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THE LOST WORLD:  JURASSIC PARK

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Richard Attenborough
Director:  Steven Speilberg
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Widescreen 1.85:1 16x9 Enhanced
Studio:  Universal
Features:  See Review
Length:  129 Minutes
Release Date:  October 10, 2000

Film ***1/2

Iím bound to cause some controversy here, but I was one of the few critics who actually thought The Lost World surpassed the original Jurassic Park.  True, many complained the film lacked the sense of awe and wonder the first movie delivered.  But nobody, not even Steven Speilberg, can replicate the experience of seeing something for the first time, be it a 25 foot shark or dinosaurs walking around in the 20th century.  He can, however, take that same element and create a picture that is bigger, faster, more exciting and boasts more action set pieces than before.  And thatís exactly what he did.

He also changed the parameters of the dinosaur/human relationship for his second film.  In the first one, the giant beasts were harbored in an artificial preserve meant to be a big tourist attraction, and they ran amuck when the system (and human element) failed.  In The Lost World, Speilberg has created a second island location, where the dinosaurs have been given free roam to hunt, breed and live.  The island is theirs, and as we learn, theyíve completely established patterns and territoriality just as they would have in the prehistoric era.  This time, dinosaurs donít invade manís territory, but vice versa.  That is, until the very end.

When scientist Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) is called back to see entrepreneur John Hammond (Attenborough) again, he learns incredible news:  there is another island.  This one was meant to be secret, where the dinosaurs could live without human interference.  However, an unfortunate incident with a family who accidentally landed there has begun the islandís undoing.  Hammond wants to try to keep the preserve intact, away from those who would exploit or destroy it.  He therefore needs photographic evidence of the creatures.  He has already assembled and dispatched a team, forcing the reluctant Malcolm to go along when he learns that his girlfriend (Moore) is already there.

Soon, the trio of observers learn thereís not only danger from the dinosaurs, but from another group of people led by Hammondís nephew (Howard).  They are there to bring back specimens for his new reincarnation of Jurassic Park, which heís building in California.  This group means to intrude harshly into the dinosaursí delicate territory.  And the big beasts wonít go down without a fight, meaning that soon the innocent are dying along with the guilty.

There are many incredible scenarios of action and suspense along the way, the best of which involves a dangling trailer, a lengthy drop, and slowly cracking glass, but doesnít end quite the same way.  Speilberg and his team have created bigger and better dinosaurs:  they move faster and interact with even more believability.  Most importantly, there are more of them everywhere.  This crew of technicians were just beginning to discover what they could do in the first movie, but here, they move forth with almost a swagger and a belief that no visual image is impossible.

The finale is a great throwback to the King Kong and Godzilla movies.  A T-Rex is turned loose in San Diego with spectacular results, including a refutation of the popular myth that, despite the mayhem and destruction, pets never get hurt in these movies.  Ouch.

Basically, The Lost World is a solid, thrilling, white knuckle ride from beginning to end.  It lacks the slow, lengthy exposition scenes of the first film (one bonus about a sequel is that those were no longer necessary), it doesnít take nearly as much time to get to the heart of the action and conflict, and it boasts the ability to throw one topper after another at the audience at a dizzying pace.  The simple fact is, Speilberg amazed us with Jurassic Park, but knew instinctively that there was so much more he could do with his creatures.  The Lost World is kind of an exercise to push the technical limits even further, and the result is a very satisfying marvel of a film, and the rare sequel that proves more entertaining than a successful original.

Video ****

Wow!  I may have been slightly disappointed in the overall transfer quality of Jurassic Park, but The Lost World gets it completely right.  This is a picture perfect, reference quality transfer from beginning to end that duplicates everything the first disc did right and repeats none of the mistakes.  There are no imaging problems with darker scenes to interfere with the enjoyment of the movie:  they come across as clean, sharp, and as well defined as the lighter counterparts.  Much of the film takes place outdoors in a beautiful tropical setting, and the colors are perfect from beginning to end:  rich greens, deep blues and reds, sharp browns and earth tones.  Thereís never any noticeable bleeding, and images throughout are crisply rendered, even in deep focus.  There are plenty of scenes that take place during rainy nights, and even there, the images maintain their integrity.  This disc ranks amongst Universalís finest offerings!

Audio ****

Again, The Lost World DVD shows improvement over the Jurassic Park disc.  This is an incredible, problem-free 5.1 mix, one that makes even greater use of the .1 channel and surrounds than the first one did.  Thereís a lot more action here, and much more opportunity for multi-directional sounds, which this disc takes full advantage of.  It places you right in the middle of the chaos and never lets you go.  Quieter moments of dialogue come across much cleaner, with no distortions or noise, making this an audio track with full integrity of dynamic range.  As with the video, this audio is reference quality.

Features ****

Like its counterpart, The Lost World DVD is fully loaded.  It begins with an excellent making-of documentary, two deleted scenes, storyboards, production photographs, sketches and paintings, three trailers, a dinosaur encyclopedia (oddly enough, the same one from the Jurassic Park discóit hasnít been updated to include the new species found in this movie), production notes, talent files, and some DVD ROM extras, including a link to the set of Jurassic Park III.  Plus cool animated menus with sound similar to the first movie.  Once again, thereís no commentary track, but the documentary is so in-depth and expansive that I found I didnít miss it as much as I normally would.

Summary:

The Lost World is a spectacular triumph, both as an action/monster movie and as a DVD.  No matter how you consider it, film or disc, this is one sequel that proves an improvement over the original in all aspects.  Recommended without reservation.