Friday, June 12, 2015

The Lost World: Jurassic Park ★★★1/2

Image result for The Lost World JP film stills

    If the original "Jurassic Park" can be deemed that glorious and heavenly feast for all the senses, then "The Lost World" is surely that delectable and tempting dessert, which can never fully be enjoyed simply because it is too overwhelming. Even the most intuitive of moviegoers know that sequels rarely measure up to their predecessors and, unfortunately, that is exactly how this second indulgence into Micheal Crichton's unique techno-thriller series ultimately comes off.

    What we have here is a picture that essentially shuns the plot driven atmosphere that propelled the first film to popular culture stardom (even if there were insinuations to themes of capitalism and man's failings with technology--a mainspring of Crichton's novels) and instead divulges into an emotional mood of horror and suspense, as our resident prehistoric pals once again step into the role of external conflict and whilst our human counterparts become nothing more than a walking and talking buffet.

    Sure, there are underlying implications that suggest that dinosaurs were more caring parental guardians than originally thought and romanticized notions that allude to the timeless phrase of "life will find a way," yet this becomes a rather forgotten topic once our misunderstood predators begin to spill the blood of anything that moves; a less than subtle transition from intellectual endeavors to simplistic and pulse throbbing action.

    "The Lost World" takes place four years after the tragic events of the 1993 box-office smasher and centers on the side character of Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and his relationship with paleontologist Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore). We are told that the original park was simply a site for the tourists and that there was also a "site B," which came to become a breeding ground and experimental island for all things prehistoric and genetically cloned.

    After a small incident on this second island, John Hammond (our fallen Walt Disney) must relinquish control of Ingen to his devious nephew; the latter of whom is now focused on bringing the contents of this Costa Rican territory back to the United States, in order to fulfill Hammond's earliest ambition--that being an amphitheater type attraction set in San Diego, California.

Image result for The Lost World: Jurassic Park film stills
    On the flip side of this storyline is Malcolm's quandary, as Harding becomes one of a select few individuals chosen by Hammond to engage in a simple "observation and documentation" of the island, in hopes that public opinion will allow the animals to remain untouched in this natural biological preserve. The two groups (being Ingen's capturers and Hammond's team, including a disgruntled Malcolm) will ultimately butt heads--in what becomes a hunters versus gatherers type conflict--yet they must learn to work together if they are to survive the inevitable run-ins with T-Rex and a relentless pack of Velociraptors.

    Of all the memorable elements of the original film that fail to show up here, two become blatantly obvious: the acting and the musical score. Although Moore embraces her character of Sarah Harding with a refreshing sense of vitality, Jeff Goldblum seems to be quite out of place as the leading man on this brand new and exciting adventure. He not only provides us with a performance that is knee deep in monotony, but it is one that simply comes off as uninspired, which may be due to a lack of motivation. 

    Unlike Harding, whose incentive is extremely logical, the character of Ian Malcolm has little reason to visit this nesting ground, other than to save his girlfriend, which is as cliché as it is feeble. Malcolm becomes nothing more than a plot pusher and translator for the audience, which never seems to fit his personality. (This is in direct comparison to the character's arrogant disposition in "Jurassic Park," and although this change of personality is warranted, it besieges Goldblum's charisma.) 

    John Williams reprises his role as the film's composer and delivers a score that is underwhelmingly enthusiastic and downright bland at times. There seems to be a heavy influence of the "tribal" sound this time around, which culminates in several uses of the bongo drum. Although this distinct rhythm does accentuate the setting of the jungle adequately, the score can never capture that wondrous and dynamic feeling like it did in the first picture; a feeling that overshadowed several scenes if for no other reason than for its striking composition and monumental charm.    

    Nevertheless, if one is to judge this picture sufficiently, then the focus must be placed on the auteur craftsmanship of Steven Spielberg; for, this film undoubtedly oozes with his style and direction, which can also be attributed to editor Michael Kahn, Spielberg's right hand man. There is the uncanny ability to craft scenes brimming with technical greatness (a fact realized several minutes in, during the signing over of Ingen, as Goldblum is placed in a foreground frame and while an execution of low-key lighting accompanies the moment beautifully), that wondrous scene of adolescent curiosity, the indirect/subjective close-up of numerous objects and actions, a stint in a suburban neighborhood, and several shots that could be utilized specifically for the film's promotion. (This includes a shot of the menacing Tyrannosaurus Rex in front of the San Diego skyline, among several others.) 

    Not to mention a few scenes enhanced by a number of conversations happening all at once--a technique known to that of Bob Altman and one that induces an effect of pure authenticity. The fact of the matter is this: Even though "The Lost World" is a well-crafted film, as far as technical ability is concerned, its construction would never allow it to capture that magical ambiance that permeated the first installment. Unfortunately for Spielberg, lightning rarely strikes the same place twice.  

No comments:

Post a Comment