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Charles Edwin Powell
Faithful, albeit gritty and adult, retelling of Doyle's story.
Not to be confused with the 1999 TV pilot movie of the same name (a mistake made by many of the reviewers on this site). Although made by the same production company, the 1999 version has a different cast (except for Michael Sinelnikoff, playing an endearing Dr. Summerlee in both versions), takes place in South America, introduces the bikini-clad jungle girl, Veronica, and the female adventurer, Marguerite Krux, sanitizes the violence, has cheaper effects, and lacks an ending (as may be expected in a TV pilot episode). In contrast, this 1998 version is a direct-to-video release that adheres more closely to the spirit of Doyle's novel, contains adult violence and gore, packs considerably more emotional wallop, and has a dynamic climax.
Other than inexplicably transposing the "lost world" discovered by Maple White from South America to Mongolia in the mid-1930s, and adding the character of Amanda (White's daughter--a character roughly parallel to the one created by Bessie Love in the 1925 silent version), this movie is a fairly faithful, albeit gritty and adult, retelling of the boys' adventure story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1912. Despite the introduction of adult character motivation, explicit violence, and a perhaps justifiable alteration of the ending, the majority of the action and dialogue, including a delightful exchange between Challenger and Summerlee that's lifted almost verbatim from Doyle's novel, suggests that the screenwriters were at least somewhat familiar with their source.
Patrick Bergin plays an effective, though whisker-less, Professor Challenger, Julien Casey is believable as the reporter, Ned Blaine, and Michael Sinelnikoff is well cast as Dr. Summerlee. David Nerman makes a surprisingly dastardly John Roxton, Jayne Heitmeyer is fine as a somewhat anachronistic Amanda White, and Gregoriane Minot Payeur is sympathetic as one of the local guides whose family has an unfortunately high mortality rate. The dinosaur scenes, while not quite up to the standards established by Jurassic Park, and not quite as prevalent as one might wish, are generally convincing, exciting, and gruesomely violent.
This movie is available on videotape (though currently at a prohibitive cost), and has been shown on Showtime and Cinemax (the version originally aired on TNT was the 1999 TV pilot). It's the best sound version of Doyle's novel filmed to date, and well worth a look for fans of the genre.
7 out of 10 stars.
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