The truth about nostalgia is that we’d be better off without it. What keeps us trapped in the past, or yearning for things to be as they were, is irrational. This is one of the blockbusters that Steven Spielberg became disillusioned with while filming (Temple of Doom would be a similar experience), and some Oscar-bait epic was the byproduct result, his personal catharsis. But in the meantime, we got The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
For five years, and being based on a Crichton novel, it’s a wonder why this movie’s plot feels so rushed. It’s curious how the two main characters of the original are missing with little to no explanation (and yet the entire cast isn’t overhauled), it’s puzzling how ‘humor’ works here, but none of this occurred to me as a five year old.
Jurassic Park being such a huge part of my upbringing is probably owed to this film, whose marketing would’ve been taking the nation around when I could comprehend the VCR and the flashing lights on-screen. Although I could tell the difference between the two movies, they became interchangeable, and this one was often more popular because it had less [important] setup, and there were plenty of dinosaurs. The first had a singular Tyrannosaurus? This one has two!
Sequels are a fascinating business to me. The original Jurassic Park is a perfectly self-contained unit. It tells its story with the needed amount of set pieces. The Lost World is on hand to offer more set pieces, because it can’t offer a story.
It might, theoretically, but in accordance with the themes of Jurassic Park, there was only one story to tell. That’s why both sequels have the same story — people on an island, chased by dinosaurs. It’s a better formula than a story, which is both why the plot is so dumb, and how it can facilitate some pretty great moments.
The T-Rex chases the camp into a waterfall, the raptors attack in the long-grass, and the series’ makes its only Stegosaurus appearance, which is like my favorite dinosaur. Another formula arises: the direction of Spielberg of adventure action, the John Williams music, and most critical, the Stan Winston effects. It’s my favorite thing about movies.
For all the story-bashing, The Lost World represents a better extension of the original movie’s world than Jurassic Park III, which is a more straight-forward adventure (akin to The Last Crusade, that kind of simplification). We get some insight on inGen, Jurassic Park’s Weyland-Yutani, and although some of that back-story is interesting (the only reason I’d play Trespasser), what it does is create that aesthetic, as discussed with Deep Blue Sea.
Again, it’s an overgrown locale, an industrial space overtaken by the jungle. There’s a visual motif of lost dreams, but this is mostly background, and so the mise-en-scen tells a more compelling story than an Ian Malcolm family harangue, or collecting dinosaurs for transport to San Diego.
It’s a film that takes place mostly at night, but it isn’t the ‘dark second chapter’ that’s much-maligned here at The Battle Beyond Planet X. It’s another adventure, and that might mean burnout for you, or it might mean dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs, and possibly more dinosaurs.
This, for the record, is the second-to-last critically unacclaimed film on the list — critically reviled, I should say, though #10 is indefensible to most, and tomorrow’s is precisely 50/50, hyper-polarizing.