The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Vince Vaughn, Arliss Howard, Richard Schiff, and Richard Attenborough

Life will find a way.  That's always been one of my favorite movie quotes because it resonates with so much of what we know about evolution and how species rise and fall in our ecosystem.  Jurassic Park will forever be a classic that puts the Darwinian notion of survival of the fittest to the ultimate test on the big screen.  This quote will forever capture the essence of this film in all its majesty and all its thrills.  With 2015 being the year of the reborn franchise, Hollywood will apparently find a way as well.  Just look to the fact that we're returning to a world that was 65 million years in the making all over again.  The greed machine finds a way to continue surviving with this year's Jurassic World.  While I've reviewed Jurassic Park in the past, there's no time like the present to revisit its sequels.  Let's go back to Isla Sorna.  Let's go back to The Lost World.

After the events on Isla Nublar, John Hammond's (Richard Attenborough) company InGen finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy.  The board of directors removes Hammond from his position as CEO and promotes his calculating nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) to the role.  Still, there are some unresolved issues as it relates to Jurassic Park.  As part of a contingency plan, InGen bred another set of attractions on an island in Costa Rica known as Isla Sorna.  When disaster struck Isla Nubar, the company opted to deprive these animals at Site B of what they need most to survive, the amino acid Lysine.  Life finds a way, and the genetically modified dinosaurs somehow survive.  Naturally, John Hammond and his nephew Peter Ludlow have starkly contrasting views on what to do with these animals.

Trying to work around InGen, Hammond calls on mathematician and chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to lead a research expedition on Isla Sorna to gather some information on the animals.  This information will enable him to wage war with InGen in the court of public opinion.  Hammond has already recruited environmentalist filmmaker Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn), field equipment expert Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff), and behavioral paleontologist Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore).  It just so happens that Harding is Malcolm's girlfriend, and he has no interest whatsoever in letting her go to that island.  He's too late, however.  Hammond has already gotten her to Isla Sorna.  In Malcolm's eyes, this is no longer a research expedition but a rescue mission.  Neither his daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester) nor big-game hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) gets this message.

Like most sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park definitely fails to live up to its predecessor.  With director Steven Spielberg at the helm, a few returning cast members, and some colorful new ones, Isla Sorna does manage to capture some of that movie magic created on Isla Nublar but fails to create any new magic of its own.  Spielberg certainly knows how to package majestic creatures with equally nightmarish ones, and it shows with all his typical stylistic flourishes.  In one moment, Spielberg's film offers lovely aesthetics and a triumphant score.  In another, his suspenseful thrill ride boasts foggy, eerie visuals and thunderous compositions.  All of this works strongly for The Lost World.

While Spielberg does some predictably strong work behind the camera, the screenplay from David Koepp handicaps him.  Instead of taking these genetically modified monstrosities in a new direction, Koepp opts to regurgitate more of the same.  With two Tyrannosaurus Rexes and an army of velociraptors hunting the humans on Isla Sorna, he tries to multiply the thrills by playing a pure numbers game.  For the clueless moviegoer, this might just work.  For everyone else, however, this is quite problematic.  It's the single most important aspect of the filmmaking process as the words in the screenplay are what Spielberg, his cast, and his crew are working to bring to life.  There's just not that much greatness to lift from the pages of Koepp's screenplay.

The film relies pretty heavily on its star power.  At the front and center of it all, we've got Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm.  Delivering that same witty charm that made him so entertaining in Jurassic Park, Goldblum gives us a familiar face we all know and love that is the one enduring link to the original.  His co-star and on-screen girlfriend Julianne Moore joins the cast as paleontologist Dr. Sarah Harding.  Despite the warmth and energy she brings to the camera, her character is more often than not annoying.  I blame this on Koepp’s screenplay and not her performance.  For his part as documentarian Nick Van Owen, Vince Vaughn delivers quite a few laughs, especially during his interactions with Goldblum.  Lastly, we have Pete Postlethwaite as big-game hunter Roland Tembo.  Spending time in the company of death, the late great Postlethwaite gives the film the rugged badass it desperately needs to shake things up amongst the cast.

There's no doubt that The Lost World could have been a better film.  From InGen tearing up Isla Sorna to Asian-Americans fleeing the T-Rex in the streets of San Diego, the film transitions from one giant game trail into a knockoff Godzilla film.  However, the final product is still not too bad.  All in all, The Lost World: Jurassic Park gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a couple of glasses of Moscato with this one.