Should Jurassic World 3 Free the Dinosaurs, or End Them?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Dinosaurs will roam the planet in the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion. Can they co-exist with humans, or will the movie make them extinct (again)?

Dinosaurs will roam the planet in the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion, which begs the question: can they co-exist with humans, or will they have to go extinct (again) by the end of the film? The Jurassic franchise has been moving towards getting its cloned dinosaurs out into the world for a long time. 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park laid the groundwork by setting a Tyrannosaurus Rex loose on the city of San Diego, once again proving that humans and free-roaming dinosaurs aren't a great mix. Jurassic Park III further hinted at dinosaurs making their way beyond Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna with its final shot (showing Pteranodons flying to somewhere unknown), but didn't take things further than that.

After that, the first Jurassic World more or less recycled the premise of the original Jurassic Park, only with dinosaurs breaking loose at an up and running theme park on Isla Nublar (as opposed to one that had yet to launch). Its sequel, Fallen Kingdom, then attempted to move beyond nostalgia by destroying Isla Nublar in a volcanic eruption before trading in the island settings of the previous films for a shadowy manor in its second half. And as much as general audiences have taken issue with the way the Jurassic World trilogy has played out so far, the ending to Fallen Kingdom nevertheless succeeded in doing what the previous four movies had only teased at: releasing the dinosaurs out into the world.

As its title impliesDominion will be all about answering the question of whether humanity can find a way to live side by side with dinosaurs or have to wipe them out, for good this time. Last year's short film, Battle at Big Rock, offered a sneak peek of what life is like post-Fallen Kingdom, and as you would imagine, co-existing alongside dinosaurs is easier said than done. But at this stage in the game, the idea of humans eliminating all dinosaurs in Dominion seems to clash with everything the series has been about so far.

Fallen Kingdom has already called attention to the problem of humanity allowing natural forces (namely, a volcano) to "correct" their actions and wipe out the dinosaurs. As the movie points out, the dinosaurs were brought back into a world where they don't belong against their will, making it unnecessarily cruel to abandon them at a time when they need protection. It's possible Dominion will build on this by focusing on a virus that threatens to kill the remaining dinosaurs, bringing back an idea that was introduced at the end of The Lost World book (but never explored in the films) and forcing humankind to decide what the ethical response would be. Alternatively, the governments of the world could decide dinosaurs are too dangerous and try to destroy them (be it with a man-made disease or pure firepower), spurring the franchise's heroes to find a compromise that allows them to continue existing, but without putting human lives in unnecessary danger.

Thematically, it might make the most sense to have Dominion end with the dinosaurs being truly set free. The Jurassic franchise has always functioned as a parable about capitalism and its exploitation of the planet's natural resources, arguing that humanity can only do so much to undo their previous mistakes when it comes to mistreating the environment, and is better off trying to learn from them and dealing with the new status quo they've created. Having the series' leads find a way for the dinosaurs to survive (while also protecting them from being further exploited) would not only be a satisfying payoff to the Jurassic World trilogy, it would also end the franchise on an optimistic, if bittersweet, note in keeping with the final moments from Steven Spielberg's original Jurassic Park (where John Hammond lets go of his dream of a dinosaur park).

There's also something timely about the idea of humans learning to live in a brave new world at the end of Dominion, rather than being able to go back to the way things were before then. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on across the globe, it's clear life in the future is going to be different than it was prior to 2020, and not in the typical ways you expect with the passing of time. Many people are struggling to come to terms with that (including, those in the film and television industry) and just want to get back to the way things were, rather than adjusting to the new normal. Point being, if humans can learn to live peacefully with dinosaurs by the final scene of Jurassic World: Dominion, then it would be all the more relevant a message for those in the real world to absorb.