Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1199: Trailer Trashing: Jurassic World

They released a trailer for the upcoming Jurassic World, continuing the saga of cloned dinosaurs run amok started by Stephen Spielberg in the 1990s. Let's look at the trailer:

Okay, we have Chris Pratt playing the hunky gamekeeper/dino-trainer/voice of reason, and Jessica Chastain Bryce Dallas Howard as the icy corporate chick who plays God and comes to reject the error of her ways when it unleashes chaos and death. They even have what appear to be trained raptors running alongside the cycle-riding Pratt, no doubt to save the day against the evil hybrid-dino.

Now I actually don't have a problem with the trained raptors. Much has been made about their intelligence in the Jurassic franchise, so it's not much of a stretch for someone to figure out how to train them.

What I do have a problem with is the unseen hybrid-dinosaur created by the Jurassic World scientists. Not so much with it's existence, no doubt the studio thought the franchise needed to go beyond the possibilities of nature for thrills, but I am worried about the excuse they're going to use in the film for why the lab-rats made a horrible monster.

Now there are two possible reasons for the scientists to create a new hybrid-dino. One sort of fits with the themes and concerns that were present at the franchise's creation. The other one is a tired cliche the studios love to trot out as an all purpose excuse for anyone to make a monster.

Let's deal with the cliche first.

The cliche is "We did it for the weapons division." Which means that they created a powerful, almost indestructible, and completely uncontrollable monster so that a defence contractor can sell them to the military.

This excuse first popped up in the movie Alien as the reason why the android Ash tried to force feed Ripley a back issue of People Magazine. They were allowed to get away with it because as a conceit it was new, and it fit with the dark image people had of the whole military-industrial complex.

I held that image myself for a long time, because of the creation of things like the "A-Bomb." However I came to realize something when I learned more about how defence industries operate.

Developing weapons for the military is a big business, but there's a catch. Despite the billions spent by the military the profit margins are actually pretty thin, with most being sucked up into research and development.

That means one thing: If a defence contractor wants to make serious money, then they need to find profitable civilian uses for their products.

Missile guidance systems become the circuitry in your game console, body armour becomes safety equipment, fighter and bomber technology find their way onto commercial aircraft. Even the A-Bomb heralded nuclear power.

That's why you don't see big contractors making bio-weapons, and they've become the realm of deranged dictators. Bacteria and viruses make terrible weapons, since you can't really aim them, they can backfire horribly, and any weapon you can't control is not a weapon, it's a problem. It also has no civilian commercial use that they can make money from.

Same goes with a homicidal monster-dinosaur. It's not useful, it doesn't follow orders, and is just as likely to eat its own people than the enemy. This too has no civilian use, and that's another problem.

If the typical American corporation had its druthers to create a hybrid dinosaur, it would make a harmless and cuddly pugosaurus that it can sell as a pet with accompanying animated series and multiple lines of merchandise.

That's where the money is.

So if they use the whole "we built it to sell it as a weapon" excuse, then the whole premise of the movie is bullshit.

Then there's the other excuse, the less cliche one.

And that is "shits and giggles."

What do I mean by that?

Well, I mean that the scientists created the hybrid-dino simply because they could without asking themselves if they should.

(See, I paraphrased a line from the original to show you how it fits in thematically)

Give scientists the resources, and many of them will try anything simply to see if it can be done. Many great discoveries and more than few disasters have occurred because of it and that's a historic and scientific fact.

The plan may have started out of curiosity, which then grew to obsession, and eventually resulted in something they didn't predict. Or it may have started as an attempt to create one thing, like the pugosaurus, and an unpredicted mutation turns it into something else that's nasty.

A pretty reasonable and under-utilized premise which will probably not be used. The cliche is just easier, both creatively and socially for Hollywood to go for.

I'll be interested in seeing which one they use in the movie, because it will have some influence on whether I'll spend money on seeing it or not.


  1. A theory on the 'trained raptors'...
    I got the impression that they were running away from something that scared them so badly they didn't feel they had the time to snack on biker boy.

    Not sure why I thought that, it's just the impression that first came to my mind at that point in the trailer. I hadn't yet seen any other theories of what the raptors were doing so I wasn't primed to see them any certain way yet.

  2. Hmmm… But Pratt doesn't have his "run away" face on, more like a "come on let's get this SOB" face.

    We'll have to see the movie, or at least read the spoilers on the internet when it comes out to find out who is right.