Man’s hubris knows no bounds. Mary Shelley knew this when she wrote the now-famous novel, Frankenstein. And so it is a fitting tribute to have her portrait hung on the walls of a mansion in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, as a reminder to audiences that the themes of her book are still relevant today.
The moral questions of the original film make a comeback in this installment; the scientists who created Jurassic Park knew they “could” create dinosaurs, but never stopped to ask if they “should.” In Fallen Kingdom, its latest hybrid dinosaur symbolizes the hubris that created the park; the embodiment of “can does not mean SHOULD.” And, it’s a question that must haunt us in our technological-advancing world. (What are the implications of cloning? genetically modified foods? creating super-viruses? fracking? Rather like monsters turning on their makers, we cannot see how these things will unfold down the road. Should that make us hesitate? Should we play God?)
The creature represents science unfettered by principles, and the nature of progression; when you create something for one purpose, and others twist it to use it for another—quickly, it gets out of hand. History has countless examples of how one discovery or invention builds on another, creating unforeseen ripples. (One example: the internet, designed as a hub for trading, sharing, and storing information; now, anonymous bullies can drive kids to suicide using it.) The film likens it to nuclear bombs—once you open the bottle, you never know what may come of it. It’s a strong message as we approach a time of moral questions surrounding the advancement of science and technology.
Even if you have the morals to stop something at a certain point, others will carry it further. Humans never learn. They repeat the same mistakes out of ambition or pride. The heartbreaking final shot of the island reminds us humans can be creators of that which is Beautiful and its destroyers… both through deliberate action and carelessness. The ecological and animal rights themes—a desperate bid to save the dinosaurs from extinction on an erupting volcano—brings humanity into sharp contrast with evolution. Should it stand aside and let “Mother Nature take its course” (since, as Ian points out, “God had no part in this”) or halt extinction? Yet, without human intervention, these poor creatures would not be on the island. They suffer, because of poor choices and greed. Through the neglect and abuses of its creator, the created suffers.
A preference for innocent dinosaur life over human life is another theme; its message is animals are good, humans are bad. This is a narrow view; humans can be destroyers or saviors of the earth, its resources, and its wildlife.
It’s a predictable spectacle with a moralizing undercurrent, terrifying in its suspense and its deeper meaning. Its humanization of Blue is brilliant, reminding us that animals have emotions, impulses, instincts, and sympathy. The terrifying scene of a beast creeping toward a child shivering under the covers is the stuff of nightmares, the proverbial looming consequences of others’ poor choices (a warning that future generations might reap the rewards of our scientific explorations?). And then, there is Maisie herself. The film leaves us to wonder at the implication of her existence. Is it right to create life to replace what you have lost?
Once you unleash power, you cannot control the results. As we face similar difficult debates, we should ask ourselves, whether being able to do it means we ought to do it. Will we create our own monsters to devour us?