The Lost World: Jurassic Park was released in 1997 to severe backlash. Expected was a bland repeat of the 1993 now-classic. Instead what we got was a father-daughter/Ian Malcolm character study that happened to have dinosaurs.
Isla Sorna, approximately 87 miles away from Isla Nublar, is a natural habitat for the dinosaurs. The film opens with a brief prologue of a rich family discovering the island and the young girl being attacked by small raptor-like creatures. It gradually turns into her being attacked, but not so much as Spielberg can flex his muscule and turn a girl's scream into Jeff Goldblum yawning.
It's four years after Jurassic Park, and, somehow, these people still haven't forgotten about seeing it on the news FOUR years ago. Malcolm's girlfriend, Sarah (Julianne Moore), a paleontologist, has been sent by John Hammond to an observational island. Malcolm finds this out after initially declining Hammond's offer. His adopted daughter or whatever (Vanessa Lee Chester, also known as Girl #2 in She's All That) sneaks onto Malcolm's departing boat. Photographer Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn), who questionably is also handy with a baby T-rex, also joins along for the journey.
That's just the first act. What follows is essentially Spielberg's Godzilla remake. Instead of one T-rex, there are now two! And they do great feats as well, such as: pushing a bus off a cliff + chasing people. These things are necessarily evil to push the ridiculous factor to 10, as the dinosaur sniffing in the tent still is one of the best moments in the franchise.
While some of the performances and movement are a bit clumsy (that gymnastics move being a key example) it's easy to forgive, as Jeff Goldblum running from raptors jumping through windows never gets tiring, really. Sure, you could say they just copied and pasted Jurassic Park but what came out was wrong, but it was a new formula, not a copied one. There is emotional attachment to Malcolm going to the island, there's mild intensity throughout, some sequences even on par or surpassing the original in some respects...for example, the raptors in the field. It has a solid San Diego-set climax (which I can admit is still a bit cringe-worthy). But moving the dinosaurs off the island was never intended in the first place. What makes Jurassic Park, well, JURASSIC PARK is people losing their shit once an intensified [plot device] breaks down and dinosaurs run around. There's no way out on the island. The claustrophobia of sequences in the first and even some in this match the air tight sense of Ridley Scott's 'Alien'.
Sure, there is a lot to dislike. It's nowhere near the atmospheric level the first was. But crafting a B-movie out of your franchise really speaks to Spielberg's nature. He doesn't make sequels often, and even let Joe Johnston take the reins for Jurassic Park III (let's not talk about it). What it boils down to is that The Lost World took key elements from its 1993 counterpart without any major ideas/strands to make a coherent and, even upon rewatch, a highly enjoyable sequel. GODZILL(JUR)A(SSIC) is what I call it. Sure, there are plot holes. But no one watched Jurassic Park for a groundbreaking plot. It's for a groundbreaking concept.
Despite an overtly dated climax obviously mid-to-late 90's, The Lost World isn't the masterpiece the 1993 original is (bonus points for no Sam Neill), it's absolutely B-movie fun. It's a misunderstood classic.