The Lost World: Jurassic Park is an unnecessary sequel to a film that wasn’t amazing in the first place. Oh, sure, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park looked fantastic, but the film around them was shaky and underdeveloped. The same is true here, except “unnecessary” is added to its big board of flaws. And this time, I’m not sure if the impressive dinosaurs are enough to distract an audience from them. The amazing creations certainly don’t have an impact on the characters, so why should they on us?
We open up with an English family docking on an unexplored island because that’s what rich people do, I guess. Their daughter runs off near the woods, is attacked by dinosaurs, and we now know that all of the dinosaurs weren’t killed or trapped at the finale of Jurassic Park. We want answers, as does Ian Malcolm (Jess Goldblum), the only main character returning in a large role in this film. He’s brought in by the former-billionaire, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), who was the one to create the dinosaurs in the first place.
He informs us that there was a second island with dinosaurs, that it has no fences and hadn’t been disturbed in the last four years. The dinosaurs have thrived there, although now that a young girl has been attacked, something has to be done. He’s sending in a team of four to study the dinosaurs, presumably because his idea of “action” is “sit there and observe.” Ian tells him that instead of an observation session, he’s going to persuade the other members of the team not to go. Unfortunately, one of them is already there. Double unfortunately, that one is Ian’s girlfriend, Sarah (Julianne Moore).
“This is now a rescue mission,” we’re told, although once Ian and the rest of the team arrives, they don’t seem very set on leaving. They are now on the (hopefully) only island where there are living dinosaurs, and even though it’s potentially dangerous, would you want to leave? It doesn’t matter, anyway, as they’ll soon have bigger problems to deal with; a team of poachers has arrived and it’s up to the scientists to stop them — and stay alive as well.
Much of the film takes place on the island, as you’d expect. Jurassic Park loved showing you the dinosaurs, and there was always a sense of awe when you saw them. Even when the velociraptors were chasing down our group of people, it was hard to hold it against the prehistoric creatures because it was just so amazing to watch them. This time, it’s more of a ho-hum feeling. It doesn’t help that we don’t see as much of them, especially considering most of the film takes place at night.
The Lost World doesn’t even want to show us all that much, despite being a darker film than its predecessor. Almost all of the deaths are done off-screen. The one or two that aren’t look fine, but they’re not for characters who are particularly important. Even times in which deaths don’t occur, attacks from the dinosaurs aren’t all that entertaining. Nor do they always make sense. As you’d expect, the velociraptors get involved, but despite pouncing on one of the characters, it gets pushed off with ease. They’re not scary or menacing, even though they’re the focal point of the first film.
I guess I was just disappointed. I’m not even sure what I was hoping for, especially considering the spectacle that came from the dinosaurs was pretty much the only thing holding me to the first Jurassic Park. The sequel should make me feel that same sort of awe, I guess, but it didn’t. There is one scene where the characters sit there and stare at the dinosaurs, but for most of them, it felt as if they had already seen them before. One of them had, sure, but the other members of the group weren’t supposed to have previously.
Maybe that’s the problem with a sequel like this. We’ve seen pretty much all there is to see in regards to the dinosaurs, and since the initial shock has worn off, the spectacle can’t sustain us for a feature length film. We turn to other methods to hold our interest, and when the characters are nonexistent, the story ridiculous and the action scenes lacking, the film fails to captivate. Yes, the dinosaurs look great, but what else can you give me? Like the first film, the answer is “not much.”
Even the way the film is put together feels off. There’s a distinct ending point, and I could almost hear the credit music begin playing. And then another twenty minutes of film plays, before the credits finally roll. This is a movie that feels long already, but would have been more tolerable if it ended where it seemed like it wanted to. Our story was over, and the possibility for a sequel was established. It was perfect, but the filmmakers wanted more, possibly trying to upstage a certain other monster film franchise in the process. Instead of doing that, it made me laugh at how silly it was.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park plays for the spectacle but failed to go bigger or better than its predecessor. As a result, the dinosaurs — which are less frequent and more subdued than previously — can’t hold our attention. We watch for other things, like characters or a plot, and when we don’t get one, the film becomes a chore. It’s not put together well, there’s no sense of awe, and I can’t remember the last time dinosaurs were so boring.