The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
I love the original 'Jurassic Park' and regard it as a classic monster / adventure movie. Spielberg's follow up, based on Michael Crichton's sequel to his book, goes for more of the same but isn't a patch on the original. The premise is that there was a second island where the dinosaurs were created, and where they have survived and thrived in their own little ecosystem. Two teams are sent to the island, a large well equipped one sent by the Ingen Corporation to capture dinosaurs for a theme park, and a smaller one sent by ousted honcho John Hammond to document the dinosaurs. Needless to say, the two groups clash but subsequently end up joining forces to survive the island when things go disastrously wrong.
The sense of awe and wonder is gone in the sequel, which honestly feels like a paycheck endeavour. It's just more of the same, and while it is still spectacular and immaculately put together, the script and characters are somewhat lacking, to put it kindly. While it wasn't going to win any awards, the original had a decent cohesive plot and memorable characters. The sequel's plot about corporate intrigue and sending in teams to a dinosaur island where the beasts roam freely is asinine. There's also a really irritating eco-warrior slant that bugs the hell out of me, mainly because one of the 'heroes' engages in acts of vandalism that create most of the problems in the first place, and yet we're meant to be on his side! The stupidity of the characters is beyond belief (wearing headphones in the middle of a Jurassic jungle? huh?) and it's almost comical. Add to that the jokey behaviour of the dinosaurs - the fearsome raptors now toy with their victims and struggle to finish off a group of people whom the raptors of part one would have torn to shreds in a few heartbeats - and the whole thing comes out sub par.
Despite annoying characterization, the cast do a fair job, and it was interesting having the pessimistic Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) as the lead. Julianne Moore is as solid as even in her role as the tenacious Sarah Harding. Vince Vaughan is irritating from start to finish as the eco-photographer Nick Van Owen. One of the standouts is Pete Postlethwaite as the hunter Tembo, one of the select few smart humans in the movie. Supremely annoying is Malcolm's teenage daughter Kelly, played by Vanessa Lee Chester, who manages to defeat a raptor with the power of gymnastics.
The special effects are of course excellent, though the saying less is more seems applicable here, as the dinosaurs lose some of their mystique once they are over-exposed on screen. There are some memorable and exciting sequences, and the T-Rex rampage at the end (events that feel detached from the rest of the film) is very entertaining. On a final note, John Williams' score isn't as memorable this time round.
So overall, an entertaining film that delivers the requisite thrills but doesn't leave the indelible mark the original did. And in fairness, how could it possibly have? Still, one can't help but feel that it ought to have been just a little bit better. Worth watching, but I wouldn't call it a keeper.