The next stop for me in the Sci-Fi Chronicles is the dinosaur franchise that began with a novel, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and became a blockbuster film by Steven Spielberg. He followed up that first film from 1993, with The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997.
While it lacks the discovery and the sense of wonder of the first film, the second film does feature some solid sequences. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm, and gets lassoed into investigating a second dinosaur filled island, the factory floor as John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) calls it, to find his missing girlfriend, Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) who went to document the animals there.
As Ian outfits a group of what he calls a rescue mission, members of Hammond’s own company, InGen, are bringing their own team to collect specimens for a new park to be opened in San Diego.
You just know things are going to off the rails.
The InGen team is led by the Hammond heir apparent, Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) and big game hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite). They are there to grab as many specimens as they can, and Tembo is adamant about bagging a T-Rex for himself.
Malcolm and Harding are joined by Malcolm’s daughter, Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester), inventor and designer Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) and photo-journalist Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn).
As soon as things go sideways the teams are forced to work together just to survive. The body count grows quickly, especially when the velociraptors catch their scent, as if the T-Rex weren’t enough.
There are some truly enjoyable sequences, all augmented by a throbbing score by John Williams, but things really push the believable threshold when the T-Rex ends up in San Diego and lays siege to the city as it tries to hunt down its abducted young. A personal favourite is the caravan sequence featuring the two T-Rex pushing the mobile command unit off the side of a cliff with Ian, Sarah and Nick trapped inside.
And, I’ll admit it, anything with the raptors tends to be a lot of fun.
Stan Winston and his amazing studios bring the practical dinosaurs to life, and blend them seamlessly with the computer generated ones, all of whom seem to want to go out of their way to personally menace poor Ian Malcolm.
Goldblum, for his part, seems to be having a great time leading this cast of familiar faces through the terrors and wonders that go hand in hand with dinosaur encounters.
While very evidently not Spielberg’s strongest film, it’s still a great popcorn flick. It’s fun, mindless entertainment with a big budget, recognisable names in front of and behind the camera and, of course, dinosaurs!
Fun, and entertaining, but fans will find it lacking in substance, and missing Spielberg’s usual heart.