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Jurassic Park/Lost World

"Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World" on DVD

Monstrously Good/Monstrously Bad!

Jurassic Park became one of the most popular movies in history (at least until "Titanic" came along!), and it isn't hard to see why.

Steven Spielberg directs this movie version of Michael Crichton's page-turning novel about a theme park based on cloned dinosaurs. The book was fabulous, even though Crichton had actually covered the "technology run amok in a theme park" storyline many year before, with "Westworld."

It's appropriate that Spielberg made the film; it's "Jaws" all over again, but with even more fantastic monsters - and it was an excuse to advance the state-of-the-art in special effects as only Spielberg and his friend George Lucas (whose Industrial Light and Magic effects facility created the digital dinos) could do.

And, while there's maybe a total of 25% of the book in the movie, they've definitely done it right. They've done it so right that you forgive small lapses in logic (like why does the T-Rex paddock at one moment appear relatively flat and then suddenly have a huge dropoff in it?).

By now everyone knows the story, so we won't belabor it here. Suffice it to say this is Spielberg at his best, opening your eyes wide with awe one moment, then twisting your guts around inside you the next. Spielberg can play his audience like a violin, and "Jurassic Park" is the maestro at his most polished.

All of which makes us doubly disappointed in "The Lost World," a sequel so bad it could only have been made for the money - as if Spielberg/Crichton/Universal needed it.

The Lost World is everything Jurassic Park isn't. It's ponderous, pompous, overbearing, and - a mortal sin - it's BORING! Sure we want to see more dinosaurs, but geeeez!

Part of the problem may be that it's also based on a novel - and Crichton's "Lost World" is just as pale a shadow of the original work as is the movie.

"The Lost World" is set mostly on an island near the site of "Jurassic Park." We learn it's actually the place where the technology and the dinosaurs were created - only later were they shipped over to Jurassic Park's island to be put on display.

Never mind the questions about how you get a Tyrannosaurus Rex to step into a shipping crate for the trip, or why they were birthing Raptors at the site of the original flick.

We've seen it all before and "The Lost World" doesn't really offer us anything new except for a "King Kong/Mighty Joe Young/Valley of Gwangi-inspired" section at the end in which a T Rex gets loose in San Diego - a part that actually ends up being the best part of the film precisely because it doesn't just rehash the first film.

Both "Collector's Edition" DVD's are in widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 though, surprisingly for a Spielberg film, they aren't THX mastered. It isn't a big deal, however; audio and video quality are terrific, and your subwoofer will get a nice workout.

We had a severe problem with what appeared to be the layer change on "Lost World." The picture suddenly got all digitized, the movie froze, and there it stayed for several seconds. When it finally deigned to pick up again it was several minutes further into the movie and no matter what we tried we couldn't get it to go back to do it properly. Hopefully this is an anomaly...

"Jurassic Park" includes over an hour of extras, including "a direct hotlink to the set of Jurassic Park III" (the fact that they're making this movie fills us with dread!). There's also "The Making of Jurassic Park," some early preproduction meetings, some of Phil Tippett's animatics (early animation test storyboards) as well as an abundance of other production goodies and notes. There's even a trailer for "JPIII" but it shows absolutely nothing, which leads us to wonder what they're hiding.

Lost World's extras include many of the same as with the other disc (except for this movie, of course) including a dinosaur encyclopedia, trailers, etc.

Jurassic Park, from Universal Home Video
127 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough
Produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen
Written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp, Directed by Steven Spielberg

The Lost World, from Universal Home Video
129 minutes, widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlewaite, Arliss Howard
Produced by Gerald R. Molen and Colin Wilson
Written by David Koepp, Directed by Steven Spielberg


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Updated May 13, 2006