‘Jurassic World’ and the entertainment industry’s insistence that science will run amok
Science: humanity’s greatest achievement, and quite possibly the cause for its downfall. At least according to the entertainment industry.
In “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the world reels in the aftermath of scientific hubris, specifically a disaster at a dinosaur theme park. Survivors must decide whether they will save the dinosaurs left on Isla Nublar or let them die off when a volcano erupts.
Of course, a little bit of greed paired with scientific resources means not everything goes according to plan.
But the “Jurassic Park” films are just the latest in a long line of films and television shows parading the horrific results of science experiments gone awry. Here are a few of the others:
When an escape pod from a research space station disintegrates upon its reentry to Earth, an experimental pathogen designed to rewrite genetic code is accidentally spread across the U.S. Among those exposed are a crocodile, a gray wolf and an albino gorilla named George. George was living in a wildlife preserve after being rescued from poachers by primate specialist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson). The pathogen — which was being developed as a biological weapon — causes the animals to become gigantic and increasingly aggressive (see also “Food of the Gods”), particularly when exposed to a specific sonic trigger. “Rampage” is loosely based on the 1980s video game with the same name.
‘Westworld’ (2016 - present)
Based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film, HBO’s “Westworld” is set in a future where people pay top dollar to spend time living out their fantasies in themed amusement parks populated by android hosts. Guests are free to do whatever they want without fear of judgment or repercussions; the hosts’ programming prevents them from harming humans. At least until the hosts, including and especially Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), become self-aware. Then there are plenty of consequences.
‘Ex Machina’ (2015)
In “Ex Machina,” programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is invited to visit the secluded home of the eccentric CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), who has built an android named Ava (Alicia Vikander). According to Nathan, Ava had already passed a simple test measuring her artificial intelligence and he wants Caleb to judge her consciousness and relatability. Caleb is disturbed when he discovers Nathan had built many android models prior to Ava, and that he has mistreated all of them for his pleasure. Ava is able to convince Caleb to help her escape, which turns out to be the real test Nathan was conducting.
‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ (2011)
The recent reboot of the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise kicked off with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” an origin story chronicling just how apes gained the intelligence to wage war against humans. The answer: Those pesky scientists, this time involved in animal testing for a viral-based experimental drug to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Turns out the drug also increased intelligence in the animals. One young chimpanzee, who had been exposed to the drug, was taken in by a scientist (James Franco) who decides to raise him. Caesar (Andy Serkis), the chimp, eventually gets his hands on an updated version of the drug to increase the intelligence of other apes he befriended at a sanctuary and lead them toward freedom. But that’s not all. The new version of the drug actually ends up being deadly to humans, and since it’s virus-based, the illness caused by being exposed to it is contagious and spreading.
‘Battlestar Galactica’ (2004 - 2009)
“Battlestar Galactica” follows the last surviving humans and their war against a race of cybernetic beings known as Cylons. Re-imagining the back story from the 1978 “Battlestar Galactica” TV series, these updated Cylons were originally created by humans to be android workers and soldiers before they rose up and wiped out nearly all of humanity. The new show featured 13 biological Cylon models that were indistinguishable from humans. It is eventually revealed that these humanoid Cylons include the sole survivors of an entire colony of organic Cylons that had settled on Earth thousands of years ago, only to be brought to near extinction in a nuclear war against the mechanical Cylons they created. Yes, this show doubled down on the trope of technology rising up against their masters.
In this horror classic, based on the book that started it all, a scientist named Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his hunchback assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) attempt to create life by piecing together a body from parts collected from various dead people, including criminals. They succeed in bringing the creature (Boris Karloff) to life, but he ends up being much more than they can handle. Though not necessarily malicious, Frankenstein’s monster ends up killing Fritz and a couple more people, spurring the villagers to gather their torches and hunt the monster down.
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