By most standards, “The Lost World” is a very good film. The special effects are very impressive and it vividly brings dinosaurs to life. Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid comparisons with “Jurassic Park” and as the highly anticipated follow-up to one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, it is a big letdown. Just like the first film, it sets the tone with the opening scene and prepares us for a scary adventure. Not too long after that, we discover that the plot is a little thin. Having a Sight B is way too convenient, the rationale for returning to the island is weak, and the film becomes progressively more farfetched. The first film succeeded because we could all believe that Isla Nublar might actually be out there without our knowledge but this one definitely feels like “a long time ago on an island far, far away.” The entire San Diego sequence turns this into a monster movie, which is exactly what the first film strived not to do. Rather than delicately treating the dinosaurs as wildlife, they are turned into blood-thirsty monsters without personalities. Even with this weaker story, the sophistication of “Jurassic Park” could have been maintained by keeping the dinosaurs on an island where they could be today without us knowing. I don’t mean to hate on it because the film isn’t all bad. The scare factor may be even better than the first as it builds intensity with the cracking glass window, raptors in the tall grass, and a more liberal use of blood. It is great to see multiple T-Rex’s on screen and the imagery of a T-Rex in San Diego is really cool (even though it spoils the realism of the story). Still, we could’ve done without that sentimental moment where the adult T-Rex teaches its child to kill a human predator or a young girl defeats the raptors with a gymnastics routine. I also take issue with the casting. If they could've chosen any actor to reprise their role, I'm not sure why Jeff Goldblum was the one. Julianne Moore and Pete Postlethwaite are good but I couldn’t stand Vanessa Lee Chester. Seeing Tim and Lex in danger during the first film makes you really want to see them be safe, whereas Chester is so annoying that you're hoping that a dinosaur will eat her so that she'll go away. It is tough to say good things about “The Lost World” when watching it back to back with “Jurassic Park.” As a preteen, this was an awesome scary movie experience and I really loved the humor. As an adult, it feels like a lot of the comic relief occurs before we can fully enjoy the scary moments and it is just too farfetched to believe. “The Lost World” is lackluster in the context of the Jurassic Park series, but it is more than sufficient for those of us that crave more dinosaur thrills and I wouldn't discourage anybody from seeing it (despite this review).
[Pictured: "The Lost World" definitely ramped it up a level in some respects]