Friday, June 12, 2015

MR The Lost World

Let's celebrate the release of the new sequel Jurassic World with the original sequel to Jurassic Park!

Something has survived...

God creates dinosaur. God destroys dinosaur. God creates man. Man creates Jurassic Park!

Movie: The Lost World: Jurassic Park also known as Jurassic Park: The Lost World or just The Lost World or Jurassic Park II or simply JP2
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Release date 1997
Genre Science-fiction/adventure/monster film
Country USA

The original Jurassic Park was a huge success back in 1993. So of course work on a JP movie sequel was quickly put in place after the release of the first film.

The problem is.. there was no continuation of the original novel.

So instead of improvising a new tale, Steven Spielberg did the only logical thing he could think of. He asked Michael Crichton to come up with a sequel!

At first Spielberg, Crichton and writer/director David Koepp (screenwriter of the first film) simply just brainstormed ideas, where they could take this "Jurassic Park 2". But finally Spielberg was able to convince the author to go back to the park, despite having never written any sequel to any of his books until then.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park book (also known as either Jurassic Park: The Lost World or simply just The Lost World) came out in 1995. The book was more of a techno/thriller, compared to the more adventurous approach the movie would have.

The title actually plays off the original 1912 Conan Doyle classic novel "The Lost World". Both stories following an expedition into Central American, where they face dinosaurs in an attempt to bring the long lost saurians back to the modern world. In fact Spielberg's movie even accentuates the resemblances.

Following the huge immediate success of JP1, Crichton was under a lot of pressure from both fans and Spielberg himself while writing The Lost World. Thankfully the book received just as much success as the original, probably thanks to the huge advertisement the first film was for his work.

After that production of the sequel movie immediately that same year. The rough lines of the film are based on the novel, but the film does take some departures in the final act. While the second book was much darker than the previous installment, the film itself ended up a bit lighter, more family-friendly and more adventurous. All that despite having the highest body-count of the trilogy.

There's a few differences between both version of The Lost World. For one, surviving character Ian Malcolm didn’t have a daughter in the novel, but instead we have these two kids (Arby and Kelly) tag along the adventure, students of Ian Malcolm. In fact Ian didn't even make it out of the first Jurassic Park! In the book he was clearly dead at the end of JP1, but due to the popularity of the character Crichton retconned Ian being only severely wounded in the first novel. The plot in the book also revolves around JP1's Lewis Dodgson character, the head of InGen's rival company BioSyn and not John Hammond's nephew (which made a lot more sense for them to steal dinosaurs and not simply clone new ones).

These differences would soon take the books and the film series into slightly distinct different directions.. The books being a lot more scientific and thriller-oriented in comparison.

Like the film itself, the story takes account of the time that passed between the movies. It's been four years since the disaster at Jurassic Park.

The film actually opens with the fan favorite scene from the original JP1 book that never made it onto the big screen. A wealthy family on a cruise boat that decided to make a little stop on this Central America beach. The daughter (a then-young Camilla Belle) runs off until she meets a pack of Compsognathus and then... !

John Hammond calls for Ian Malcolm. Back then Malcolm was sent as a detractor to put a stop to the opening of the park, Hammond now needs his help. After the events at the park Ian Malcolm had published a book on the incident, which in turn ruined his own reputation. But now there's been various reports of all these small isolated incidents, and people will learn about the genetically-engineered dinosaurs. The dinosaurs also survived the events of the film. While most of the park on Isla Nublar has long been destroyed by a hurricane, the sister island Isla Sorna - aka "Site B" has known an entirely different fate. After the fall, they let the dinos out of their containment facilities, enclosures and cages. And they're now roaming free on this deserted island, which has basically returned to a wild state. Site B was used to actually engineer all the dinosaurs while Island Nublar was just the location for the public (operating at the time of the film on a skeleton crew for the test run).

Hammond has lost his company InGen to his nephew, Peter Ludlow. Ludlow wants to finally open an actual proper Jurassic Park on the mainland in the US, instead of a remote island location, to help restore the company. And what better way to make off their losses than use their own revolutionary proprietary-owned cloned dinosaur creatures! There's only one way to put a stop to Ludlow and redeem himself, Hammond wants to put a team together and sent on an expedition to make a document on the dinosaurs living in their natural habitat. So the place can be deemed a natural preserve with the support from the public before his nephew exploits the animals. And he wants this ragtag team to be led by Dr. Ian Malcolm! They must reach the island before InGen, to make the documentary for the rest of the world. Ian, of course, declines... that is, until he learns HAmmond already sent his girlfriend, a paleontologist named Sarah Harding to already familiarize herself with the island. Malcolm goes to meet the other members of the crew, the engineer Eddie Carr and a video documentarian Nick Van Owen.

They get to the island. They meet a herd of Stegosaurus, and also immediately find Sarah incidentally enough. When they get back to the cars Ian discovers his daughter Kelly stowed away aboard the trailer car, their super-equipped mobile base. They're just about to get back home when InGen arrives right that same day. There are so many incidental coincidences in this film!

InGen's team of mercs and hunters quickly start capturing all kinds of dinosaurs left and right (a lot of those that had got cut in the first film).  There's a new, shall we say, "Robert Muldoon" character, the hunter hired as the team leader - the very badass Roland Tembo. Tembo is a simple man. He is not after cash, all he wants is to be able to catch the biggest hunter that has lived, all by himself -  a male Tyrannosaurus rex. He tries to lure it with a captured injured baby T. rex cub. Which quickly alert the mama. During that night Ian's team sneak in to free all the dinos before they're able to embark them to the San Diego theme park location. Long story short, the dinos wreack havoc all over the bad guys' camp, endangering the InGen team. They also find the baby T. rex, free it and run off with the offspring back to the trailer to mend to its leg. Ian leaves Kelly with Eddie up in their "high hide" installation built over the tree line when he gets a glimpse of the adult Rexes heading towards the others. He runs back to the trailer to alert them, but it's already too late! That's when we get this big huge action set piece, easily the most impressive of the entire film. The Tyrannosaurs shake them up until they give the baby Rex back.. and then start rushing them towards the cliff. Eddie tries to help them from outside, but ends up the biggest loss of human life of the entire film. Poor guy. He was an honestly all around nice guy and gets instead by two T. rex! Sucks to be you, poor red shirt...

The InGen guys arrive just in time to save the day. The two groups face each other, but they'll have to stick together in order to survive the actual danger the dinos pose...

The two groups try to reach an old InGen compound to use the radio station, but along the way the T. rex is still after them through most of the hike. Sarah had some blood of the baby Rex on her shirt! They flee in panic towards tall grass, but there a pack of Velociraptors starts picking them off out in the open field one by one! The group gets smaller until they finally arrive at the installations!

Everything still works! They call for rescue - finally! They get in the helicopter. It looks like we're about to get the finale, but it turns out there's one last final act! Ludlow was actually able to secure a T. rex for the transport!

Now that's where the movie either gets weird or campier, depending if you like old cheesy serial films or not. Where the film feels either improvised on the spot during the production, off screenplay, or a lot of deleted scenes happened. Some time has passed. We're back in the mainland, in San Diego! The boat carrying the adult T. rex aboard crashes on the dock. The entire crew was killed apparently. People start investigating and find one sole random hand keeping the cargo bay closed. They release it accidentally, and soon the T. rex is running among in the streets, causing a rampage through the city! Big Rex goes looking for his baby. Thankfully Ian and Sarah are still on the case! They go to the future new zoo's installations, this new Jurassic Park. They reach the baby Rex and make a run for it in front of Ludlow! They rush with the offspring with the adult hot on their trail until they get it back aboard the ship... Ludlow follows behind and becomes baby's first kill!

The film closes as Ian, Sarah and Kelly are watching the ship escorted back to Isla Sorna on live TV (how they're gonna get the animals back on the island safely, I have no idea...). With John Hammond making a big speech to live the creatures be, in their preserved natural state. Life truly did find a way...

The film was immediately put in production after the release of the book, it was a particular fast production all things considered. The screenplay was written by Spielberg regular David Koepp who returned for the sequel, very loosely based on Michael Crichton's novel.

The film stars Jeff Goldblum back as Dr. Ian Malcolm along newcomers Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Vanessa Lee Chester as Kelly Malcolm and a young-ysh then-unknown Vince Vaughn whom Spielberg really enjoyed in a previous comedy. Of the original cast only Goldblum, Richard Attenborough as InGen's former CEO John Hammond and other fellow survivors of the events on Isla Nublar Joseph Mazzello as Tim and Ariana Richards as Lex came back, those later two only as quick cameos at the beginning of the film. Sam Neill's Alan Grant and Laura Dern's Ellie Sattler would only both return (one way or another) in the much later Jurassic Park 3.

Speaking of JP3, at first Joe Johnston offered to direct the film, being a huge fan of the original film, in case Steven Spielberg wouldn't want to make the film. Instead Spielberg decided to go back to the island. He would even finish the production ahead of schedule, having more than enough time for a few reshots. They scrapped parts that were meant to be filmed at the New Zealand's Fiordland National Park (did they originally plan for a much bigger "Jurassic Park" back on the mainland at the end?).

The idea for that entire ending came from Spielberg. He suggested the idea of the Tyrannosaurus rex‍‍'​‍ attack through San Diego, which was quickly added to the film story. It is specifically inspired by the cult classic attack of the "Brontosaurus" in London in the 1925 film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World.

And that's not all, that scene is clearly drawing some influence as well from the original 1933 King Kong movie (and a few nods from the original 1954 Godzilla too which has long become part of pop culture. And would you believe it, Roland Emmerich's 1998 American Godzilla film would later take some cues from The Lost World as well, coming full circle.)

"The San Diego incident" would replace the original ending which would have seen an actual sequence with the Raptor and a whole passage through the Pteranondons, ending the movie with Hammond's funeral, the dinos remaining undiscovered to the outside world in that version of the script...

With The Lost World film Spielberg took the occasion to finally recycle a few fan favorite scenes from the original JP book on the big screen. On the other hand, a lot of scenes from the second book would get the short hand and end up completely scrapped in the film.

A lot of these unused scenes from Michael Crichton's original novels would finally find a way to be carried over JP3.

Like I said above, the film begins with the original opening sequence from the first Jurassic Park, with a family attacked by a group of Compsognathus. One of the major death scenes, the InGen mercenery Carter getting picked at the hands of the compys was also a nod to how Hammond got killed in the first novel. The group later ends up trapped behind a waterfall, which was a scene with Tim and Lex in the first JP too. 

Screenwriter David Koepp gets a fun cameo, being eaten by the T. rex in the end during the San Diego rampage.

With no more books to cover, Jurassic Park 3 would later revolve around a lot of scrapped and deleted sequences from both books, which explains why it was so light on actual plot...

And with this "San Diego incident " the world would be from now aware of InGen's experiences and dinosaurs incidents...

The Lost World is a great fun family film.

The story of this JP2 had some clear influences. In all fairness, it's a fun movie. But it's simply not as good or passionate as its predecessor which had a more clear message. As much as I love the character, I'm still not sure to this day Ian Malcolm can really carry an entire film by himself. Sure he's fun to watch, but otherwise...

The film also loses its sense of isolation with that infamous ending scene. The first film lied between a pure horror film and a creature feature. With the homage to King Kong and Godzilla in the modern world, it makes the film a bit more goofy than the original. We get a little girl defeating one of the dangerous raptors with gymnastics and a silly "Gojira" references with the random Japanese businessmen thrown in there at the end. It takes the fear out of the film...

If there's something positive to say about the movie is that the dinos themselves look even better this time around. The creature effects are far more realistic, possibly the best creatures I've ever seen on screen to this very day.

One thing the movie does great is setting up the dinosaurs are animals instead of simply villains. The hunt at the beginning of the film makes it all feel so real. The first film kind of played the dinosaurs like horror film villains. It's great to see the raptors out in the open, hunting. It's kinda sad the whole climax in San Diego-shenanigans take out from the tone of the story.

The film feels a bit more self-referential that way. A very disposable but fun ending. The film was already complete had it cut once they left the island.

No wonder the film received mixed opinions at the time, despite that it still became a huge box office success making hundred millions worldwide. It would even break the huge record for highest single day box office until it was finally beaten by The Phantom Menace in 1999.

The music for me is easily the best part of the whole film in my eyes. John Williams composed what is possibly an even better musical score than the original film's. It's fantastic. Most of the previous film's main themes make a return, along some great new motifs. Playing previous familiar notes and taking us into a more action-oriented score. Leaving the epic triumphant theme behind for a more tenseful and action-packed hunt. It almost reminds me of Alan Silvestri's Predator 2 in a way.

Overall, The Lost World is good. But it never truly reaches the greatness and the originality of the first film. Worth a Look for fans of dinosaurs and the series, but entirely dispensable.

Ian Malcolm gets some great lines, which save most of the film. But gone his cynical persona for a more sarcastic personalization. Just like the rest of the film, it's like they're trying too hard. Thankfully gymnastics are here to save the day from the raptors.

The story simply feels a bit weaker. There's a lack of purpose besides "returning to the island" (even if it isn't exactly the same island). Where the film truly shines is in what are probably the best timeless CGi effects to this day. The creatures look and move a lot better and more realistic than anything to come out of Michael Bay's Transformers franchise this last decade! Ahead of time! They truly spared no expense! The dinosaurs are stunning, despite truly not representing what could have been the real dinosaurs, those are more like pop culture-engineered dinosaurs. Never showing any visible signs of special effect, they feel like they're walking around and breathing. The plot is mostly an excuse for the thrills. There's a lot more cheesy sequences, too much action and not enough room for the characters to feel like actual human beings (in comparison to the creature). A lot of recycled elements. Spielberg would admit in later years he was never truly happy with this film, having forced himself through most of the production, never really happy with the end result. He was far too impatient at the time and focused too much on the effects and creature, without a clear view of the big picture.

Like the original film, The Lost World would spawn countless video games and several comic books at Topps Comics. More or less inspired by the book and the film.

Due to the criticism, the franchise would then be put on hold for another decade, until it would be finally revived in 2001 with a film simply titled Jurassic Park III. While Alan Grant return to the story, Spielberg himself chose to leave the directional seat to someone else...

I give it:
2 / 3 UFOs!


  1. I'm going to ask a stupid question:
    Why did they go and hunt down very big dangerous dinosaurs instead of cloning some new ones?

    1. The novel explained this a lot better. But basically this is not John Hammond's show anymore. All his assets died with the original park (and Dr. Wu, etc.)

      With Hammond's nephew taking over (or the rival Dodgson in the book), they just decided to grab whatever was already "built", steal it and open a new park with the old dinos. From there they could of course try to understand how Hammond & co achieved cloning, etc. It's not like anyone can just clone dinosaurs without knowing how Hammond originally did it in secret in his park.

      With Hammond's nephew, it does sound a bit farfetched. Wouldn't he have access to all of InGen's discoveries and researches?
      The angle with the rival company BioSyn in the book made a lot more sense, they actually had a reason to steal the dinos to begin with.