What Went Wrong
Almost everything. Nothing makes sense: not the CEO that doesn’t care about business, or the way his employees in the lab can just hide information from the rest of the company, or the kids’ parents who shipped them off for a “family weekend” that didn’t include them. The plan to turn velociraptors into weapons is laughable, and the park’s lack of a plan to handle an escaped animal is criminal.
But the worst part of the movie is its treatment of Claire.
At the start of the movie, Claire is the hero. She’s a professional woman who doesn’t have time for children and knows it, who is struggling to find time for her sister’s kids — that were dumped on her, it’s clear she didn’t have any choice about the trip or its timing — and manage a multi-million dollar park, despite a CEO that doesn’t seem interested in business.
She’s surrounded by people that want her to give up and go back to a subservient female role. Her sister wants her to pop out some kids. Her boss wants her to stop caring about her job. Her subordinate (Owen) wants her to take his orders and his termination-worthy sexual harassment.
It’s clear that the movie wants us to find her off-putting at the start (they even dress her in white, for goodness sake, to emphasize her supposed frigidity). The intention is that as time goes on she’ll become more sympathetic, but only as she takes on a more traditional, more subservient, role: she takes off her outer clothing to expose her breasts (despite the chill of the evening), she accepts motherly responsibilities over her (frankly bratty) nephews, and she submits to Owen’s sexual advances.
But every step along the way is a loss of her agency. By the end of the movie, she’s the selfless, unambitious woman everyone wanted her to be, instead of the level-headed boss she was. She’s gone from hero to sidekick, from independent woman to love interest.
How to Fix It
There’s a lot that needs to change.
We’ll start with Claire. We gender-swap the company manager and animal trainer roles. Now Owen’s role — velociraptor-whispering wilderness bad-ass — is filled by a woman, and Claire’s role — overworking manager who’s lost their sense of wonder — is filled by a man.
The manager’s character arc shifts away from forcing an ambitious person to fit into a traditional gender role. Instead, the manager, in contact with the kids and the trainer, and getting to see more of “his” park than usual, rediscovers his sense of wonder. Through their adventures — which have to include some moments of peace and reflection now, instead of pure destruction and death — he reconnects with the reason he took the job in the first place. By the end of the movie, he hasn’t abandoned his career for a family, but the park’s creatures become more than just assets.
We also change up the villains, which will let us give the trainer the character arc that’s missing in the original version of the film.
The villains are animal rights activists that want to free the dinosaurs and return them to the wild. They’d planned to do the release at night while no one was at the park, but their leader (still played by Vincent D’Onofrio) convinces them to take advantage of the chaos of the I. Rex’s escape to move ahead of schedule.
Now instead of mustache-twirling military villains, we’ve got real people with real concerns — the treatment of the dinosaurs at the park, their restrictions on breeding, etc — that you could make sympathetic arguments for.
In fact, at the start of the movie, the trainer is sympathetic to their arguments, and perhaps has a fight with the manager about it. Over the course of the movie, though, as she sees the destruction caused by their actions, she rejects the activists’ extremism and comes to appreciate the balance between commerce and science that the park represents.
As for the CEO, we make him a Costa Rican native that was educated in the US before joining Hammond’s company. A real up-by-your-bootstraps guy, he cares about the business and making money, but he chose to build the park as a way of giving back to Costa Rica: the construction jobs, the tourist money, etc. Each one of the workers that dies is someone he knows, each one hits him hard because it’s one of his countrymen.
Finally, we need to change the kids. They’re no longer siblings, and they’re not here as part of a family “retreat”. Instead, the older kid is American and deaf, the younger is Costa Rican and autistic. Both are there as part of a therapy camp for disabled kids the CEO wanted to host.
The manager’s grumpy about the camp, since it’s more work for him. But the American deaf kid is his nephew; he got him into the camp as a favor to his sister.
As part of the camp, the kids are sequestered in a part of the park that’s herbivores-only. Within this safe zone, they can roam around inside the bubble cars as much as they want.
Most of the kids want to spend time outside of the bubbles, except for the autistic kid. He feels comfortable there, spends more time exploring in the bubbles than anyone else. This is how he finds a hidden route that leads to the velociraptor enclosure. He meets our trainer there, and develops a bond with the raptors.
He uses this bond later in the movie, when the raptors have turned against their trainer: it’s the kid that gets the raptors to back down, and gives the humans time to escape.
The deaf kid is too cool for most of the other kids — and can’t communicate with most of them, since he insisted on not having an interpreter — but the autistic kid finds a way to communicate with him using the HUD built into the bubble cars.
The two become friends. Eventually the autistic kid shows him how to get out from the confines of their camp, which is why they’re MIA when the I Rex vanishes, kicking off the trainer and manager searching for them.
It’s a lot of changes, but now we’ve got a movie where every character is sympathetic — even the villains — and they’ve all got story arcs that have them growing and changing over the course of the movie. And with the CEO knowing most of his employees, each death has meaning, each disaster is something personal. And since our antagonists are real people, causing real but preventable havok, we can end the movie with the park damaged but intact, having survived this attack, and the manager and CEO vowing to recover and rebuild.
We can do something that hasn’t been done in a Jurassic Park movie before: end on a note of hope.