Review for Jurassic Park: The Lost World
It’s astounding what a bargain can do to previous good intentions. I was perfectly satisfied with my two disc Jurassic Park DVD collection, with both of the Spielberg directed dinosaur movies in one package. But then I happened to grab the original Jurassic Park on Blu-ray in a bargain bucket. It’s hard to say no to even mediocre films at pound store prices. Once that had happened, it was inevitable that I would seek out the second film in high definition as well, even if I had to pay more. So much for good intentions! You see, of all of the dinosaur films that this franchise has engendered, five to date, The Lost World: Jurassic Park is my favourite. Don’t worry; I’ve yet to succumb to paying money for Jurassic Park III (I even got that DVD free with a few bags of chocolates).
Four years have passed since the events of Jurassic Park, and the PR disaster that occurred on Isla Nublar. But that was just the shop front, so to speak. The actual dinosaurs were raised in comparative isolation on the nearby island of Isla Sorna. But now that dinosaur haven has been discovered. John Hammond wants to do things right this time, and have that island protected as a dinosaur sanctuary. To that end he asks Ian Malcolm and three others to go there and document the dinosaurs in their natural habitats.
However, Hammond has lost control of Ingen to his nephew and the board of directors, and they have other plans for the dinosaurs, not as lavish as the original Jurassic Park, but perhaps more lucrative, exhibiting the animals in San Diego. Ian Malcolm’s group of scientists and naturalists will have to deal with a group of hunters on safari, trying to bag the biggest dinosaurs. But the dinosaurs have different ideas about who is hunting whom.
The Lost World gets a 1.85:1 1080p transfer on this disc, with the choice of DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround English, DTS 5.1 Surround French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese, with subtitles in these languages and Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Mandarin. The audio is excellent on this release, once you nudge the volume up a tad. The dialogue is clear throughout, and the action comes across well, driven by another brilliant John Williams score. The LFE really does kick in with resonance once the dinosaurs start roaring, stomping, and chomping. The image is clear and sharp, detail levels are good, but this is clearly taken from an old master, probably the same as the old DVD. As a result, colours are rather muted, whites can appear blown, but we get away without too many crushed blacks. It’s still pretty filmic though. If you want better than this, you’ll have to go for the UHD release, as just like the original Jurassic Park, that’s one up-rated transfer that hasn’t trickled down to BD.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray case with a digital code. After an anti-piracy thank you, the disc boots to an animated menu. Apparently there is BD Live content for this disc.
Familiar from the DVD release, you’ll find the following items.
There are 7:09 of Deleted Scenes.
The Making of The Lost World is in the Archival Featurettes section, and lasts 53:14.
There are six image galley slideshows in the Production Archives.
The Theatrical Trailer for The Lost World lasts 1:52.
New to this Blu-ray are the following.
Return to Jurassic Park: Finding the Lost World (27:40 HD)
Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived (16:30 HD)
I assume that the other content was available on other DVD releases of the film, as in the Archival Featurettes you’ll find the following with the Making Of...
Original Featurette on the Making of the Film (13:17)
The Jurassic Park Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton (15:27)
The Compie Dance Number: Thank You Steven Spielberg From ILM (1:38)
Along with the Production Archives, in Behind the Scenes you’ll also find...
ILM & The Lost World: Before & After Visual Effects (20:44)
Storyboards x12 image slideshows
Unless stated otherwise, the content is in SD format. I also encountered some obvious sound sync issues with the archival featurettes and interviews.
I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate The Lost World: Jurassic Park a whole lot more over the years. The original Jurassic Park served as a proof of concept in many ways when it came to realistic (for the time) digital effects, melded with animatronics and puppetry. The film itself was a rather straightforward monster movie, Jaws with dinosaurs in my opinion. Once you take away those special effects, it’s rather a thin film. The Lost World on the other hand took what Jurassic Park had accomplished and ran with it, with stronger characters, and a much better, meaningful story. The second Jurassic World film tried to do much the same thing, but didn’t quite pull it off, but that’s a different review.
The spectacle is there front and centre, with more dinosaurs than before, out in the wild, and raising even more mayhem. Those animals introduced in the original film return, as well as some beasts, familiar from millions of toy chests, that are new to the franchise; dinosaurs like Stegosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, and Parasaurololphus. There are also plenty more victims for the raptors and the T-Rexes to chow down on, with the climax taking place in San Diego, bringing the franchise into classic monster movie territory, when a Tyrannosaur hits the big city, sending Japanese tourists running for cover.
Where The Lost World really holds my attention is that it also presents a philosophical quandary to the audience, beyond that of the simple question of genetic engineering ancient animals back to life as in the first film. Here it’s about how humanity interacts with nature. Do we leave it alone, let it grow and prosper in isolation, or do we do what humanity has done throughout history, exploit it. On one side we have John Hammond (who has had a Damascene conversion since the first film) and his team of four sent to the island to document the animals, and on the other side we have his nephew, the corporate face of Ingen, who like the Hammond of the first film wants to commoditise the dinosaurs. The team of hunters that he brings with him are far more gleeful and brutal in the way they go about capturing the animals, and in this respect, it is another simplistic answer that Spielberg supplies. He may come down firmly on the side of the conservationists, but at least this film asks the question.
I think it’s an unpopular opinion, but I do believe that The Lost World: Jurassic Park is still the best of the franchise. The special effects are still good enough to sell the story, even after 25 years of developments in CGI, but the story is more than just the usual monster movie, and the characters are probably as rich, and as developed as they ever got in these films. The Blu-ray is good enough to watch, and impresses with its resonant audio, but the film really should have had a better presentation in high definition.