The BIGGEST little film of 2019 delivers all the delectably dangerous dinosaur action we didn’t even know we needed with a tightly intense 8-minute thrill ride of cinematic class.
If you haven’t seen the first ever live-action short film in the Jurassic Park franchise yet, do! It’ll probably take you longer to read this than watch the film... What are you waiting for? Stop reading! GAH!
Pretty great, wasn’t it?
The first thing that grabbed me was how similar the treatment was to the original. Colin Trevorrow, the director of this short film as well as 2015’s Jurassic World, managed to stay true to the art direction of Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece. What makes Battle at Big Rock so good can be summed up in four words:
Light low, soft glow.
The beauty of this short is that the dinosaurs don’t command too much of the camera’s attention, keeping just the right amount of time on them while focusing mainly on the feelings expressed by the humans caught in the middle.
A special mention must be made to the lighting of the set pieces.
Even during the main tussle between the now fully-grown Allosaurus from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the female Nasutoceratops, all that lights the scene are the very strategically placed headlights of an SUV in the background and the roaring fire in the foreground. The lack of strong light allows our brains to fill in the gaps and not rely too heavily on the CGI.
Now, CGI is a great thing, but do you know what’s even greater? A giant animatronic Allosaurus! YES! This is where Colin Trevorrow and Industrial Light & Magic really shine. The mastery of physical visual effects coupled with beautifully implemented CGI ties everything together in a neat, teeth-gnashing parcel.
The end sequence is particularly great. Interspersed among the credits are five ‘found footage’ clips. My personal favourite being the penultimate clip showing a great white shark being devoured by a Mosasaur in absolutely epic fashion.
What excited me so much about JP’s first short film is the direction. The sense of scale. Who knows where the franchise will go or how it will end? I’ve always been a huge fan of The Lost World. Yes, the CGI wasn’t great and yes, Sam Neill didn’t reprise his role as everyone’s favourite Alan and yes, the run-time might have been a bit long, but a dinosaur, through no fault of its own terrorised people in a city, where people live! The story progressed. No longer were characters being forced into a situation they didn’t need to be in (an island with dinosaurs on it), but instead were experiencing a danger that they never in 65 million years would have expected to face in modern-day San Diego.
Are dinosaurs going to win out? Is the universe playing some cruel joke by staging the greatest extinction role reversal ever? Are human beings the element that dinosaurs always needed to reach their next stage of evolution?
Interestingly enough, one scene from the Jurassic Park that started it all has been playing on repeat in my brain ever since watching Battle at Big Rock.
Dr Ian Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.
Dr Ellie Sattler: Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.