Although Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a convoluted mess, full of dino pro-life campaigns and forced romance yet somehow void of gripping dinosaur attacks, the movie did offer an open-ended resolution. Dinosaurs, now freed from the constraints of Isla Nublar, roam free on Earth. Monologuing in a US Senate Hearing, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) declares the beginning of the Neo-Jurassic Age. Dinosaurs and humans must learn to coexist, which is what the last five installments of the Jurassic franchise have shown to be near-impossible.
But now that dinosaurs run completely unharnessed and uncaged, there seems to be no other choice. Colin Trevorrow’s new Jurassic World spinoff short film, Battle at Big Rock, co-written by Emily Carmichael, introduces the feeling of human helplessness in real-world dino situations. A family camping in the woods (led by parents Natalie Martinez and André Holland) comes face-to-face with four dinosaurs, one of which is a dreaded carnivore.
The pre-dino dinner table sequence is a bit stuffy, which is concerning if these are recurring characters. As the kids argue, Holland’s character drops some sloppy exposition about the newly merged family. Though there’s no talk yet, there’s a good chance this cast could continue into Jurassic World 3. The story sets up some pre-existing drama for the characters, and the family unit provides a new batch of kids for the series — and what’s a Jurassic film without terrified youths?
As the Jurassic World series has proven, the dinosaurs are able to pick up where the human subplots fall short. The family’s dinner is interrupted by the first two dinos, a mother Nasutoceratops and her baby. For a brief moment, the film allows us to feel the harmony between beasts and humans. The characters are nervous but also delighted by the sweet baby dino under the watchful eye of her mother.
The battle begins when the carnivore, an Allosaurus, is introduced. To the horror of both the human family and mother dinosaur, the hungry aggressor begins his attack on the baby. Then the daddy Nasutoceratops arrives and the parents of the dino baby are able to stand together against the carnivorous beast, leaving him hungry for blood. The wails of the human baby then lure him to the camper.
There’s not much of a battle — not with an eight-minute runtime — but it is more entertaining than both Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom simply because it doesn’t take so much time to indulge in messy plotlines. Battle at Big Rock offers the thrilling dino sequences we missed almost entirely in the last feature. It is entirely devoted to the brutes, save for the bit of dinner conversation. Slap the iconic score on it (this short’s music is by Amie Doherty) and add some material about feared human annihilation, and maybe Jurassic World 3 has more potential than its predecessors.
Trevorrow saves the best part of the short for the credits: home movie and cellphone camera footage of dinosaurs infiltrating the earth. A few Compsognathus chase a young girl, a Stegosaurus’ tail swings into a moving vehicle while blocking a road, and everywhere dinosaurs interact with the anthropocentric planet. These clips are fleeting, but they’re well-made and exciting — hopefully, there’ll be more like this in the next film.
Battle at Big Rock gives a nice break from the main characters that both the Jurassic World features focus on, with a fresh cast offering potential for the third film. It is unclear when Jurassic World 3 will take place, though the short suggests it will occur when the dinos are roaming wild. Or perhaps this is just a way to fill space between Fallen Kingdom and a larger time hop to the third film? The bigger the jump, the more room there is to explore ideas of human annihilation and apocalyptic dinosaur wastelands.
Trevorrow, who also helmed the 2015 reboot sequel Jurassic World, is currently slated to direct the third installment in the Jurassic World series. Though he did not direct the mess that was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, he produced the sequel and was credited with writing it. Hopefully, Jurassic World 3 will bear more resemblance to the exciting amusement park chaos from the feature installment he directed as well as the character-driven drama of this short.
Jurassic World 3 is set to release theatrically on June 11, 2021.