" Aw come on, it’s just a bug "
— Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers

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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Lara punches a shark, rides a motorcycle on the Great Wall of China, and dives off a skyscraper —Matt Anderson (review...)

Jolie fits nicely into Lara Croft's boots

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Lost World: Jurassic Park is the epitome of American mainstream action movies. Spielberg has been through this routine so many times that it has become second nature. He is a master at what he does. It’s not that he makes it look easy, it’s that he makes it seamless. One doesn’t notice the acting or the editing or the music; instead, we get caught up in the story and hold on to our seats.

For the six of you on the planet who didn’t see Jurassic Park, a scientist, John Hammond, found a way to bring dinosaurs back to life by cloning ancient DNA. The dinosaurs were bred and raised as exhibits for a brand-new safari park. At the park’s premiere, the dinosaurs ran amok and killed lots of people.

At the beginning of Lost World, we learn that those dinosaurs were destroyed, but that other dinosaurs on another island survived. Now, naturalists are going to the island to study dinosaur behavior and “adventurers” are going back for fun and profit. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician who survived Jurassic Park, is going to the island to save his girlfriend (Dr. Sarah Harding, played by Julianne Moore).

But really, what does plot matter when you have an excellent summer action movie with cool special effects?

Spielberg said something like, “Last time we invented the instrument. This time we learned how to play it.” That’s a very apt summary of Lost World. In Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs were treated with a sense of awe: their mere existence (both on film and in the film) was enough. The first time we see them, the characters spend a few moments staring at the brachiosaurs. They didn’t really have to do anything because we hadn’t seen them before. This time, Spielberg gets to the dinosaur scenes more quickly and spends less time introducing them. This allows for more screen time devoted to seeing them doing cool stuff, like eating people.

There are new dinosaurs in this movie. The little “compys” attack in little hops, jumps, and nips. But because of their sheer numbers they are almost more frightening than the big Tyrannosaurus Rexes. There are two T. Rexes this time, along with a little baby one. And of course the velociraptors are back (though not as prominently featured as last time).

There is also an excellent action sequence that involves a T. Rex pushing an occupied bus over a cliff. The sequence lasts several minutes, and the tension never lets up.

Another sequence shows the dinosaurs on the run from the hunters. In perhaps the most amazing shot, the camera follows a motorcycle through the legs of a running dinosaur.

For the six of you on the planet who are going to this movie to see the characters, they were alright. The big game hunter Roland Tembo (played impatiently by Pete Postlethwaite — don’t you just love saying that name?) was hard not to like. Goldblum played the same character as last time, a little flatly, but he was given some good lines. His daughter was likeably headstrong without being a “tomboy.” That she was a different race and that the movie didn’t apologize for it or explain it away was a nice bow to color blindness (reminiscent of the casting of Kenneth Branagh and Denzel Washington in Much Ado about Nothing).

A few little jokes are hidden in the movie near the end. Japanese businessmen run away from the rampaging monster in a wry little quote from Godzilla. A pedestrian who gets eaten is played by David Koepp, the screenwriter. In another quick shot, we see two posters in a video store: one for a Robin Williams version of Jack and the Beanstalk (the last movie from Williams, a friend of Spielberg, was called Jack), and a Schwarzenegger version of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

A friend of mine said that there was too much King Kong/Godzilla going on at the end, and she’s right that it didn’t really fit with the rest of the movie, but it seems to be part of the action genre to throw in a little tongue-in-cheek humor here and there. Keep that in mind, and you won’t have to roll your eyes at the humor.

It’s hard to imagine anyone not knowing what they’re getting into when they go see Lost World. So since you’re not expecting artful costumes, insightful dialog, or careful exploration of themes, I can safely recommend this movie as another great summer escape.