The Lost World: Jurassic Park Book vs Movie Review

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**Warning: Spoilers for both book and movie!**

The Lost World by Michael Crichton (1995)

The Lost World: Jurassic Park directed by Steven Spielberg (1997)

I read Jurassic Park in 2020 and covered it for the podcast. I loved that book and knew I would cover the sequel at some point. It’s over a year later, but here we are, finally covering The Lost World! Definitely check out my coverage for the first book!

Thoughts on the book

I guess you could say I went into this book with high expectations. It has a good rating on Goodreads, and I loved the first book. Sadly, I was just not feeling this one. Crichton made evolution and extinctions the focus of the book, which is fine, my problem is that there are far too many monologues, often by Malcolm, talking about his theories in regard to both of these. It is interesting at times, but often it just drags and isn’t necessary to the plot.

There are some exciting, suspenseful scenes with the dinos, but even that seemed to drag. Mainly at the end. Like can’t they have just gotten to the helicopter on time?? Come on! Of course, they miss the chopper, and we spend another 50 pages as they try to find a new way out and at that point I just wanted to wrap things up.

The characters also felt too much like characters, rather than believable people.

I don’t want to totally hate on this book though, it was entertaining enough. Just not nearly as good as the first book.

Reason for making a sequel

What I didn’t realize going into this book, is that Crichton was kind of pressured into writing it. Jurassic Park, both the book and movie, were huge successes and people wanted him to write a second book so he did.

When reading Jurassic Park, I had thought he was setting things up for a sequel, because from the start of the book, we learn that dinosaurs are able to leave the island and migrate to Costa Rica. I thought the sequel would have something to do with the migrating dinos. Apparently not though. Crichton had no intention of writing a second book and when he did, he went a different route.

Summary

In this book, we learn that Hammond had a separate island, near the one where the park was located, called Site B. This is where they created and hatched the dinosaurs. Things went array, and the dinosaurs are still there despite things with the park ending.

A paleontologist named Levine ends up finding out about this Site B and builds a team to go explore it. Part of this team is Ian Malcolm. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Malcolm is in the sequel? But he died at the end of the first book!” That he did, however, Crichton couldn’t write another Jurassic book without this key character, who is the one who explains why and how things will inevitably go wrong. Crichton said, “Malcolm came back because I needed him. I could do without the others, but not him because he is the ‘ironic commentator’ on the action. He keeps telling us why it will go bad. And I had to have him back again.” 

They explain that they got him to a hospital and thanks to great doctors, he recovered.

Anyway, the characters that go to the island are:

Levine

Malcolm

Sarah Harding

Thorne

Eddie Carr

Two children-Kelly and Arby

The bad guys-Dodgson, King and some other guy who dies early on.

Movie

Acting

Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as Ian Malcolm, and if you recall, at the end of the first movie, unlike the book, Malcolm doesn’t die so it makes more sense for him to return in the movie. In the movie, he is made into a bit of a laughing stock because after the whole experience he talks about it and of course Hammond and everyone denies it. In the book, it says he signed a nondisclosure agreement and was paid a hefty sum and never talked about what happened. Rumors spread, and when people would ask him about the dinosaurs, he denied it as per the agreement.

Julianne Moore plays Sarah Harding, and she was good, no complaints.

Vince Vaughn is photographer, Nick Van Owen, a character who wasn’t in the book. I didn’t realize he was going to be in this, but I thought he was fine.

Pete Postlethwaite is one of the “bad guys”, Roland. He works for InGen and is the hardcore, hunter, leader person who wants to hunt a T-rex. His character was also not in the book.

Arliss Howard is the one in charge of InGen, the company that makes up the bad guys in this. His name is Peter and once again, this character wasn’t in the book. He plays a bad guy very well though. The kind of bad guy that is rather foolish and doesn’t realize what he is getting himself into and is too greedy.

Vanessa Chester plays Kelly, the kid who sneaks on the trip.

Overview of the changes

As far as the differences from book to movie go, there are a lot. As you can see from the list of main characters from book to movie, already there are several changes just right there. Even the overall plot though is very different from book to film! I will go over the bigger ones, but really, this is almost like two separate expeditions with how different the events are. The ending is also completely different, but we’ll get to that.

Reason for going to Site B

Paleontologist Dr. Levine is totally removed from the book, even though he was a key character. He contacts Malcolm, because of the rumors he has heard about the truth behind Malcolm’s medical issues. He convinces Malcolm that there is a “lost world” with dinosaurs and they can go study them and find out what caused dino’s to go extinct. Malcolm, despite what he went through on the island in the first book, is for some reason on board.

At least in the movie, Hammond sort of manipulates Malcolm into going on the trip by telling him that his girlfriend, Sarah Harding is already there. Malcolm goes as a way to “rescue” her. (In the book, Harding and Malcolm had a history, but they weren’t currently dating).

The movie gets rid of the reason for the trip being to learn about extinction. Instead, they are going there ahead of InGen, who want to exploit the dino’s for money. However, after Malcolm and them arrive, InGen arrives soon after.

Kelly and Arby

Kelly is one that stayed the same, however in the movie they have her be Malcolm’s daughter. In the book, she and Arby (no Arby in the movie) worked for Levine. He would teach at their school, and since they are the two best students, they are his assistants basically. They were invited to participate in this weekend trip to test out equipment, along with Levine and Thorne-the engineer who builds the equipment used when they are on the island. Long story short-the weekend trip is cancelled because they need to go to the island sooner than planned. They tell the kids to beat it, but of course they instead sneak into the cargo and are there on the island.

Kelly in the movie, is wanting to spend time with her dad, but he says he must go and so he can’t. She then stows away on the trip, the same as the kids in the book.

Changes to other characters

The movie has Eddie Carr, and here he is the main guy who builds their equipment. Eddie was in the book, but he was someone who works for Thorne. In both though, Eddie dies. Side tangent-Eddie’s death is a bit grisly, and the kids see the dinosaur feasting on his remains. Can you imagine how much a scene like that would scar a child?? Not to mention an adult! If this was real life, those kids would be messed up and have major PTSD and all sorts of issues I would think, due to going through this ordeal and seeing these things at such a young age.

Anyway, Thorne is one of the many casualties from book to movie. Levine also didn’t make it into the film, and Harding takes on some of his characteristics in the movie. Harding wasn’t even a paleontologist in the book, she was an animal behaviorist, studying animals in Africa. The movie made her a paleontologist.

Baby T-Rex

In both, they bring the injured baby t-rex into the trailer to fix its injured leg. In the book, they come across the t-rex nest and see the injured baby. Like the movie, it had been injured by the bad guys. In the book, it is described as smaller than the movie shows, because in the movie it’s like the size of a large adult dog. Anyway, in the book it’s small, and it bites Eddie’s shoe and won’t let go. As they are leaving, he’s like, ‘what do I do with this? It won’t let go.’ Harding tells him to shoot it, because due to its injury it will die anyway. However, when they return to the trailer, they see that Eddie couldn’t bring himself to shoot it and brought it with him. In the movie there is not talk of shooting it.

In both, Harding makes a cast for it, the t-rex comes looking for its baby, takes it, then pushes the trailer over the edge of a cliff. In the end, the main characters are saved. This scene was well done in the movie and I thought it was pretty entertaining.

The Ending

In the book, the three bad guys die. The death of Dodgson, the main bad guy, is unconventional. He and Harding are hiding from a t-rex, and Harding pushes him out so the t-rex will take him and she can escape. You don’t often see the protagonist kill the antagonist in that way. Granted, he had tried to kill her earlier by tossing her overboard, but in that moment, he was just lying there hiding, and she pushes him out. So, I definitely hadn’t seen that coming. The t-rex then takes him to its nest, where he is still alive, and the mom has the baby rex finish him off. Something that was referenced earlier in the book, so that was a nice touch.

The ending is dragged out from there, but eventually they get on a boat and head home. Leaving all dinosaurs on the island, where people don’t know about them.

In the movie, as I said, the bad guys are a whole team. The good guy’s escape, but as they are flying away, they see that Peter, the InGen guy, has captured a t-rex.

The movie ends with the t-rex being brought to San Diego and wreaking havoc in the city before Malcolm and Harding use its baby to lure it back to the ship where it is then taken back to the island. This may sound over the top, and I guess it was. But I actually enjoyed these scenes in the city. There is the scene where the rex is drinking out of the pool in someone’s backyard and the boy sees it, which was great. However, the rex than eats their dog that had been outside! Sometimes I think of the Jurassic Park movies as a good family friendly movie, but then it’ll have a scene like that lol.

So yeah, the endings of the two are very different.

The heart of the movie

In the episode for Jurassic Park, I talk about how the heart of the movie is Grant and his changing views on children. A great story has a character who changes through the course of the story, whether for good or bad. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are entertaining and fun, but the real story happening, is Grant’s character arc.

In The Lost World, we have Malcolm being told by his daughter and girlfriend that he isn’t reliable and often isn’t where he says he will be. There wasn’t really a distinct change in him as the movie goes on, the way we saw the distinct change in Grant. Not only is the ending of the first movie so clear, we also just see Grant change as the movie goes along. Malcolm’s arc doesn’t really have this clear path, and if there was a scene at the end solidifying his change, I guess I must have missed it.

That’s one reason why this movie just isn’t as good as the first. It’s too much action and not enough heart.

Book one in movie two

There are a couple scenes I wanted to mention that happen in The Lost World movie but are actually from the first book. The book Jurassic Park begins with a family on the beach and the young daughter coming across a small dinosaur which then attacks her. This isn’t in the first movie, but it is in The Lost World! Then we have Dieter in The Lost World, who is slowly killed by compies, which are a small dinosaur that kill and eat injured prey. In the first book (spoilers for the first book here) this is how Hammond dies! I also wanted to mention, the guy who plays Dieter is Peter Stormare, and he was in an episode of Seinfeld. Earlier in the movie, we see Hammond’s butler who is played by Ian Abercrombie who was a reoccurring character on Seinfeld-Mr. Pitt! As a Seinfeld fan, I thought it was funny we have two Seinfeld actors here! In the first movie we of course have Wayne Knight who is Newman on the show.

Book or movie

This movie just had far too much action. Spielberg himself has admitted this. It’s just an action movie with dinosaurs and is lacking that extra something-the heart the first movie had. It also wasn’t as thrilling as the first was. Even though the first one had less action, when things did start to happen, it was very suspenseful! The Lost World was just too much ultimately.

Having said that, when it comes to book vs movie, the movie wins on this one. The book just dragged a bit too much, and the action scenes just weren’t as thrilling and creepy as they were in the first book. There are plenty of people online who really enjoyed this book though, so maybe my opinion on this one is an unpopular one.