- Colin Trevorrow
The word “dominion” is very important in director Colin Trevorrow’s latest film—he also directed Jurassic World and was executive producer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the animated TV series Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. He, with co-writers Emily Carmichael and Derek Connolly, return to the more serious intent of the original Jurassic Park, the four films in between the first and this one being more for entertainment exploitation of our dinosaur craze, than Michael Crichton’s cautionary novel that inspired Stephen Spielberg’s film.
The new film begins with lovers Owen Grady (Christ Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) protecting surrogate daughter Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) by retreating to a cabin off the grid high in the Sierra Mountains. You might recall that Maisie is the cloned daughter of the deceased scientist Charlotte Lockwood and thus valuable to anyone who would want to exploit her DNA for their gains. That “anyone” is Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), CEO of a firm named Biosyn, a corporation that has set up a huge dinosaur compound in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy where he also has developed a special wheat seed. To get rid of competing seed manufacturers, his scientists, led by Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), have also developed and unleashed hordes of gigantic locusts trained to avoid Biosyn wheat sown on corporate farms as they devour nearby wheat fields. Dodgson wants Maisie’s DNA for his work, so he sends his goons to kidnap the girl, as well as a baby raptor named Beta, birthed by Owen’s raptor friend Blue.
The abduction sends Owen and Claire off on a quest to rescue the girl. They wind up in Malta where the girl is being held captive in a thriving underground bazaar where dinosaurs are bought and sold as eyebrow-raising pets, barbecued for food connoisseurs, trained to fight for the wealthy to bet on the outcome, and lots of other activities—this being one of the most interesting set pieces of the film, like the cantina scene in Star Wars. The result is Owen being chased on a motorcycle through the narrow, winding streets of the exotic city by several velociraptors eager to chomp on him. To reach the secret compound of Biosyn in Italy they team up with Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise), a veteran pilot for hire with no allegiances, very much like Han Solo.
Meanwhile our other old Jurassic friends are on a quest of their own– Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Alan Grant (Neill), the latter seeming to have borrowed Indiana Jones’ fedora. This leads them to Biosyn where they are welcomed by Dodgsen and reunited with another visitor, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Of course, they will clash with the head of the corrupt corporation and join forces with our heroes flying up from Malta. The audience will be treated to plenty of thrills from the giant dinosaurs, trying to eat the humans, and at the climax, fighting each other. To replace the spectacular volcano eruption of the previous picture we have a gigantic forest fire caused by things going awry at Biosyn’s compound.
Although I agree with the observation of some critics that the film is like an amusement park thrill ride, the film’s title and remarks by Ian Malcolm, the scientist who consistently in the series plays the role of a Cassandra, bear out my earlier observation that the film returns to its original role of a cautionary parable. Ian Malcolm states, “We’re racing toward the extinction of our species. We not only lack dominion over nature, we’re subordinate to it.” He further states that we will have to learn to live with them. The movie ends (also begins) with images of dinosaurs mingling with humans and various animals. The word “dominion” is of special interest because it appears in the King James and Revised Standard versions of the Genesis Creation Story. Historically we have interpreted this as being given the right to exploit the Earth’s resources and all of its species for our profit. This has led to environmental catastrophe so that modern Biblical scholars have gone back to the Hebrew text to discover that the Hebrew word can also be translated, as in The Message, ”be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself…” What a difference this would have made had we understood the passage in this way during the past three hundred years—something to be discussed by a group that might want to see this film and explore it together. So, we can watch the film and enjoy the spectacular special effects as we devour our popcorn, as most people will, or we can take notice of Ian Malcolm’s words.
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