August 12, 2018
Something I never realized about this film until I watched this fan-edit that inserts two deleted workprint scenes back into the narrative, one of which makes Roland Tembo more of a morally grey character than in the theatrical version (which I really liked), is that you can look at it as a commentary on the dangers of extremist activist groups. I used to be of the opinion -- populated by Doug Walker (*sigh*) -- that, "Ugh, the heroes are so obnoxious and they cause more harm than the supposed villains," and all that jazz, but the only one of them that's really deserving of contempt is Nick Van Owen, Vince Vaughn's character.
Really think about it. He's a former member of Greenpeace (granted, he does admit he was there for the women) and is a current member of Earth First (!) in the film, he's the one that lets all the animals loose thus resulting in the deaths and injuries of several of the hunters, he stole Roland Tembo's bullets, and he complains and whines at him after being rescued by him and his fellow hunters. The character is literally an eco-terrorist (a basic Wikipedia search on Earth First should tell you they're not to be trusted when it comes to environmental activists). He's the one that causes much of the trouble that goes on in the film, and this commentary complements the essence of the entire franchise -- that of chaos theory and that humanity is arrogant, and said arrogance leads to them making bad choices -- really well. Now this is not to say that Julianne Moore's character Sarah Harding doesn't deserve her fair share of scorn (she absolutely does), but again, it's all part of the basic theme of the series, that mankind is arrogant.
We are a naturally dumb species. Really, the whole film is scathing commentary on how us human beings disturb nature and pillage it either for profit (Peter Ludlow) or out of a hopelessly misguided sense of justice (Nick Van Owen). At the time, I used to be annoyed something fierce and complain about this film because it was a bad adaptation of Michael Crichton's original source novel, and from that standpoint, it still is, but as a film on its own, there's a lot more layers to it that I never realized were there before until giving it another chance. I guess you can consider me a fan now. I used to be of the opinion that this was Steven Spielberg's worst film as a director. Looking back on it now... uh, yeah, I don't think so.