I had an entry awhile ago about contrived situations writers will often use to create conflict in the story. I only listed four examples, and three were situations, and one was a character type (the drama llama). Inspired by a YouTube video, I got to thinking about other character types who exist only to create some kind of obstacle for the protagonist to overcome and hopefully don’t exist in real life. Unlike a trope, these characters exist solely to move the plot forward. Their motivations don’t make sense, their characterization is flat, and their appearance in the story is either lazy on the part of the writer or contrived, or sometimes both.
So I recently posted about how Jurassic World put a hole in my soul with its awfulness, mean-spiritedness, and almost insulting disregard of the original movie. Well, a friend of mine took a bit of umbrage with that entry, even though he didn’t disagree with my fifteen-minute summary. He said the entry sounded like the reason I disliked the movie so much was because I was in a fandom rage over the departures from the source material. He likened my reaction to those people who said the rebooted Ghostbusters was the worst thing in existence and it ruined their childhoods.
So I figured I’d better set the record straight.
or, “Concerning Top Gear/The Grand Tour”
I’ve written before about how I would like to share my joy of certain media to other people even though I realize in general such media is not their taste. I wish to share my otaku, as it were, and even if I can’t get people to share it, I hope to at least get them to understand why I enjoy my otaku so much. And then I thought about whether or not this is feasible. People like what they like, right? So I decided to figure out if I could come up with an example in my own life in which someone else successfully got me to understand their otaku even if I didn’t adopt it. And when the show The Grand Tour debuted, I realized I had my example.
Yeah, I know this came out in 2015, but I’ve been busy. So, full disclaimer first – when I was a kid, like most kids I thought it would be totally cool to be a paleontologist when I grew up and discover awesome, previously undiscovered dinosaurs. Eventually I figured out most of what I would be doing as a paleontologist would be sweating my butt off doing hard, dirty digging and hauling in the summer in the Badlands working for a pittance of grant money. I decided that wasn’t me, but my love for all things prehistoric (about up to the Pleistocene anyway) stuck with me.
or, “Rightfully Should be a Franchise Killer”
[[The movie opens with the ominous hatching of some kind of carnivorous dinosaur and then white-screens out to an entirely different setting]]
Some People’s House:
Claire’s Sister (no, her name does not matter) – So are you boys excited to be going to see the famous Jurassic World theme park and spending some time with your Aunt Claire over the winter break?
Gray – Dinosaurs are awesome! This will be the best vacation ever!
Zach – As a teenager, I am contractually obligated to be unimpressed by anything and everyone and only interested in girls.
[[The parents bid an oddly tearful farewell for what should just be a two-week break and the boys board the plane, board a ferry, and finally arrive on Isla Nublar only to be met by Claire’s personal assistant who has a name but it doesn’t even begin to matter]]
Zach – So Aunt Claire’s too busy to even see us?
PA – Yeah, but she got you a sweet suite and VIP passes to all the attractions, and she’ll be back this afternoon.
Gray – VIP passes, yay!
Zach – Meh.
Gray – Are you not impressed by this CG window view and swelling John Williams score from the original movie?
Zach – What part of contractual obligation did you not understand, stupid?
Laboratory or Something:
Claire Dearing – Welcome to Jurassic World!
Investor 1 – Um, who are you talking to? We’re behind you.
Claire – So the problem is of course no one is impressed by a real live dinosaur anymore. It’s the same problem actual zoos have. I mean, once you’ve seen one lion you’ve seen them all, right? So there’s no point in going back to the zoo unless there’s something new, right? So we’ll make something new, and I promise profits will sky-rocket.
Investor 2 – But all the dinosaurs are female. How are you going to breed anything new?
Henry Wu – As the scientist from the first movie to further establish continuity, I can tell you that we just made a new dinosaur the same way we made all of the others – by defying God and evolutionary principles by twisting the laws of nature to our every whim and desire. Muahahahahaha!!!
Claire – So, as you can see, Henry is just the man you want creating a new totally awesome kick-ass dinosaur.
Investor 1/2 – We’re sold!
Claire – Good! Now to stop by the control room because I am totally a control freak. That’s, like, my character.
Claire – Lowery, you’re such a slob.
Lowery Cruthers – No, I just love dinosaurs. Check out this shirt I got with the first movie’s logo on it, thus establishing continuity.
Vivian Krill – Lowery’s right. The original park was totally awesome, at least until all those people died.
Claire – Well, that’s not happening here. Clean up that mess while I go see my nephews and pretend I care about them in any way.
Hammond Innovation Center:
Claire – Hey…guys…it’s been, what, three years?
Zach – Seven.
Claire – Yeah, of course, so anyway, I’m super-busy so my personal assistant will keep you guys company while you use those VIP passes and tour the park. I’ll see you later, or tomorrow, or something. Promise. Laters!
[[So Claire goes to meet the new park owner to show off the awesome new hybrid Indominus rex]]
Claire – Um, why are you flying a helicopter? Can’t we just drive?
Simon Masrani – Because helicopters are awesome and I’m this close to being a licensed pilot.
Claire – Oh, god, tell me this isn’t going to be some kind of plot point later.
Simon – Okay, I won’t tell you that.
I. rex Paddock:
Claire – Allow me to give you a helpful exposition dump on how awesome and dangerous this new dinosaur is. She’s part T. rex and also ate her sibling. And despite the fact the paddock is still clearly under construction, we are certain it is totally safe and there’s no way this dinosaur that is 20% larger than a T. rex will ever escape and wreak havoc on the park.
Simon – What you say is pretty convincing, but I think you need to bring an expert in here, like Owen, the crazy guy that trains raptors.
Claire – That really doesn’t make sense but you’re the owner so fine.
Owen Grady – You know, as an expert on raptors, I’m kind of surprised they don’t have feathers.
Blue – <-<Yeah, yeah, there are fossils that prove we were covered in feathers but feathers aren’t scary, okay? We’d just look like a giant turkeys.>->
Owen – Yeah, point. Who would think giant turkeys with claws the size of hunting knives on their back feet would be scary. Okay girls, pay attention to my clicky thing and to me and you’ll get some food, cool?
Blue – <-<It’s cool while you’re up there and we’re down here, squishy food-giver>->
Vic Hoskins – That was amazing! You’ve totally completely tamed those wild, vicious, pack-hunters. As the leader of InGen’s Security Division, I think it would be great to train these creatures for military applications.
Owen – Wait, what? Are you insane? They aren’t totally tamed. They just know I give them the food.
[[And just to drive the point home, some noob ends up falling into the paddock and Owen just barely gets both of them out of there alive because the raptors aren’t quite ready to devour their food-giver just yet.]]
Vic – Yep, like I said, totally tamed and trainable.
Owen – You’re insane and we’re done here.
Claire – Okay, so my boss wants you to take a look at the new dinosaur paddock and give us your professional opinion on whether it’s safe.
Owen – I think you’re here because I’m totally hot and you’re regretting messing up our one date.
Claire – Just get over to the paddock and spare me your smug machismo. Also, take a damn bath.
Owen – Hey, smug machismo is my entire character!
I. rex Paddock Again:
Owen – So what’s she made of?
Claire – T. rex and other stuff I can’t tell you about.
Owen – So how am I supposed to give you my professional opinion on whether or not this paddock is safe if you can’t tell me all the capabilities of the dinosaur it’s supposed to contain?
Claire – Yeah, so that’s a total valid point and oh, no, the thermal cameras say the paddock is empty!
Owen – Yeah, and there are claw marks on the wall here. Do you think she got out?
Claire – And no one noticed a 40-ft killer monster stomping through the area? Of course she must have gotten out! I’ll head back to the control room and check on her implanted tracker!
Owen – Couldn’t you just call the control room?
Claire – Um, no, for reasons. [[leaves in a panic in the completely subtle paid product-placement Mercedes]]
Ellis the worker – I know I’m just an extra here, Mr. Grady, but shouldn’t we wait until Ms. Dearing calls back to let us know the dinosaur is really and truly gone before we go investigate her paddock and thus endanger all our lives in case she’s somehow hiding?
Owen – Um, no, for reasons. [[So Owen, Ellis, and Nick the comically overweight security guard, investigate the claw marks]] So, this is weird.
Claire – Lowery, Vivian, activate the I. rex‘s tracker and let me know where she is!
Lowery – Um, okay. Oh, she’s in the paddock. Where did you think she was?
Claire – AAGH! I’ve made a terrible mistake! I’ve got to get back there and tell Owen!
Vivian – Um, you have a phone…
Claire – Can’t talk, gotta go, reasons…!
I. rex Paddock:
Claire (via bad cell reception) – Owen, you’re in terrible danger! The I. rex is still somehow in the paddock!
Owen – I have no idea what you’re saying. It sounds like of like the dinosaur is still in the paddock… oh crap. Run!
[[Their effort to return to the man-door is interrupted by the I. rex herself, who chomps down on the ethnic extra first, as per movie convention; then Nick, the overweight idiot, decides to do the stupidest thing possible, as per movie convention, by opening the dino-door to escape; Owen runs right after him and although the door is already closing the I. rex wrenches it open and eats Nick who can’t even hide properly; the only reason Owen lives is because he coats himself with gasoline to hide his scent.]]
Claire – Okay, I’m sending out the military grade containment unit to re-capture the I. rex.
Owen – Re-capture? Don’t you mean take out?
Simon – Oh, no, she’s worth far too much money to just kill outright. I’m sure those men armed with cattle prods can easily take down a 40-foot long killing machine. No problem.
[[And this goes about as well you imagine as they find out I. rex both gouged out her tracker and can camouflage and that cattle prods do absolutely nothing against a 40-foot long killing machine!]]
Owen – Okay, most of those guys are dead. You need to evacuate the park, now.
Claire – But if we close we’ll never re-open. We’ll just close the part of the park she’s loose in.
Owen – Um, are people supposed to be rooting for your character to die, because if so, that is great motivation you just provided. Mr. Masrani?
Simon – As the owner, I do nothing to countermand this decision to put profits over lives.
In the Park, Somewhere:
Zach – That personal assistant who isn’t interfering in what we want to do in any way is such a drag I say we ditch her and go wherever we want.
Gray – But you don’t want to go anywhere. You were texting your girlfriend while the T. rex was skeletonizing a goat.
Zach – Well, I’d rather text my girlfriend without the unobtrusive presence of any responsible adult who might possibly prevent us from putting ourselves in totally avoidable danger later in the movie. So let’s bail. [[They do so and go watch the mosasaurus (a 50-foot long killer machine of the deep that will haunt your waking nightmares by its sheer size) feeding show]]
Owen – Shouldn’t you at least shut down the damn rides and get everyone back to the resort area where they can be accounted for?
Claire – Yeah, I suppose that’s logical enough.
[[Of course the rides aren’t closed before the boys get into a completely impractical gyrosphere ride that doesn’t have any sort of override mechanism and even though Zach has shown zero interest in anything so far, apparently he decides he was kind of a jerk to his little brother for breaking down over their parents imminent divorce and decides to ignore the recall order and go into unauthorized areas of the park]]
Gray – Are you sure we should be going into an unauthorized area?
Zach – You’re the one that wanted to see dinosaurs, so we’ll see dinosaurs. Anyway, the gratuitous cameo tutorial just told us how safe this thing was.
Gray – Okay, I guess. But I just have this feeling like we’re in danger.
Zach – Bro, even I can see ankylosaurs are plant-eaters.
Gray – Yeah, but whatever is behind us sure isn’t!
[[The I. rex, of course, in her journey across this vast island manages to run across the two kids and scares the hell out of them, smashes the gyrosphere thing, and forces them to jump off a cliff into a river to escape her]]
Claire – Owen, Owen, my nephews are lost on the island! We have to find them!
Owen – And are you ready to order a full evacuation yet?
Claire – What, no, no, listen, I. rex is still well north of all the people. You’ve got to help me save my nephews!
Owen – Fine. Do you want to change into some decent shoes?
Claire – Four-inch beige heels are perfectly sensible for running through a dinosaur-infested jungle.
Owen – Oh, man, this poor apatosaurus has been clawed to pieces by I. rex. But she didn’t eat it. That’s weird. Poor thing.
Claire – Wait, my nephews are in danger and you’re taking valuable time to comfort a dying sauropod?
Owen – Yeah. But you know, this is supposed to be a touching moment to establish my hero cred.
Claire – Oh, then I’d better take this moment with you to establish my heroine cred.
[[And the apatasaurus dies and they realize I. rex is on a mass-murdering spree through the park; they also find the busted gyrosphere and realize the boys are safe-ish]]
Abandoned Visitor Center:
Gray – Whoa, what is this place? It looks like a fully functional visitor’s center for the original park but for some reason just abandoned and taken over by the jungle instead of properly demolished. But surely there wouldn’t be that kind of gratuitous fan service, right?
Zach – Right… I’m totally using a thigh bone of a dead velociraptor and part of the original banner as a torch. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find something useful in here.
[[And they find an easily repairable Jeep that somehow starts up after over 20 years of neglect and they head out just about two minutes ahead of Claire and Owen]]
Claire – Now what?
Owen – If they got a Jeep running, so can I, unless, of course, the I. rex is hanging out here and tries to kill us. But what are the odds of that?
[[Shockingly good, it seems, as the I. rex comes out of nowhere and tries to eat them]]
Vic – Oh, wow, these guys are awesome!
Barry – They’re girls, and have you not noticed how we have them muzzled and restrained so they don’t eat us?
Vic – Nope. I think they’ll make totally awesome kick-ass military hunters.
Delta – <-<I am totally going to rip that stupid beard right off your face before I gut you>->
Vic – See, she likes me!
Simon – This has gone too far! I’m shutting down your research!
Henry – But you wanted a new awesome dinosaur for the park. I gave you what you wanted.
Simon – No, you gave me a seemingly unstoppable killing machine who can camouflage and become invisible to thermal sensors! What the hell? You’re fired, get out, and I’m going to load up the minigun into my helicopter and take this asset out!
InGen Security Officer – We need to wait for a qualified pilot.
Simon – I can fly! Let’s go.
InGen Security Officer – Yes, that’s very nice, sir, but we need a military pilot who has flown combat missions in similar terrain, not a civilian who’s still two days away from his license.
Simon – Spare me your logic and get in!
[[They do so and not only fail to hit the 40-foot long killing machine with a goddamn minigun, they end up chasing her into the aviary, releasing all the flying dinosaurs, and crashing to the ground and still missing the I. rex!]]
Claire – So I’ll be evacuating the park now.
Owen – Ya think?!?
[[Claire, Owen, and the boys all manage to get back to Main Street at roughly the same time only to be greeted by the flying dinosaurs who for..reasons…decide to attack the visitors and are strong enough to pick people up!]]
PA – There you boys are! We have to…[[And she’s picked up by a pteranodon and killed in the most horrible, gruesome, prolonged manner in the entire movie!]]
Owen – That is it! Asset or no asset, these things are going down! Also, I’m going to kiss Claire even though this is literally the worst time to do so!
[[General chaos and destruction reign until nightfall and Lowery chooses to remain in the Control Room for no good reason when everyone else leaves; then Vic decides to just take over the entire park; incidentally, Henry has escaped with a suitcase full of embryos in what can only be described as the “sequel bait” maneuver.]]
Vic – Okay, people, I think the best thing to do is use the raptor pack to hunt and take down the I. rex.
Owen – That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.
Vic – Hey, we’re doing this with or without you.
Owen – But I’m the only guy has any semblance of control over the pack. How exactly would you do this without me?
Vic – Shut up!
Claire – Okay, boys, you stay in the back of this veterinary vehicle and be safe, okay?
[[Owen agrees to this stupid, stupid idea and uses the chunk of I. rex with the tracker in it to give the raptor pack the scent even though the guy that last held the chunk was squashed to death miles away]]
Barry – This is a really stupid idea.
Owen – Yeah, I know.
Barry – Yeah, but I’m black.
Owen – You might get lucky and survive.
[[The raptor pack does indeed find the I. rex and instead of anyone taking the clear shot on her, they wait to see what happens]]
Echo – <-<By Hammond’s beard, she’s enormous! They didn’t tell us how big she was!>->
I. rex – <-<You ladies weren’t thinking of trying to attack me, were you?>->
Blue – <-<Um, no, no, of course not. That would obviously be suicide>->
Barry – Um, Owen, I think the I. rex is part raptor because she’s talking to them.
I. rex – <-<Yeah, that’s what I thought. So here’s the deal, bitches, you either work for me, or I eat you right now.>->
Blue – <-<Ma’am, yes ma’am!>->
Owen – Oh, crap! Shoot her! Shoot her!
[[But the highly trained mercenary force manages to miss the 40-foot killing machine even with sights, scopes, and goddamn rocket-propelled grenades, then decide to split up to run after her and get picked off by the raptors in the tall grass]]
Owen – Oh, man, this was stupid!
Charlie – <-<Hey, squishy food-giver, I’m totally going to eat your delicious face>->
Owen – Oh, come on, we have a bond.
Charlie – <-<Whatever>-> [[But Charlie’s attempt to eat Owen is cut short by an RPG to the face that obviously kills her]]
Back at Base Camp:
Gray – Um, Aunt Claire, did all those guys just die horrible deaths?
Claire – No, no, they’re sleeping…
Survivor – Run for your lives! [[Is killed by a raptor]]
[[Claire and the boys ride away while fending off two extraordinarily determined raptors and eventually they all meet back up at the resort and go down into the lab for some reason]]
Vic – I guess it’s time to reveal my villainous plan to pay Henry to create a killing machine for me to sell to the military. Oh, obviously the actual killing machine will be much smaller than I. rex, but she’s a good prototype. Muahahahaha!!!
Owen – I don’t know what your plan exactly was, but I think just judging by the chaos around us it was probably needlessly complicated and could not possibly be going to spec.
Delta – <-<Also, I am totally going to rip that stupid beard off his face!>->
Vic – No, not my comeuppance!
[[Delta does as she threatened while the others try to escape, only to run into the rest of the pack, which somehow includes Delta, unless Charlie actually survived the RPG; this is not clear]]
Blue – <-<Now what, squishy food-giver?>->
Owen – Come on, we have a bond, and that camera looks stupid. Let me get that harness off, okay?
Blue – <-<Aw, squishy food-giver, thanks. Just between us, I wouldn’t have attacked you if the I. rex hadn’t threatened to kill us>->
I. rex – <-<I heard that, traitors! You’re all out to get me! I’ll kill everything!>->
Owen – Um, ladies, a little help here?
Blue – <-<Alright, ladies, even though I said it would be suicide to attack the I. rex, let’s attack the I. rex>->
[[And the raptors attack I. rex, but it doesn’t do any good and all three are seemingly killed]]
Claire – Oh, great, now what do we do?
Gray – We need more teeth.
Claire – More teeth? Oh, I have an idea, and it’s both terrible and awesome! Owen, keep the boys alive!
[[And Claire instigates the scene that probably is the only reason this movie exists – she gets Lowery to open up the T. rex paddock and uses a flare to lure the original T. rex (as identified by the scars) to fight the I. rex and somehow doesn’t break her ankles running in those stupid high heels]]
T. rex – <-<Oh, hells no! This is my territory!>->
I. rex – <-<You’re old and washed up! I’m taking over this town!>->
[[The two monsters proceed to fight one another but it looks like the younger, more powerful I. rex may actually take out T. rex when Blue comes in out of the, well, blue, to distract I. rex and give T. rex a breather; the fight ends when I. rex gets too close to the mosasaurus tank and she lunges out of the water and drags I. rex to her doom]]
Blue – <-<I, er, don’t speak tyrannosaur, but, um, we cool?>->
T. rex – <-<Some things are universally translatable. Yeah, we cool, little lady, we cool.>-> [[T. rex walks off freely through the now abandoned park]]
Owen – Blue, your pack is dead, so what are you going to do?
Blue – <-<I get the feeling I can’t stay with you, squishy food-giver, not after this disaster, so I’ll head out in the park and try to get by. I guess I’m a lone raptor now.>-> [[And Blue runs off into the wilderness]]
Claire – You know, I think we really hit it off back there. Also I have learned that I really do love my nephews and that I am brave when I have to be, which totally makes me a fully realized character. Think we can try again?
Owen – Well, in real life, you’d be going to jail for criminal negligence for a long, long time and I should tell you to go to hell because you needlessly endangered thousands of people, but since this is a movie I’m going to forgive you and I guess we’ll live happily ever after.
Claire’s Sister – And also because this is a movie, I’m going to totally forgive you for neglecting and endangering my children.
Claire’s Brother-in-Law – And it’s strongly implied we aren’t getting divorced after all.
[[So the movie ends with Claire and Owen walking past hundreds of injured and traumatized park visitors completely oblivious to the pain and misery and for some reason the audience is supposed to like either of this people?]]
T. rex – <-<Whoa, whoa, we’re not ending this thing just yet. I get the last word. *Ahem* The queen is back! All hail the queen!!!!>->
A lot of critics give a lot of flak to Dreamworks for not being Pixar, or Disney. Well, sometimes Pixar isn’t Pixar either. For myself, I find most of the Dreamworks movies to be fair to good, somewhere in the C+ to B range. And frankly, that’s fine by me. These are actually movies made for children that adults can enjoy, rather than many of the best Pixar movies which are movies that are made for adults that children can enjoy. So the Dreamworks movies may be simpler. Sometimes simple is great.
As promised, this isn’t a parody of a song but a poem, one which almost no one seems to remember the actual title to. Anyway, it turns out this wasn’t easier but I hope it brings you a bit of enjoyment today.