Columns » Chris Rose

Revenge of the Dinosaurs

I have a terrible habit when I watch movies: I focus an inordinate amount of attention on flaws in the plot


  I don't get bent out of shape when Hollywood butchers a Louisiana accent, or when somebody crosses a bridge out of New Orleans and descends into the middle of Cajun country. These are storytelling conceits, necessary lies to compress the action and drive the narrative.

  What I'm talking about are situations that simply seem implausible, incredible — literally — but which are forced into the script because, well, if they don't occur, there's no story. Jurassic Park is one of the most egregious offenders in this realm.

  Imagine: A fully self-contained, automated, digital, fiber-optic, fully tricked out habitat at sea — a private sanctuary isolated from the oppressive regulations and interventions of government and society.

  So, they've got this island, right? And, along with all this futuristic, uber-tech gadgetry, they have co-opted the powers of the gods, down to, and including, the creation of life. But it's a dangerous enterprise, this sanctuary. It's the movies; it has to be dangerous.

  What the island's proprietors are dealing with are the fundamental elements of the planet, millions of years old and, if history has taught us anything, it's that basic elements of the planet can be dangerous — deadly, even — if corrupted by mankind's lust for power and/or money. One mistake, and everybody who isn't killed is ruined. But, if the creators of Jurassic Park — the place, not the movie — can pull it off, they will have lots of money and power. Lots.

  Thus, it's a given that the best and brightest scientific minds are enlisted to research and develop this place. And that money to back the project is seemingly limitless. And here's where Jurassic Park (the movie, not the place) runs afoul of common sense and the whole thing loses credibility.

  To wit: When the power went out on the island, there was no backup system. Do you remember that part?

  The power grid shut down and suddenly the entire island — the entire operation — came to a standstill. Thus, the audience is supposed to believe they built the most advanced scientific laboratory in the world, mastered the genomes of extinct life forms, moved to a distant location at sea and ... nobody thought of packing batteries? No generators? (Hell, I don't even remember anyone having candles or duct tape.)

  When I realized this — they had created, say, the technological and monetary equivalent of a space station — but neglected to install a simple on/off switch in case of emergency, well ... they lost me at that point.

  But, here's the problem: If someone, anyone (my guess is even the kid would have thought of it) had the forethought to install a simple emergency on/off switch for the island's power grid, well, then, there's no movie.

  At least, there's no movie where all hell breaks loose, people die in grotesque and exotic fashions and the whole operation is plunged into darkness, peril and panic. Also lost is the subliminal message that the gods are angry and nature is exacting a furious revenge on those who dared corrupt her.

  So that's my problem with Jurassic Park, why I can't suspend my belief and buy into the story. Because, in real life, with all the science and money brought to bear, no one could — and certainly no one would — neglect such a basic, fundamental design element that, in a worst-case scenario, could simply shut down the whole operation.

  This would take a level of carelessness, swagger and arrogance even the movies cannot abide.

  With the kind of safety codes, ecological concern, social awareness, government regulation — and just plain human enlightenment — that has been established over the last century to safeguard the planet, its environment and its inhabitants — mankind included — no one could ever make such a dire mistake.

  Even by today's profanely debauched standards, hubris of such a grand scale is unimaginable. In fact, impossible.

  What I'm saying is: In real life, no one could ever be so f—ing stupid.

  Could they?


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