The Lost World Review
The Lost World is a 1925 fantasy adventure film directed by Harry Hoyt and starring Lewis Stone and Wallace Beery. It is a groundbreaking film for its use of stop-motion and it is based on the 1912 novel of the same name by Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a very good film that is incredibly influential as well.
It follows an expedition to Venezuela and it is a mission for our professor protagonist to find the dinosaurs there and prove to the rest of the world that they still exist. The plot is undeniably entertaining to the point of being riveting. It is also unabashedly old-fashioned and charming, but above all fueled with a great sense of adventure and excitement. With showing the creatures later rather than sooner, the movie also created the sense of build-up and tension. And when they arrive, each is more fascinating than the one before. But I like the non-dinosaur creatures as well with the monkeys and bears being especially a lot of fun.
But The Lost World does have a very problematic structure. Now granted, the first and the last act are both terrific and both are powerful and memorable. And very well paced. But it is the second act that is very flawed mostly with some badly edited parts, some prolonged, some rushed, but most of all because of its unfortunate episodic nature. And it does feel very episodic in the middle with the dinosaur fights also being too prolonged and unnecessary and just there to show off the special effects. It is the one problem that ‘King Kong‘ also has. And I did not mention that classic film for no reason as it is clearly influenced by The Lost World and although it perfected the effects and the narrative was tightened there, the credit is still due to Harry Hoyt’s groundbreaking film that influenced both that film and also ‘Jurassic Park‘ and so many others. It truly was revolutionary.
The characters are okay. In these kinds of films, usually the animal characters are more important and better developed than their human counterparts and while here it is not quite like that, the dinosaurs are still more memorable. Edward and Paula as the two lovers on this mission who start an affair are the weakest part because it is a typical love triangle, melodrama thrown in for good measure. But Roxton is a good character and very likable, and of course it is Professor Challenger who is the standout here and he is the one human character that truly does work and he brought a lot of humanity as well as humor to the table. His arrogance and annoyance at others’ disbelief is what makes him such a funny, relatable and realistic character.
The animals, as I said, are the highlights, wonderfully imagined with a plethora of different species. Of course the Brontosaurus is the standout among dinosaurs and his ending in the city is a clear influence on ‘King Kong‘ and such a strong conclusion. But other animals are as fantastic as the dinosaurs in my opinion. The monkey is great as their helper and the Ape-Man is very well depicted. And I like the scenes on the Amazon with a lot of snakes and lizards. Those scenes are a visual feast for the eyes.
The acting is really good. Wallace Beery is definitely the finest actor here giving the best performance for the best character. He did a fantastic job with his role. But Bessie Love and Lewis Stone also did a good job and Lloyd Hughes was good as well.
The directing from Hoyt is solid, but someone else could have done a better job. The editing department failed as the movie is too rushed in my opinion. But the cinematography is great with stunning scenery of wildlife. And the action sequences are solidly executed for the time. The movie does have a heart and a sense of wonder and excitement which is why it works both as fantasy and as adventure. The tone is good with some great humor from time to time and the dialogue is excellent. I cannot speak for the score as I’ve watched the version without it. But the effects are extraordinary. This is the film that revolutionized stop-motion and it showed how magnificent it can be. The dinosaurs did not age well, but they look amazing for the time and they look at times even realistic which is such a huge accomplishment and a groundbreaking achievement. The movie looks beautiful and its photography and its awe-inspiring effects are what drives this whole film. It is also groundbreaking for its blockbuster sensibilities for better and for worse. It truly does feel like a blockbuster in later parts which I was not a fan of, but the first parts are so phenomenal, adventurous and exciting, clearly taken from a wonderful novel. It is adapted wonderfully and an example how fantasy/adventure novels should be adapted to the big screen.