Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s Big Moral Dilemma

The dinosaurs need to be rescued from Isla Nublar. Or do they? We take a look at Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s moral dilemma.

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

The following article contains Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom spoilers.

It was 25 years ago that mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm first warned us about the dangers of fiddling with dinosaur DNA, and in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the pterodactyls have come home to roost. Dinosaurs have spread far beyond the confines of Isla Nublar, their home for the past 25 years, and as Malcolm himself returns to tell us (courtesy of an older but no less magnetic Jeff Goldblum), we’re going to have to learn to live in a very strange new world.

But as we saw quite plainly in Fallen Kingdom’s opening scenes, it didn’t have to be this way. A volcanic eruption on Isla Nublar would have consigned these genetically revived creatures to history again–something Dr. Malcolm suggested was probably for the best. After all, to quote the original Jurassic Park, “Dinosaurs had their shot, and nature targeted them for extinction.” It could well be that the volcano on Isla Nublar was nature giving the other species on our planet a second chance.

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For their own individual reasons, a group of folks decide that the dinosaurs deserve rescuing. Seemingly driven by her lingering guilt over her role in running the Jurassic World theme park, Claire Deering (Bryce Dallas Howard) has turned activist and jumps at the chance to join a secret mission to evacuate the dinosaurs from the dying island. Grasping money man Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) has something other than animal rights on his mind: he wants to continue the genetic research started by the late John Hammond and sell weaponized dinosaurs to the highest bidder. Oh, and then there’s Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), a soldier who likes collecting dinosaur teeth for some reason.

A long (and quite bizarre) sequence of events leads Claire to a decisive moment: a third-act scene where she can allow a varied bunch of dinosaurs to escape, or leave them to die of suffocation in the bowels of a rambling country estate. Claire eventually takes the latter choice, only to have the decision reversed by Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the precocious relative of Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). Activating a set of electric doors that give the dinosaurs their freedom, Maisie reasons that they’re living things, and therefore have a right to survive. 

It’s a reasonable-sounding sentiment, and one that makes sense, given Maisie’s own backstory. Although she was raised as Benjamin Lockwood’s granddaughter, she later learns that she’s actually a genetic clone of his late daughter. The original daughter died, so Lockwood, with all the power of genetic science at his disposal, simply made another one.

We can understand why Maisie therefore sees something of herself in those toothsome, screeching dinos. Like her, they shouldn’t exist, but thanks to science, they do. And who has the right to kill poor little Maisie? The difference, of course, is that Maisie isn’t a six-foot-tall velociraptor capable of ripping out a man’s intestines, or a T-rex capable of swallowing a two-door hatchback. And this is where Fallen Kingdoms true moral dilemma really begins: even if we assume that the revived dinosaurs have a right to life, what about everything else on our planet? Humans may have brought potential extinction on themselves through their greed and hubris, but they’re far from the only species likely to be affected by the return of the dinosaurs. 

In one of Fallen Kingdoms more memorable shots, we see a T. Rex approach a zoo and roar at a lion. It’s a reminder that the mammals that rose to the top of the food chain following the passing of the dinosaurs have now dropped down a few links. If dinosaurs are allowed to spread, as it’s implied they will as we see them escaping from the Lockwood mansion, then all kinds of animals would surely be wiped out within a generation or two. Even the herbivorous dinosaurs could cause untold devastation to trees and plants.

Here’s a brief example from history: in the 1800s, sailors introduced domesticated pigs to the Galapagos Islands. Within 40 years, the pigs had bred and wrecked havoc all over the place, snaffling eggs from nests and trampling fragile flora. It’s thought that the spread of pigs led to a number of extinctions on Galapagos; if a few swine can cause that much trouble, imagine what the dinosaurs could do.

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(As for the question of how the escaped dinosaurs could breed, well, Jurassic Park had an answer to that too–life finds a way.) 

It’s arguable, then, that as horrifying as it would be to see such majestic creatures die, it’s a brutal step worth taking to save just about every other living thing on the planet. Not that there’s much time for the characters in the Jurassic World sequel to stop and carefully debate such things–what with all the erupting volcanoes and kooky intrigue in wood-panelled ballrooms, director J.A. Bayona’s movie sends us clattering from one near-death scenario to the next.

Assuming Fallen Kingdom does well enough financially, we’ll probably see this whole moral maze explored further in Jurassic Park 6 (or Jurassic World 3, or Fallen Kingdom 2, depending on how you look at it). There are velociraptors and other scaly nightmares in the hands of equally cold-blooded arms dealers. There are Mosasaurs in our oceans, pterodactyls in our skies, and T. Rexes prowling around outside zoo enclosures. For an otherwise breezy franchise aimed at kids, the implications are unusually downbeat and closer in tone to a late Planet of the Apes sequel than a Jurassic Park thrill-ride.

At the start of the movie, we might have assumed that Jurassic World 2’s subtitle was a reference to Isla Nublar. By the end, it looks more likely that, in the long run, human civilization will be the true Fallen Kingdom.