Taking Dinosaurs Off This Island is the Worst Idea in the Long, Sad History of Bad Ideas
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the trilogy I’m currently reviewing is about to take a turn for the worse. We drop down from yesterday’s 89% to today’s 52%, and tomorrow to something apparently even worse. But, being a completionist, I journey onward into the sequel. Going into the movie, I really don’t remember what I originally thought of it. I know I loved the first movie, but I only remember the basic story of the two sequels and not what I think about it. We’ll find out together in my review of The Lost World – Jurassic Park, written by David Koepp, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vanessa Lee Chester, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Vince Vaughn, Richard Schiff, Richard Attenborough, Peter Stormare, Harvey Jason, Thomas F. Duffy, Joseph Mazzello, and Ariana Richards.
Four years after the first movie, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) has fallen on some harsh times, having broken his contractual obligation to not talk about what happened on Jurassic Park. Talking about it got him in trouble and discredited as everyone didn’t really believe his tales of dinosaurs on an island. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has not fared much better, having lost control of InGen in the wake of the disaster, having his douche nozzle of a nephew, Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard), take over. Hammond summons Malcolm and asks that he join a team to document the dinosaurs living on a second island, Isla Sorna, in order to get it named a nature preserve and kept from the exploitative hands of man. Malcolm is not down…until he finds out that Hammond recruited Malcolm’s girlfriend, Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), and that she is already on the island. Malcolm agrees to go, but only to get his girlfriend to leave. He joins up with engineer Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) and documentary producer Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) and heads to Isla Sorna. Soon after they meet up with Sarah, they find out that Ludlow has sent a big crew to the island, not to watch, but to capture the dinosaurs because, even though Hammond showed that this idea wouldn’t work, they’re different and will totally make it work and there’s nothing that could go wrong ever. They bring hunters Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) and Dieter Stark (Peter Stormare). Also, it turns out that Dr. Malcolm’s daughter, Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester), has stowed away and is now on the island with them.
Rotten Tomatoes was pretty on the money with this movie. I wouldn’t say the movie was bad, but it was mediocre. And when you make a sequel to a fantastic movie and it turns out mediocre, that tends to make people pretty resentful. The story was okay, but sometimes didn’t really make sense. Some of the graphics take a step forward, but some of them also take a big step back. I can kind of get on board with people going back to the islands because no one believed Malcolm in the first place. And most people could believe the rich corporation trying to take another shot at trying to make money off of the dinosaurs. But when Goldblum says “You’re not making the same old mistakes, you’re making brand new ones,” I feel like most of us were probably thinking the same thing. I love Julianne Moore too, but if she chose to go to that island of her own free will, then fuck her. She’ll either come back or she won’t, but my hands are clean. When early on, Kelly is talking with her dad about the gymnastics competition, it’s inserted into the conversation and movie so fluidly that we just know that this wasn’t just setting up something retarded later on in the movie. And then, when some conveniently placed bars allow Kelly to gymnasticize over to a Velociraptor and kick him through a window, you think to yourself “This was in no way stupid and retarded and predictable and unlikely.” It was, in fact, brilliant. Or I’m very facetious. I also found it a little strange that Sarah – a character who was mostly portrayed as intelligent – took the greater majority of the movie to figure out that the Tyrannosaurus – a creature she at one point explained had the largest Olfactory glands and thus the best sense of smell of any animal – may have been following the team because it could smell the blood of it’s child on her shirt from when she had to fix it’s broken leg. Of course, dumber than her is the Paleontologist that Ludlow brings along. He’s so dumb that, while a number of them are trapped with their backs against the wall in a cave, separated from a Tyrannosaurus by only a waterfall, the fact that he gets a harmless coral snake down his shirt makes him spaz out enough to get his arm grabbed by the T-Rex. That shit could be a King Cobra down my shirt, but I’ll take my chances with him over getting any closer to a T-Rex. I imagine that decision is only stronger had I the education of a Paleontologist. The biggest problem I had was towards the end of the movie, when they have a Tyrannosaurus in the cargo hold of a ship heading towards California, how the hell did that big ass T-Rex kill everyone on the ship when he was trapped in the cargo hold? That doesn’t make any sense. But what makes less sense is the fact that the T-Rex is running around San Diego, with cops all around, and not a single person shot at it. I know cops have guns, and I’m sure regular home owners have a few. I don’t expect the thing to go down with one bullet, but enough of them will probably do the trick.
The dialogue in the movie is pretty much what you’d expect. Not too much of it was very clever, but there were a couple of good lines dropped in situations that I felt they probably should have been too afraid to come up with a good zing. My favorite example happened when Goldblum, Moore, and Vaughn were in the RV that was dangling off a cliff. Richard Schiff is up top yelling down to see if they need anything and they ask him for rope. He then asks if they need anything else and Goldblum says, “Yeah, three double cheeseburgers with everything,” then Vaughn says, “No onions on mine,” and Moore tops it off with, “And an apple turnover.” I grant that, in their current predicament, they probably would have other things going through their mind than clever things to say, so it doesn’t feel realistic that they’d come up with one, but that interaction made me laugh. Graphically, I found the movie to be hit and miss. The animatronic dinosaurs really seemed to work well again. Most of the dinosaurs had a lot of personality to them and allowed you to kind of figure out what they were probably thinking, but some of the computer generated ones sucked out loud. Right before that fantastic gymnastics scene, the Velociraptor was really not convincing. It was the kind of CG that was inexplicably well lit for being in the middle of a completely dark environment and really stuck out as bad. Back to the part with the RV, I did like the part where the three people were on the rope and the RV fell down around them. I also liked the door on the vehicle that Stormare was in that extended out so that he could shoot a dinosaur before reeling him back in. Another thing that occurred to me graphically was that they really overused the water rippling effect that was made famous in the first film. It was almost like they thought, “People loved this in the first movie, so let’s do it every single time a T-Rex is coming!”
The performances were pretty good, but some of the characters didn’t work for me. Jeff Goldblum plays this in much the same way he’s played every role I’ve ever seen him in. Julianne Moore was a pretty likeable character, but they wrote her in a confusing way. I think she was just supposed to be a documentary film person with a lot of experience living around predators, but she inexplicably knew how to set a Tyrannosaurus bone for the baby T-Rex. Medical training does not necessarily come with the territory of a documentarian. What actually goes against it is the fact that she pets a baby Stegosaurus after hearing her talk about how you have to observe and not interact with these things. Vaughn’s character was pretty likeable and had a couple of funny moments. Pete Postlethwaite’s hunter character was pretty great. He just wanted to hunt a T-Rex throughout the movie and seems like a bit of an asshole, but kind of a badass as well. After catching a T-Rex, he sets himself apart from the overly douchey Ludlow by resenting the fact that his associate didn’t make it. Also, I found Vanessa Lee Chester to be a pretty annoying and unnecessary addition to the cast.
This movie, if it stood alone, would probably be considered a pretty decent, but not great, movie. It’s story is fine, but doesn’t make sense sometimes. Some of the dialogue is good, and most of the graphics are amazing, but some of the graphics are just bad. The performances are even pretty good. The thing that hurts this movie most of all is the fact that Jurassic Park is in the title. Were it not for being so far inferior to it’s much better predecessor, this movie could have been ranked in the 70’s. It’s okay and worth seeing at least once, but only really worth owning because it usually comes with the first movie. The Lost World – Jurassic Park gets “I just found the parts they didn’t like” out of “Violence and technology: not good bedfellows.”
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