REVIEW: Battle at Big Rock [2019]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 10 minutes
    Release Date: September 15th, 2019 (USA)
    Studio: Universal Pictures
    Director(s): Colin Trevorrow
    Writer(s): Emily Carmichael & Colin Trevorrow / Michael Crichton (novel Jurassic Park)

It’s one of them.

If Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom had one purpose, it was for clone baby Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) to do what Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) couldn’t: let the dinosaurs go free. While the idea of using Lockwood resources to create an ark and save as many species as possible to exist in their own island sanctuary away from hubristic humans was a ruse to illegally sell them all off to the highest bidder, the mercenaries under Eli Mills’ (Rafe Spall) employ ended up playing Noah anyway. Maisie unleashed the de-extinct creatures onto America with altruism in her heart, but she may have also ignited mankind’s extinction in the process. Because there can be no safe cohabitation between dinosaur and man. For the latter, there can only be survival.

That leads to Colin Trevorrow‘s return to the Jurassic fold with a short film, bridge episode to the feature length Dominion that’s entitled Battle at Big Rock. Originally meant to debut in theaters with a huge marketing push that included branded toys (Dino Rivals’ Allosaurus and Nasutoceratops to be exact), the piece was ultimately dumped unceremoniously on YouTube instead. COVID-19 then made matters worse by delaying production and release of Dominion, leaving the entire franchise in a pop culture limbo for what became three long years. It’s a shame too because Trevorrow and cowriter Emily Carmichael actually created a rather suspensefully entertaining stepping-stone that got to the heart of what Fallen Kingdom‘s effect would mean. Regular people were now at risk. Families just trying to enjoy nature’s calm.

Dennis (André Holland) and Mariana (Natalie Martinez) were hoping to commemorate the two-year anniversary of their joined family with a camping trip far away from any of the dangers they had heard about on the news. As young Kadasha (Melody Hurd) knows, however, dinosaurs migrate like any other animal. To therefore see a Nasutoceratops mom and cub stomping around outside their RV is exciting. Cute even. Until an Allosaurus crashes the party looking for easy prey. Cue Dennis and Mariana’s crying baby and that carnivorous predator is provided an even easier alternative. Except, just like the Nasutoceratops, threatening a child turns parents into superheroes. This family isn’t going to give up without a fight. And who knows? Kadasha’s previously thought “irresponsible weapons training” just might save them too.

For a ten-minute lark, Battle at Big Rock harkens back to the original film with its depiction of child-like awe turning into unbridled fear. Much like how the Hammond grandchildren found courage to stare down these man-eating monsters with zero hope of survival, Kadasha and Mateo (Pierson Salvador) must also use their parents’ determination as an example to stay ready for anything. Their plight gets audiences’ blood pumping for what we assume will be a continued series of real-world scenarios upended by the presence of dinosaurs via Dominion. If, of course, we were able to stumble upon this online short despite little to no advertising. And if, after that, we found ourselves still clamoring to see how it all plays out three years later. Those are big ifs.

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