As the first film to try to follow the original Jurassic Park, The Lost World was the first to come up short - but it's time that perception changed. In hindsight, there was no way that even Steven Spielberg could replicate the shock, the awe, and the revolutionary effects of the first Jurassic Park. That may still be the goal for Jurassic World and its sequel, but most accept it as a practical impossibility.

The Jurassic series may have never reached the heights of the original, but The Lost World comes closer than people realized when it released. It's time to stop comparing the films, and give The Lost World: Jurassic Park the credit it really deserves.

Instead of Suspense, The Lost World Pursues Unpredictability

For all the reasons the first Jurassic Park stands the test of time in both movie history and Steven Spielberg's filmography, the mastery of suspense may be the easiest to appreciate. The lack of dinosaurs on the ride itself (to begin with), the power outage, the goat, the impact ripples in the cup of water, all the way through to Timmy climbing the soon-to-be-electrified fence. Each step close to a masterpiece of keeping audiences out of breath, clinging to their seats, not wanting to see what comes next-- what they know comes next.

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So rather than trying to repeat the feat so laudably achieved... Spielberg tried the opposite. Where Jurassic Park was a series of long rises and crescendos, The Lost World is closer to the ups and downs of a heart monitor. The audience knows what they're in for with "another dinosaur movie," so shock them any chance you get. Up the jump scares and surprises. Interact with herbivores and small scavengers before they suddenly attack. After tantalizingly drawing out their debut the first time around, have Velociraptors enter the story with no warning whatsoever.

Not to mention deliver one of the most innovative, unpredictable, and Rube Goldberg-esque action sequences centered only on keeping a trailer from falling over a cliff. Well, with some Tyrannosaurs gumming up the works.

Jurassic Park 2 Is Even More Progressive Than The Original

Audiences of the 1990s weren't as proactive when it came to analyzing gender dynamics, sexist stereotypes, or socially progressive ideas as they are today (thank you, Internet). Which is a bit unfortunate, since it means Spielberg's efforts in the first film are probably underappreciated. Laura Dern's heroine spends most of the movie trying to rescue her male counterpart, resurrects the Park's power (with a shot taken at John Hammond's archaic masculinity along the way), and ends the movie by smirking at Dr. Grant's newfound paternal instincts.

The Lost World takes that ball and runs with it, sending Ian Malcolm to "Site B" to save his girlfriend Sarah - an expert in her field of deadly predators - from dangers only he understands. A rescue she nonchalantly shrugs off, valuing her decision and research over his fears, and all without becoming cold or distant, reassuring him that "I love you, I just don't... need you right now." By the end of the movie, both Ian and Sarah function as partners in saving the day (with Sarah taking the actual final shot).

Swap out the hacker Lex who came through in the first film for Malcolm's African American daughter Kelly, and the fact that she a) doesn't get in the way, and b) actually uses her athleticism to take out a raptor, and The Lost World is the kind of matter-of-fact representation and gender-neutral adventure that blockbusters have gotten woefully worse at since. Jurassic World's high heels included.

Page 2 of 2: What Audiences Misunderstand About The Lost World

The Sequel That's Self-Aware... But Only For Fun

The decision to put a Jurassic World character into a literal Jurassic Park t-shirt as a sign of how awesome the original was rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way. Self-aware humor, sure... but without much of a purpose beyond nostalgia. As the creator of most things movie fans are nostalgic for these days, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Spielberg avoided the same mistake with his own sequel. Moviegoers left Jurassic Park wishing dinosaurs were real, and that such science and attractions could be science fact, not science fiction. Spielberg's response? Give them what they think they want, bringing a T-Rex into their backyards (literally).

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These days, such a reboot/sequel could fall into perceived preachiness, or empty homage. With Spielberg, it's all in the name of fun. Whether it's Malcolm warning that "'Ooh, Ahhs...That's how it always starts" and that he "hates being right all the time," the jokes land because they're based on people not learning the lessons of the first film. And neither did John Hammond's nephew, a businessman wanting to bring dinosaurs to more than just billionaires and arrogant enough to ignore the risks. The first true villain and scheme - and quite possibly the last believable one - the series has enjoyed.

By the time the Tyrannosaurus is swallowing San Diegoans whole, and sending a city bus smashing into a Blockbuster Video store, the subtext becomes text: blurring the wall between the audience and the action without asking anything of them besides a laugh.

It Proves Spielberg Was The Key, Not Effects

Beyond standing as a terrific film, Jurassic Park is probably referred to most often as an example of timeless special effects. The fact that after 25 years, almost every single dinosaur shot holds up is remarkable. Some credit the limitations, demanding a marriage of digital and practical creatures. Some point to a less-is-more mentality (just 55 CG shots in Jurassic Park). And some might claim it was lightning in a bottle.

What isn't mentioned in the conversation is that The Lost World delivers the same in greater volume, just a few years later. The juvenile T-Rex animatronic, the swarming Compys, a lengthy action sequence filled with raptors, and even a T-Rex walking the streets of San Diego all stand up to the same standards. At the time, audiences took the advances in computer graphics for granted. But with few films ever reaching that same level again, the only conclusion is that Spielberg and his team under Stan Winston did the impossible - twice.

Once is a perfect storm of opportunity and risk-taking. Twice? Well, there's a reason two decades of tech can't replicate Spielberg's magic visible in both of his films.

Next: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's Most Brutal Reviews

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