The Accidental Anti-Capitalist Message of The 'Jurassic Park' Series

The Chris Pratt Jurassic World movies aren’t great art. They’re junky power fantasy thrill rides. You could easily picture Andy Dwyer, Pratt’s Parks And Recreation character, spontaneously composing the plot while strumming guitar chords stolen from Hootie & The Blowfish.

But Jurassic World has one great advantage over the original Jurassic Park: the movie recognizes that the real monster is unchecked, voracious capitalism. Sadly, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, they unlearned their lesson.

It’s almost certainly an accident, but the Jurassic Park/World movie series can easily be read as an extended metaphor for the fossil fuel industry and the coming mass extinction event of global warming. Over the course of six movies, under-regulated businesses exploit prehistoric organic matter despite repeated warnings, ultimately causing global environmental destruction.

While it’s a corporate product, Jurassic World hinges on an anti-corporate message. When the movie starts, the titular dinosaur theme park is a crowded, money-making global attraction. Despite the success, the investors demand growth. To squeeze more money out of the public, the park’s engineers create a monster that rips through dozens of innocent people’s lives.

The Jurassic World screenwriters realize that the people who unleashed the dinosaurs are the story’s bad guys. That might seem obvious, but it’s not true of the original Jurassic Park. In Jurassic Park, eccentric tech billionaire John Hammond lures a small team of unarmed paleontologists (and his two young grandchildren!) into a park with major safety issues. Oh, and he doesn’t tell them the park contains living dinosaurs before they enter.

Clearly, the eccentric tech billionaire is a dangerous sociopath. But the movie thinks Wayne Knight’s character, an underpaid IT worker,  is the villain instead of the guy who turned his grandchildren into dinosaur food.

The less said about the second and third Jurassic Park movies the better, but it is funny to note the big betrayal of the third movie is that William Macy turns out to be less wealthy than he claimed. It’s like a plot twist written by a Margaret Dumont character in a Marx Brothers movie. An impudent middle class striver pretend to the social station of the truly rich? How dare he! The very gall. Why,  I never.

Jurassic World was refreshingly free of deranged rich people we were expected to like. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Please note: spoilers are about to abound. At the end of the movie, dinosaurs are loose in the continental United States of America and Jeff Goldblum welcomes mankind to Jurassic World. It’s the most dramatic invasive species infestation in world history—think about the ecological disaster cane toads caused in Australia and amplify that to dinosaur size and it’s clearly a death sentence for all of humanity. And it’s a death sentence that could it have been avoided if not for the myopic decision of a single rich person, Maisie Lockwood.

Towards the end of the movie, Lockwood and the audience learn the young girl isn’t the granddaughter of Jurassic Park co-founder Benjamin Lockwood, as she’s been presented throughout the movie, but a clone of Lockwood’s dead daughter. After learning she’s a clone human being she feels sorry the cloned dinosaurs and saves them from being destroyed and ends human life as we know it. The movie thinks it’s a big deal that she’s a clone but the more telling detail is that she’s the beneficiary of unearned, inherited wealth.

Clone or not, she’s an heiress who makes a self-serving decision that dooms humanity to unprecedented environmental disaster.

The screenwriters couldn’t have created a better stand-in for climate change action opponents and fossil fuel billionaires the Koch brothers if they tried.