When it comes to where humanity fits in the animal kingdom, George Orwell said it best in 1945 satire Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Words by Camille Hogg
Self-proclaimed kings of the food chain, builders of civilisation and masters of language, the rights, capabilities and intelligence of other species don’t even come close to us Homo sapiens. It’s part of the reason why we don’t have the best track record when it comes to our treatment of the creatures we share our planet with.
From lab rats to big cats in zoos, that steak you ate for dinner and the shoes you wear, we constantly take other species’ inability to communicate in our own constructed language as a marker for sub-intelligence, and use it to enhance our own lives.
Granted, animal rights probably won’t be your first thought as you step into the cinema for the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, due for release on 7th June. But forget the fact that it’s an extinct species brought to life with animatronics and CGI and you’ll find that the monster movie gets its teeth into the issue.
Taking up the action three years after 2015’s Jurassic World, an impending volcanic eruption spells disaster for the prehistoric reptiles roaming Isla Nublar, a fictional island off Costa Rica.
In a last-ditch bid to save them, former Jurassic World park manager and newly turned activist Claire Dearing forms the Dinosaur Protection Group. Teaming up with Benjamin Lockwood, a former business partner of Jurassic Park founder John Hammond, and her boyfriend Owen, a former dinosaur trainer, the trio attempt to round up the dinosaurs and deliver them to a sanctuary before it’s too late.
As the island erupts, Claire and Owen have a much bigger problem on their hands as they uncover a conspiracy that goes right to the core of the corporation and could threaten human existence. It turns out exploring man’s problematic relationship with our animal kingdom was an intention right from the get-go, according to director JA Bayona.
“Both Jack [Horner – palaeontology consultant] and me, we are concerned about man’s relationship with animals,” he told fan site jurassicoutpost.com. “Dinosaurs are a parable of the treatment of today’s animals: abuse, experiments in medicine, pets, [you] have wild animals in zoos like prisons, military use has been made of them, animals and weapons.”
For actress Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Claire, the film’s social commentary is a reminder of who the predators really are.
“Up to this point the entertainment value of these films is that the most dangerous thing is the dinosaur, where the truth is it’s really human beings that are the most dangerous species,” she told slashfilm.com. “Finally in this movie we’re having that clash. There [are] all these dangerous creatures and yet if those creatures are threatened with an extinction level event, we protect them. It’s so weird the way art mirrors life.”
So the question becomes, who are the real monsters here? “That’s a good question,” Chris Pratt, who stars as Owen, laughed in an interview with slashfilm.com, before declining to comment further. Well, it’s exactly as Orwell said on that one: “Four legs good, two legs bad.”
Also starring: Jeff Goldblum, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Toby Jones and BD Wong. Rating: PG13. Running time: 130 mins
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