The Lost World Reviews
The boisterous Wallace Beery and serious Lewis (Andy Hardy's dad!) Stone lead a team into the forgotten jungles of time to enact Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's adventure tale for the ages. The stop motion animation, the same technique that'd bring King Kong to life years later, is incredible for its time and they serve up a heap of it, not skimping at all, like when the great brontosaurus runs amok in London.
Pretty cool stuff and a must for adventure fans
This being the first time I have seen the film I was surprised at the fact its basically the very first King Kong film. The plot involves a team of adventures, professors and scientists (and the obligatory female) that venture deep into Venezuela to a large plateau. The reason being firstly to rescue an explorer who has been lost on the plateau and because of his journal that shows sketches of dinosaurs.
So the team set out mainly to rescue but also to try and discover lost dinosaurs and naturally try and bring one back. It wasn't until the later of the film that I realised how much of an early Kong film this was. When they manage to bring a huge Brontosaurus back to London only for it to escape and run amok destroying half of Westminster, I was quite surprised. I really didn't expect to see that, there have been so many similar films that have used this simple premise but its interesting to see the very first of the genre. A little research and you will see the man behind the effects is none other than Willis O'Brien, the man responsible for the mighty Kong and Mighty Joe Young.
But lets not beat around the Jurassic bush here, this film is all about the special effects, it was America's first summer blockbuster if you will. Hell yes it was the first big blockbuster...the film even had product placement in certain scenes, mainly in London at the end.
The film now of course is very rough and has aged badly in places, but in my opinion this actually makes the effects look much better and adds a real sense of grittiness to the proceedings. A combination of stop motion model work and matte paintings set against the scratchy, darkly lit black n white actually brings the whole thing to life and covers any nasty obvious joins that would give away the illusion. Of course the model dinosaurs are somewhat jerky and tend to move erratically at times but in general the creature movements and behavioural habits are surprisingly well created.
When the Allosaurus attacks a baby Triceratops and the parents come to its defense it does actually look quite realistic. Clearly research into the way animals do behave in these situations has been used for the dinosaurs, you half expect a real 'Godzilla-esque' cheese fest but its better than that. The only issue I had with some dinosaur sequences is they felt separate from the characters plot, they didn't really connect in any way, had you taken them out it wouldn't affect the story. Most of them are obviously in there just for the visual spectacle which is fine, you do need some dinosaurs present if you're going down this route. But we mock modern films for doing the same thing don't we hehe.
There is also some brilliant use of scale in the sets and model use. Shots of the massive cliff face they climb to reach the plateau (although I have no idea how on earth they supposedly scaled that cliff as its flippin vertical!), the tree that spanned the deep drop, the mighty cliff face they descended from their cave hideout, the dinosaur fight on another cliff edge...lots of cliffs in the film. They all help to give the film a realistic sense of depth, simple tricks to lull the audience whilst at the same time essential ingredients for adventure yarns.
You can clearly see how the film has influenced so many creature films, from the jungles sequences to the rampage in London, its all very familiar if you've seen other stop motion classics such as Harryhausen's. The later live action sequences are grand too, the amount of extras and cars that we see dashing about in the London sequences is certainly an eye opener. You can see why people in the day thought the film was genuine and it terrified them because it does look like a realistic news reel. I can imagine that various elements of this film scared people back then, this kind of thing had never been seen before. I'll bet the ape-men probably brought gasps of horror as they do look pretty fearsome even now, the black and white accentuates their looks even more.
I can't deny that I did find the plot a little tricky to follow at times. This being a silent film all you get are the odd shots of text with dialog, but at times you don't get much so you're left to guess what's going on. The ending suffers from that to be honest, it fizzles out leaving you kinda wondering what actually happened. One minute there is death and destruction, the next the lead character is kissing the female lead and they drive off into a happy ending. That along with the constant organ (?) soundtrack throughout are the only things that I didn't really like, the music can become irritating as it never really blends properly with the film, seems completely out of place.
Being a monster/creature/dinosaur fan I did enjoy this...musky, grainy, stuffy old visuals included. Its interesting to see the dated effects and the slightly hammy acting and its also interesting historically of course (white guy painted up as a black man! his dialog screen caps also being written as a black man would have spoken at that time...presumably). Its not gonna be for everyone of course and I won't lie and say its a rollercoaster ride of thrills, it can be boring at times, but I think everybody should at least see where it all began.
So the plot resolves around a ridicule professor for claiming that Dinosaurs still roam Earth. He sets out on a dangerous expedition to bring a Dinosaur back and stopped being ridicule. Now for me, I felt the story could've been better, I mean it really has nothing interesting for the first 15 minutes. It's interesting, but it stays the same level of interests for the whole movie, so good being in my case. One scene i'm sure you'll always remember if you choose watch this movie is when the Brontosaurs is loose on the city causing havoc.
The special effect on the other hand are just magical. I couldn't believe how entertained I was to see these Dinosaurs move, I know it clearly fake, but there just something so interesting about these type of special effect. I was also actually surprise see so many different species of Dinosaurs in this movie considering the hard work it must have taken to animate these Dinosaurs. The music also is good, it doesn't always go with the scene, but you won't mind much.
I'm not sure about you, but I enjoy taking a trip to the past to explore these great movies. Like many silent movies, The Lost World is still a enjoyable movie to this, even the dated special effect adds to this movie greatness.
Synopsis: Maverick scientist Prof. Challenger claims that dinosaurs still exist on a remote Brazilian plateau, and to prove his assertion he leads an expedition up the Amazon.
I find it kind of odd that silent cinema is so forgotten by so many. As more and more films being made with production budgets climbing ever closer to the stratospheric sky and as these films seam to be more and more special effects driven forgoing the complexity of character development, today's action films and big budget hollywood blockbusters more and more resemble a silent feature, albeit much much louder.
The Lost World is undeniably one of the most famous silent features. Many people have probably already seen the film as Steven Spielberg's The Lost World; Jurassic Park or less-so as King Kong with a few notable differences. it's script and characterizations are rather conventional, but the real draw here has always been and always will be it's special effects.
Ground breaking in it's day (you can almost see the genesis and spark that would later manifest itself as King Kong just a few years later), the special effects are now a quaint but incredibly charming piece of work that has instilled in me a desire to go back and give the slightly disappointing King Kong (1933) another shot.
If you are looking for a great, warm hearted adventure flick, may i recommend you take a trip into the past and give the purity of The Lost World a chance.
It's funny, if you think about it, that my first thought for proving the existence of the eponymous plateau was that they could maybe take some pictures or something. This is because today's movie is not the Michael Crichton/Steven Spielberg epic starring Jeff Goldblum but instead the much older silent film starring Wallace Beery. It is based on the novel by [i]Sherlock Holmes[/i] author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Who apparently quite liked it; it didn't occur to me that he would have still been alive. At any rate, the reason this is amusing is that Doyle himself was taken in by a blatant fraud wherein a pair of young girls took pictures of one another playing with "fairies" that were, in fact, cut-outs from books. He was into spiritualism, and therefore he was clearly not the best person in the world at serious examination of evidence.
Sing along if you know the words. Professor Challenger (Beery) has returned from an expedition in the Amazon basin bearing tales of a plateau where Dinosaurs Still Live. Maple White was abandoned there by frightened natives, and Challenger wishes to go with White's daughter, Paula (Bessie Love), to find the lost explorer and prove the existence of the plateau and its inhabitants. Journalist Edward E. Malone (Lloyd Hughes) wrangles a way onto the expedition by enlisting the aid of Sir John Roxton (Lewis Stone). He wants to go in part because it'll be a great scoop and in part because he wants to prove himself to his fiancée, Gladys Hungerford (Alma Bennett). There are great adventures, an ape-man (Bull Montana), and a romance which throws the Gladys subplot out the window.
And, yes, dinosaurs. Dinosaurs from several different eras, as is always the case. [i]Tyrannosaurus Rex[/i] makes it to the cover of all the books, but they were Cretaceous, not Jurassic. (According to Wikipedia, they were among the last "non-avian dinosaurs" before the K-T boundary.) I'll admit I wasn't playing strict attention, but I'm pretty sure the Ape-Man was native to the area. There is a pterodactyl, which is of course incorrectly referred to itself as a dinosaur. Honestly, though, it seemed as though there was greater diversity in the Brendan Fraser [i]Journey to the Center of the Earth[/i]. I don't want to get into predator-prey ratios again, but I don't feel as though I can. I don't remember seeing many animals at all. Certainly not enough to evaluate populations on. Though I [i]think[/i] there were more prey species than predators, I'm just not sure.
Yes. The amount of work put in on the special effects is impressive, and I have to say I prefer it to the more familiar work in [i]King Kong[/i]. Of course, Kong wanders closer to the Uncanny Valley than dinosaurs do, because of course the filmmakers don't have to care if a brontosaurus (there's a historical debate I'm dodging) looks human enough. The answer is that it doesn't have to. It also feels to me as though more care was given to things like proportion. According to IMDB, an animator noticed a pair of pliers sticking into the shot at one point. Rather than pulling them out of frame, which would have drawn the eye, he slowly eased them out over the course of a second or more. (That's film time, naturally.) Yes, better attention to detail would have meant that the pliers wouldn't have been there in the first place, but it's still an interesting reaction to have had.
I'm aware that it's obvious how few and far between library movies are at the moment. However, it seems that "lost" is a word that calls more to the makers of documentarians, particularly of the [i]NOVA[/i] and History Channel variety, than it does to feature film makers. There have been some, but I just couldn't make myself care about, say, [i]Lost in Austen[/i]. (Though we will have [i]Lost in Translation[/i] coming up, probably tomorrow.) I have known for some time now that it's one of the hazards of doing what I'm doing. What comes in is entirely luck of the draw. (Figure another six weeks or so before we get to "luck.") I have a little influence; I'm only watching one season of [i]Law & Order[/i] at a time, and I do choose what I will and won't watch. However, while I have the outside choices of Netflix, personal ownership, actually going to the theatre, and so forth, I take the library movies as they come. And while I've gotten quite a few, they have not much been coming in the variety of "stuff I can write reviews about."