The Idiocy Of Using Dinosaurs As Weapons
Movies, like real life, are full of violence. But it's the fun kind of violence, full of gizmos whose main job is to look cool. This week, we're taking a close look at those wonderful toys, seeing what makes them so memorable ... and what makes them so ridiculous.
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If there's one thing we've learned this week looking at movie weapons, it's that a lot of fictional weapons make no sense compared to real-world alternatives, and that's fine, so long as it makes for a good story. The Jurassic World movies touch repeatedly on the idea of militaries wanting to exploit dinosaurs, which makes no sense AND makes for a bad story.
Humans have a long history of using animals in war ... to carry stuff. Animals carried heavy equipment before we invented motor vehicles, and they carry people, even today, in areas where people (and motor vehicles) can't easily tread. When it comes to using wild animals as fighters, however, we've never had much luck.
Many experiments with animal warfare relied on their being more disposable than people. That's why we tried strapping bombs to bats or using monkeys to remove mines. Dinosaurs, expensive and hard to replace, are no good for that role, and really, it looks like no animal ever managed the job very well. Consider the Soviet antitank dogs. During World War II, Russians strapped bombs to their dogs and sent them toward German tanks to destroy them. The dogs ran forward then ran right back toward their owners, destroying them instead.
The best examples we've ever had of war animals fighting would probably be historical Asian war elephants. But even these functioned as much as beasts of burden as weapons, and while elephants intimidated opposing armies, they tended to turn around and abandon the target whenever they decided they didn't feel like charging.
Even the most ferocious animal doesn’t have the same will to fight and ability to learn strategy as the most dangerous beast, man. That's why, though police have dogs, we don't just send a pack of dogs into an apartment block to take down a gang: Animals need constant direction. So how would the military direct dinosaurs? Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom answers this in the most absurd way possible: The handler points a gun at a target to tell the dino where to strike. You know, instead of just pointing a gun at the target and shooting.
So, dinosaurs don't sound like the most sensible choice when an army seeks recruits. But that's not a dealbreaker story-wise. The Jurassic movies never actually show the military using dinosaurs, just wanting to, so maybe the idiocy is the whole point. The question is: Does it make for an entertaining story, the military trying to grab dinosaurs?
I don't think so. A bunch of guys with guns facing down dinosaurs (and instantly losing, somehow) is less interesting than unarmed heroes or villains fleeing and hiding and improvising. It's also not an interesting moral problem. The original Jurassic Park spent its runtime convincing us the park was a bad idea, and that argument's fun to take in. Send in a bunch of scary dudes who want to weaponize dinos, however, and the movie's just assuming we consider that wrong from the start.
Not totally sure why it's immoral to kill using dinosaurs, actually, rather than to kill using other means, but the movie takes that as a given. It's also greedy to sell dinosaurs to people who'll use them to kill, assumes the movie, a point that's somewhat undermined by just how little money it seems these arms dealers are making. In Fallen Kingdom, the bad guys abandon their long-term plans when someone at an auction offers $28 million for their best dinosaur. Wow, $28 million, what a huge and irresistible sum. Why, it's 2 percent of this film's box office take, or an estimated one day's profit for the Jurassic World park. Sell now!
Top image: Universal Pictures