Rough Beasts

Why the story makes no sense.
June 12 1997 3:30 AM

Rough Beasts

The Lost World and Anaconda have gargantuan problems.

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OK, so then they sedate the dinosaur and put it on a ship and send it to San Diego. In midocean, the T-Rex wakes up and somehow breaks out of its heavily secured cargo hold, eats everybody on board, then cleverly scurries back into hiding. So much for the cruel stereotype of the pea-brained dinosaur.

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The biggest logic bloopers in The Lost World arise from the conventionality at the heart of the movie. Neither Spielberg, nor screenwriter David Koepp, nor Michael Crichton, on whose novel the movie is based, have shown any interest in challenging the moralistic assumption at the heart of almost every creature feature: That good intentions, spunkiness and, above all, good looks are the safeguards against rampaging monsters. In movies like The Lost World, dinosaurs are not just predators but avengers, nibbling a prissy little rich girl here, chomping an environmentally insensitive CEO there. The bill of fare is numbingly standard. Villains are picked off in order of ascending nastiness--sadistic brutes, followed by smarmy flacks, followed by twisted visionaries in expensive suits. Among the heroes, we don't have to worry about the principled male scientist, the dynamic female animal behaviorist, or the stowaway children. But even among the good guys, a marginal physiognomy or a receding hairline can spell doom. Keep your eye on that sad-faced electronics specialist. He's bald, and he's gonna pay.

Stephen Harrigan is a screenwriter, novelist, and contributing editor to Texas Monthly.