Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Return to the Lost World


PreCommentary: This sequel to The Lost World (1992) was shot at the sametime as its predecessor. The final credits are even a repeatof the first film’s, so that a few characters new to this filmgo uncredited.

Notes: HarmonyGold Pictures / Republic Pictures. 99 min.
George Challenger: John Rhys-Davies
Summerlee: David Warner
Malone: Eric McCormack
Malu: Nathania Stanford
Jim: Darren Peter Mercer
Jenny Nielson: Tamara Gorski

Producers: Frank Agrama, Norman Siderow, DanieleLorenzano
Director: Timothy Bond
Screenplay: Peter Welbeck
Special Effects: Image Quest Ltd.

Summary: “A plateau in Africa–1914.” A tribal chief and hisdaughter come across a bi-wing plane in a clearing. The chiefis captured by thugs working for an oilman, Dr. Haymans, who hasBelgian authorization and Gomez in his employ too. Haymans setsoff a dynamite blast which blows up a dinosaur and its infant. The dinosaur lives but Haymans repeatedly shoots it in the face. They throw the chief off a cliff for now there are “no gods. . . only death.” The infant dinosaur lived too and thedaughter escorts it back to the tribe.

Malu brings the hurt chief to Kate Crenshaw,who wires for Malone and the others to make good on their vowto come back when needed. Malone receives word that the dinosaursare in danger because of oil drilling when he and Jenny Nielsonare on assignment in the Khyber Pass battles. We learn that Challengerand Summerlee are feuding again over differing theories of theorigin of the Orinoco River. Malone and Jenny visit Summerleeat his institute, a museum on a countess’s estate. Summerleegreets them warmly. “You two are, uh . . .” “Partners,”says Malone. Summerlee agrees to go when the others tell himChallenger won’t. Challenger subsequently agrees to go thinkingSummerlee won’t. The two convince him to stow away to avoid thepress. “He’s right, of course. Everything I do is of internationalinterest.” Jim has been working for Challenger and joins.

When Summerlee discovers Challenger aboardand vice versa, the duel, but are mollified by Jim’s reminderof their vow to help in this matter of “the fate of the lastprehistoric animals on earth.” On the plateau, a pipe explosionwounds a worker, but Haymans insists the rest tend to the machinery. After it is fixed, he bribes Gomez to make the wounded man “disappear.”

The Anglos arrive triumphantly and set outon their canoes again with Malu. Jim is nearly eaten by a schoolof prehistoric piranhas, Malu swims naked, and Malone and Jennyare idiots as usual. Meanwhile, an apatosaur is shot at by thedrillers, but a T-rex wrecks the cooling system pipe. To theworkers it seems like they’ve struck oil, but actually volcanicash blows, setting fire to the plane and destroying all equipment. To Haymans, they ask, “You got us into this mess; how yougonna get us out of this hell hole?” Haymans decides heand Gomez can convince the tribe to tell them a way off the plateau,and they seize the opportunity to kidnap the chief’s daughter,leaving the baby dino, to barter with. The tribe notes that thesedrillers bring death and must be in league with the evil ones,the carnivorous dinosaurs; to help them would only bring moredeath. As Gomez is about to kill the girl, Challenger shootshim. Haymans is tied up.

The tribe has added to their mural, includingdepictions of the six of them and their previous visit. Theyhave become part of the tribal mythology. Malu tells the restthat they are more–gods–and are expected to restore peace andtame the volcano.

Jim is captured temporarily by the thugs awaitingHaymans, but the chief’s daughter imitates a pterodactyl calland they run away. Challenger reasons that if one caps oil fires,so should one treat a volcano. He has brought an invention ofhis, a powerful explosive dubbed “Challengite.” Summerleebelieves all should evacuate the plateau but the tribe won’t:”They say they don’t want to live if their world is dead.”

No one agrees to acompany Challenger into thecave to plant the explosives. When a bridge burns, Malone showsup to rescue Challenger. Chaos ensues. Malu releases Haymanssupposedly to help. Jenny admits to Malu she loves Malone. Thethugs attack with gunfire while the detonation is scheduled. Summerlee risks his life to set the explosives off, but a wirehas broken. Jim goes into the cave and Haymans follows. Realizingit is a way out, Haymans tries to convince Jim that the two ofthem could escape but Jim connects the wires. The blast succeeds,and although assumed dead, Jim reemerges from the cave. Jennyand Malone kiss, and a cry goes up when Percy, the baby pterodactylfrom the previous film seems finally to have made it back home. Challenger and Summerlee are re-reconciled and discuss intuition’srole in science. Challenger will destroy the formula for Challengite:”The world does not need a more powerful explosive.” At least we saved the lost world. “Yes, we saved it; butfor how long?”

Commentary: Yes, the geology is suspicious (How close can one get to a riverof molten rock? Is capping a volcano a good idea?); dishragsMalone and Jenny have been travelling around together for overa year and a half reporting on and photographing wars but haven’tconsidered each other as romantic partners?; but this sequel offersan enjoyable follow-up very much in the spirit of the first film. The ruthlessness and pointless violence of the opening scenes(blowing up dinosaurs, throwing the harmless chief off a cliff)is particularly horrifying in an appropriately effective way. Being on the verge of World War I is never alluded to, but ourawareness of this fact plays a part in our experience of thisstory.