The Lost World: Jurassic Park DVD Review

What can you do when the magic is gone? Hopefully nothing. But when a studio puts out a movie that becomes the highest-grossing film of all time, you just know the sequel is coming at some point. It's just the way the industry works. Steven Spielberg steps behind the camera for the second time in the "Jurassic Park" series, wildly shying away from the book by Michael Crichton, but comes out with an uneven film that fails to recreate the experience of it's predecessor.

After the financial disaster that was Jurassic Park, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) sends a crew to document the second island of the project, Site B, which has flourished without human contact. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) is again brought into the mix after his girlfriend Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) leaves early on the expedition. Problems arise when InGen, now out of Hammonds control, decide to bring the thrill of the original park back to San Diego for public viewing. The two groups clash, but soon realize they both have the same objective: Survive.

"The Lost World: Jurassic Park" is a faster, meaner, darker experience than the first film. On paper, it's a winner. On screen, it fails. The characters dialogue only serves to foreshadow events to come (such as Harding's lucky backpack), not to develop any actual storyline. In fact, the story is only present to get people onto the island and dinosaurs to begin their feast.

Not that this is all a bad thing of course. As a giant monster movie, it succeeds in capturing everything the genre is known for. The body count has at least doubled, the violence level has been increased, and there is no doubt that kids who watch this will be absolutely terrified by the time the credits roll. Then, once the Tyrannosaur arrives in San Diego, it becomes the spectacle that everyone who seen the first film wanted to see. If there was anyone who had a problem with a giant carnivore reeking havoc in a major metropolis, they have chosen the wrong film.

But, this is also the key problem. "Jurassic Park" wasn't just a giant monster movie. The indescribable feeling of experiencing the first film is lost to make room for longer and more elaborate action scenes, some of which have no meaning on the story and only exist to create tension (which is does quite well admittedly). The first appearance of the Stegosaurus is only a brief glimpse of how the original handled this aspect so well. When only one character returns to star in a sequel like this, everyone else should be in total disbelief, but they just seem to accept that all this is happening.

Rather, the audience is the only group of people in disbelief. A late sequence involving the first films intelligent long-snouted Raptors fails to mesh with the original at all. Cunning and ravenous before, these creatures are now reduced to running into car doors and eating lucky backpacks. The scene previous, which features them hunting a group of humans in tall grass, is flawless. The next scene, they become something you expect to see in a parody. Malcolm's daughter pulls off an embarrassing gymnastics routine to kick one of these creatures out of a window in the films most cringe-worthy moment.

This is far from an awful film, just a disappointing one. Too many characters have been included in the film to develop any of them and many questions are left unanswered as to their past. The special effects, as spectacular as they are, just can't save what shallow story is underlying the proceedings. This is a film worth watching for a few scenes, but as a whole, fails to do what the first film did flawlessly. (*** out of *****)

Filmed in the same aspect of the original, "The Lost World" is presented on DVD in 1.85:1 widescreen. Though a slight improvement over the first films transfer, some nasty flicker, edge enhancement, and aggravating film grain almost put it on equal ground. The major compression problems seem to have been fixed, but the film is so dark, finding any would be practically impossible. The perfect black levels make sure of that. (***)

Once again, Universal gives DVD fans what they want in the sound department. Eclipsing the original film in sound quality, the jungle atmosphere is more noticeable and prevalent than it was previously. Should you ever need to test the rear speakers on your system, this is the film to do it with. Positional audio has never been used more effectively than it is here. The LFE channel doesn't seem quite as strong, but the stunning use of every speaker to enhance the experience has never been done better. (*****)

Light in the features department, the only notable inclusion is a great making of documentary with the usual cast interviews and some outstanding behind the scenes footage. It seems like the crew was enthusiastic enough about the production, but just didn't pull it off. Two deleted scenes add a bit more information about the InGen situation and some meat to the character played by Pete Postlethwaite, but these scenes would have extended the already long running time (though at least giving some depth to a character).

Lots of storyboards (including some from deleted scenes), production stills, and pictures of merchandise spun-off from the series are the final note-worthy feature along with some long production notes. The dinosaur encyclopedia is taken right from the orignal "Jurassic Park" with no additions or changes. Finally, the trailers for all three movies are included. (***)

You can do a lot worse than the "Lost World." If dinosaurs eating and ripping people in half is your thing, than this isn't a bad way to kill two-hours. If you want to recreate the experience the original classic provided, than just watch the first one. There's no reason to ruin the memories with this.

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