Yes, this is about Jurassic World. Yes, this is about the infamous scene depicted at left. Minor spoilers ahead.
There’s not much to really introduce here - given the typical summer blockbuster advertisement campaign you can’t even hide under a rock and not know what Jurassic World is, especially given that there were three widely popular movies preceding it with the most recent one being about a decade and a half old. There is a scene where the dinosaurs have their first major break-out and the female assistant to the protagonist kids (in both senses - they are the kids - well, nephews or so of the main female protagonist and are themselves a major focus of the movie) is snatched up by flying dinosaurs while in the middle of planning her wedding and then played with and dropped into the mouth of a giant fish.
Let me compile a list here of why this scene is just fucking stupid, starting with the major point first:
It’s A Goddamn Fucking Cartoon, And Even Cracked and Plagiarizers Know It
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with cartoons. I love cartoons, and as a Millennial man-child I obviously know no shame in publicly announcing that. There’s a time and place for cartoons however, and a death scene, even a throwaway one with a character whose backstory was crafted specifically to squeeze out the most “shock” value isn’t the time or place for it.
All of the previous Jurassic Park films had death scenes emphasizing how we humans are just animated chunks of fast food to dinosaurs, but somehow they were...different. The first film handled dino dinner in a way more common with stock horror tropes with a little bit of SFX gawkery thrown in. Even being eaten while taking a shit on a port-a-potty was handled much more like a horror film confrontation, if not between the characters than for the audience. Jurassic Park - and the best horror films in general - are great at that. Film auteurs and people who like to pretend to be such constantly talk about the “contract” a piece of entertainment has with its participating audience, and the best films don’t just acknowledge that but actively use it to their advantage, a technique that Spielberg’s entire career is more or less built on. The first film wasn’t about the special effects, it was about using special effects to make the audience itself a part of the movie.
The scene in question does absolutely none of that. It’s half half-assed shock value, half cartoon. Hell it wouldn’t be so tonally out of place if it were accompanied by a slide whistle (and it wouldn’t be the first stunt that’s been ruined by literally a fucking slide whistle). That draws the audience away from being in the movie - you know, the exact opposite of what you want to do.
If all of what I’m saying so far sounds familiar, it should. In fact I’m hoping to God it sounds familiar, because it means I’m hardly alone (or original) in thinking this. David Christopher Bell over at Cracked.com was telling you guys this well before the movie even premiered when all we got was a fleeting hint of this scene in trailers. In fact his words were so good that it got repeated twice, quite literally, in a little incident we won’t really mention and will just sweep under the rug here.
It’s (Arguably) in Bad Taste
This one is subjective and it doesn’t necessarily ruin the movie for most people, but enough people are apparently bothered by it that I’ll be more than happy to let it pad out my list.
As I’ve said, the other movies sacrificed characters in the name of drawing the audience in and trying to convince them that they’re as much prey as the people actually standing on screen. They tried to convince viewers that this was a cinematic minefield and you can hardly go in any direction without getting your head bit off, and that the characters made it out alive as much through dumb luck as their own guile and intelligence. Whether successful or not, they made an earnest effort to convince you that the surviving characters survived by chance, not because they were the movie’s designated protagonists. Under this context, a man getting eaten while in the middle of taking a shit actually helps deliver a thematic and tonal message.
In Jurassic World, we have a woman being used as a volleyball by some flying dinosaurs and then dropped into the mouth of a giant fish like a cartoon object. It does two things - it lets the SFX depart say “hey look we can model giant fish and people substituting for volleyballs” and it lets the creative department say “hey look we’re not afraid to expend women as dino meat either.” Absent from this list of accomplishments is someone, anyone, saying “hey look the main characters are actually in trouble and this death proves that people you care about are probably going to die too.”
When you have a death that’s meaningful and well done, you can get away with a lot more stuff no matter how shocking it is. People will concentrate on the death, the character, and the implications it has for the remaining characters and the rest of the plot. When you have an empty death that’s inserted mainly for shock value, it opens up your movie to both fair and unfair criticism that ultimately distracts from the movie, even during the actual viewing experience itself when some people are probably going to be having little internal monologues inside their heads. Stuff like “this scene reminds me of fucking Looney Tunes” and “damn why did the hot chick have to die like that” and “when I get home I’m going to look up vore porn on DeviantArt.”
Speaking of which....
It Creates Stupid Distractions and Discussion That’s More About Meme-ing It Up than the Actual Movie’s Merits
They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to movies, but doing stupid stuff inside your movie risks it becoming a piece ripe for mockery in hindsight. Take the 2012 film The Dark Knight Returns for example. Is it remembered for being the crowning final piece in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy? Or is it more remembered for:
1. Being the movie involved in that theater shooting
Let’s elaborate on that second point: the opening scene of the film where a CIA agent confronts Bane, simultaneously introducing that character. It was meant to emphasize Bane’s combination of cunning genius and brute strength, yet came off as ham-fisted and cheesy to such a degree it spawned a meme that refuses to die after three fucking years.
This accomplished turning the movie into one big joke, especially after it’s left the theaters. It’ll be the one thing people remember. The movie where we find out what happens to Bruce Wayne and the conclusion to that line about the hero that people deserve? Nah man, it’s the movie where the guy with the weird mask says I’m a big guy for you.
Of course once the movie leaves the box office the people creatively and financially vested in that movie start caring less anyway, but do you really want your movie to be remembered for its dinosaurs or “that one movie where the hot chick got ate and killed by the cartoon effect?”
It Risks Turning Your Big-Budget Dino Movie Into a Literal Joke
Watching a random lady get killed by a cartoon effect is bad enough on its own. It’s so tonally disconnected it kicks the audience right out of their suspension of disbelief, and it’s so inherently stupid on its own face that it’s become its own meme as if it were the movie’s climax - all for the sake of the SFX crew wanting to show off. Consider David Christopher Bell’s points again - movies aren’t movies anymore, they’re extended-length SFX tech demos that theaters are charging a full Alexander Hamilton a pop for (or more). Instead of the raw awesomeness - and I mean awesomeness in its literal sense - of a T-Rex being brought to life or seeing a killer robot from the future battle another, even deadlier killer robot from the future, we see Hollywood’s obsession with rag doll physics and a level of over-the-top oneupmanship that’s more at home on a DisneyXD cartoon.
Just like Arnold’s post-political career - I’m crediting David Christopher Bell so I can both say that and use this image now (now go read his article again).
Of course, given the runaway opening success of Jurassic World, not to mention other CGI ragdoll physics-fests like last year’s Transformers: Age of Extinction maybe it’s what the audience wants anyway. To which I say - I’ll be in the corner, huddling my Blu-Rays of the original Alien and Star Wars movies.