Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Top 5 Good Things About 'The Lost World'

On my 12-hour return journey from Ireland, it got to a point whereby the music and podcasts on my ipod was simply not enough. I wanted to watch something, and I chose The Lost World: Jurassic Park. I managed to catch up with a little of 'Frankly, My Dear' (Scott and Whitney's podcast) and they noted how - and I'm parahrasing - "The Lost World is so bad that it puts in doubt whether Spielberg actually directed the film and, though people claim that it's only the San Diego bit which is bad, in fact, the whole thing is awful".
Personally, I was a huge fan of Jurassic Park and when the film was released in 1997 I watch it at the cinema twice and bought the VHS on the day of its release. I watched it regularly and I simply couldn't recall the film being 'that' bad. I recorded an episode of 'The Simon and Jo Film Show' whereby we discussed the trilogy - and I could see the major flaws too.
But there are good points. Points which bring me back to the film time and time again. Equally, it assures us of Spielberg's involvement and, though the flaws of the film are not in the final act alone, it does clarify that the film could've been brilliant.
1. Ian Malcolm Returns
The best character from Jurassic Park, lets be honest, was Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). After The Lost World, everybody jumped on the Alan Grant bandwagon. We wanted him to return and he did. In addition to this, he is the most 'normal' character of the bunch. His cynicism we relate to - his sarcasm when he mocks Nick (Vince Vaughn) and Eddie's (Richard Schiff) fascination, his horror at all the dumb-ass decisions others make. I never think he is a problem in this film - and he is the #1 reason I would rewatch the film.
2. Conversation between Malcolm and Hammond
This could stretch to include Malcolm's conversation with INGEN's new owner Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) too, prior to Malcolm meeting with Hammond. These two scenes show the state of the world post-Jurassic Park. We know about the cover-up of the deaths we saw on the island - and most importantly, Malcolm has been discredited for the sake of the organisation. A huge capitalist argument here. Then we see the return of John Hammond - clearly going a little bit crazy now.  What is better is how Malcolm is so adamant about not going - in fact, his first reaction is contacting everyone else and ensuring they're not going too. It is only because he doesn't want his girlfriend to die, does he go. I can understand that - and it truly sets up the film.
3. The Opening Sequence/Compsognathuses
Stan Winston and ILM prided themselves on the amount of dinosaurs they created for this film. It is clear this is primarily about a wide range of toys becoming manufactured for publicity - but only a few dinosaurs do I believe were really effective. The compy's specifically. Like the first film, this was a creature which, in production, was either CGI or a puppet (whereby the sticks were edited out). Almost like insects and rodents, these creatures really get under your skin. The opening sequence, despite the posh-British accents, has this as its highlight. This tiny child fighting against these lizard-like creatures jumping up and down truly is impressive. More impressive is when we see them later on - and their attack on Dieter (Peter Stormare). We see the mouth nibbling at his ears and wrapping around his nostrils - a brilliant sequence and a brilliant creature to add to the series.
4. The stampede of dinosaurs/Posthelwaite - "the dome-shaped... the ... the ... Friar Tuck!"
These final two points are more minor, but credit where credits due. The stampede sequence whereby we are introduced to the 'other' team is a kids dream come true. A wide range of dinosaurs charging through the land. I wish we could've seent the start of this stampede, but time is a constraint I imagine. The different dinosaurs - and Tembo (Posthelwaite) desperately trying to read the names, giving up, and referring to them as "Friar Tuck" or "Elvis". In addition to this, it really is sad to see the mistreatment of the creatures. I know its all CGI, but when "Elvis" falls down it simply seems cruel.
5. The importance of T-Rex/Long-Grass
Spielberg knew what we liked. We loved the T-Rex and the Raptors. Here we see two Tyrannosaur's and a short sequence with the raptors - the highlight is the long grass. Seeing the grass turn to shadow as the raptors home in on the group of people. At least we don't have a 'bigger' dinosaur or a 'scarier' threat. It is the same threat in a different context.
Yes, the character of Kelly is a huge problem (She is Malcolm's child? She is a gymnast?). It is clear that producers - and Spielberg himself - had to cram in as many 'toy' connections as possible and thus we have two 'baby' dinosuars (eugh) and lots of 'functional' cars. Then there is the San Diego finale. Huge flaws and it would struggle to be a good film at the best of times - but it is not without it's merits.
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  1. I dont know Simon. I mean, if you want to isolate specific scenes or characters, you can always find a thing or two to help you "Look on the brightside"

    But taken as a whole, JP2 is an awful, disappointing, misfire. Still one of the most disappointing sequels of all time IMO. :(

  2. Simon, I'll echo what Fogs says here. There are some technically sound moments and good scenes, but it's largely a mess. You mention that Malcolm comes back, but he isn't the same guy. He might have a few one-liners, but he's turned into a straight-up leading man.

    I agree that it's not a completely terrible movie, but it's pretty bad, especially when you compare it to the original. It has a lot of action, but we don't really care about what's happening. The story construction is all off, and there are a lot of awkward moments.

  3. @Fog - awful I think is a little too harsh a word. Disappointing? yes. A weak film? Yes. Spielberg's worst film? Yes, sure. But to assume Spielberg didn't even direct it? That's too harsh. Awful is too harsh. JP3 is awful.

    @Dan - The point i'm making is that its NOT a terrible movie - just a weak, fatally flawed film. The good bits lift it higher than films like Jurassic Park 3, X-Men:The Last Stand, etc. And I think Malcolm is a different type of person in this film, but in the best way. He seems real and, to some extent, damaged from the events in JP.

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