Eric D. Snider

The Lost World

(Some of these early reviews were written for my college newspaper with Kimber Kay, in the format seen here. This is the very first one, and the first film review I ever wrote.)

KIMBER: I usually review movies for The Universe myself, but Eric whined so much, I let him help me with "The Lost World."

ERIC: Well, she's usually wrong, and I wanted people to see that.

KIMBER: "The Lost World" is certainly not the warm fuzzy walk down dinosaur lane "Jurassic Park" was. This is more of a slasher teen movie, with almost everyone dying a hideous death because the characters are stupid. I half expected to see a dinosaur with a hockey mask and chainsaw.

ERIC: I agree that the characters are insane idiots. The ones we're supposed to agree with -- the tree-hugging, save-the-animals people -- act like over-zealous do-gooders, and the ones we're supposed to boo and hiss at -- the money-driven businessmen -- are flat, undeveloped characters whom we consider bad only because the movie tells us they're bad.

KIMBER: There is enough cheese in this film for a plate of nachos. Somehow a ten-year old girl sneaks along for the trip to an island populated by free ranging dinosaurs. Having kids in adult situations is pandering to the teen audience, tricking them into thinking this is a "family" film. It makes me sick.

ERIC: I don't see what all the fuss is about "pandering to the teen audience." Why shouldn't Steven Spielberg target teens? They spend more money on movies than anyone else. And I think there's enough legitimately good film-making in this movie to impress the grown-ups too.

KIMBER: There isn't much of a film to make. The main characters are trying to "document" dinosaurs running free. These supposedly experienced wildlife photographers are too dumb to realize the dangers carrying off a baby T-rex to set its broken leg. Wouldn't you think that was hazardous for your health?

With all the fancy equipment these helpless humans bring with them to the island, they never seemed to get off a good shot at any dinosaurs. All the killing in this film is one-sided.

ERIC: I think the movie works, and it works because of Steven Spielberg. He's like a tyrannosaurus rex: He can do whatever he wants, and nobody's going to stop him. Only he could get away with all the cliches in this movie and still give it the look and feel of an entirely original film.

Good lighting and cinematography help a lot. There are long, wide shots of dinosaur mayhem, instead of the traditional fast-cutting stuff you'd see in lesser movies, and that gives the film credibility. Allowing children and dogs to be harmed -- a major movie no-no -- wins Spielberg a few more points. And the most suspenseful scene in the whole film, which involves a cracked window that you really hope doesn't break, is only tangentially related to dinosaurs at all. That's classy.

Furthermore, having the body count of a slasher film, but with the special effects and technical superiority of a masterpiece, is another grand stroke. If the film's budget had been $50 million less, the multiple eatings would have made it look like a cheap thriller. But as it is, being directed with the wit and expertise of a great director, the many deaths seem bold and audacious. It LOOKS like a movie that would never stoop to that level, but then it stoops to that level!

KIMBER: Speaking of stooping, this film bears almost no resemblance to the book by Michael Crichton. The only scene the movie and book have in common is the nail-biter where a trailer is pushed over a cliff by two angry T-rexes.

I guess this film works for those interested in suspenseful bone-crunching and cool computer generated carnivores. "The Lost World" made over $69 million last weekend. Whatever this movie is, it is a monster hit for the summer.

Grade: B+

Rated PG-13, intense sci-fi terror and violence

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