Posted by: ckckred | July 23, 2012

The Lost World (1925): The Pre-Kong Dinosaurs

The precursor to King Kong is a visually strong movie, but not as memorable

Note: This isn’t a review of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, but of the original 1925 version.

When I first saw The Lost World many years ago, I had never viewed a silent film before.  I heard about the movie from hearing that Willis O’Brien, the man who did the special effects for King Kong, worked on this film.  It immediately got my interest, and once I saw it, I knew how O’Brien came up for the visuals of Kong.

The Lost World is based off the book by Arthur Conan Doyle, who most famously wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories.  The movie takes place around 1912 (that’s when the book was written) in London.  Professor Challenger (Wallace Beery) finds a journal of a lost explorer showing sketches of dinosaurs on a plateau in Venezuela.  Challenger decides to go on a journey to the plateau and brings with him Paula White (Bessie Love), the lost explorer’s daughter, Sir John Roxton (Lewis Stone), a sportsman who wants to see if Challenger’s theory is true, and Edward Malone (Lloyd Hughes), a newspaper writer who wants to impress his fiance by going on the trip.

As it turns out, there are dinosaurs there, but the explorers are trapped on the plateau when they’re rope falls down.  They try to escape the plateau before a nearby volcano blows while avoiding the dinosaurs on the island.

The plot is pretty similar to King Kong, though Kong didn’t come until 1933.  Both films take place in isolated areas filled with danger and dinosaurs.  And where Kong wrecks havok in New York City, a wild brontosaurus runs amok in London.

Both Kong and The Lost World share great special effects that were revolutionary at the time, no matter how cheesy they look now.  But as I was watching The Lost World, I didn’t feel it was as memorable or iconic as Kong was.  The Lost World is a forgettable movie without much of the substance that made King Kong so great.

The real problem with the movie is that the story loses control when the explorers land on the plateau.  Pretty much they’re chased by dinosaurs and a wild ape man the entire time with some plot details that are awkwardly placed.  Ed soon falls heels over for Paula kind of predictably, and they soon discover Paula’s father’, who’s dead (I guessed that was going to happen five minutes into the movie).  Though the plot in King Kong isn’t actually that strong, it does stick in your mind and is better structured than The Lost World.

Still, I can recommend The Lost World for O’Brien’s fantastic visuals.  Though King Kong is a better film, The Lost World is a decent picture and better than an average B-movie.  It isn’t well drawn out, but I really wasn’t expecting it to be.

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Responses

  1. Proof that special effects movies existed nearly 90 years ago too. Take that Michael Bay haters.

    • The special effects are pretty good and nearly as strong as Kong’s. The plot isn’t so great but I still like the movie. Thanks for commenting.


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