‘Jurassic World 3’ is now set up to be the biggest film of the franchise yet.
The very first Jurassic Park blew our minds years ago with the simplest of premises: find a mosquito trapped in some prehistoric amber and you’re good to go in the dinosaur-engineering business. But it’s a tricky, expensive enterprise that leads to all the drama in the subsequent four movies spawned from the Steven Spielberg classic. Still, none of them have thus far flown too close to the sun when it comes to busting the overarching narrative premise wide open. At least, until Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom came along.
The ending of Fallen Kingdom draws together a chain of ethical quandaries that present themselves from the word go. Early on in the film, it is established that a change in perspective is necessary to navigate a post-Jurassic World era. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) makes what amounts to a 180-degree turn in her arc, going from struggling to see dinosaurs as little more than commodities to actively campaigning for their rights to live. Claire clearly comes from a place of empathy, although that wasn’t always the case from the events of the previous Jurassic World film. Still, she attempts to do right by these creatures now, even going so far as to create the Dinosaur Protection Group.
Later, while ostensibly on a mission to save the inhabitants of Isla Nublar in the wake of a newly-active volcano, our heroes are then forced to bear witness to a particularly heartbreaking brachiosaurus death. The scene is poignant in that it is unfortunate — there was likely no way to save every single dinosaur on that island. Yet it further highlights a sense of complicity that everyone – even the good guys – have to recognize as they move on to figure out the right course of action for the remaining dinosaurs.
What happens on Isla Nublar is but the tip of the iceberg, of course, as the deepest recesses of the Lockwood estate soon reveal. The creation of yet another dinosaur hybrid, the Indoraptor, is but an extreme personification of the greed and hubris that resulted in de-extinction in the first place. Yet, from the same ethically problematic science responsible for such an uncontested monstrosity also comes something much purer: Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon).
Maisie’s creation was borne out of Lockwood’s selfishness that eventually caused his and John Hammond’s partnership to dissolve. However, exceptionally curious, keen, and agile as she is, Maisie is still very much a regular little girl who – like it or not – exists.
The fact that the fates of similarly engineered creatures then rest in Maisie’s hands seems uncannily fitting. In the final climax of Fallen Kingdom, Maisie, Claire, Owen (Chris Pratt), Franklin (Justice Smith), and Zia (Daniella Pineda) look on at an underground chamber filled with noxious gas that threatens to kill a large portion of the world’s last living dinosaurs. They aren’t just going to die either. Instead, these creatures will slowly suffocate, recalling the brachiosaurus imagery from Isla Nublar a little too starkly.
Except that this time, conveniently enough, there is a big red button which will open the chamber doors and set the dinosaurs free. Claire hesitates over pushing the button, ultimately deciding against it upon Owen’s urging. Although they firmly believe that dinosaurs deserve to live, Claire and Owen make the tough choice that doesn’t prioritize their feelings. It is their attempt to prevent any cataclysmic implications of releasing the once-extinct into a world that is no longer made for them.
However, there’s nothing stopping Maisie from making that impossible choice. She lets the dinosaurs go, declaring that her investment in the lives of these dinosaurs is personal, and as a result, strikingly powerful, too. For both Maisie and the dinosaurs, their sentience marks proof that they are worthy of existence. Maisie’s instinct and empathy are proven multiple times during the film – and is even juxtaposed alongside Blue’s training videos – and her ability to love is evident.
Hence, regardless of the fact that the world at large will soon have to suffer the consequences, Maisie’s choice to free the dinosaurs is a fundamental act of her humanity. However, her decision allows herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore alike to make their way into civilization properly and permanently. The final montage of Fallen Kingdom portrays a lion facing off with a T-rex barging into a zoo, while Blue runs off to make a home somewhere in the Spielbergian suburbs. The dinosaurs that were actually sold at the Lockwood estate auction head off to undisclosed fates, although one could easily imagine that if they don’t partake in a jailbreak of their own, they will be fully weaponized at some point. Some Pteranodons make it to Las Vegas in a post-credits scene too. Clearly, wherever Owen, Claire, and Maisie head off to as they drive away from the carnage of the Lockwood estate, safety is only relative.
Unsurprisingly, a couple of outlets have already thrown around “Jurassic World War” as a potential Jurassic World 3 title. Humankind will have to learn to live with dinosaurs, but the reactionary responses that have characterized the entire Jurassic series to date don’t inspire much promise on that front. Could we bet on a scene where the auctioned behemoths actually go up against the dinos that were set free? Perhaps several heroes — old and new — will be caught in the crossfire. No significant protagonist has died in the Jurassic series, but there’s a chance that Jurassic World 3 will (sadly) change that.
One also wonders how Maisie’s unconventional heritage will play into the wider narrative of dinosaur conservation or re-extinction, and indeed what her own right to survival actually means. On one hand, there could be the question of utilizing Maisie’s DNA in future cloning experiments which – in a world where dinosaurs enjoy free reign and could be bred for war – is a possibility that’s not all that wacky.
This is, of course, contingent on the knowledge that Maisie is indeed a clone herself. There are loose ends in Fallen Kingdom that hint to the fact that others besides Owen and Claire know about the child. Where, for instance, is Geraldine Chaplin’s Iris (someone Trevorrow remains cagey about)? Perhaps this is how she’ll factor into the sequel.
On the other hand, Maisie is the ideal poster child for defending the rights of these man-made creatures. She has shown a greater capacity for humanity than many of the series’ characters, and she easily garners empathy by acting solely out of goodness, however innocent her actions may be. At her core, Maisie’s presence injects a fresher look into the ethical conundrums that the Jurassic series has continuously hinted at for 25 years.
Fallen Kingdom manages to disrupt all expectations to a point where it’s actually difficult to speculate over any outcome for the Jurassic World series because none of them seem particularly favorable. Undoubtedly, Jurassic World 3 needs to retain an emotional slant to anchor its shenanigans as they get bigger and bolder. Nonetheless, narratively-speaking, Fallen Kingdom serves as the definitive wake-up call for both protagonist and antagonist alike to stop playing with genetic fire. It ends on a warning that feels too little, too late, but that makes the franchise’s statement all the more powerful and revs up for an explosive finale.