Why Haven’t All The Dinosaurs Been Killed Yet?: The Logistics Of A Cool – But Implausible – Inter-Species Conflict

A few weeks ago, I watched ‘Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock,’ a short film that gives us a glimpse at how humans and dinosaurs are interacting in the wake of ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s ending.

Having been given a taste of what the third Jurassic World film might be like, I tried to imagine how things could get worse from this point out. Currently there are five concrete facts known about ‘Jurassic World 3’s story:

1. Claire, Owen, and Maisie will be back.

2. Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, and Ian Malcom are coming back as well.

3. The story will take place around the globe.

4. Dinosaurs being created, sold, and spread around the world.

5. It will not be about a world war between dinosaurs and humans.

Despite the last fact being confirmed, I’m guessing that there will still be a major conflict between humans and dinosaurs, and an inevitable battle to see which species will have the privilege of survival. There is, however, one huge problem with this plot: At the end of ‘Fallen Kingdom,’ approximately 67 dinosaurs escaped into the wild. ‘Battle at Big Rock’ tells us that:

*The dinosaurs have been in the wild for a year.

*Their presence is known to the public at large.

*People are willing to go camping with their families when giant carnivores are running around (?!).

With that in mind, there’s one important question that must be answered: Why haven’t the dinosaurs been killed yet? From a public safety standpoint, these dinosaurs are an invasive species and a massive menace to public health. It’s only logical that authorities would want to take these creatures out as quickly as possible to ensure public safety. But why haven’t they? Five possibilities come to mind:

1. Authorities have not gone after the dinosaurs.

2. Authorities are hunting them down, but are having a difficult time locating them.

3. The dinosaurs have been tagged and are allowed to roam free within a limited area.

4. Shady individuals are bribing/threatening government officials to let the dinosaurs run free.

5. The public wants the dinosaurs to run free.

The first option is highly unlikely: whenever a bear or other dangerous animal is loose near communities, it’s quickly hunted down. If there was, say, an allosaurus or a tyrannosaurus rex stomping around a national park or suburban community, they’d be hunted down as quickly as possible, and if the authorities were slow to do so, then mobs of armed civilians would take up the task, not wanting their children or loved ones to become Purina Dinosaur Chow.

The second option is more reasonable, but still unlikely. We have technology and weapons that not only allow us to kill any dinosaur we come across, but to also track them down; finding the heat signature of a T-Rex or Triceratops with infrared cameras on a helicopter would be a relatively simple matter (though it’d be more difficult to track smaller dinosaurs, like the compies, and finding that mosasaur and the pteradactals would be neigh-impossible considering they could be swimming and flying anywhere on Earth), and military-grade weapons would make short work of even the thickest dinosaur hide. An ankylosaurus might be among the most heavily armored dinosaurs, but I doubt it would survive a rocket to the face.

The third option is the most likely, but is not without its flaws: as noted earlier, dinosaurs are an invasive species, and while a plant eater might be allowed to walk about freely with a tracking beacon, a house-sized carnivore who needs to eat hundreds of pounds of meat a day would still be a massive public safety hazard, and would be tracked down as quickly as possible and shot.

The fourth option, as silly as it sounds, could be at play in some areas: In this day and age, corruption runs rampant in governments, and the thought of shady companies/organizations who want the dinosaurs to survive for whatever reason would deploy threats or bribes to force various officials to look the other way. The problem with this, though, is that the inevitable public backlash against prehistoric carnivores running free would eventually become too great for even bribed officials to ignore; history shows that, when the public demands something for long enough, and loudly enough, governments eventually cave, no matter how corrupt they are.

The fifth and final option has people wanting the dinosaurs to roam wild and free and sing songs in the sun all day long… which means it’s probably environmentalists, hippies, and children who would take this option. But the problem is that they’re likely to be a minority, with the majority of people wanting their families and children to stay safe from murdersauruses running about in the woods.

With all that said, which option is the most likely one? While we’ll have to wait until 2021 to find out, I’m guessing the answer is a mix of 3 and 4 with a sprinkle of 5 thrown in: The authorities are going after the dinosaurs, but because of public affection for the beasts, authorities have decided to tag and track the herbivores, allowing them to roam free while warning the public that they may encounter said beasts in the wild. But while the authorities go after carnivores, the beasts somehow manage to escape capture, thanks to people who want them to be free, such as Eco-terrorists who work to remove tracking chips, or threaten people who try to tag said carnivores.

Of course, this is all speculation. I could be wrong on all of these, or may have just correctly guessed how things are going in the ‘Jurassic’ universe. But this scenario does provide a valuable lesson for writers of speculative fiction where unusual animals are released into the present day: There needs to be a very good reason why they aren’t wiped out quickly by humanity and our drones, guns, helicopters, tanks, and the like. Perhaps the animals are shapeshifters, or perhaps they reproduce at an astonishing rate, or have hides that are almost impervious to our weaponry. Simply having them run free without a good explanation of how they survive won’t work in our modern era; going back to the 6osih dinosaurs now roaming the wild, we have to contend that they face 7 and a half billion people, billions of guns, and every military on earth. To survive, each dinosaur – including the compies – must kill approximately 124,758,064 people to win the inevitable dinosaur war. Coupled with the fact that we have helicopters, heat-seeking missiles, high-caliber weapons, and an unmatched talent for wiping out entire species when we put our hearts and minds to it, the logical outcome of such a war is that the dinosaurs are slaughtered within a week or two, with only the compies surviving and thriving due to their small size, speed, ability to hide almost anywhere, and (presumably) fast reproduction speed.

The bottom line? Before we release animals into the wider world in our stories, it’s always a good idea to sit down, take a few minutes, and figure why they’re not blown to kingdom come by the most bloodthirsty species on the planet – us.

The Best Background Characters: The Praetorian Guard With Questionable Judgement

Every story has a cast of characters that we follow and watch and come to love… but what about the background characters? The nameless masses who rarely get our attention? This column examines my favorite background characters who deserve a moment in the spotlight.

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The Movie:

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

The Character:

A Praetorian Guard who doesn’t exactly think things through

The Scene:

(The guard in question appears at 1:40)

Why He Deserves A Moment In The Spotlight

All of Snoke’s Praetorian guards – who have no special abilities – deserve recognition for taking on two very powerful Force users. Granted, they all die, but they still put in a comendable effort to avenge their… Well, their master who we didn’t get to know too well, but I’m sure they liked him.

Today’s background character, though, is the guard at 3:07 (let’s call him Bob), who, in the most important battle of his life, attacks Dark Side user Kylo Ren by… ramming his armored forearms against Kylo’s lightsaber blade and immediately dies.

Why point out this guy? As the elite guard to the leader of the First Order, it’s logical that these guards are at the peak of physical conditioning, masters with their weapons of choice, and have been trained for countless hours in all manner of hand-to-hand combat so they can take on any threat that might attack their leader. So why on earth does Bob perform such a silly act against a lightsaber user? (A question that others have pointed out) He doesn’t have any weapons, and leaves himself open for a fatal counter attack. Perhaps he was trying to distract Kylo so one of his buddies could take him out, but I like to imagine that it was a momentary lapse of judgement, showing that, while highly trained, Bob can still make mistakes or not think clearly when fighting for his life against someone he has no chance of defeating, humanizing someone who would otherwise be just a nameless, faceless dude who’s killed off in a few seconds and has a $250 Sideshow Collectables figure made after him to appease the Star Wars fan who will buy anything based off of any character, no matter how short their appearance.

But best of all, I like to have fun imagining what Bob was thinking in those final seconds of his life:

‘Okay, this is it! I’m gonna charge this emo punk and ram his lightsaber with my forearms! Yeah, that’ll show him! Okay, here I go! Wheee! I did it! I did it! I… Wait; wait, what do I do now?! Oh shit, I didn’t think think this thruooourrararrrrrrgghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!’

What we can learn from ‘The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny’

 

 

 

There’s one question that has dogged mankind since the moment we could walk upright, form languages, and come into contact with other cultures, a question that every nerd, writer, and child asks at one point in their lives: Who would win if __________ and __________ got into a fight?

There’s no denying how cool it is to see two characters from different franchises, eras, and universes fight it out for dominance, survival, and bragging rights. Admit it: When you were a kid, you loved having all your toys fight one another for no other reason than it was fun. I did; granted, most of my toys opponents tended to be dinosaurs, but it was great. But as we grew up, such questions become relegated to fan fictions or our imaginations as we put our toys away.

Then, come 2005, an animation was posted on NewGrounds that changed Internet culture forever.

I don’t remember when I first saw ‘Showdown,’ but it hooked me from my very first viewing. Here it was, a showdown featuring dozens of pop culture characters duking it out for no other reason that it was cool, set to the beats of a disturbingly catchy song. Now, 13 years later, that song is still as catchy as ever, but what’s great is knowing that this song and video were, at one point, the peak of crossovers, long before the Avengers and cinematic shared universes came into our culture outside of comic books. In a way, this is the precursors to all those things, and though it wasn’t the first, it’s one of the most important.

Though short, this song and music video offers some valuable lessons for those of us who want to write our own crossover fights:

If logic is no object, then nothing is off the table in a crossover

How can Shaq take on Godzilla? Where did all the good and bad guys come from when they started fighting in Tokyo? How can an ordinary human deflect bullets with his hand? Such logic isn’t needed to enjoy the sight of so many characters fighting each other: One part of crossovers that makes them so special is how rare and unique they are. Remember how excited everyone was when Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ was first announced and then released? It was a once-in-a-decade event and was so exciting because a movie crossover involving so many characters from different films, all fighting together for the very first time in Hollywood history. While we’ve gotten three more such superteam crossovers (soon to be four), ‘The Avengers’ was so memorable that we were willing to accept any flaws or cliches the film had (ragtag group of different individuals fighting amongst each other – literally – before coming together to fight a common enemy), and ‘Showdown’ is the same. It’s so cool to see all these characters fighting that logic is temporarily thrown out the window.

Consider having a good guy fight to save others even during a free-for-all

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the video, Optimus Prime rushes in to stop a skyscraper from falling after Godzilla hits it with his tail. Though this moment costs him his head, it speaks volumes about Optimus’ character, in that in the middle of a battle to the death between every fictional character, he stops to try and save innocent lives. Doing a similar act for your own fights is a great way to show that someone really is a hero who puts others ahead of themselves.

Consider the pros and cons of focusing on a small group of main characters in a free-for-all

Every story needs a main character that the audience can focus on or follow, and free-for-all battles are no exception. Here, the protagonists are Batman, Abraham Lincoln, Shaq, and Jackie Chan, and most of the video focuses on them. However, consider changing up the roster of secondary characters as your story goes on; while it’s cool seeing Abraham Lincoln wielding an assault rifle, a machete, and go pole-vaulting to try and take on a shape-shifting robot from outer space, I can’t help but feel it would be cooler to have other characters come in during the song’s second act to shine, even if only for a few seconds each. Who wouldn’t want to see, say, Spider-Man running around with a machete, or Solid Snake pole-vaulting into Optimus? Part of the charm of these giant fights is seeing a large group of characters fight, so it’s smart to give everyone time to shine, no matter who they are.

Consider including a character so powerful that it requires others putting aside their differences and teaming up to defeat them

He only does two things in the song (kick Indiana Jones in the crotch and kill Batman), but Chuck Norris’ appearance marks him as the most powerful and badass character in ‘Ultimate’ He’s so powerful, in fact, that it takes the combined might of over 20 other characters to take him down in the bloodiest battle that the world ever saw. And even cooler, most of them would be mortal enemies outside of ‘Ultimate’; where else would you see every single Power Ranger fighting alongside Darth Vader and Benito Mussolini?

The advantage of bringing in uber-powerful characters into your story is that they immediately dominate the battlefield, forcing other characters to to put aside their differences, even if only for a few moments, to work together for their own survival, giving you a unique opportunity to have characters who would never otherwise tolerate each other be forced to do so, leading to moments that are either awesome, funny, or a mix of both as they interact and play off each other.

Consider making the survivor/winner of your big fight an unknown who isn’t a fighter

Just who would win in a winner takes all fight of pop culture characters? Depending on who you ask, there’s an infinite number of possible victors, ranging from the strongest, the fastest, smartest, or the most clever. ‘Ultimate’ bucks that trend by having the victor not be a muscle-bound warrior, a magical wizard, or a dictator, but Fred Rogers, host of ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood’.

What’s great about this ending is that the victor of such a bloody battle isn’t even a warrior, but a kind, gentle man who, by all accounts, never raised his voice or said anything unkind about anyone. It’s unexpected, it’s novel, and even heartwarming to see someone opposed to violence standing as the greatest character in pop culture, and mourning all those who perished (though, personally, I think the seppuku was going a bit too far).

The Takeaway

When doing an incredibly awesome crossover that involves lots of fighting, you have more leeway to break the laws of physics or logic in order to get something cool. Consider following a core group of characters, but remember that your audience will want to see everyone get a moment to shine, especially when dozens of them have to team up to take down a particularly powerful character, and to see good guys/gals doing little deeds to try and help others, even at the cost of their own personal safety. And when it comes to endings, consider having someone unexpected win, instead of the most popular character.

Favorite Moments: The most sensible thing anyone has ever done in a horror movie

We all have our favorite moments in movies, books, and games, moments that stay with us long after the story is over. This column is my attempt to examine my favorite moments and see why they stick with me.

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The Movie

‘Event Horizon’ (1997)

The Scene

Why it’s Great

How often do we watch horror films and watch characters make decisions that lead to death, suffering and misery?

“Wow, dead bodies! Let’s keep going into this dark, spooky house and see what killed these people!”

“Oh my gosh, everyone’s been torn apart in this secret laboratory full of genetically modified animals! We’d better explore and find out what happened!”

“Oh cool, a gateway to an incredibly dangerous dimension full of horrors that will rip our souls apart! Let’s go through! For science!

My guess is pretty often, which makes it a treat whenever we see characters who, upon seeing death, horror, and downright hellish situations, say, ‘Nope’, turn around, and get out of the area as fast as humanly possible, and ‘Event Horizion’ is one of the rare films that does it. Even better, it’s the leader who’s doing it, and who then delivers the following line:

Weir: You can’t just leave her!

Miller: I have no intention of leaving her, Dr. Weir. I plan to take the Lewis and Clark to a safe distance and then launch TAC missiles at her until I am satisfied the Event Horizon has been vaporized. Fuck this ship!

Of course, that plan doesn’t work out, but it’s still a treat to see an authority figure acting reasonably in a horror film. And if Miller had succeeded, we would have gotten a much happier ending:

Favorite Moments: Aim the drill at the ground and turn it on!

We all have our favorite moments in movies, books, and games, moments that stay with us long after the story is over. This column is my attempt to examine my favorite moments and see why they stick with me.

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The Movie

‘Armageddon’

The Scene

Ben Affleck points out some errors in logic.

Why it’s great

With most science fiction and fantasy films, it’s expected that we’ll have to suspend logic to some degree so the plot can move along. Oil drillers going into outer space to drill holes in a meteor so bombs can blow it up from the inside? Sure, I can go with that. But as Mr. Affleck observes, that may not have been the best solution.

The brilliance of Mr. Affleck’s observation is that sometimes going for the simplest solution in a story is often the best. I don’t know how complicated drilling is, but it probably would be easier to train astronauts to operate drilling equipment instead of training drillers to become astronauts. Of course, that would remove much of the movie’s charm of blue-collar underdogs heading out to save the Earth, and make for a less-exciting second half where we see trained astronauts calmly and professionally drilling to the designated depth, depositing the bomb, and blowing up the meteor with plenty of time to spare.

As stated before, suspending logic happens in every story to some degree, and is expected by audiences. After all, if a mundane solution were applied to every problem in fiction, our stories would be really short and much less exciting, AKA, the Doylist solution; if the Fellowship of the Ring did fly the One Ring to Mt. Doom with the help of the eagles, for example, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ would be a much shorter story. But every now and then, why not try doing the simplest solution in your own fiction? You just might throw the audience off guard and thus get their attention and make them wonder what else you’ll do.