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Jurassic World is living up to its name. While the next installment of the long-running Jurassic World nee Park franchise won’t hit theaters until June 2021, Universal is keeping the franchise in the conversation with the newly released short film Battle at Big Rock. Before Jurassic World 3 enters production, writer Emily Carmichael and director Colin Trevorrow took the opportunity to tease what’s coming in an eight-minute short that stars Andre Holland and Natalie Martinez. Filmed in secret and premiering on the FX network Sunday night, the short takes place one year after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), which saw the remaining dinosaurs from Isla Nubar freed and set loose upon the world. Battle at Big Rock shows the immediate consequences of that decision and points toward the next evolution of the franchise.
In the short, a family on a camping trip gets an up-close-and-personal encounter with three Nasutoceratops and an invasive Allosaurus that results in their trailer being demolished. The short, which quickly moves from the wonder of encountering dinosaurs in the wild to tension-filled terror, plays similar to the mobile base scene in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). From the structure of the short, the family dynamics, and the kid saving the day, the Spielberg influence on Carmichael and Trevorrow is very clear. While Trevorrow co-wrote Fallen Kingdom, which saw J.A. Bayona direct and inject some gothic horror into the franchise, he returns as director for the third installment at the request of Steven Spielberg himself. Trevorrow provided some details about the third entry when he spoke to Entertainment Weekly last year. “Jurassic World was an action adventure, Fallen Kingdom is kind of a horror suspense film, and Jurassic World 3 will be a science thriller in the same way that Jurassic Park was,” the filmmaker said.
Of course, the driving idea behind Spielberg’s first film, adapted from Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name, were the consequences of changing the natural course of extinction. But in that film, the threat was contained. In the next film, we’ll see how the world will adjust to the idea of dinosaurs and humans existing in the same space simultaneously. Battle at Big Rock gives us a taste of what that new dynamic is like. Humans haven’t stopped living their lives, and dinosaur encounters aren’t common enough to keep people behind locked doors. The experience of living in a world with dinosaurs is comparable to the risk of encountering any other predatory animal in the wild, yet these specific animals can weigh tons and be more destructive in nature. If humans are no longer the apex predator, then science suggests that they will need to evolve. We get a glimpse of that with Gracie (Melody Hurd) injuring and driving off the Allosaurus with a crossbow. There’s the germ of an idea here that everyone, children included, will have to develop certain skills in order to prepare them for possible dinosaur encounters. And as the scenes over the credits show, humans are very much unprepared to deal with this new world they’ve found themselves in.
Although Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) will be at the center of this seismic shift in human history, there is something very appealing about seeing how ordinary people, unequipped with the military and science expertise, navigate there new circumstances. While the third film is said to step away from hybrid dinosaurs, which provided the central threat of the last two films, the previous two installments introduced human cloning and militarized dinosaurs that have been sold off to different countries. While it’s unclear just how expansive the third film will be, and if it will be the finale of the franchise or lead to something else — a Jurassic War, perhaps — there are massive scientific repercussions that have been introduced into this world. Hopefully there’s space to continue to see how ordinary people deal with not only the presence of dinosaurs, but how the science that gave birth to them changes political relations, medical innovation and our very concepts of life and death. If Trevorrow and Carmichael can maintain the consistency, then there’s a strong case to be made for the Battle at Big Rock to be the first of a number of shorts that broaden the dynamics and developments of this Jurassic world.
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