Devin Farci writes in an article titled The Strangely Cruel And Unusual Death In Jurassic World:
So why does the death of Zara – the British assistant to Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire – feel so wrong? Why have so many people taken notice of the fact that Zara’s death is cruel and horrific? Why, in a movie predicated on the promise of dino destruction, does Zara’s end come across as deeply mean-spirited?
It’s because death has a cinematic language all its own, and Jurassic World doesn’t speak that language properly. Zara’s death rankles not because she didn’t deserve to die but because she didn’t deserve to die quite that hard.
Screenwriter John August suggests that her death sequence might have intended for a villain in an previous draft, and writes:
What makes this one death in Jurassic World so odd is that the character is neither hero nor villain. We’re not rooting for comeuppance, yet the sequence seems designed for exactly that — payback for a karmic debt owed.
I have to disagree with both writers. Zara is a villain, and does deserve to die. Here’s why:
Jurassic World is a film about traditional tribal values triumphing over modern ones. Most critics have failed to understand the film, writing it off as popcorn entertainment because they don’t understand those values.
In tribal societies, everyone has a role to play, not just for their own survival, but the survival of their tribe. Owen, the Chris Pratt character, understands and respects this, which is how he becomes pack leader to the raptors, and to the family unit of Claire and her nephews. Claire sees the park through the modern worldview, reducing even the most dangerous predators down to “assets” on a spreadsheet. She sees watching her nephews as a job she can delegate, instead of a role only she can play as family.
Claire charges Zara, her British assistant, with keeping her nephews safe. Zara fails to do so, because she is talking on her cell phone instead of watching them. They nearly die in the sequences that follow because of her negligence. She makes no proactive effort to find them, and doesn’t even tell her boss she has lost them until her boss calls her. Endangering a child is one of the worst things a person can do, especially in traditional tribal values. She had one job, and she failed horribly. By slasher movie logic, she has to die.
Look at it this way – suppose if instead of being resourceful enough to hot-rig a 90s jeep, jump off a cliff, and narrowly escape the literal jaws of death, the boys had been devoured by a genetically engineered dino-monster. Would Zara deserve to die then? The only reason that didn’t happen was because a scene with children being eaten alive would have been out of place in Jurassic World, not because Zara wasn’t negligent.
What’s interesting is that modern critics don’t see endangering children as a brutal death-worthy offense. They are so locked in to the modern view – that human beings are atomized individuals accountable only to themselves – it doesn’t occur to them a modern person would have a responsibility to anyone else.