Give me real Velociraptors, any day of the week…

And you know what? I’m beginning to think I’d much rather take my chances with the Velociraptors, thank you very much...

Quick disclaimer: I haven’t actually got round to watching ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ yet. And to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t really planning on doing so in the near future, either...

Then again, I might change my mind in time for the 8.30 show tonight. Partly because… yes, the unveiling of that ‘Velociraptor’ statue, in Valletta this week, did have its intended effect (on me, at any rate).

Actually, it had a couple of unintended ones, too. Right now, my mind is positively reeling with imaginative ways in which that statue could be lampooned [, take note] – such as: by simply re-wording the name on the plaque, to refer to any ‘expired’, ‘antediluvian’, or ‘fossilised’ Maltese politician of your choice…

But I can’t deny that I am also rather intrigued by the prospect of Malta’s busy streetscapes, suddenly crawling with genetically-engineered Velociraptors and T-Rexes (I’ve said it often enough in the past: our over-populated islands would benefit enormously from the experience… and it would probably solve all our traffic problems, too!)

And besides: call it a coincidence – because that’s all it is, really – but just this morning I stumbled upon the following quote on my Facebook feed: “Jurassic Park is the most realistic disaster series, because they have the same problem, over and over again, every time… and nobody ever learns from it, or tries anything a different way.”

And just like that – as happens so often in the films themselves - my entire outlook on the ‘Jurassic Park’ franchise was promptly devoured by a passing Spinosaurus. (Or to put that another way: everything that I had previously grown to dislike, about this particular series, was suddenly exposed as being its whole ‘raison d’etre’ to begin with.)

For yes, damn it! Whoever said that - a certain Stef Schwartz, if you really want to know – nailed it, with all the force of an incoming asteroid-strike.  It is precisely for that reason that I was less than enthused by the prospect of yet another Jurassic Park spin-off (even if it was partly filmed in Malta; and even if the trailer does, admittedly, look more promising than I expected).

There is, after all, a limit to how often you can retell exactly the same story – a plot so simple, it can be summed up in just three sentences: ‘Man creates Monster’; ‘Man Loses Control of Monster’; ‘Monster devours Man, THE END’ – before it becomes kind of… well, boring.

And let’s face it: the entire Jurassic Park franchise never really ‘evolved’ (if you’ll excuse the pun) beyond that basic initial premise. The CGI might have got a lot better, since 1993; and the dinosaurs themselves certainly got bigger, and scarier, and all that…

… but my biggest beef with all the sequels, to date (or at least, the ones I’ve seen: tell you the truth, I lost interest altogether after 2015’s ‘Jurassic World’) is that – on a creative level, anyway - they never actually crawled out of the primordial soup of the original 1993 block-buster, at all.

So much so, that Jeff Goldblum manages to synthesise the plots of all future spin-offs, in a single throw-away line: which occurs roughly halfway through the (lamentably-awful) first sequel, ‘The Lost World’.

“‘Ooh, Aah!’ That’s how it always starts.  Then later there’s running… and screaming…”

And… yup! Another asteroid-strike, bang on target. Because that is exactly how the plot of ‘Lost World’ unfolded, from that point on; and it’s also the same basic formula to which all other sequels seem to have rigidly adhered to, ever since.

But thanks to this new panorama that has suddenly opened up before my eyes… I now realise that this was the entire point those movies were all along (intentionally or otherwise) trying to make. And viewed from this angle, the Jurassic Park formula certainly does correspond to a few ‘realities’ we can all see around us, right now.

Let’s go over the pattern again, shall we? “The same problem, over and over again, every time… and nobody ever learns from it, or tries anything a different way.”

We all know how that translates, in the Jurassic Park universe. No matter how many times human beings make the mistake of ‘bringing back long-extinct animals, for commercial gain’… not only do they never, ever learn the most obvious lesson, from the ensuing carnage (i.e., perhaps it’s better to just ‘let extinct dinosaurs lie’, after all); but they never even seem change their own flawed approach, to the same recurring problem.

No, not even when they themselves had created that problem, to begin with; and no matter how many times that same approach only ever leads to ‘more running… and more screaming…’

At which point: well, you also start to appreciate why Malta makes such a convincing location, for the latest movie in that franchise. (And why that Velociraptor statue already looks so snugly ‘at home’, as it were, at the precise epicentre of our capital city).

Not, mind you, because Malta is the only country in the world, to match that pattern to a ‘T’. In fact, my hunch is that the original meme was actually intended to draw parallels with Climate Change (and humanity’s manifest failure, to ever adopt any new strategies to actually cope with it).

But few can deny that Malta does provide a fascinating case-study, for that same formula.  Even if you just take the two ‘problems’ I’ve already mentioned, a little further up: ‘over-population’, and ‘traffic’… already, our own approach to those issues starts resembling a never-ending ‘disaster movie’ franchise, in action.

For the purposes of this article, however, I’ve decided to focus on another issue: overdevelopment… partly, because it arises as a direct consequence of our sky-rocketing population anyway. This week’s census, for instance, revealed Malta’s population has shot up from 417,432 in 2011, to 519,562 today. That’s an increase of 100,000, in just 10 years; and all those people need places to live, you know…

The same, I need hardly add, also goes for Malta’s (increasingly intolerable) traffic situation. ‘More people’ also means ‘more cars’: which in turn means more congestion, more air pollution, more fuel-consumption, more emissions, and… well, not exactly ‘more running and screaming’, this time; but not that far off, either.

And of course, the larger your population, the greater your national consumption of energy (and, oh look! Some parts of Malta are already experiencing black-outs: as half-a-million residents all switch on their air conditioning units, at the same time…)

All those problems, then, are clearly interwoven. And just like John Hammond’s original dream, to ‘bring dinosaurs back from extinction’ in Jurassic Park… they are all also the direct result of a conscious, premeditated ‘strategy’, on the government’s part, to ‘grow Malta’s economy, by increasing its population’.

But while the government may indeed have delivered, on both those initial promises… just like John Hammond, it also repeated the typical ‘Jurassic Park’ mistake, of failing to ever predict the (rather obvious) consequences of its own strategy.

Which brings me to another reason why ‘overdevelopment’ fits so neatly into the Jurassic blueprint. Because it’s also about ‘creating monsters’, isn’t it? Or at least, ‘monstrosities’… which now threaten to ‘devour’ their way ever further, into our scarcest (and most precious) national resource of all: land.

Indeed, for every human life that is (presumably) cut short by ‘Velociraptors’ and ‘T-Rexes’, in the movie ‘Jurassic World Dominion’… untold acres of pristine land have already been quite literally ‘gobbled up’, by a monster of our own creation, right before our very eyes.

And while this problem may not have quite the same effect, as (for instance) a sudden, unexpected stampede of large, hungry, prehistoric predators, through the streets of your neighbourhood… let’s just say that there are other ways (apart from ‘running and screaming’) to express one’s ‘horror’ at this ugly state of affairs.

At the time of writing, ‘Construction’ emerges as by far the most pressing national concern, according to a TOM online poll (followed, predictably enough, by its cousin: ‘Traffic’); and while that may not add up to any scientific ‘proof’, of just how unbearable the current overdevelopment drive really is… let’s just say that the rumbles of discontent have now grown so loud, they have even reached the ears of Finance Minister Clyde Caruana.

In September of last year, for instance, Caruana admitted that: “People are getting tired of cranes and concrete”; and in what almost comes across as a direct echo of that Stef Schwartz meme, he even added: “We need to change the way we think, we need to change the way our economy works. If we repeat the same things, we will get the same results…”

But.. erm… in what way has Clyde Caruana’s government actually changed its own, flawed approach to this same problem, in the 11 whole months since he uttered those words? And what ‘results’ have we seen in that time, anyway… if not a steady increase in development (including some truly hideous monstrosities, that have scarred this country far worse than any number of ‘Velociraptors’ ever could) to keep abreast of a steadily growing population?

No, indeed: it’s just like Jurassic Park, in every detail. Having created this ‘Monster’ – and having (predictably) ‘lost control of the monster they created’ – they are now powerless, or unwilling, to stop that monster from devouring every last square inch of the entire country: plot by plot, and field by field….

And you know what? I’m beginning to think I’d much rather take my chances with the Velociraptors, thank you very much...