After the huge success that Jurassic Park was, director Steven Spielberg confidently followed the film four years later with sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park, spinning off Jeff Goldblum's character in the original into his own movie.
With the lead bringing his usual brand of irresistible stuttering charm and The 'Berg back on directing duties, The Lost World seemed like a clear winner.
While it certainly was a winner at the box-office (I mean who wouldn't go see a Jurassic Park sequel?) it didn't exactly wow critics who delivered mixed reviews. The original film was ground-breaking in terms of special effects, bringing believable-looking dinosaurs to wide-eyed 90's audiences, but it was also a masterpiece of suspense and schlocky popcorn movie action. It walked a fine line between family-friendly fare and gory horror but it worked brilliantly. The Lost World goes for a slightly darker tone and a bigger story but only does certain things well, other things not so much.
Making Dr. Ian Malcolm the main character in this one was a good call: his wry quips and chilled-out demeanour added some welcome laughs and light-heartedness to the first film. Unfortunately, he is lumbered with an ex-wife and a daughter here, not to mention about 10 stories going on around him leaving little time for lols. It doesn't help that, against all odds, the usually terrific Julianne Moore gives one of her all-time worst performances here, mostly due to her being completely miscast. While Malcolm is technically the lead he still somehow feels like a supporting character. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) and his grown-up niece and nephew also pop up, I should mention, for an obligatory cameo.
The film opens with a genuinely pretty chilling scene in which a little girl comes face to face with some small but deadly dinos. Buckets of exposition later, we're finally back on the island as Malcolm learns that John Hammond has hired his ex-wife to study whatever dinosaurs are left. Soon enough, a team of hunters and scumbags show up to capture a T-Rex and wreck havoc. Of course, this turns out to be a very, very dumb idea indeed. Most of the movie is spent trying to recreate the suspense and tension of the first film as people are stalked by the reptilian beasts left and right. Unfortunately, few characters are likeable or memorable, the writing is far weaker, this offers nothing new and even Spielberg's direction is unimaginative. The film's last half-hour finally gives us the Godzilla scenario the trailers promised as a T-Rex somehow finds its way to the city and destroys whatever stands in its way. Those scenes are admittedly effective but they come way too late in the film and you find yourself wishing that all the jungle stuff had been boiled down to just a half hour early on.
The film's main problem, really, is it's simply nowhere near as much fun as Jurassic Park. In fact, it's surprisingly dull. The novelty factor is gone, of course, and we're not given anything to wow at except maybe the city scenes right at the end. The Lost World had the cast, the budget, the score and the ideas it needed to be a great sequel and yet it falls short. It has its moments but ultimately, it's a disappointing follow-up to one of the most entertaining blockbusters out there.
Too little too late.