The simple explanation for the confusion is that Michael Crichton was never going to write a sequel to Jurassic Park. But Stephen Spielberg was bloody well going to make a second film, and his Ian Malcom had survived the first. Crichton therefore had to somehow resurrect Malcom for the next novel. He did this by making Malcom too traumatized to ever talk of what really happened on Isla Nublar, which nicely dodged the bullet of why there was no explanation for his survival.
Crichton did give Malcom a cane, given that even if Malcom had blocked it out, everyone else in the world remembered him being violently flung into the ruins of a toilet stall by a T-Rex. Spielberg’s Malcom, however, had no need for piffling things like canes – as far as Spielberg was concerned, Malcom had lived, and so had John Hammond, who also makes a miraculous appearance in the second movie.
Spielberg had then not only changed movie history with Jurassic Park, he had also actually changed literary history as well. Essentially, it was safe to assume from the beginning that The Lost World was always going to be a little more forced than either its novel or movie predecessors.
“A little more forced” is the polite description of what happened in The Lost World. The first movie was a genuine marvel. The second movie deserves to be shot – twice – at point blank range. And then brought back to life via DNA extractions, and shot again. The screenplay to The Lost World was officially described as being ‘loosely based on the 1995 novel,’ but unless ‘loosely’ means that David Koepp happened to wander past a library one day with the manuscript under his arm, this could not be a more inaccurate way to describe the relationship between Crichton’s book and the movie.
Again, any differences between book and movie wouldn’t have mattered if the differences had had a function. Or made sense. But The Lost World was only one dilophosaurus spit away from the ludicrous. Proof of this can be provided in a single sentence: The T-Rex, and its baby, escape onto the mainland. Again, but this time, slower for the full effect: The T-Rex….and its baby…..escape onto the mainland.
Crichton refused to write a third book (which is no wonder, given that the last one he was coerced into writing may as well have been used as the crew’s toilet paper), and with the most extreme event imaginable having already happened, the franchise looked like a very lost world indeed.
But, as is the case with all monsters, it was only a matter of time before someone poked it. This someone was Joe Johnston, who in 1993 had actually asked Spielberg if he could direct The Lost World. Obviously Spielberg had said no, but he did assure Johnston that he could direct the third movie, if it went ahead (which was essentially code for “depending on how badly this one goes I may well be abandoning ship, in which case, sure – it’s all yours!”). Gradually, Johnston and Spielberg (Spielberg this time maintaining a safe distance as executive producer) began a third instalment from scratch and in 2001, Jurassic Park III arrived.
Understandably, the public were pretty wary of yet another film in a franchise that had started to look tired even by the end of the second. But there was also a fair amount of excitement. For a start, The Lost World had served as a sort of exposure therapy; “Well it can’t possibly get any worse than that – pass the popcorn!” But Jurassic Park III also utilized some of Crichton’s original material that had been left out of the previous two movies.
The pterodactyl aviary finally made an appearance, and the film paid closer attention to one of Jurassic Park’s most important – and chilling – concepts: the idea that the velociraptors were highly intelligent, systematic planners and sophisticated communicators. For these reasons, Jurassic Park III was marginally more successful than The Lost World, but it was still widely criticized for its unoriginal storyline, poorly executed script and obvious clichés.
Jurassic Park had surely this time been given its final closure – and so had we.