Steven Spielberg doesn’t do much in the way of sequels. In fact his incredibly long catalog really only has two, Indiana Jones and Lost World: Jurassic Park. This makes sense because it’s hard to follow up some of the incredible stories he has told with a sequel. It also shows great restraint on his part that he doesn’t or it shows that he learned his lesson from this particular movie. No one could blame him for making this movie. Jurassic Park did destroy the box office and resonate in pop culture unlike few films in the 90’s. I’m sure at the time people were clamoring for another trip to park, so why not do it? It’s also hard to say that it was a bad decision; it made over 450 million dollars domestically (adjusted for inflation per Box Office Mojo). That puts it just outside of the top 100 all-time and ahead of movies like Frozen, Monster’s Inc., Iron Man 3 and Wonder Woman. That is far from a failure. However, with its impressive place in box office history, Lost World is rarely referenced and it seems forgotten. How could the sequel to one of the most beloved films of all-time be forgotten? Easy, it’s not a good movie.
The way Jurassic Park ended didn’t really leave a whole lot left on the table, in terms of a sequel. It was a definitive end to a very good story. Lost World is further evidence of that. The story of this movie is incredibly messy and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. There was another island where they bred the dinosaurs and let them live before taking them to the park. Now that island has been left abandoned and the dinosaurs have adapted and started breeding on their own. We find this out because a wealthy family discovers the island on a yacht cruise and dinosaurs attack their daughter. John Hammond then decides to send scientists to the island to study the dinosaurs so he can then make money off the island. This is a ridiculous premise for a movie and that isn’t even the entire plot. Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is there to get his girlfriend (Julianne Moore) who volunteered to go. His daughter sneaks on the island somehow and there is a group of hunters that are trying to capture dinosaurs to take back to San Diego so they can start a “Jurassic Park: San Diego”. The screenplay for this movie is a complete mess. It is overstuffed, farfetched and, as ironic as it is, not really about anything.
Every director makes bad movies and Spielberg is no exception but he shouldn’t get a pass here simply because the script isn’t good. He makes some decisions that are poor and couldn’t bring together a coherent story. There is no flow to the story and it feels overlong. The movie feels as if it ends when they get off the island but it doesn’t. There is another 20 minutes of a T-Rex terrorizing San Diego. This doesn’t flow and makes the movie feel much longer than it actually is. It also seemed as if Spielberg lost the magic that was present in the first one. Most of the set pieces seemed bland and retreads of what was great from its predecessor. We had T-Rexes attacking a vehicle at night in the rain. While this was by far the best scene in this entire movie, it isn’t nearly as effective as the one from the first movie. The same goes for the Raptor attack at the end (or what should have been the end) of the movie. It’s essentially the same scene as the first movie, except that there are more raptors this time. There is also apart of this sequence in which a girl uses gymnastics to kill a raptor, which has to be one of the worst scenes I’ve ever seen in a Spielberg movie. It’s that unimaginative thinking that makes this movie much more bland than the first.
Even with the scripting and directing issues, the biggest problem with this film is that it’s not Jurassic Park. This is one of the glaring problems with sequels, sometimes they don’t live up to their predecessors and sometimes they can’t. In this case it couldn’t. Lost World was going to feel less special no matter what it did. Jurassic Park was great because of the wonderment and excitement at seeing dinosaurs. Telling that through the prism of a park, in which wonderment and excitement are expected, is all the more genius. The problem is, once I see it the wonder starts to wear off. It feels as if I’m being shown something that I’ve already seen and in this case I was. No matter how hard Spielberg tried he couldn’t recreate the magic that was present in the first movie, it’s impossible.
As bad of a movie as I think this is, I still like it. From a critical perspective there isn’t much to enjoy, but from a sheer entertainment perspective there was. Watching Jeff Goldblum and Juilanne Moore run away from dinosaurs on an island is entertaining. Even though the dinosaur experience felt less special it’s still cool to watch. Also, Lost World is a very different movie from Jurassic Park. Lost World is more of an escape the island thriller/adventure. There were more deaths, which raised the stakes and made the whole thing feel more terrifying than the first movie. That was also entertaining to watch. If some fat would have been trimmed and they cleaned up the script just a little this would have been a much better film. It ends up being my least favorite of all the movies in the Jurassic franchise but one that I still personally enjoy, even though it falls short of expectations.