Jurassic Park: The Lost World (A Defense Piece)
"John Hammond summons chaos theorist Ian Malcolm to his home with some startling information -- while nearly everything at his Jurassic Park had been destroyed, his engineers happened to have a second site, where other dinosaurs were kept in hiding. It seems the dinosaurs on the second island are alive and well and even breeding; and Hammond wants Malcolm to observe and document the reptiles before Hammond's financiers can get to them."
Everyone loves Jurassic Park and dinosaurs. If you don’t, you have no soul. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t love the sequels. Jurassic Park 3, I get. It goes on to destroy the strong romantic relationship set up at the end of Jurassic Park 1 and has Alan Grant friendzoned. That really wrecked the movie and it’s terribly paced, it has no heart and there’s like 3 legitimate scenes. It’s a terrible film on every level. If someone writes a defense piece on that crap, you should just ignore it. Now The Lost World on the other hand. I don’t think it’s a terrible movie at all, and it’s acclaimed counterpart Jurassic World has a similar amount of flaws. (As I’m writing this, people are still head over heels for the movie including me) So why all this aggression towards The Lost World? Let’s take a look.
Jurassic Park 1 has one of the greatest opening sequences ever and it’s a clever homage to Spielberg’s opening in Jaws. (I love that opening scene so much) The sequel decides to also have anything shocking opening. Young supermodel Camilla Belle gets attacked by a group of little dinosaurs (forgive my ignorance for not knowing their names.) Compared to its predecessor it’s not as insane but it’s a memorable sequence and sets up some foreshadowing. We cut to a yawning Ian Malcolm (The Goldblum) with a island painting behind him. A lot of people complain about the editing joke but I love it. Malcolm was the comedic relief in the first movie and it fits with his character. I think the film manages to be entertaining up until Malcolm meets Hammond. There’s a huge issue with audiences that Malcolm isn’t the same Malcolm. Obviously! He almost died twice and InGen made sure his career was destroyed. And it’s all explained within the 5 minutes. The problem I have with the Lost World is, everything is being explained and in boring manners. John Hammond’s scene is all exposition, it doesn’t even feel like a genuine scene. You can tell from a mile away, he was inserted into the movie so we can figure what it’s about. So yada yada yada, Malcolm is persuaded to go a new island because his girlfriend is there. Que Jurassic Park theme music, the movie has started.
I liked the scene after this introducing the gear and supporting characters. We get some insight with Malcolm and his rocky relationship with his daughter. It’s good to get some layers and more character development. I’m all good with it so let’s get to the island. The same ooing and ahhing happens again but it’s not as mesmerizing as part one. Honestly, it’s the only way you can use herbivores in these movies. You need these scenes because no one wants to watch a movie with herbivores only. There’s no conflict. We’re introduced to Julianne Moore’s Sarah Harding who a lot of people claim is an idiot and hate her. Okay she’s stupid to an extent but she’s reality stupid. It’s already mentioned she got with Malcolm because of his experience with the island. Events like this would happen in real life, people especially scientists would be attracted to interact with dinosaurs. They’d ignore the risks and make stupid decisions. So I’m not going to get mad at for characters like that being in the movie, it would happen in real life. Though she does make some questionable decisions later on. The only reason we think these characters are idiots and don’t realize the dangers are because we saw the horrific events of the first movie. Even Malcolm makes a funny quip about it. Also I think Julianne Moore did a good job with her part. The movie here suffers from terrible pacing. Scenes go on way too long, we get stupid dialogue about Malcolm & Sarah’s relationship. I know Spielberg was trying to set up events & motives but he does it in such a boring way. Ingen coming to the island and trying to capture dinosaurs is cool for a couple of minutes but then it goes on too long. That’s Spielberg’s biggest flaw in The Lost World, he wastes time dragging out scenes. It’s 40 minutes into the movie and nothing has happened. In the first movie, things have already started getting heated. The Lost World’s enemy is pacing.
Everyone starts to hate Vince Vaughn by now but it’s kind of hard for me because I like Vince Vaughn. He’s a fun guy to watch in comedies and he has some funny lines. So when he releases all the dinosaurs and sabotages InGen’s base, people claim he killed people. He didn’t kill anyone, it’s clearly mentioned. He destroyed their base and I don’t blame him. These assholes are going to bring dinosaurs to America! Chaos Theory yo. But then Vince Vaughn goes ahead and does something stupid by trying to help a baby T-Rex. Okay I get it you’re a nice guy and you want to save this little guy, but do you realize the consequences that are going to come with it!? Sarah is like oh no but then says okay let’s take care of him. Then they ignore phone calls from Malcolm who’s in this mythical cage. I loved that cage, it had some good setups. I love the trees rustling and the T-Rex roar. It’s the first time anything exciting has happened in this movie. People are already alienated by now but it’s time to get excited guys. Malcolm is very entertaining throughout all this sequence, his heroics and jokes about all this happening. Poor guy, he almost got killed by a T-Rex twice and now he’s dealing with two of them. We get a really awesome sequence with the T-Rexes and the trailer but Spielberg then drags this sequence out. It’s intense but then it starts to wear you out. The sequence overall manages to be a strong one and we get one of the saddest if not saddest death in the movie. Eddie Carr or for West Wing fans, Toby gets ripped in half while trying to save his coworkers. It’s tragic and brutal. I applaud Spielberg for getting us engrossed in a character and then to kill him off in a brutal manner. Way too many movies kill off expendable characters and we feel nothing. Even Jurassic World, pulled that nonsense by killing off extras only. Another thing I liked overall by this scene is we got personality in the creatures.They’re not just killing machines, they’re territorial, care for their young. It’s one of my favorite things about this movie. There is one glaring flaw, Spielberg tends to repeat the same scenes in the movie a lot. It’s as if he got lazy through middle of the shoot and recycled scenes. Case in point, everyone in this movie falls. It’s so much that that you can have a drinking game out of it.
The pacing slows down again afterwards. (Just what we needed) But we get some insight on the badass Roland played by the late & wonderful Pete Postlethwaite. Roland is a character I really liked, badass hunter who wanted to be the number one predator and didn’t even want money for it. He’s not exactly noble but he’s not a bad guy either. His priority is to make sure everyone is safe and he’s extremely protective of the women. Though one loophole is he seems aware that Sarah Harding’s T-Rex blood jacket will attract the adults and uses her as bait? And why the hell didn’t Sarah (a dinosaur expert?) know that the blood attracts T-Rexes. Another contrived reason for a major action piece. A huge majority of the movie has contrivances so we can get action sequences.
Peter Stormare’s death really kicks the film into motion. That entire sequence is awesome. It’s terrifying, the camera angles, it’s so well directed and Stomare plays it perfectly. Spielberg is finally getting his mojo back but we’re like halfway into the movie. I can’t blame anyone for being fed up by now but things are getting good so let’s see where it goes. Spielberg doesn’t waste time and rushes into the next action piece. The T-Rexes have arrived and another suspenseful scene happens. The tremor effect, the T-Rex sniffing the tent, and then the mexican dude who let Stomare get killed screams. Malcolm has kind of been reduced to a background character by this point but I think his character starts to come alive. He’s playing it smart and trying to help everyone and then he magically disappears. That whole chase sequence is really fun to watch and it feels different. That’s a pro of The Lost World, Spielberg manages to create some new exciting action pieces with the same antagonists from the first movie. Meanwhile Roland is having his showdown which cuts off way too soon. I wish we got the entire sequence of him versing the T-Rex. Spoiler alert he wins. The waterfall scene has the death of the poor man’s Jack Horner getting eaten by a T-Rex in the waterfall and it turns to red. In his defense, I understand why you would flip out if a poisonous snake was in your shirt. Difficult situation. We get another roar and then Spielberg goes into plothole mode and Malcolm comes out of the waterfall. What the hell? How’d he avoid the T-Rex!? It’s a badass shot but then logic comes into play. Oh well let’s move past it because there could be plenty of reasons.
Again Spielberg wastes no time and gives us this brilliant raptor sequence. The raptors in the field are hunting down the ingen crew one by one. Everything’s in chaos and Roland’s friend Ajay had his first significant line in the movie, “DON’T GO IN THE HIGH GRASS” This scene is vicious but so memorable. This is one of my reasons for watching the Lost World occasionally. I wish that they kept the Pteradon sequence that follows right after. It had Pteradons dragging the survivors and killing them. Apparently that’s how Ajay died? The negative about this scene is that it really establishes the deus ex machina for me in this movie. Our main characters are getting lucky and staying alive because they have too. They manage to go through raptor bushes and stay alive. They just so happen to go through it at the right time and be safe. Vince Vaughn then goes into an abandoned center and makes a lot of noise and manages to stay alive. How does he not have any conflict!? I’m getting real aggravated because it’s taking me out of the movie. A raptor jumps on Sarah and almost kills her but the raptor went full retard and eats a bag? Da ****? This is another sequence I do like though. It’s the first time I feel the main characters are in danger. All of the raptors have gone back to being intelligent with two digging under the door of a building Sarah and Malcolm’s ethnically diverse daughter are in. The other one has a showdown with Malcolm. Malcolm’s using his wit against the Raptor’s wit. I don’t think the scene is silly, it’s playing out in a realistic manner. Raptor crashing through glass? This raptor is vicious and hungry. He’s going to do anything he can to kill this guy. Malcolm manages to make the raptor follow him and get its head stuck in the door so he can escape. Another deus ex machina is taking place, Sarah Harding sticks her head out of a door and sees nothing. It’s time for the daughter and boom a raptor pops out!? What if Sarah stuck her head out as the raptor was there? What if the daughter did? They could have died! Oh wait they won’t because she’s a kid and Julianne Moore is a big hollywood actress. Though her chances of being killed off in these chain of events are very high right now.
Okay it’s the one moment that a lot and I mean a lot of people in the world hate. Maybe everyone except me. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. The gymnastic kick. It’s established that Kelly the daughter is a gymnast and it makes sense for her to use her skills in a time of need. She didn’t do anything really cool, she built enough force to kick the DISTRACTED raptor out the wooden wall. Maybe the issue is that how were her legs strong enough but to me it kind of made sense and it was finally refreshing to see a human kill this horrific villainous creature. So there’s a pro in this. Julianne Moore once again gets left behind to be Raptor meat. I feel as if Malcolm really hates her. It makes sense ,it’s too late to save her but the way he plays it’s like “cya bitch!” Maybe it’s just me. Anyway she finally uses her head and manages to turn the Raptors against each other. Nothing ridiculous about this scene because it’s a territorial thing. The other raptor is angry at the other for hitting it and ruining the kill. Animalistic instict. Made absolute sense. Now a magical unharmed Vince Vaughn and loud helicopter are waiting for the main trio. Give me a damn break! There was no conflict at all!? Deus Ex Machina again but it’s all over. I have calmed down since they left the island. We get some closure to Roland’s story as he regrets his decisions because he lost his best friend Ajay. My problem with this is Ajay had no development or lines. He just stared into open spaces all the time and we don’t even see his death. He felt like an extra, they could have done a lot more with this but Roland’s story is done.
Next sequence, the San Diego one. I really really love how all of this goes down except that one Spielberg plothole. The thunderous ship destruction into the port and the releasing of the T-Rex. Okay this is a plot hole I still don’t get after nearly 20 years. Hands are perfectly placed around the ship, it obviously wasn’t the T-Rex because some of the ship would be damaged. There’s a behind the scenes excuse that Raptors jumped aboard and killed everyone. Again, doesn’t explain how the hands are all perfectly placed like one just conveniently siting on the T-Rex button. We get the contrivance cop who hits the button and this memorable event occurs. I think there’s a lot of fun going on, there’s a good amount of humor and the T-Rex running around San Diego is a good what if scenario. There’s a complaint that it feels like a different movie and I agree to an extent. All the supporting characters gone except the hero, heroine and villain. There was a conversation established before between the villain, Full Metal Jacket’s Cowboy aka Hammond’s douchebag nephew and Malcolm about him wanting to capitalize on his uncle’s idea and how no one would believe Malcolm. This fiasco destroys InGen, brings a widespread knowledge that there are dinosaurs on the planet now. It paves the reality of Jurassic World. Also poetic justice for Malcolm that he wasn’t crazy. I had a lot fun with this scene and love the line Malcolm says to Cowboy, “now you’re John Hammond.” Cowboy finally gets a justified death due to smart thinking by Malcolm & Sarah for once. Malcolm saved the world and the movie closes out.
I want to talk about Hammond’s nephew, Cowboy for a bit. He was a good villain and good representation of what one of these corporate douchebags would do out of greed in these type of scenarios. Force the idealist out of the companies and chase the money. His failure paves the way for a guy like Masrani to take over the company. A combination of the idealist and the greedy businessman. But he has motives and he has dimension even if it’s mostly ill willed. A lot of movies these days lack a strong villain especially action movies. This was a guy that you loved to hate and had every reason to hate.
To sum it up, I had fun watching the second half of Jurassic Park The Lost World. There’s a lot more good than bad. Great action sequences and a fun silly climax which is refreshing. And Jeff Goldblum is an awesome lead hero. The movie suffers a lot too, from the contrivances, deus ex machinas, and stupidity of certain characters. I can understand why people find it frustrating. There was enough good for me to be forgiving but Spielberg’s terrible pacing can make the movie a chore to watch. I think the disappointment stems from there was so much heart in Jurassic Park while The Lost World seems half assed. It could have been a lot better and Spielberg has admitted it too but it wasn’t terrible on any means. It’s a lot better than most blockbusters and Stan Winston’s effects are still wow as ever. I really miss Stan. The Lost World can’t be recommended as one off or starting point but for anyone who’s a fan of the first movie, dinosaurs and blockbusters they might be able to find some enjoyment in it. As long as they don’t have high expectations.