I loved this movie as a child, mostly because it had dinosaur attacks in it. I recently re-watched it, as an adult, obviously, and my reception to the movie has actually improved. This movie is often discredited as a legitimate sequel to the original Jurassic Park, when, in my opinion, the two should be universally considered on par. (pun intended)
I think this movie is actually a work of genius in many regards. The movie is called The Lost World. The reason for that is probably because the novel it’s based on has the same name, but I think that decision was accidentally genius.
The very theme of the movie is about how life shouldn’t be tampered with (like the first movie), and where does the movie take place? On an abandoned, restricted island AND San Diego at the end. One is a place where the dinosaurs should be, yet the humans foolishly go there, and the movie ends with the main attraction – The T-Rex – being foolishly brought to the mainland. One world (the island) should remain lost, the other world (civilization) is at risk of becoming a ‘lost world’ if dinosaurs were brought to it.
The dinosaurs should remain lost. As a concept, that means dinosaurs should never have been resurrected, and in a literal sense, it means they should be left alone on the island forever. The word “Lost” was very appropriate for the title.
The only word in the title that shouldn’t have been there is the word ‘Jurassic.’ The whole franchise should never have adopted that word in the first place! Most of the dinosaurs in the whole franchise lived in the Cretaceous period, NOT the Jurassic. This has always annoyed me.
Anyway, back on topic….
The movie is very different than the first, while being very similar at the same time. It’s simply about dinosaur attacks and about a moral lesson of how nature shouldn’t be tampered with. Yet, Spielberg chose to make a movie that’s just different enough. Instead of a theme park gone wrong, it’s about dinosaurs simply living freely. It’s humans actually living among the dinosaurs in a natural habitat, ‘without fences, without boundaries, without technological restrain.’ And of course, everything goes wrong. That’s the point of the movie. The first movie was about life breaking free (finding a way), while this movie is about life, well, living.
The Stegosaurs attack the humans simply to defend their infant. The Compies attack Dieter simply because he senselessly attacked one of them earlier. The 2 Tyrannosaurs repeatedly attack the humans because they know the humans are a great threat to their infant and to them.
Notice in the cliff-trailer scene that the Tyrannosaurs seem to understand perfectly how the vehicles work? They understand the vehicles are not animals, but are structures made by the humans for their own protection. They purposefully flip the trailer over so that it cannot be driven away to safety, and push it over the cliff so that it can’t be used again, period. Also, when the Tyrannosaurs attack Eddy, they tear his car apart piece by piece, knowing which parts to rip and in what order. What I’m getting at is: The Tyrannosaurs, and probably every other dinosaur on the island, went from not understanding human tech at all (like in the first movie), to understanding it very well. They learned. They found a way.
The Rexes wouldn’t have learned about human tech if humans had left them alone from the beginning. It’s because humans didn’t ever leave them alone that they figured out how to get around human tech.
Another reason this movie is a work of genius is the variety of types of dinosaurs. I don’t just mean how many different dinosaurs there are, I mean the different types. There are big ones – the Tyrannosaurs – that use their sheer size as their power. There are the average-sized ones, like the Pachycephalosaurs (I called them ‘bumper-heads’ as a child) that use brute force, or like the Velociraptors, which use stealth and planning. Then, finally, there are the small dinosaurs, the Compies, which use their numbers and attack with wave after wave until their prey is too worn down to fight back. My point is, The Lost World wasn’t just 2 hours of “Oh no, a T-Rex!” or “Oh no, a raptor!” It showed dinosaurs that most likely used a variety of methods to survive, even though just putting in the scary dinosaurs, and nothing else, would have been the easy route.
Obviously, the movie isn’t perfect. That gymnastics scene was outright unforgivable. The 76 ball that the T-Rex broke in San Diego was pointless and stupid other than just being a gag. Plus, I have over a dozen nitpicks with the movie. But, as a whole, the movie was far better than it was bad.
By Hollywood standards, it didn’t need to be good, at all. It’s a sequel. Sequels are only made to make studios more money. Spielberg could have just made it 2 hours of dinosaur attacks with little to no dialogue and it still would have made hundreds of millions of dollars. When you look for the care put in to the story, the themes, and the technical work (which was spectacular for its time), you’ll notice that it’s all easy to see. The Lost World is high-quality filmmaking.
Better than the first? No, but only by a small margin. This movie doesn’t deserve the hate it gets.