I adore dinosaurs. In fact, I adore all things related to dinosaurs. So when Jurassic World finally hit theaters last summer, you better believe I was at the midnight showing, sporting my Jurassic Park t-shirt and sneaking in dinosaur gummy candies. Director Colin Trevorrow’s film is one I’d been anticipating since I first experienced the riveting world demonstrated in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. The original films introduced to me a world that I had never imagined before. A world where the prehistoric creatures I’d only read about in books were suddenly able to walk among humans. I was more than enthusiastic to take this experience in again.
Jurassic Park originally introduced to us the idea of science enabling the cloning of dinosaurs. By doing this, scientists are able to recreate the creatures that left our world over 65 million years ago. After the dinosaurs have been created, the next thing on the to-do list is to establish a safe place to keep them and show them off to the world. In Jurassic World, we are finally able to see the theme park we’ve all dreamed of put into reality, just twenty-two years later. We see the theme park in the way we’d always hoped it would be—full of visitors, gift shops, and even a Ben & Jerry’s. We see a world that has finally been able to succeed, after years of trying and years of dinosaur-related fatalities.
The plot starts by introducing us to a serious and determined worker, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is working hard to raise the declining visitor rates the park is facing. Claire’s behavior among the other workers is quick to inform the audience how important the success and popularity of the park is, and the risks the company is willing to take to keep business steady. In order to please more guests, the scientists simply create bigger, better, and more frightening dinosaurs to serve as new attractions. This leads to the creation of an entirely new species of dinosaur, the Indominus rex. They know this dinosaur could become an issue in the park because it is a completely new species that no one knows how to approach or tame. But it is clear to Claire that the risk is worth it if it brings business in.
Before the big reveal of this new and dangerous dinosaur, an expert dinosaur “wrangler” named Owen (Chris Pratt) is called in to check that everything with the Indominus rex is secure and ready for the park. And like most of the Jurassic Park films, something goes wrong with how the dinosaurs are contained, and chaos ensues. Once the excitement starts in Trevorrow’s film, it doesn’t stop until the credits are rolling. The fantastic special effects can make you feel like you’re right there, face to face with the monster.
But despite my love of dinosaurs and this film, I have to stop and ask myself, is the actual concept of Jurassic World something I should be so willing to accept in my own world?
With this ability to create something out of nothing, as presented in Jurassic World, we must ask ourselves, where do we draw the line? The concept of “playing God” comes to mind throughout watching these fantastic films, and it seems like this issue could be questioned in today’s culture—even without dinosaurs roaming around. Is it our place to make these great changes in the world, or are we unknowingly making the world a more dangerous place by probing in areas we shouldn’t?
In a world where things such as cloning, self-replicating cells, and a number of other wonders exist, we’re forced to face a culture in which nearly anything can be made new. And yet, with so many opportunities for our culture, we must ask ourselves how far we’re willing to go. Is it our place to make these sort of changes to humanity, or are we, much like the scientists in Jurassic World, simply playing God? Are the characters in Jurassic World innocently trying to further what they can do with technology, or are they altering the natural process of creation for the sake of entertainment?
By remaining sensitive to the changes taking place in our world, we are able to become more aware of what it may mean for our culture. Personally, if science presented our world with the possibility to bring actual dinosaurs back to our world, I’d be tempted—I just can’t shake the idea of riding a triceratops to work in the mornings. It’d be incredible! But should I be that comfortable with changes so great? As Christians, I think we could benefit by questioning more of what is in the world and becoming more aware of how certain changes could affect our culture.
So to any of you planning on seeing this film now that the hype of its release has calmed, I encourage you to consider these concepts and what they may mean for the fate of our culture. But overall, enjoy a very well-done film, that is worthy of praise.
Image: “Mad Science Invitation 4” by Martin Cron