As the first film to try to follow the original Jurassic Park, The Lost World was the first to come up short - but it's time that perception changed. In hindsight, there was no way that even Steven Spielberg could replicate the shock, the awe, and the revolutionary effects of the first Jurassic Park. That may still be the goal for Jurassic World and its sequel, but most accept it as a practical impossibility.
The Jurassic series may have never reached the heights of the original, but The Lost World comes closer than people realized when it released. It's time to stop comparing the films, and give The Lost World: Jurassic Park the credit it really deserves.
- This Page: What Jurassic World 2 Improves
- Page 2: What Audiences Misunderstand About The Lost World
Instead of Suspense, The Lost World Pursues Unpredictability
For all the reasons the first Jurassic Park stands the test of time in both movie history and Steven Spielberg's filmography, the mastery of suspense may be the easiest to appreciate. The lack of dinosaurs on the ride itself (to begin with), the power outage, the goat, the impact ripples in the cup of water, all the way through to Timmy climbing the soon-to-be-electrified fence. Each step close to a masterpiece of keeping audiences out of breath, clinging to their seats, not wanting to see what comes next-- what they know comes next.
So rather than trying to repeat the feat so laudably achieved... Spielberg tried the opposite. Where Jurassic Park was a series of long rises and crescendos, The Lost World is closer to the ups and downs of a heart monitor. The audience knows what they're in for with "another dinosaur movie," so shock them any chance you get. Up the jump scares and surprises. Interact with herbivores and small scavengers before they suddenly attack. After tantalizingly drawing out their debut the first time around, have Velociraptors enter the story with no warning whatsoever.
Not to mention deliver one of the most innovative, unpredictable, and Rube Goldberg-esque action sequences centered only on keeping a trailer from falling over a cliff. Well, with some Tyrannosaurs gumming up the works.
Jurassic Park 2 Is Even More Progressive Than The Original
Audiences of the 1990s weren't as proactive when it came to analyzing gender dynamics, sexist stereotypes, or socially progressive ideas as they are today (thank you, Internet). Which is a bit unfortunate, since it means Spielberg's efforts in the first film are probably underappreciated. Laura Dern's heroine spends most of the movie trying to rescue her male counterpart, resurrects the Park's power (with a shot taken at John Hammond's archaic masculinity along the way), and ends the movie by smirking at Dr. Grant's newfound paternal instincts.
The Lost World takes that ball and runs with it, sending Ian Malcolm to "Site B" to save his girlfriend Sarah - an expert in her field of deadly predators - from dangers only he understands. A rescue she nonchalantly shrugs off, valuing her decision and research over his fears, and all without becoming cold or distant, reassuring him that "I love you, I just don't... need you right now." By the end of the movie, both Ian and Sarah function as partners in saving the day (with Sarah taking the actual final shot).
Swap out the hacker Lex who came through in the first film for Malcolm's African American daughter Kelly, and the fact that she a) doesn't get in the way, and b) actually uses her athleticism to take out a raptor, and The Lost World is the kind of matter-of-fact representation and gender-neutral adventure that blockbusters have gotten woefully worse at since. Jurassic World's high heels included.