Steven Spielberg and Joe Johnston direct Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Sam Neill, William H Macy and Téa Leoni in these sequels to the biggest hit of the early Nineties, where a second island chock full of cloned dinosaur is discovered.
There is a reason the original blockbuster ends abruptly. You either start killing the dinosaurs or the park gets back on track. Spielberg knew that. Then went and betrayed his instincts for dollars he didn’t need. “I beat myself up, growing more and more impatient with myself. It made me wistful about doing a talking picture, because sometimes I got the feeling I was just making this big silent-roar movie. I found myself saying, ‘Is that all there is? It’s not enough for me.” The result was a wobbly shoot with an unfinished script, where characters vanish at the end of the second act so we can have a third act where a T-Rex takes on San Diego just because the wunderkind knew he at least wanted to shoot those gags but was never going to direct a Jurassic Park 3.
The Lost World doesn’t really work in spite of a robust cast, a nastily dark tone and three top set pieces. The cliff edge dangle of the motor base might be the tensest sequence of the entire franchise. The raptors in the long grass retains plenty of pure danger. T-Rex chaos in a populated city is rushed, silly but memorable. Goldblum looks just as surprised and disappointed to be back as the auteur must have.
III is actually a cheaper, schlockier, less sophisticated, less original flick. But it works more effectively as a summer entertainment as it is short and sweet. Neill is a refreshing comeback as he is pure hearted, old fashioned heroic. As much a welcome dinosaur as the creatures we have come to see resurrected. Johnstone might not care about the humans (see again: that unfinished script) but he introduces us to new scary dinosaurs and had plenty of joy in making them as chaotic and as deadly as possible. The sustained escape through the pterodactyl aviary is what this series thrives on. A much needed return to animatronics and… abrupt endings.
I write regular features about live comedy for British Comedy Guide here https://www.comedy.co.uk/people/bobby_carroll/features/