The Movie Maestro's Reviews: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) dir. Steven Spielberg
Spielberg's first non-Indiana Jones sequel, and still among his best output, sequel or otherwise. Apparently, for some reason, this film suffered some heavier-than-expected criticism in the years following its release, but as a cursory cruise around the web today proves, fans are realizing just how significant this film was to the series. I am one of them.
Once again taking the lead from the corresponding Crichton novel, TLW borrows many traditions from past dinosaur cinema, mainly the "lost prehistoric land" trope seen since the early days of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel and King Kong. However, screenwriter Koepp this time incorporates much more of his own approach, shifting around, eliminating, and creating many characters and set pieces, arriving at a story which structurally, for the most part, follows the source, but is very much its own beast. Probably the film's best move is placing Ian Malcolm as the lead, and I don't just say that because I love Jeff Goldblum: this shift from the wide-eyed wonder of Alan Grant to the cynical Malcolm grants the film a darker edge, a dash of pessimism that reminds the viewer that as awesome as it would be to have dinosaurs back, there would be consequences.
Technically, TLW is as strong as its predecessor. With the crew now even more confident in their techniques in melding live-action animatronics with CGI, the film benefits with more complex action scenes and of course, more dinosaurs. My favorite addition to the visual lexicon of the series is Spielberg's emphasis on nighttime footage, allowing him to light the creatures in an avant-garde, almost film noir tone and shade, which not only looks cool, but better hides the CG effects, because as good as they are, it was still 1997.
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