Although not as good a film as its predecessor, "The Lost World" is filled with first rate action and many thrills, the film has great special effects which even surpass the landmark achievements of the first film and is a thoroughly enjoyable, well-made film.
"Lost World" picks up after the end of "Jurassic Park" and involves exploration of a separate island, Site B, where dinosaurs continued to live after the end of the first film, and the dual efforts of John Hammond's company to both photograph and observe the dinosaurs and later to capture them for the company's own financial plans. Once again, the suspension of disbelief required to make a film like this a success is made incredibly easier by tremendous special effects work and, all in all, "The Lost World" is an enjoyable sequel.
Back for the ride in this sequel are Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm, Sir Richard Attenborough, and the magical creations of Industrial Light and Magic, which seem even more impressive in this film. Joining the film are Julianne Moore as Malcolm's girlfriend and paleontologist Sarah Harding, Vince Vaughan as a field photographer "West Wing" actor Richard Schiff as an equipment expert; and Pete Posthelwhite as a "great white hunter" type who comes to hunt the dinosaurs.
Attempting to surpass the majesty and greatness of the first film proves to be an exercise in futility. Gone from the first film are more than just Sam Neil and Laura Dern. The sense of wonder which filled much of the first film seems largely absent in this film. While perhaps any problems with the story itself are more properly complaints directed at Crichton's novel (to which the film stays fairly true) a number of the themes and plotlines in the film feel a bit forced. For instance, the presence of Ian Malcolm's daughter in the film is fairly distracting and feels as if it was only used to create many situations in which a child is thrown into great peril (as Hammond's grandchildren were in the first film). Further, the whole notion of "Site B" seems a bit forced and an unnatural progression from the story of the first film. Nevertheless, as the excitement of the film develops, it becomes a bit easier to put these various plotline shortcomings to rest and just enjoy the film.
Again, while the film's storyline does not measure up to its predecessor, Spielberg's gift for excitement and adventure is just as present in this film, from the first interaction between Harding and the protective parents of a baby stegosaurus to the film's extremely thrilling climax. The film contains many breathtakingly phenomenal scenes, including a scene in which a man rides a motorcycle through the legs of a running dinosaur and a scene in which one of the film's characters is supported by a piece of glass that begins to crack one bit at a time. Also one of the highlights of the film is the scene in which it becomes frighteningly clear that this time, there is more than one Tyranosaurus Rex on the island.
Having made both films with the help of authoritative dinosaur experts, Spielberg manages to weave in interesting factual information about the dinosaurs throughout the film and a distinctly naturalist bent in the face of those who come to hunt the dinosaurs. Further, while the first film focused on only a handful of dinosaur species, this film seems to purposely include a whole gambit of the other well known and visually distinctive species, including the stegosaurus, the hadrasaurus, pterosaurs, and a large variety of other dinosaurs. Watching many of the extras, one gains an even greater appreciation for the dinosaurs who are once again, the greatest stars of the film.
The Lost World is offered in Anamorphic Widescreen presentation, with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film transfer looks great throughout the film. The fleshtones look quite accurate, the colors of the film look quite vivid and the computer generated dinosaurs look fantastic on film. There are a few momentary pauses for the layer changes, but nevertheless, the film looks great.
The Lost World is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, and the sound is, like the first Jurassic Park film, phenomenal. Although this version is in Dolby Digital sound, the transfer benefits from the fact that the original sound was recorded in DTS. Once again, the sound in the film is powerful. Also, throughout the film, surround sound is present and impressive. Even the music during the opening Universal logo is impressive, as it comes through in surround sound. Once again, like Jurassic Park, the sound of the film is uncommonly good, from the very first sounds of the sea at the beginning of the film.
Just as "Jurassic Park" was loaded with many extras, "The Lost World" DVD contains a large number of extras, most of which focus on the tremendous efforts to bend and break the barriers of special effects. The DVD also contains conceptual drawings and sketches, models, still photos showing "The magic of ILM", production notes and photographs, cast and crew bios, DVD-Rom features, story boards for 10 scenes including an omitted scene entitled "Air attack" which was not shot, but which involved an escape by the characters of a raptor attack, only to bring them face to face with a group of pterosaurs; and the original ending of the film (also involving an attack by pterosaurs); and two other deleted scenes which were shot but not used in the movie. The DVD contains the same Dinosaur Encyclopedia which was included on the first DVD, but also includes "The World of Jurassic Park," featuring some of the additional dinosaurs found in this film. There's also an extremely long and in-depth documentary, taking a look at "The Making of the Lost World." Finally, a nice addition, the DVD chronicles the many different poster options for this film and shows literally one hundred different posters for the film, along with a number of posters for the film from foreign countries around the world. In addition, the DVD also contains previews for Jurassic Park, The Lost World, and Jurassic Park III, however, as stated before the latter is not too impressive, as it only has dinosaur noises, a shot of the island, and the logo for the film.
Deleted Scenes- The DVD contains two deleted scenes which were shot but never used. The first scene involves a board room meeting for InGen, in which Hammond's nephew suggests that, for the good of the company, Hammond be voted out as CEO. The second scene provides background of Pete Posthelwhite's character, showing him to be very tough, getting into a bar fight before going off to take the assignment. Neither scene is particularly necessary to the film and it is not difficult to determine why they were cut. Further, with respect to the second scene, there is a scene at the end in which a guy is accidentally carried into a pole, hurting his nether-regions. Although unquestionably used for comic relief, the film does not really need it, and it is easy to see why it came out. Similarly, while the corporate action makes the presence of two InGen teams on the island more plausible, it too is an expendable scene and was wisely cut from the film. Nevertheless, it is good to have a chance to see a couple of the scenes that got cut. Story Boards- Once again, Spielberg has provided extremely extensive storyboards for ten different scenes from the film, including two which were never filmed.
"The Making of The Lost World"- Although this documentary clearly suffers without the narration of James Earl Jones, (which the first one had). Nevertheless, this almost hour-long documentary clearly focuses, as do the majority of the bonus materials on this DVD, with the impressive measures employed to create such mind blowing special effects. It is fascinating to see the many ways in which such well made majestic-looking creatures can be manufactured or otherwise brought to the screen. The documentary will definitely invest within the viewer a greater appreciation for the efforts of the filmmakers at realizing their creative vision in as realistic a manner as possible.
Posters and Toys- The one bonus feature that I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would was the look at the Posters and Toys. The DVD includes over one hundred different posters for the film, many with both small and great variances between them. Also enjoyable is the opportunity to see what the posters for the film which were actually used in foreign countries look like. Finally, the DVD also examines a number of toys designed to tie in well with the film. Included in these toys are small replicas of a number of the unconventional vehicles used in the film.
Although the DVD promises a "hotlink" to the set of Jurassic Park III, without a DVD-Rom drive, I was unable to find such a feature.
While few films could hope to measure up to the landmark achievement of Jurassic Park, the Lost World is still a very enjoyable successor. While Jurassic Park is more worthy of purchase than its sequel, I recommend picking up the two-DVD set, which makes a fine addition to any DVD collection and makes me quite optimistic about Spielberg's future DVD releases.