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Why The Lost World: Jurassic Park Is the Best Jurassic Sequel
Spielberg, evolving themes, and Pete Postlethwaite give this movie an easy edge.
God creates man, man creates movie about dinosaurs, man creates the inevitable sequel. The masterpiece known as Jurassic Park took the world by storm in 1993, and it was only a matter of time before the greedy suits at InGen tried to capitalize on the success. The bones of a sequel were already laid out thanks to Michael Crichton; the author of the original Jurassic Park novel wrote a sequel novel, titled The Lost World. The eventual film sequel took some of the big beats from the book, and then largely invented the rest.
Released in 1997, the strangely titled The Lost World: Jurassic Park brought audiences to another island full of dinosaurs that hadn’t been mentioned before. There are six movies in the Jurassic saga right now, but if you ask me (you haven’t, but you are reading this), The Lost World is my favorite sequel in the group. There’s no touching the original, and The Lost World doesn’t really try. It does its own thing and I'm into it.
Both The Lost World: Jurassic Park and the original Jurassic Park are currently streaming on Peacock. If you haven’t seen them in a while (or haven’t seen them at all, gasp!), then do feel free to spool through. If we’re all caught up, then kindly allow us to lay out our reasons why we've learned to shut up and love 2 Jurassic 2 Park.
Why The Lost World: Jurassic Park Is the Best Jurassic Sequel
The Spielberg Factor
This is the only sequel that Steven Spielberg returned for. We intend no slight whatsoever to the other Jurassic directors, but there’s no director quite like him. He evoked the feel of the original without aping the story or leaning on nostalgia. There are a few nostalgic touches, but not many.
When it comes to the action sequences, Spielberg and his team once again excelled. The most memorable scene from the book is the most memorable scene in the movie — naturally it is the epic T. rex attack on a set of conjoined trailers. Over the cliff we go! Mama was very angry.
While the trailer sequence can be found in The Lost World novel, the sequel movie takes plenty of opportunities to include scenes from the novel of Jurassic Park that didn’t end up being used in that film. The opening of The Lost World (the kid on the beach of Isla Sorna) is a direct lift from the novel, and it creates a great reason for the movie to include the tiny "Compsognathus" species.
John Hammond gets swarmed by compys and dies in the original novel, but the movie changed his fate. The bones of that scene are moved to the sequel, however, when the awful Dieter (the great Peter Stormare) gets this richly earned death. What a shame, said no one.
Wouldn’t you know it? John Williams came back too, and he didn’t rely on his iconic themes from the original movie. They pop in every now and then, but the movie is dominated by a “Malcolm’s Journey” theme that is perfect for the King Kong nature of the movie.
We’re not going to Isla Sorna to be seduced by an amusement park full of dinosaurs. We’re venturing into the heart of danger on a rescue mission. The Williams score perfectly evokes that feel, and it makes us tingle all over.
Ian Malcolm leads the quest, and Jeff Goldblum gives him more experience and heroism than he'd had before. We learn more about what he’s like as a father, and the Malcolm zingers are there too. Julianne Moore is a welcome addition to the saga as Sarah Harding, and Richard Schiff steals almost every scene he’s in as Eddie Carr. The aforementioned Peter Stormare excels at making us want to see him die a gruesome death.
There’s one new addition to the cast that truly makes the entire movie, and he’s so great in it that he’s going to get his own section.
The dearly departed Mr. Postlethwaite cruises into this movie in the role of Roland Tembo. He looks around and says, “nice movie you have here, I’m gonna take it.” Roland Tembo proceeds to slap us with greatness every which way.
This big game hunter who has seen it all is an invention for the movie. He's nowhere to be found in Crichton’s novel. Postlethwaite makes him formidable, deadly, and fascinating to watch. He also gets to play an interesting arc, as Tembo is one of the few characters who realizes that what he’s doing is wrong. By movie’s end, he’s spent enough time in the company of death. Postlethwaite is magical, and he’s the best reason to watch. Oh you're breaking our hearts. Saddle up! Let's get this movable feast underway.
Evolution of Theme
John Hammond returns as well, and the dearly departed Richard Attenborough, CBE, bestows his gravitas on the proceedings once more. He has a much smaller role here, but it is through him that the movie makes its ultimate point. He is guilty of everything that Ian Malcolm accused him of in the first movie, and he knows it now. He is ready to make amends.
The genetic carnival manager turns environmental savior, and he’s all about protecting his cloned nature from his own board of feckless cronies. Another round of corporate stooges is ready to take advantage of the dinosaurs, and they are going to do it while they start pulling shows off of Hammond's streaming service so they can avoid paying residuals. Hammond is going to do what he can.
He can't reverse what he did in the first movie, but he fights to inspire the world to leave these creatures in peace. The dinosaurs don’t need us. They certainly don’t need a prisoner park in San Diego. If John Hammond can learn, if John Hammond can change, then perhaps there’s hope for the rest of us.
There’s also a fair amount of silliness in the movie, for lack of a better way to put it. A T. rex rampages across San Diego, and there is a notorious scene that involves gymnastics. It has all become part of the fun for us. Your patience may vary. That said, the effects hold up, the themes are necessary, and Pete Postlethwaite gives a masterclass. Put all of this together and you have my favorite Jurassic sequel. It’s not even close.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park is currently streaming on Peacock. Go for a trek to Isla Sorna. Saddle up!