Writing realistic and compelling characters is, like, really hard to do -- and it only becomes more difficult when you're trying to write realistic characters in a world of rampaging mutant scientists and dinosaur skirmishes. Since solid (even marginal) character development has lately taken a backseat to finding excuses for the heroes to get tossed from one action setpiece to the next, we've started to see the same inexplicable character traits spring up in our favorite blockbusters over and over again, like big dumb weeds. Don't believe me? Then how come ...
6 No One Has Any Fear of Death
There's a scene in the record-breaking Jurassic World in which the two kids escape their gigantic clowny hamster ball in order to be thrillingly chased by a genetically-bastardized monster cartoon.
"LOL! #ButchAndSundance" -- The tweet they send right after
After narrowly escaping a nightmarish death by mere inches, the brothers crawl out of the water while sharing a hearty chuckle, like a couple of rough-and-tumble Indiana Joneses. Because that's totally how a pair of rich children would react to having eons of evolution explode gallons of fear hormones into their brains. Hey, remember these kids?
It's Lex and Tim. You know this.
Even at their bravest moments, Lex and Tim spent the majority of Jurassic Park racking up psychiatry bills like skee ball tickets. After the first T. Rex attack, Lex babbles in a drainage pipe, while Tim is catatonic in a mechanized tree house. And sure, both of these kids do eventually enjoy a few chuckles, but at least the movie tried to show us how a normal child would spend the first several hours after a goddamned dinosaur attack stewing in a puddle of gibbering horror shit.
See, thanks to the flood of late sequels and remakes, we're now able to see the specific way modern films royally mishandle characters from the '80s and '90s. Look at the 1984 Terminator's Kyle Reese vs the 2015 Terminator's Kyle Reese:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures
"Nailed it!" -- a casting director
In 1984, Kyle Reese was wiry, desperate, and had PTSD flashbacks thanks to growing up as a feral child in the middle of an irradiated robot apocalypse. In 2015, Kyle Reese is a swole-up supermodel exchanging good-natured jabs with an aged robot dad who represents the waking hell of his entire childhood. At one point, both he and 1980s Sarah Connor travel to 2017 without exchanging a single moment of bewilderment to how mind-fuckingly different the world has become. Maybe this is the bar that's been lowered since superhero films defined destroying a space portal as cause for mild panic attacks, but we've reached a point where monsters and robots are so commonplace that even the fictional characters seem unfazed. The end result is films that absolutely don't stand the test of time, because once the audience is immune to the spectacle, all that's left is a bunch of lackluster mouthbreathers.
These people are supposed to be watching a man getting eaten by a monster.
5 Movie Villains Can Instantly Pick Up The Skills Of The Heroes
Before superhero films were a huge thing, it used to be that the protagonist would start as the out-weaponed underdog who needed time to match the strength and/or abilities of the villain. Dutch set booby traps for the Predator, Ripley figured out how to fire a gun, and Neo learned how to channel his inner ninja Gumby man.
And you learned never to trust again.
It's kind of hard to do that when your movie begins with the hero already having a jet-powered projectile suit. And so we started getting films in which a chunk of the time was spent watching the villain become formidable to the heroes' skills. And since no one wants to watch the bad guy undergo an optimistic training montage, the new method was to hand them the ability like a vending machine bubble toy.
We see Superman spend his childhood adjusting to the atmospheric conditions of Earth -- something that General Zod masters in an afternoon. Tony Stark painstakingly learns how to use a suit that he built specifically for his own body, while two supervillains (and even random henchmen) can easily pop in and out of it like a greasy pair of sweatpants.
"By the way, I'm totally not wearing underwear right now. It's super vinegary down there."
Having your villain grow more powerful than the hero is fine if that growth makes sense, but when a 300-year-old Khan is thawed with the instantaneous ability to operate futuristic ships and weaponry, then you might as well make him a talking cartoon penis. Even the goddamn Indominus Rex is introduced as a caged maniac with no social skills before instantly communicating with and commanding a gang of raptors that Chris Pratt has been training for their entire lives.
But I guess it's like that old saying: "Monkey see, monkey shoot two machine guns while riding a horse."
20th Century Fox
-- George Washington to Ben Franklin, 1776