The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm), Julianne Moore (Dr. Sarah Harding), Pete Postlethwaite (Roland Tembo), Vince Vaughn (Nick Van Owen)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

IMDB: A research team is sent to the Jurassic Park Site B island to study the dinosaurs there while another team approaches with another agenda.

How can some movies be so bad that even a seven-year-old can point out the flaws? This was without a doubt one of the worst films I've ever seen. Not only was it insultingly improbable--which I'm perfectly willing to forgive if well executed--it completely emasculated the three coolest characters from the original Jurassic Park: the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the raptors, and Dr. Ian Malcolm.

I love me some hot Dr. Malcolm. In Jurassic Park he was the soul of reasoned dissent. His arguments against genetic engineering were not only impassioned and clever, but deeply irreverent in that he shunned the notion of "science for science's sake." That's a rather unpopular stance to take while still doing so from the perspective of a scientist, with all of the curiosity and intelligence implied therein.

So what do we get from Dr. Malcolm in The Lost World? He's just a regular dad trying to connect with his estranged daughter. Why not stick a baby sling around his chest and cut off his manparts? Upon the completion of the first twenty minutes, nothing remained of the cool-as-a-glacier Dr. Malcolm. Some whiny, ineffectual has-been had taken his place, shuffled along by events rather than taking any active part in the development of the plot.

And now for the Tyrannosaurus. Juliette correctly pointed out that tyrannosaurs did not have brain chambers large enough to suggest reasoning capacity. Thus the idea that a mother and father tyrannosaurs would be able to coordinate plans of attack and think six steps down the line to produce a particular end is especially comic. From a movie-making standpoint, to argue as much would completely gut the third cool character: the raptors. If Tyrannosaurus is so clever, then what's special about the raptors? Nothing. They show up for six minutes and eat people. That's it.

So the bad monsters really aren't bad, and the cool kids aren't really cool. What remains to drive the plot? Enter...Bad Humans. Pete Postlethwaite leads a group of sport hunters to the island and hippie lessons about peace and tolerance are learned. Ugh. Such a mess.

The funniest part of watching this with the girls was being able to predict certain plot points. When the Tyrannosaurus arrived in San Diego and escaped its cage, it wound up wandering in the suburbs. I told the girls: "A little kid will see it out his bedroom window and tell his parents. They won't believe him. Then they'll see it and scream." As if I were a prophet from biblical times, it happened exactly that way. Result: kids who think I'm a movie-predicting goddess.

But no, it was just piss poor storytelling. As Dr. Ian Malcolm said in the infinitely better original film:


Cara Wallace said...

LOL. Glad I never saw this. Maybe it provided some bonding time, at least?

Kelly McCrady said...

The book was way different and actually pretty good. The movie stank in more ways than I could count. The screenwriter (at the very least) had an agenda separate from that of Michael Crichton and made changes in the characters and storyline from out in left field somewhere. The third movie in this series is MUCH better and pokes fun at how stupid this one was. "Tyranosaurus in San Diego?" "Let's not talk about that."

Carrie Lofty said...

Yeah, JP3 wasn't bad, although it lacked Jeff Goldblum and therefore started at a lower bar :)

Casey Stone said...

If my memory serves Speilberg and Chriton got 25% of gross for their involvement in the project. Welcome to the film that helped pay for Dreamworks.