|Run for your lives... to the Aero!|
The Lost World follows Jeff Goldblum's character Ian Malcom (from the first film) as he goes on an expedition to an island of free-range dinosaurs to rescue his paleontologist girlfriend, played by Julianne Moore. It's a nice change to see Goldblum playing a leading man and action hero (albeit still a science guy) as a contrast to some of the nerdier supporting characters we remember him in through the '80s and '90s. The film features a great cast, including other well-regarded character actors such as Richard Schiff (Toby from "The West Wing"), Pete Postlethwaite and Vince Vaughn. In particular, Julianne Moore's performance is a nice subversion of the damsel in distress trope. While the expedition begins as an attempt to rescue her, it soon becomes clear that she's actually the most suited character in the movie to live amongst the dinosaurs. Her instincts when it comes to predators help keep the group safe and are key at the film's conclusion. She also gets one of the film's best sequences, when she tries to set a baby dinosaur's broken leg, all while being attacked by the dinosaur's parents.
|Julianne Moore in The Lost World: Jurassic Park|
While the characters are well-acted, no one watches a Jurassic Park movie for the humans, do they? The dinosaurs in The Lost World are breath-taking and also often terrifying. The film's creature effects are well-done, combining practical effects with CGI that (mostly) hold up to resurrect creatures who have been extinct for millions of years. The film features a number of great dinosaur scenes, most of which I'll try not to spoil if you haven't seen it. One great scene comes in the first act, when the expedition comes across a group of peaceful Stegosauruses crossing a river. The film is at its best when it forgets about the plot and just focuses on the majesty of the gigantic dinosaurs in their natural habitat.
|Steven Spielberg directing a Stegosaurus|
Of course, most of the other dinosaurs are more aggressive. The biggest threat to the group is the Tyrannosaurus Rex, arguably the greatest predator in animal history. While I'll remain vague, the film's third act involves a T-Rex laying waste to a major city in an exciting climax. While the T-Rex are quite frightening, Spielberg wisely gives them an emotional motivation which elevates them beyond generic movie monsters. Furthermore, the Velociraptors, one of the best parts of the original film, continue to terrorize. One standout moment involves two Velociraptors fighting and competing to eat a human. Finally, the Compsognathus dinosaurs, which are very small dinosaurs (slightly bigger than a lizard) that hunt in packs, are particularly terrifying, despite their cute and non-threatening appearance. It's worth the trip to the theater just to witness the magic of these magnificent creatures on the big screen again!
The Lost World: Jurassic Park comes to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica as part of a triple feature on Saturday May 30th. It's a fun dinosaur movie, and I hope to see you there.