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Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World

So often I have questions I feel I must ask, and yet cannot determine who amongst us I should be asking. On these occasions I tend to find myself railing at a random mote of dust and begging of it the knowledge, "Why do they make movies under the seeming assumption that only stupid people like to watch movies?" The dust mote invariably fails to answer, which is probably a good thing, and I'm no more informed than previously.

I'm well aware that movies about people being chased by dinosaurs aren't generally meant to be the kinds of things that tickle our intellectual side. But dammit, there's no reason other than sheer laziness why they can't at least avoid the infinitely-repeated pratfall of having characters who are dumb as bricks despite allegedly being experts in their field. It's also not necessary to telegraph every damn thing that will happen in the film via some subtlety-deficient foreshadowing. Don't people like being surprised anymore? Hollywood doesn't seem to think so.

It came as a surprise to pretty much no one that the incredibly popular Jurassic Park would spawn a sequel, despite the fact that the first film was only really admirable for its effects as opposed to its train wreck of a story. The Lost World is even more egregious in its excesses of poorly thought-out plot points; even if it gives us more dinosaurs this time around, it's not enough to compensate for everything else we must endure in the meantime.

I've never read the novel, so I've no idea how it deals with the fact that the Ian Malcom and John Hammond characters, both of whom appear in this sequel, also both died at the end of the first book. Ultimately, it hardly matters; all that does matter is why this film is so blasted annoying. After the breakdown of the park in the original film, John Hammond, CEO of the genetics corporation responsible for the cloning of the dinosaurs, decides to leave the animals alone and isolated to develop on their own, a thoroughly unprofitable move that eventually results in his ousting by his slimy nephew, an all-business desk jockey who avowedly "doesn't work for Mother Nature" and might as well have been named "Dinosaur Food." Hammond sends a research team, including the reluctant Malcom, to study the dinos in their natural habitat, while Dinosaur Food sends in a military-style operation to capture and relocate the animals to a new park complex in sunny SoCal, where they will clearly escape and eat everyone in the state if the plan cannot be foiled. This all takes place on a second island where the dinosaurs were supposedly bred before being brought to the park itself, despite the fact that we all saw them hatching out of their eggs at the park in the original film. Things go awry, naturally, and the two teams must pool their resources to survive, which might've been easier had any of them bothered to pack a brain. Alas, no.

Most reasonable people, which means anyone who isn't a Hollywood screenwriter, would think that such preparations as hiring a boat whose captain won't dock at the island, and bringing a single and incredibly unreliable cell phone for communicating with the outside world, would definitely not fall into the category of "extremely cautious planning." Most average folks, if asked to compile a list of ways to not piss off a large and potentially dangerous creature, might think to put "Don't fuck with its offspring" fairly near the top, even without a much-touted education and extensive experience in dealing with wild animals. Damn near any person on earth might find wearing a shirt soaked in animal blood to be a potential hazard when walking through a predator-filled enviornment, and the fact that this comes to light not three minutes after the same character who's wearing it has just gone on about the Tyrannosaur's amazing sense of smell makes us wonder if she got her biology diploma by writing it herself on the back of a Denny's menu. Why does the heavily armed dino-capture squad bring truckloads of weaponry and highly potent tranquilizers so that they can squeal like girls and run when the T-Rex attacks? Because no matter how well-prepared they might think themselves to be, humans can never hold their own against a dangerous predator in its own enviornment, which is why all humans were eaten by bears back in the Stone Age and no longer exist.

Of course, you're going to want to put the characters in some sort of danger, but there's no excuse for making them flat-out idiots. There's equally little point in making your viewers out to be monkey-brained bozos. I mean, who doesn't guess that Malcom's daughter will do some sort of gymnastic crap to escape from danger after the script makes mention of her interest in gymnastics? Who doesn't guess that Hammond's nephew will die a horrible and ironic death at the hands, or whatever, of the very same animals he thought to exploit for selfish, capitalistic purposes? Who doesn't guess that the boat carrying the Tyrannosaur to San Diego will arrive as a ghost ship, a la Dracula, even though there's no real reason for this to happen, unless everyone forgot to keep the huge, savage monster sedated for the whole trip in the exact way you'd be mightily unlikely to? For that matter, how did that hugeass dinosaur get into that teeny little cabin to eat the captain, anyway? Sure, none of this is as pathetically obvious as the "I'm a computer hacker!" conversation that comes right out of fucking nowhere in the first film, but it's the sort of hack writing we've seen in a million summer blockbusters already; aren't people as sick of writing this crap as I am of seeing it?

What's good about this movie? Well, the dinos looked awesome, and we get to see some different breeds this time, but that's really where all the appeal lies. There's a little decent action-the literal cliffhanger scene with the trailers was a good bit of adventure, though it wore on for too long when all's said and done. The part with the adult Tyrannosaur teaching its young'n how to hunt and kill Dinosaur Food was kinda cute. But good lord, there's so many examples of clichéd plotting and character writing in this film that we can't stop rolling our eyes until they get all dizzy and nauseous and finally puke all over our noses, and who here isn't just fed up with that?

Will someone please tell me why anyone wanted to waste Pete Postlethwaite's time with this film? Someone? Anyone? Mr. Dust Mote? Fine, be that way, world. I'll just blame it all on the scientists. Some people make an entire career out of doing so.

-review by Matt Murray

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