Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton (book) David Koepp (screenplay)
I think this is a terrific sequel. It manages to up the ante up on everything but star power. This continuation of the story from the first film is bigger, more intense, and action packed. Although it doesn’t feature any big name stars and it is a bit too influenced by King Kong. I remember dismissing this movie as simply alright when it first came out but will never forget when I revisited it in college and was blown away. Nobody knows how to bring it quite like Spielberg and he lays out such great action sequences. This movie is not very highly rated but I think it is really good. It’s such a bigger story than we saw in the first one and there is so much more dinosaur action.
I have read the book that this movie was adapted from but admittedly don’t remember it as well as the first one. The book was written after the success of the first film and at the encouragement of Spielberg. Michael Crichton didn’t want to write a sequel initially but relented to public demand over time. From what I remember this movie does not follow the book very closely. Most notably there is no trip to the US where a T-Rex destroys San Diego. What I remember from the book more than anything was how it was nonstop action almost to a fault, like all Crichton books I have read. Don’t get me wrong I like them and think Crichton was a terrific writer but his books can be exhausting.
I do think the story from the book was a better one than what we see in the film. In the book the rival company from the first film comes back into play. I don’t understand why they did it differently for the film. In the first film we see Dodson meet with Wayne Knight’s character and practically orchestrates the entire problem that goes down at the park. Yet in this film we simply see the company of Ingen having internal problems and trying to make as much money from the situation as possible.
One thing I think was really cool about this movie was that it showed us “Compies.” Compsognathus are those little dinosaurs that we didn’t see at all in the first film. They are really prevalent in the first book. In the book they are quite a surprise as they come in handy disposing of dino fecal matter. Also, if I remember correctly I think John Hammond in the book is actually eaten by Compies when he falls down and injures himself. This movie begins with the them attacking that little girl and I think it is significant for the film. It’s a new dinosaur to the movie franchise that seems small and insignificant but proves to be more dangerous in numbers. I am a big fan of Peter Stormare from his work in Fargo but saw his death by Compies a fitting end in this movie.
The biggest flaw of this movie I think, aside from the trip to San Diego, was the fact that it required Jeff Goldblum to be the star. I thought he was great in the first film as Ian Malcolm but he was simply a side character in that one. In this movie he just gets on my nerves more often than not. Naturally he is scared but does he have to bitch and moan about it for the whole film? Despite how good of an actress she is I have never really been a fan of Julianne Moore. She is good in this movie though and has one of the most gut wrenching scenes in the film. When she has fallen on the glass and it’s slowly breaking beneath her I once found myself forgetting to breath while watching it. One of the best roles in the film goes to Vince Vaughn and I think it is a shame that his character’s role is over before the end of the movie. This was before Vince Vaughn became a really recognizable name and I think it’s to the credit of Spielberg for noticing good talent that he is in this movie. Spielberg had to screen a copy of Swingers before allowing the Jaws theme to be allowed in the movie and after seeing it decided to cast Vaughn in this movie. Another bright spot in the cast is that of Pete Postlethwaite who is great as the intimidating group leader set on hunting a T-Rex. Something about his determination and the way he carries himself tells you that this guy will have no problem hunting and killing the greatest predator of all time. As things go on these islands though, there is no end to the problems everyone is unprepared for.
I think this movie sports many great scenes and sequences that make it worth wild. The T-Rex attack on the groups vehicle is incredible, and the pursuit of the T-Rex afterwards will keep you on the edge of your seat. I love when all the survivors run into the velociraptor zone and are quickly picked off by the cunning pack hunters. I love the overhead shot of all the men running through the tall grass while the raptors descend on them from multiple sides. However, as great as these scenes are, they seem moot after the closing of the film. I think the closing takes a lot away from the movie and had a lot to do with why the movie wasn’t as well received. Having a T-Rex on the loose in downtown and suburban San Diego was a little ridiculous and too much like what we see in King Kong/Godzilla movies. Not only that but I just don’t think it would be that difficult to dispatch that dinosaur on the lose within our own country. Where are the authorities to shoot the thing down? It’s just a giant lizard and it’s not indestructible yet it’s just roaming through the city unabashed and allowed to cause all the destruction it can.
I haven’t enjoyed this movie as much this time around but it still has plenty of aspects that make it worth your time. I think the movie would have been better had it followed the book more closely but it is good enough I suppose. It can’t live up to the original film but nothing ever will. No movie about dinosaurs can ever be good enough to excite us the way seeing them the first time did. They have been trying to continue this franchise for over ten years now and there is still occasional talk about a fourth film but nothing they can do can ever recapture what they achieved the first time. The third movie in the franchise literally did everything it could in an effort to be successful but still didn’t even live up to this one much less the first one. However I still think this movie is good enough to tell you that it’s worth your time.
I definitely like the first one way better than this sequel. I still really like a good action flick that involves dinosaurs. I couldn’t believe that anyone wouldn’t like a movie that involves a bunch of dangerous dinosaurs chasing people around.
Here is the poster for this sequel, and if you can remember from the last one, I was a big fan. And I really like this poster too. I normally don’t like most of the designs that came out in the 90s, but both of these posters are really working for me. They are simple and iconic, and in my opinion that is exactly what a successful movie poster does.
NEXT MOVIE: Jurassic Park III (2001)