park the First will no doubt recall
it was largely an exercise in sequel-building, as it left almost
nothing actually resolved and was crafted with any number of convenient
Remember the Barbasol can full of frozen embryos, lost in the
Remember, for that matter, practically the whole rest of the
Inexplicably, none of these careful arrangements were employed
in establishing the context for the sequel, which instead spends
its first half-hour scrambling ineptly to invent some new background.
We and the protagonists suddenly learn the island site of the
original park is one of a chain of five similar islands called
the "Cinco Muertes."
Which means "five deaths," as our heroes are breathlessly
told by their trembling Costa Rican sea captain.
Like any amusing ethnic working stiff in the history of cinema,
he is superstitious, and refuses to actually approach the islands,
thus establishing the reason why the ship does not dock.
After all, it's hard to remain in peril when you can just get
back on board and steam away.
Anyway, turns out that lots more dinosaurs were bred on one of
the other islands and have been left to run riot ever since.
And now the corporate baddies at InGen, Inc., mean to recapture
some and put them in a new park to be located more conveniently
in San Diego, that natural home of animal attractions.
Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, the only returning actor in a major role)
this time packs some unexpected baggage in the form of a hitherto
unknown daughter, Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester), who is of the age
that all Spielberg films require.
Naturally, when Malcolm is compelled to return to the scene
of carnage, Kelly obediently stays home and is not seen for the
rest of the film, honest.
She absolutely does not stow herself on board, never becomes
a heart-wrenching potential victim to scream shrilly and be rescued
at intervals, nor does she brilliantly and youthfully save the
day at any time.
The now-discredited and very reluctant Malcolm is compelled islandward
by the fact that between films he has also acquired a paleontologist
girlfriend, Sarah, played by Julianne Moore.
The evil, exploitative and really environmentally insensitive
InGen has not only contrived to send her to the Island of Ultimate
Comeuppance, but also to somehow keep Malcolm ignorant of the
The mission also includes a lot of rugged safari types led by
Pete Postlethwaite as the archetypal Great White Hunter, equipped
with a dozen or so carefully outfitted and even more carefully
photographed Mercedes-Benz all-terrain vehicles.
All this setup leads to a very familiar sequel:
It was called Aliens and James Cameron made it a few years
A small team of sensitive experts and a large team of heavily-armed
types arrive to kick monster butt, and are soon mauled into a
terrified rout and spend most of the film retreating and being
A great example is a scene in which a character named Eddie
"gave his life to save us," in Malcolm's words, by being
shared between two dinosaurs like the spaghetti noodle in Lady
and the Tramp. Another sequence has everybody simply being
grazed upon by raptors as they attempt to cross a broad field
of deep foliage.
However, although the film is darker and more violent than its
predecessor, it doesn't quite turn into a luau of long pig: Though
I didn't actually count, there are probably no more than five
or six scenes of explicit humanivore activity.
But as might be expected, the film has a sliding scale of baddies,
and the worst of them is reserved for the most lingering consumption.
It's worth noting that the role of one such meal was actually
played by the screenwriter David Koepp, whose character is listed
in the credits as "Unlucky Bastard."
Pounded with tense and spectacular scenes, we ought to be having
a pretty good time, but the weak and unfocused story has a distancing
We don't get as scared as we might because we're just not involved
Although there's an effort to include things like character development,
the effort shows; and everyone seems relieved when things just
concentrate on the spectacle of the dinos.
One rare attempt at a light moment comes when Malcolm, Sarah
and Kelly have narrowly escaped death and are clinging to a cliff.
Hollering for a rope, they're answered with, "Okay, and
do you need anything else?" To which they respond, "Yes,
a double cheeseburger with fries. And an apple turnover."
Erm, yes, that would be humor, wouldn't it.
Enough about the story then, what about the real star, those
Well, they're good. Really good. Better and grander than the
original. But there is a sameness to much of it: In particular
we are treated to endless dark scenes of a T. rex head snuffling
menacingly around buildings and vehicles wherein cower hapless,
This head is very well done, but we see rather a lot of it, presumably
bobbing around on the end of a crane. It's an impressive engineering
investment, and it gets a lot of screen time. And presumably after
its film debut, went back into service as a fixture of Jurassic
Park, The Ride.