How does the film stack up to the novel?
Following the massive successes of Michael Crichton’s novel “Jurassic Park” and its film adaption, a sequel was not just a question of how, but when.
However, Crichton, who had never written a sequel before at the time, had no desire to continue the story.
Upon receiving constant fan-mail mainly from kids (which impressed him since his book had been written for adults) as well as Steven Spielberg who was interested in making a film sequel anyways, Crichton reluctantly journeyed for a second and final time into the literary world of Jurassic Park.
The only returning characters from the predecessor were Dr. Ian Malcom who had been implied to have been killed and Dodgson, an agent for a rival company intent on salvaging dinosaur eggs.
Crichton borrowed the title for this sequel from an older story of the same title by Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is credited as the first science–fiction story to feature humans interacting with dinosaurs.
The novel begins with Dr. Ian Malcolm revealed to have survived his apparent death in the first novel. There is a throw-away explanation, but it does not make sense.
If he had survived being left behind on the island while everyone escaped, how did he escape?
And if so, how is he not under arrest by the Costa Rican Government along with all the others?
Malcolm is commissioned by a scientist, Robert Levine to seek a new “lost world” off the coast of Costa Rica, Jurassic Park’s testing island. While Malcolm is eager to study dinosaurs with Levine, Dodgson is out to fill his pockets by stealing eggs from the island.
What happens throughout the book is a frightening, violent thrill ride. The book is full of dark humor, including one scene involving a raptor eating a man and enjoying the candy bar in the man’s pocket as well.
In the end, Dodgson and his team meet their just desserts (by becoming desserts quite literally) and Ian’s team escapes once more to safety.
However, there is a catch to this. All the work Malcolm and his team have done are reduced to nothing, as the dinosaurs go extinct via a degenerative condition transmitted from sheep they had eaten.
The film is very different from the book. Instead of taking place entirely on the island with two tiny teams working to take what they can from the dinosaurs, it features Malcolm leading a group to protect the dinosaurs from a corrupt business corporation bent on exploiting the dinosaurs and bringing them to a zoo on the mainland.
The film also has a King Kong-esque conclusion with a bull Rex breaking out of transportation and wreaking havoc in San Diego.
Perhaps the biggest difference from the book, at least for me, is that the characters we are supposed to be rooting for I find to be complete idiots, who see extinct creatures as far more precious than presently living human beings. And these are the “good guys.”
Instead of being a slow-burn which culminates in terror due to good intentions gone awry, this film is a relentless bloodbath which carries on for far too long due to the “heroes” and their careless acts of self-righteousness in trying to spare one T-rex.
This was not at all how Crichton would have had this handled in terms of story-telling, in fact, it is the complete opposite.
In his vision, dinosaurs are treated merely as dumb animals who deserve little pity since they would never show any towards you. I must say I agree with Crichton in his views of such monsters.
I prefer the book over the film. The book feels more substantial in its story of nature clearing up man’s tampering through natural and unprecedented means.