Jurassic Park & Me: The Lost World

The Lost World is very different from Jurassic Park, but, though initially jarring, those differences prove to be what make it great.

 This post was published as part of #JurassicJune, an annual, month-long, community-wide celebration of all things Jurassic. All such posts, along with those of previous years, can be found here.

‘I’M IN SHOCK ABOUT ALL THIS…’

I have a confession to make, and it’s best to get it out of the way here and now: I don’t like any of the sequels to Jurassic Park half as much as I do the original film. Given the sheer depth of my feelings for Jurassic, that’s not saying much, but it’s worth putting out there all the same. With the park being, as I explained in this article’s predecessor, at the core of those feelings, I’m not a fan of the direction the sequels took.

I still love them — well, the first two… — but it’s a different kind of love. This is especially true in the case of The Lost World. In fact, for me, The Lost World is an acquired taste; for a while, I didn’t care for it much at all.

‘SITE… B?’

What was this film? This dark, gloomy affair with its unfamiliar music and inexplicable main character? When I was a kid, with no knowledge of the novels other than that they existed, I couldn’t fathom why Ian Malcolm had been brought back over Alan Grant, why we’d been brought to Sorna over warm, welcoming Nublar.

It wasn’t that I had unrealistic expectations — being so young, I didn’t have any expectations at all — but that The Lost World was so completely different to Jurassic Park.

I was, you might say, in shock about it all.

The ironies, though, are multiple.

Despite my feelings about it, I spent a lot more of my childhood with The Lost World than I did Jurassic Park. As fate would have it, my copy of the first film was lent out to a family member who somehow managed to break it (I still haven’t forgiven them…), so any time I wanted a Jurassic fix, it was, for quite a while, to The Lost World that I was forced to turn.

The same is true outside the film, too. Toys, books, games… I was infinitely more engaged with the ‘world’ of The Lost World than that of the first film, or any since.

And then, of course, there’s the film itself, and the fact that those things I took as negatives when I first encountered it have, over the years, become resounding positives. 

Though I still wish there was more of a Jurassic Park feel to it, the darker cinematography is something I’ve come to greatly appreciate. I’m not overly fond of the ‘feel’ of the daytime stuff, but The Lost World is an often-spectacular affair by night.

And that ‘unfamiliar’ soundtrack?

There remains a part of me that laments the relative absence of the first film’s themes, but there’s no denying that John Williams’ score is one of the highlights of The Lost World.

If the film simply embraced the concept of being different from Jurassic Park, then its soundtrack took the idea and ran about a thousand miles with it. It’s textured, intense, and — because I’m utterly incapable of writing about music in any meaningful way — incredible.

Though the greater presence of the original themes sways my overall preference in the favour of Jurassic Park’s, I think I enjoy more of The Lost World’s score on a track-by-track basis — and while, in an ideal world, there’d be more of them in there, you could argue that the allusions to the original themes strike a greater chord for their rarity. The warm, slightly melancholy embrace of nostalgia as Nick finds that wonderful mural; the exciting, propulsive statement of what might’ve been as Ian and Sarah race towards Jurassic Park San Diego; and, of course, the quiet beauty of the original theme as it underscores Hammond’s speech — the first half of the only ending in the franchise that can hold a candle to Jurassic Park’s.

And then, of course, there’s everyone’s favourite chaotician.

As I mentioned back when he was cast in Jurassic World 2, I couldn’t understand, when I was a kid, why Malcolm was back rather than Grant or Sattler. Some of that old bitterness still lingers, preventing me from feeling as strongly about him as some — seemingly most — members of the community, but I’ve come to have a lot of time for Ian Malcolm over the years.

Mirroring my feelings towards the soundtracks, I prefer the ‘hipper’ version of the character presented in Jurassic Park, with his deplorable excess of personality, but can point to more specific moments I enjoy in The Lost World.

Hammond’s mansion, the constant bickering over technology… chief amongst these moments, though, is the scene in which the characters regroup at the trailers, just after discovering a certain stowaway…

There’s a lot going on in that scene, so it can be hard to miss the subtle thread of sarcasm in his remarks as everyone talks over the top of each other, but it’s there, and it’s excellent.

It’s not, however, enough to make Malcolm my favourite character in The Lost World. That distinction belongs to someone else, someone who — with the exception of Sarah Harding — towers head and shoulders above every newcomer the film brings to the table: Roland Tembo.

The ‘second greatest predator that ever lived’ well and truly steals the show, with one of the foremost shortcomings of The Lost World being that there’s a truly excellent deleted scene that, though brief, adds a tremendous amount to his character (even if it does stray, momentarily, into ridiculousness).

Its exclusion stings, but it’s far from being The Lost World’s biggest crime, which — unsurprisingly — comes in the form of the scene in which Kelly uses her gymnastic prowess to kick a velociraptor to its death.

‘The school cut you from the team?!’ Oh, the irony!

It’s not that the concept couldn’t have been explored somehow, but the way it’s handled is just too much — the only occasion on which the scene’s presentation in LEGO Jurassic World is no less ridiculous than what’s in the actual film.

Of course, some might’ve expected me to point to something else when talking about The Lost World’s ‘biggest crime,’ but the truth is that I don’t have much of a problem with the San Diego sequence. Yes, it feels out-of-step with the rest of the film, but out-of-step is exactly how a tyrannosaurus running around a city should feel.

That being said, however, I can’t pretend I wouldn’t have preferred to see the sequence that was scrapped in favour of it instead, a thrilling affair set in the InGen village that took a few cues from Crichton’s version of The Lost World… which brings me nicely to…

ANOTHER LOST WORLD

As with Jurassic Park, delving into Crichton’s The Lost World belongs to a post of its own.

Jurassic Park is different from the book it came from, but the basic story structure is there — when it comes to The Lost World, however, the difference is night and day, and some of its elements would, I think, have made for a vastly better film… the corpses washing up on the mainland; the vicious, genuinely frightening raptors; the incredible motorcycle sequence; the circumstances of Dodgson’s demise… the list goes on — and I’m sure I’m forgetting a thing or two.

Just as various sequences from Jurassic Park have been spread throughout the existing films, I hope a few of those from The Lost World find their way into future entries.

LIFE… WILD FIND A WAY

This time last night — at the time of writing, of course — I was worried about this article. Despite having intended to finish all my #JurassicJune posts before the month even began, I hadn’t written a single word — and, in my head, the task of getting it done seemed insurmountable.

When I opened my laptop, however, I found that I don’t have as much to say about The Lost World as I thought. Certainly, there’s more to my feelings than the above, but to have forced everything in here would have been messy, unnecessary.

Even without it, though, I’m not overly thrilled with the results — but I think I’ve managed to give a general idea of how I feel about the first sequel to my favourite film of all time.

Ultimately, if Jurassic Park is being between the ages of four and ten, staring up at an old TV and hoping it’ll all work out this time, then The Lost World is being just a little older, staring up at that same TV and wondering, ‘What if?’

What if we’d gone back to Nublar? What if Grant had come back rather than Malcolm? What if things had been different, and why are they not?

But it’s also learning to appreciate those differences, to look past the fact that it’s not what I would’ve wanted from a sequel, to see that, despite that, there’s still a great film there. It’s that final scene, that soft piano, and John Hammond changing his tune.

It’s hearing for the hundredth time that life will find a way. And believing it.

FOR THE ATTENTION OF VIDEO GAME DEVELOPERS EVERYWHERE
jurassic-1

2011. Yes, you read that right: 2011. That’s the last time there was a Jurassic game of any real significance. Whilst an enjoyable treat, LEGO Jurassic World wasn’t at all what the majority of fans have been waiting for, and with the commercial success of Jurassic World, it should have been but an appetiser for bigger, better things to come. Well… fire the waiter, and send some raptors into the kitchen to see what’s up, because we’re still waiting for the main course.

Jurassic is a franchise that lends itself to any number of genres, and there’s certainly no shortage of ideas for possible games. It really is about time one came along. Yes, there are rights involved, deals to be made and permissions to be gotten, but, let’s be honest: it’s going to happen.

Life will find a way, and someone will make one. Why not you?


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