Crichton’s novel opens with a surprising choice of main character. Ian Malcolm, who died in the first book, is alive and giving speeches at universities. The explanation of Crichton’s twist hinges on poor reporting of the events at Isla Nublar, leading to the mistaken belief that Malcolm had been killed. Whatever. If I’m to read a novel about genetically cloned dinosaurs that spontaneously change sex in order to get around technological breeding restrictions in the era of MacOS 7, I think I can allow a ridiculous RetCon without too much complaint. The rest of the conclusion of the first novel remains intact, and the characters still live in a world wherein the mysterious genetics corporation InGen and the Costa Rican government have successfully destroyed the contents (and residents) of Isla Nublar and paid off the survivors to keep quiet.I always envisioned Richard Levine to be played by Patrick Fischler.Flash forward a few years later and Malcolm is approached by Richard Levine (whom I always envisioned to be played by Patrick Fischler), a millionaire researcher who discovers evidence of a second island owned by InGen. He suspects Malcolm knows more about Isla Nublar and pressures him for information. Levine eventually convinces Malcolm to accompany his team and two stowaway children (to make it relatable to kids and profitable for toy makers like Crichton’s good friends at the Kenner Toy Company) to InGen’s Site B for yet more fun in the jungle with some dangerous and unpredictable animals.
I found the most interesting point in The Lost World to be the underlining of Lewis Dodgson as the true villain of the series. While Velociraptors could open doors to attack their prey and Tyrannosaurs stomped around and ate people sitting on toilets, Dodgson was the man responsible for causing Nedry to sabotage the park’s security systems in Jurassic Park. Likewise, in The Lost World he tails our brave heroes in yet another attempt at industrial espionage, intending to find eggs of animals bred by InGen to reverse engineer for a rival company. Naturally, dire consequences follow. In the films, Dodgson’s role constitutes a brief scene in Jurassic Park and nothing in the sequel. It’s a shame since his character was one of the more genuinely interesting parts of both novels. Sadly, Dodgson was one of the few intriguing elements of The Lost World. In the course of 430 pages, I can’t help but feel that a relatively small amount of actual story occurred:
- Is there a Site B with living dinosaurs? Yes!
- Let’s go there! I hope no one follows us with a hope of stealing eggs.
- We’re doing relatively harmless research, but someone totally followed us to steal eggs.
- The dinosaurs predictably have a problem with this.
- The dinosaurs are on a rampage, let’s get off the island.
- Now that some of us are leaving the island alive, what did we learn?
The second book lifts significant chunks of the plot directly from the first, but with an element of originality or two for good measure. The newly introduced characters are lifeless, and scenes with a generous amount of action compete with morphine-induced speeches by Malcolm serving as Crichton’s moral mouthpiece.The logical gain humanity, while the dinosaurs continue to eat people.Fortunately, very little of this Malcolm remains in Jeff Goldblum’s onscreen portrayal. The actor’s patented nervous humor makes the character more likable as he garners laughs and provides valid arguments against the flawed logic of his cohorts. Such is the warmth Spielberg adds to Crichton’s cold source material. The logical gain humanity, while the dinosaurs continue to eat people. A great combination on paper.
The trouble with The Lost World: Jurassic Park (as the film sequel was officially titled) is that while it may not follow the bulk of the original story, it maintains its spirit. Namely, the spirit of not having much in the way of a story. In the film, InGen founder John Hammond is in jeopardy of being usurped by his Machiavellian nephew Ludlow and the company’s board of directors. Hammond wants to observe and document the dinosaurs in the wild to garner support for their continued existence in protected environments. He manages to persuade Malcolm to guide the observation team that’s following the latter’s girlfriend, Julianne Moore’s Sarah Harding, to Site B. It’s a slightly more satisfying impetus for Malcolm to knowingly return to dinosaur-related injuries or digestion. The stowaway children are replaced by Malcolm’s daughter from a prior relationship, a move that betrays Spielberg’s inability to create a film without some sort of familial drama.
The film replaces the villainous Dodgson with Ludlow and a team of InGen thugs hellbent on capturing some of the animals and bringing them back to the mainland. Having learned nothing from his uncle’s mistakes, Ludlow hopes to create a park in downtown San Diego. Malcolm and his crew of do-gooders throw a few monkey wrenches into the mix, but not before a live Tyrannosaur ends up wining and dining on the mainland. Somehow the elder Hammond accepts responsibility for everything without punishment, acknowledges the existence of the dinosaurs, and pleads on television along with a syrupy John Williams score for people to accept his plans for a wildlife preserve.
All in all, I’ve got to say that neither the book nor the movie deliver the goods in terms of bringing a compelling plot to the table. I was able to put the book down at anytime and never felt the urge to pause the movie for bathroom breaks. The same could also be said of Jurassic Park and its adaptation. Both novels are mired in pseudoscientific details, and both films lean too heavily on special effects at the expense of the story. This said, my ruling here equates to the first film‘s: The Lost World: Jurassic Park is better than the book. The pace is quicker, the plot makes more sense, and the screen’s filled with AWESOME DINOSAURS THAT EAT PEOPLE.There’s just something magical about awesome looking dinosaurs on screen that eat people.To round things out my girlfriend and I also watched Jurassic Park 3, and I have to say that it was quite enjoyable. It had about as much plot as the first two films, but between a cameo by Mark Harelik (whom me and three other people remember fondly as Davis Lynch from the underrated show Wings) and the tried and true formula of dinosaurs eating people, it’s a winner. I suspect that even if Crichton himself had penned a third novel before his premature death, a superior film adaptation would have followed. There’s just something magical about awesome looking dinosaurs on screen that eat people.