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“Jurassic Park” Analysis

Story Analysis Description

*Analysis based off work of Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell and Syd Field

*Special thanks to Movieclips for their clips below

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CHARACTERS

Protagonist Alan Grant
Desire Conscious: Finance his dig and discover dinosaurs
Unconscious: Become a parent
Conflict Levels Inner: Fear of evolving
Personal: Dinosaurs, Lex and Tim, Ellie, Malcolm
Extra-Personal: Parenthood, Finance
Character Characterization: Gruff scientist
True Character: Hero
Turn: Caring father figure
John Hammond
Desire Conscious: Finance Jurassic Park
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Possible madness
Personal: Gennaro, scientists
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Freewheeling billionaire
True Character:
Turn:
Dennis Nedry
 Desire  Conscious: Make a lot of money by stealing dinosaur embryos
 Unconscious:  
 Conflict Levels  Inner:  
 Personal:  Hammond, Arnold
 Extra-Personal:  –
 Character  Characterization:  Corrupt computer hacker
 True Character:  
 Turn:  
Muldoon
Desire Conscious: Neutralize raptors
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Velociraptors
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Cunning hunter
True Character:
Turn:
Malcolm
Desire Conscious: Get together with Ellie
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Ellie, Allan
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Egotistical mathematician
True Character:
Turn:
Gennaro
Desire Conscious: Shut down Jurassic Park
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Hammond
Extra-Personal:
Character Characterization: Corrupt businessman
True Character:
Turn:
Principle of Antagonism Positive Evolution Pessimistic Ebbing evolution
Negative Stagnation Negation of Negation Tampering with nature
Controlling Idea: Evolution must be a natural process because tampering with nature leads to catastrophe.

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PLOT

Inciting Incident Hammond proposes to Alan and Ellie to come to his island
Act One Climax Alan, Ellie and Malcolm meet the Brachiosaurus
GAP Alan discovers that Hammond is tampering with nature in dangerous ways
Progressive Complications The park malfunctions and Allan is thrust into a parental role
Midpoint The T. Rex eats Gennaro, injures Malcolm and forces Allan to care for Lexi and Tim
Act Two Climax Alan saves Tim after he’s electrocuted
Climax Alan grabs a gun and decides to save Lexi and Tim
Act Three Climax The T. Rex kills the Velociraptors and Alan, Ellie, Lexi and Tim escape
Resolution Alan realizes he’s evolved into a parent

HERO’S JOURNEY

ORDINARY WORLD Alan and Ellie dig up dinosaur bones in the desert
CALL TO ADVENTURE Hammond invites them to his island
REFUSAL OF THE CALL Alan doesn’t get in the car with Lexi or Tim
MEETING THE MENTOR
CROSSING FIRST THRESHOLD Alan saves Lexi and Tim from the T. Rex
TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES Alan teaches Lexi and Tim to feed the Brachiosaurus
APPROACH TO INMOST CAVE Alan leads Lexi and Tim past the Gallimimuses
ORDEAL Alan saves Tim after he is electrocuted
REWARD Alan learns how to be a caring parent
ROAD BACK Alan leads Lexi and Tim back to the visitor center
RESURRECTION Alan puts himself in danger to save Lexi and Tim from the Velociraptors
RETURN WITH ELIXIR Lexi and Tim sleep on Alan’s shoulders on the helicopter

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ARCHETYPES

HERO Alan Grant
SHADOW Gennaro, Hammond
MENTOR
ALLY Lexi, Tim, Ian, Ellie
HERALD Hammond
THRESHOLD GUARDIAN T. Rex, Velociraptor
TRICKSTER Dilophosaurus
SHAPESHIFTER Dennis

 

THEMES

Tampering with nature disrupts evolution and creates monsters Hammond is reckless in his pursuit of creating dinosaurs, seeking to impress the world through sheer will, but he does not grasp the will of nature. Tampering with such primordial forces is an affront to the natural world and will result only in catastrophe. Evolution is a subtle act that effects all of us beyond our control. Trying to play God will have consequences.
Money leads to corruption Both Gennaro and Dennis are primarily influenced by money, causing each to act against others and, in essence, nature. Gennaro betrays his borrowers by fully buying into the idea of Jurassic Park to make money. Dennis betrays his employers to steal embryos and sell out. Both actions subliminally are an affront to nature by acquiescing to Hammond’s madness and these choices cost them their lives.

STORYLINES

Alan Grant Evolving
John Hammond’s Madness
Dennis and the Embryos
Ian and Ellie
Gennaro’s Greed
Muldoon and the Velociraptors

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SCENE BREAKDOWN

Scene #1 The Velociraptors are Transferred
Protagonist Muldoon
Desire Load the Raptors safely
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP A raptor breaks free and grabs the gatekeeper
Value Survival
Role Muldoon Inciting Incident: The Raptor attack convinces him that raptors need to be destroyed because they are too dangerous
Analysis The film starts right off with the central theme: man and its inability to control nature. We have man utilizing technology (grids, electricity, lights, gates, tasers), trying to control a creature born out of a lab, the Velociraptor. Man can’t control this beast, resulting in the death of the gatekeeper. Spielberg is able to elevate the relatively simple attack by using his wide skills of cinematic talent, highlighting the hunter/hunted dynamic, the ferocity of the raptors and the most important lesson he learned from Jaws: not seeing the creature is worse than seeing it.
Scene #2 Gennaro at the Dig Site
Protagonist Gennaro
Desire Shut down Hammond’s park
Antagonist Hammond, Rostagno
TP Rostagno tells Gennaro Grant won’t come to the park
Value Money
Role Gennaro Inciting Incident: Shut down Hammond for losing his investor’s money. Hammond Inciting Incident: Get backing to finance his park.
Analysis Gennaro is the first representation of greed and corruption in the film. He doesn’t fit into the natural world he walks through, nervously balancing on his boat, tripping over rocks, bumping his head in the mine. He will view the dinosaurs as a great scheme to make money, displaying a lack of respect for nature.
Scene #3 Alan Dig Site
Protagonist Alan Grant
Desire Find and learn about dinosaurs
Antagonist Kid
TP Grant terrifies the kid who mocks him
Value Parenthood
Role Introduction of Grant
Analysis We are introduced to Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler. Alan is gruff and dedicated to his mission as a paleontologist. Ellie is his better half, trying to help him evolve into a parent, an underlying desire he rejects. We are again introduced to faulty technology as the underground scanner they use is shotty. We also come to understand how informed Alan is, particularly in regards to Velociraptors, knowledge that will help him later in the story.
Scene #4 Hammond Proposes Plan to Alan and Ellie
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Get Alan and Ellie to come to island
Antagonist Alan and Ellie
TP Hammond proposes to fund their dig for three more years and gets them to visit island
Value Finance
Role INCITING INCIDENT: Hammond gets Alan and Ellie to go to his island and the chance to finance his dig for three years. Hammond Act One Climax: Impress group so his park can be financed.
Analysis Hammond serves as a herald to the adventure, bringing both Ellie and Alan to Isla Nublar. His entrance again highlights his disrespect to nature, his helicopter loud and boisterous, nearly destroying the fossils being excavated. And he opens a bottle of champagne, wearing all white, showing his wealth. Alan and Ellie by contrast are dirty and in work clothes. Given the opportunity of wealth to continue funding their dig, they take it without question, again showing the corrupting power of money and greed.
Scene #5 Dennis Paid
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Make money
Antagonist Hammond
TP Dennis takes money
Value Money
Role Dennis Act One Climax, Dennis Inciting Incident Offscreen: Hammond doesn’t pay him enough money, sending him on a course of betrayal.
Analysis Greed and gluttony rear their ugly heads again. Dennis cares only about money, not respecting nature and its power. Consumed by greed, he works to betray Hammond by selling dinosaur embryos. By accepting Dodson’s money, he embarks on his journey.
Scene #6 Helicopter Ride
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Get island financed
Antagonist Gennaro
TP
Value Finance
Role Malcolm Inciting Incident: Attracted to Ellie
Analysis We are introduced to Ian Malcolm, a slightly crazy mathematician who starts his journey by hitting on Ellie, mentioning his concept of “strange attractions.” The helicopter flight is another example of Hammond’s wealth as they zoom across the ocean and through the island mountains. This is Hammond’s gambit, to impress his entourage of Gennaro, Sattler, Malcolm and Grant (GSMG) and to finance the park. And another example of technology not working right, the helicopter landing is bumpy, portending to technology failing the characters at the end. And much has been made of the irony of Grant using two female belt buckles and tying them together, just as how two female dinosaurs will eventually breed.
Scene #7 Gennaro Threatens Hammond
Protagonist Gennaro
Desire Threaten Hammond with shutdown
Antagonist Hammond
TP Gennaro Threatens Hammond
Value Money
Role Gennaro Act One Climax
Analysis Gennaro puts his cards on the table, threatening Hammond and committing to defunding the island for money.
Scene #8 Meeting the Brachiosaurus
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Show his dinosaurs
Antagonist Grant, Sattler, Malcolm, Gennaro (GSMG)
TP They see the dinosaurs
Value Finance
Role ACT ONE CLIMAX
Analysis Grant commits to the journey as he witnesses the rebirth of dinosaurs. In a way, it is his own call to evolve.
Scene #9 Introduction to Sciene
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Show off his science
Antagonist GSMG
TP GSMG break out of restraints
Value Finance
Role Explanation of how Hammond has engineered the impossible
Analysis The characters and the audience learn how Hammond has been able to bring dinosaurs back to life. Hammond is selling his science as foolproof, something Alan, Ellie and Ian have qualms about.
Scene #10 Velociraptor Hatches
Protagonist Malcolm
Desire Question Ethics
Antagonist Hammond, Dr. Wu
TP Malcolm states that life will find a way
Value Morality, Finance
Role Introduction of doubt about playing God
Analysis Malcolm serves as a cautionary voice, warning that what Hammond is doing is dangerous and a disrespect to nature. Hammond is literally playing god, birthing a Velociraptor in his own hands, the others overcome by the power of creation. As Malcolm speaks, the potential for danger grows in their minds.
Scene #11 Velociraptor Cage
Protagonist Alan
Desire Investigate Raptors
Antagonist Hammond
TP
Value Survival
Role Muldoon Rising Action
Analysis Muldoon, hardened by his experience as a hunter and harrowed by the memory of the slain worker, reports on the danger of the Velociraptors. This is yet another example of man trying to control nature in a way he can’t understand. He commits himself to the idea that the raptors should be destroyed.
Scene #12 Sea Bass Lunch
Protagonist GSMG
Desire Caution Hammond
Antagonist Hammond
TP Grant condemns park
Value Morality
Role Gennaro Act Two Climax
Analysis More examples of wealth include an expensive lunch, waiters and flashing pictures on the wall of progress and technology. Hammond is completely oblivious to the dangers of nature he is trying to control. Only Gennaro, clinging to greed, sides with him against the caution of Alan, Ellie and Malcolm, altering his goal of defrauding Hammond and committing to profiting off the island. Hammond’s ears are closed to counterarguments against his beloved park, a rock against which the currents of caution have no effect.
Scene #13 Tim and Lexi Arrive
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Use children’s awe to impress GSMG
Antagonist
TP Ellie sees Alan’s fear of children
Value Finance
Role Moral need disrupts Alan’s world
Analysis Alan’s worse nightmare arrives: children. Lexi and Tim pose a return to Alan’s dormant desire to be a parent. He consciously forces down this desire and stands petrified.
Scene #14 Boarding the Cars
Protagonist Tim and Lexi
Desire Connect with Alan
Antagonist Alan
TP Alan brushes off Lexi and Tim
Value Parenthood
Role Alan shrugging off call to evolve
Analysis Tim serves as Alan’s conscience, following him around and asking him to accept him. Alan rejects him, slamming the door in his face. At the moment, we believe Alan won’t do anything for Lexi and Tim and would never put himself out there for them. Malcolm also continues to seek out Ellie.
Scene #15 Headquarters
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Impress GSMG
Antagonist Technology, Dennis
TP Muldoon shuts everyone up
Value Finance
Role Introduction to how rocky things are behind the scenes
Analysis Behind the scenes, Hammond is much more ornery. Battling with technology and Dennis, he voices grievances and bickers. We realize that his charming persona in front of GSMG and his grandchildren is a fake to hide his deep fear and uncertainty.
Scene #16 Tour Starts
Protagonist GSMG
Desire Evaluate park
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP No dinosaurs show up
Value Finance
Role Further proof of the inability to control nature
Analysis Nature can not be controlled as none of the dinosaurs show up to be shown off to GSMG. The lamest attempts to coax the dinosaurs out are failures, again illustrating how Hammond and InGen don’t understand what they’re handling.
Scene #17 Malcolm Explains Chaos
Protagonist Malcolm
Desire Explain chaos
Antagonist Ellie
TP Ellie jumps out of the car after Alan
Value Love
Role Malcolm continuing pursuit of Ellie
Analysis Malcom moves in on Ellie, unaware that Alan is her partner. His explanation of chaos is laced with sexual undertones, overted more than subverted. For Alan, he is uncomfortable standing up to Malcolm, showing a reticence to fight for her. Chaos theory itself plays out in the plot of the film. As the forces of nature mettle against man’s inclinations, chaos will reign.
Scene #18 Meeting the Triceratops
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Understand the Triceratops
Antagonist Illness
TP Ellie goes to dino droppings
Value Finance
Role The awe of dinosaurs may sway GSMG yet.
Analysis The awe of the park again appears to GSMG. It wows the audience as well, appealing to our childhood wonder, the desire to see and touch a real dinosaur.
Scene #19 Storm Moves In
Protagonist Muldoon
Desire Investigate storm
Antagonist Weather
TP Headquarters decides to stop tour
Value Finance
Role Hammond Act Two Climax: Hammond believes his tour a failure and his park’s future is in doubt.
Analysis Hammond curses the weather, a hindrance in his mind to his ambition, another aspect he can not control.
Scene #20 Dino Droppings
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Determine next course
Antagonist Weather
TP Ellie decides to stay while group goes back to Jeeps
Value Knowledge
Role Separation from Ellie
Analysis The group separates, leaving Malcolm and Alan together. This sets Alan adrift in a way.
Scene #21 Dennis Plans His Heist
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Steal embryos
Antagonist Weather
TP No promises for weather
Value Finance
Role Increased risk for Dennis
Analysis The pressure on Dennis mounts as the storm complicates his plan to steal the embryos. Time is now a factor as the risk increases.
Scene #22 Dennis Puts Plan in Motion
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Steal embryos
Antagonist Weather, Security
TP Dennis shuts down system
Value Finance
Role Dennis works on plan.
Analysis Dennis commits to his plan and moves to get the embryos.
Scene #23 Ian and Alan Talk
Protagonist Alan
Desire Keep Malcolm away from
Antagonist Malcolm
TP Malcolm backs off from Ellie
Value Love
Role Malcolm Act One Climax
Analysis Alan tries to talk to Malcolm, but they don’t have much in common. Alan has seen how Malcolm is flirting with Ellie. He lets Malcolm know about their relationship, ending his pursuit of her.
Scene #24 Dennis Steals the Embryos
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Steal the embryos
Antagonist Hammond, Arnold
TP Dennis gets the embryos
Value Finance
Role Dennis Act Two Climax
Analysis Dennis’ plan seems to be working as he gets the embryos and shuts down the security grid to escape.
Scene #25 The T. Rex Breaks Out
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Lex and Tim
Antagonist T. Rex
TP Alan uses a flare to save the kids
Value Survival
Role MIDPOINT, Gennaro Act Three Climax
Analysis Nature breaks free fom the constraints of man’s technology. As the park shuts down, the T. Rex emerges from its pen, causing havok. Gennaro is killed for his lack of respect for primal nature, ending his storyline. For every other character, their goal changes. The goal of the evaluation of the park morphs into a need to survive.
Scene #26 Alan Gets the Children Out
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Lex and Tim
Antagonist T. Rex
TP Alan climbs down into paddock
Value Survival
Role Alan Midpoint
Analysis Alan is faced with a choice: hide in the car and wait or try and save Lex and Tim. He chooses to save the kids, his inner parental instinct taking over. This represents his character midpoint as he changes his goal from avoiding children to saving them.
Scene #27 Headquarters Wonders
Protagonist Arnold
Desire Get the park back online
Antagonist Dennis, Nature
TP Arnold admits he can’t get the park back online without Dennis
Value Survival
Role The stakes deepen
Analysis The repercussions of their actions begin to become apparent to those in headquarters. As the park crumbles around them, Hammond feels the burden of his decision bare down on him.
Scene #28 Dennis and the Dilophosaurus
Protagonist Dennis
Desire Get off the island
Antagonist Weater, Dilophosaurus
TP The Dilophosaurus attacks Dennis
Value Survival
Role Dennis Act Three Climax
Analysis Dennis’ greed becomes his destruction as his disrespect for nature (and the fault of technology symbolized by his car) come to pass. The Dilophosaurus kills him, ending his storyline, and the embros are lost to the mud, a symbol of man’s faulty ambition.
Scene #29 Escaping the Tree
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Tim
Antagonist Car
TP Alan saves Tim
Value Survival
Role Continual development for Alan
Analysis Alan faces another test of his parental instinct. Lexi begs him not to leave and he needs to convince Tim to get out of the car. Again, the car represents man’s faulty technology, helpless against the power of nature. Alan successfully saves Tim.
Scene #30 Ellie and Muldoon Save Malcolm
Protagonist Ellie and Muldoon
Desire Save Alan, Lex, Tim, Malcolm and Gennaro
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP Escape T. Rex
Value Survival
Role Deeper stakes as headquarters realizes that Alan, Lexi and Tim are missing and Gennaro is dead
Analysis Ellie and Muldoon come face to face with the power of Hammond’s creations as the T. Rex chases after them and they realize Gennaro is dead.
Scene #31 Alan, Lexi and Tim Sleep in the Tree
Protagonist Alan
Desire Reassure Lex and Tim
Antagonist
TP Alan tosses his Velociraptor claw
Value Parenting
Role Alan development
Analysis Alan ditches his old self symbolically by tossing the Velociraptor claw. His comfort with Lex and Tim as their surrogate father continues to develop.
Scene #32 Petticoat Lane
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Justify actions
Antagonist Ellie
TP Ellie chastises Hammond
Value Justification
Role Hammond Act Three Climax: Hammond realizes his mistake.
Analysis Hammond’s past drives his present, so much so that he may have gone mad. Desperate to regain control, he realizes that his actions have been foolhardy, a fact illuminated by Ellie. His goal changes from searching for control to retrieving his grandchildren.
Scene #33 Brachiosaurus in the Morning
Protagonist Alan
Desire Educate Lex and Tim
Antagonist Lex, Brachiosaurus
TP Petting the Brachiosaurus
Value Parenting
Role Evolution of Alan
Analysis Alan continues his adaptation into a parent by teaching Lex and Tim about dinosaurs.
Scene #34 Dinosaurs Breeding
Protagonist Alan
Desire Discover secret
Antagonist Nature
TP Alan realizes how the dinosaurs are breeding
Value Morality
Role Alan learning the value of Malcolm’s theory
Analysis Alan confirms to himself and to the audience about the versatility and resilience of nature. Malcolm’s theory of chaos has occured on the island as the dinosaurs take over.
Scene #35 Arnold Shuts Down the System
Protagonist Hammond
Desire Get the park back online
Antagonist Arnold
TP Arnold agrees to shut down system
Value Survival
Role Hammond’s goal has changed to saving his grandchildren.
Analysis Hammond is trying to get the park back online, but not to save his idea of the park, but to save his grandchildren, an evolution of his character.
Scene #36 Outflocking the Gallimimus
Protagonist Alan
Desire Escape stampede
Antagonist Gallimimus
TP Duck under tree
Value Survival
Role Alan, Lex and Tim venturing to safety
Analysis Alan, Lex and Tim are tested as they venture back to headquarters, seeking safety.
Scene #37 Going to the Breaker
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Turn the park on
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP Ellie decides to go to the breaker
Value Survival
Role The stakes deepen
Analysis A new sequence begins as Ellie and Muldoon have to venture out and turn the park back on. This wil test them and their ability to survive.
Scene #38 Ellie Runs to Breaker
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Get to Breaker
Antagonist Velociraptor
TP Ellie makes it to breaker
Value Survival
Role The desperation grows
Analysis Ellie must work to save herself and in so doing, Alan. The escape of the Velociraptors puts greater risk into the mission.
Scene #39 Ellie Turns the Park Back On
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Turn park on
Antagonist Tunnels, Velociraptors
TP Ellie finds the grid and turns it back on
Value Survival
Role Glimmer of hope and fear
Analysis Ellie turns the park back on, but the Velociraptors hunt her. Time is now running out before there is no hope for the survivors.
Scene #40 Tim Electrocuted
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Tim and Lexi
Antagonist Fence
TP Tim electrocuted
Value Survival
Role Alan, Lex and Tim tested
Analysis Faulty technology proves dangerous to man again as Tim is electrocuted.
Scene #41 Ellie Runs from Velociraptor
Protagonist Ellie
Desire Evade Velociraptor
Antagonist Velociraptor
TP Ellie jams Velociraptor behind door
Value Survival
Role Ellie survives
Analysis The intelligence, speed and ferocity of the Velociraptor is demonstrated as Ellie is hunted. This sets up the final threshold guardian for the group to overcome.
Scene #42 Alan Saves Tim
Protagonist Alan
Desire Save Tim
Antagonist Electric fence
TP Tim wakes up
Value Survival
Role Alan, Lex and Tim tested.
Analysis Alan does everything in his power to save Tim. In marked contrast to his earlier apprehension with children, Alan is now their parent.
Scene #43 Velociraptors Hunt Muldoon
Protagonist Muldoon
Desire Shoot Velociraptor
Antagonist Velociraptor
TP Velociraptors get the jump on Muldoon
Value Survival
Role Muldoon Act Two Climax
Analysis Muldoon enters the ring against the Velociraptor, the one-on-one confrontation he had been dreading. He puts all of his knowledge about the creatures to his own instincts as a hunter. He loses in his contest against the raptors, their wit outsmarting him. This concludes his storyline.
Scene #44 Alan Finds Ellie
Protagonist Alan
Desire Find Ellie
Antagonist Dinosaurs
TP Alan finds Ellie
Value Survival
Role Malcolm Act Two Climax
Analysis Grant and Ellie are reunited, signifying their union as a couple after being apart. After Malcolm budding into their relationship, this concludes that storyline as Ellie chooses Alan.
Scene #45 Velociraptors Hunt Lexi and Tim
Protagonist Lexi and Tim
Desire Escape Velociraptor
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP They lock Velociraptor in freezer
Value Survival
Role Lex and Tim tested
Analysis Lex and Tim are alone, without Alan. Their resourcefulness is tested as they must use the tricks taught to them by Alan to escape the raptors. This is a test of Alan’s parenthood and teaching played out against the raptors.
Scene #46 Lexi Hacks the Park
Protagonist Lexi
Desire Turn the park back on
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP Lexi turns on the door locks
Value Survival
Role A last chance for escape
Analysis Lexi uses her computer skills, hinted at before, to turn the park back on, giving the characters hope as the raptors move in. This is their last chance.
Scene #47 Escaping the Raptors
Protagonist Alan
Desire Escape the Velociraptors
Antagonist Velociraptors
TP The T. Rex saves them
Value Survival
Role ACT THREE CLIMAX
Analysis Alan, Ellie, Lex and Tim must work together, using all of their skills to best the dangerous raptors. The T. Rex, again utilizing the chaos theory of Malcolm, intervenes and inadvertently saves the day. As the final vestiges of the park collapse around them, nature has taken over the island from man’s mettling.
Scene #48 Escaping the Park
Protagonist Alan
Desire Get off the island
Antagonist
TP The helicopter takes off
Value Parenthood
Role Alan’s reward
Analysis As the characters depart, Ellie sees Alan’s growth as a parent, Lex and Tim asleep on his shoulders. He has evolved, just as dinosaurs had evolved into birds.

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OVERALL

“Jurassic Park” rightfully deserves its place as a classic “monsters” film. Though it is remembered most for its technological advancements, it is the sense of childhood wonder it creates that endears it still today. It perfectly captures the youthful sense of awe each of us would feel if we were to actually see and touch a dinosaur. The respect the film has for that childhood wonder elevates the film beyond simple monster mash.

The dinosaurs are not just monsters that our heroes need to escape from. They are living, breathing creatures, cinematically built up as primordial beasts with intelligence, power and majesty, reverential godlike entities that we can not control. The buildup over the course of the first half of the film, man tampering with nature, unaware of the danger of playing god, fully plays out over the second half of the film as all of man’s preconceptions and safeguards fall by the wayside. There’s a certain amount of glee in seeing the park fail as strange as that is, nature taking its due revenge on people who don’t respect it. The fact that we empathize with characters who are just along for the ride, not responsible for this tampering, gives us a way of caring about their escape. We delight somewhat in seeing Gennaro, Dennis and Muldoon fall because it is their basic flaw of disrespect that causes their demise. Alan, Lexi, Tim, Malcolm and Ellie never committed that sin so we feel sympathy for the situation they are in.

The brunt of technology that Hammond, Dennis, Muldoon and Arnold use to try to control the park is repeatedly referenced as faulty, little clues in the first half hinting at technology being mankind’s tool of control, but nature breaking free of such feeble attempts. It speaks to the sense that evolution is an unstoppable force, tying into Alan’s evolution from selfish paleontologist to caregiver. Accepting evolution then should be mankind’s goal, not trying to impose its will against it.

The film could use some work in terms of the characters and their relationships. Alan, the central character of the film who has an arc, is rather bland. His refusal to evolve into a parent feels kind of shoe-horned into the story to give him some depth and something deeper to do other than try not to be eaten. Perhaps if he and Ellie had tried to have children or couldn’t or there was some reason he felt insecure around them it would tie into the narrative a bit more. But as it happens, Hammond is a much more interesting character: a joyful billionaire who slowly realizes he may have gone mad in his pursuit of creating dinosaurs.

The love triangle between Malcolm, Ellie and Alan is also lacking. It’s just played for a few laughs in the first half, but could have been expanded into more of Alan’s evolution. Perhaps Malcolm is an old boyfriend of Ellie’s that she still has some feelings for. Then Alan’s refusal to have kids and evolve for her would have added weight as she could easily go back to Malcolm who will give her what she wants. But as it plays, Malcolm is more of just an annoyance rather than an integral part of the plot. Cut him out and nothing drastically changes in the plot.

And finally, the ending lacks clear choice. The third act climax should feature the protagonist making a clear choice that illustrates what he has learned over the course of his journey. In this case, that should be Alan, demonstrating his ingenuity. But the film’s ending takes him out of the equation as the T. Rex bursts in and kills the raptors, a deus ex machina, fate saving them rather than Alan. A conclusion that featured Alan saving the day would have been easy enough. Using his smarts as a paleontologist and some piece of knowledge gathered in the park with Lexi and Tim, Alan devises a way to trick the raptors and the Rex and helps everyone escape, proving his mettle as a parent by putting his life on the line to save Lexi and Tim.

Where the film falls in character though, its ability to create awe and build up its action sequences is impeccable, really putting the audience in the park and highlighting its theme to optimal effect.

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“Suburbicon” has elements of quality, but lacks coherence

George Clooney, as a director, has a spotty record. “Good Night, and Good Luck” is a great film. “The Monuments Men” is not. Now with “Suburbicon”, Clooney finds himself with a mixed bag of some interesting elements, some dull ones and a general lack of cohesion.

“Suburbicon” tells the story of a 1950s community in upheaval. When a black family movies into the neighborhood, the dark underbelly of the town begins to reveal itself. Gardner (Matt Damon) is a father who lives next to the new family with his wife, Rose (Julianne Moore), son Nicky (Noah Jupe) and sister-in-law, Margaret (also Julianne Moore). When a home invasion turns the family’s world upside down, Nicky discovers the secrets that his family have been hiding and that all is not well in the happy-go-lucky neighborhood.

Written by the Coen brothers and Clooney’s usual partner, Grant Heslov, the film has some promising setups and payoffs and some memorable plot twists that keep things interesting. Some sequences at the end of the film are exciting, and the acting and directing are fairly well-balanced.

Where the film struggles is its characters, tone and its theming. The characters are more stereotypes, one-dimensional goodies or baddies who don’t have a lot of remorse or second thoughts. For the Coens, one need only look at Anton Chigurh or the pair of kidnappers in Fargo to find examples of nefarious characters who are still interesting. The film is part murder mystery, part dark comedy and part social critique and these tones bump heads against each other. Some clearer direction would have gone a long way. And the theming is nothing original. There’ve been plenty of films about the “evils” of suburbia and their underlying racism. David Lynch has made an entire career out of it. If the film had something new to say about the matter, it would feel weightier, but as a whole, it just feels like it’s retreading old ground.

Nevertheless, “Suburbicon” is a somewhat enjoyable film that utilizes filmmaking (acting, cinematography, camera movement) to tell a familiar if flawed story.

“The Dark Knight” Analysis

Story Analysis Description

*Analysis based off work of Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell and Syd Field

*Special thanks to Movieclips for their clips below

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CHARACTERS

Protagonist: Bruce
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Fear of failure and letting parents down
Personal: Joker, Rachel, Harvey
Extra-Personal: Gotham city, heroism
Character Characterization: Gotham’s savior
True Character: Insecure and flawed
Turn: Gotham’s dark knight
Antagonist: Joker
Desire Conscious: Throw Gotham into chaos
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner:
Personal: Mob bosses, Batman
Extra-Personal: Gotham city, order
Character Characterization: Crazed killer
True Character: Anarchist mastermind
Turn:
Harvey
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious: Find fairness and balance
Conflict Levels Inner: Ego, anger
Personal: Joker, mob bosses, Batman
Extra-Personal: Chaos, Gotham city
Character Characterization: Gotham’s white knight
True Character: Filled with vengeance
Turn: Psychopath
Gordon
Desire Conscious: Stop crime in Gotham
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Fears of losing family
Personal: Joker, Family, Harvey
Extra-Personal: Gotham, chaos
Character Characterization: Good cop working to save the city
True Character:
Turn:
Rachel
Desire Conscious: Choose a lover
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Heart and mind
Personal: Harvey, Bruce
Extra-Personal: Gotham and crime
Character Characterization: Assistant DA trying to figure out life
True Character:
Turn:
Lucius
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Moral qualms
Personal: Bruce, Reese
Extra-Personal: Crime, Gotham
Character Characterization: CEO tech guru
True Character:
Turn:
Gotham City
Desire Conscious: Regain spirit
Unconscious: Find morality
Conflict Levels Inner: Morality
Personal: Mobsters, cops, Batman, Joker
Extra-Personal: Chaos
Character Characterization: Eager for hope
True Character: Terrified and chaotic
Turn: Willing to believe in good
Alfred
Desire Conscious: Help Bruce
Unconscious:
Conflict Levels Inner: Fears of letting Bruce down
Personal: Bruce
Extra-Personal: Gotham, Chaos
Character Characterization: Old, kind mentor
True Character:
Turn: Willing to hide truth to save Bruce
Principle of Antagonism Positive Justice – Batman defeats Joker Pessimistic Half-justice – Harvey pretends to be the Batman
Negative Injustice – Joker causes chaos Negation of Negation Injustice in guise of justice – Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes
Controlling Idea:
Justice prevails because our inner morals are strong.

PLOT

Inciting Incident Gordon teams up with Harvey Dent and unites him into the cohort with the Batman
Act One Climax Lao gives the police the mobsters he can, cleaning the streets of crime
GAP Joker causes chaos and deepens the stakes for Gotham
Progressive Complications Joker continues to escalate the war against Batman, testing the fortitude of Dent, Gordon and Bruce
Midpoint Joker is apprehended
Act Two Climax Harvey becomes Two-Face
Act Three Climax Batman takes down Two-Face
Resolution Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes

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HERO’S JOURNEY

ORDINARY WORLD Batman hunts down the criminals of Gotham
CALL TO ADVENTURE Batman teams with Gordon and Harvey and agrees to bring in Lao
MEETING THE MENTOR Bruce talks with Alfred and Lucius
CROSSING FIRST THRESHOLD Batman abducts Lao
TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES Bruce teams with Gordon, Lucius and Harvey while Joker emerges
REFUSAL OF THE CALL Bruce volunteers to turn himself in to stop the Joker
APPROACH TO INMOST CAVE Batman confronts the Joker in the cell after his capture
ORDEAL Bruce loses Rachel as the Joker escapes
REWARD Bruce learns about what he must do to stop the Joker
ROAD BACK Bruce confronts his old friends, Gordon and Harvey
RESURECTION After being shot by Harvey, Batman rises to save Gordon’s family
RETURN WITH ELIXIR Bruce realizes what the Batman is and must be

ARCHETYPES

HERO Bruce
SHADOW Joker
MENTOR Alfred
ALLY Gordon
HERALD Joker
THRESHOLD GUARDIAN Lao
TRICKSTER Joker
SHAPESHIFTER Harvey

THEMES

HEROISM AND IDOLISM What is the concept of a hero? The idea of a hero may be more important than the hero him/herself.
JUSTICE AND CHAOS Batman, Gordon and Harvey each seek a form of justice for their own particular reason: Bruce, to avenge his parents, Gordon, to protect his family and Harvey, to fulfill his ego. This quest for justice comes with a price for each of them. The Joker is an agent of chaos. His form of anarchy seeks to devolve humanity into a lesser creature while the trio seeks to elevate mankind through a moral code.

STORYLINES

Batman, Gordon and Harvey Saving Gotham
Rachel Chooses Harvey or Bruce
Joker Takes Over the Mob
Bruce and Alfred
Harvey Becomes Two-Face
Gotham’s Soul
Gordon Protects His Family
Lucius Directs Bruce’s Morals

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SCENE BREAKDOWN

Scene #1 Bank Heist
Protagonist Joker
Desire Steal Money
Antagonist Mob men
TP Joker has the bus take out the last henchman
Value Power
Role Introduction of the antagonist. Joker Inciting Incident occurs offscreen: it is a mystery why he causes chaos, but something in his past has set him on this course
Analysis The introduction of the Joker sets up his mysteriousness and ability to incite chaos. We don’t know who he is or what he necessarily wants. His plan to rob the bank is indicative of the maniacal scheming he will use to torment Gotham throughout the course of the story. We realize that this is a formidable antagonist.
Scene #2 Batman Tracks Down Crane
Protagonist Batman
Desire Stop crime
Antagonist Crane and his hooligans
TP Batman crashes onto the car top
Value Justice
Role Introduction of protagonist, Gotham Inciting Incident: Batman arrives to save the city, but Gotham is unsure of him
Analysis We are introduced to the Batman: dark, intimidating and turning the tide against crime. And we are introduced to Gotham City, which itself serves as a character in the narrative, a being who seeks hope against the scourge of crime, but is highly malleable.
Scene #3 Batman and Gordon Talk
Protagonist Batman
Desire Convene a strategy
Antagonist Indecision
TP They decide to focus on crime and not the Joker.
Value Justice
Role Show alliance between Gordon and Batman. Gordon’s Inciting Incident occurs offscreen and sets him on his course: Protect his family and by extension, Gotham.
Analysis We are introduced to the relationship between Gordon and Batman. They are allies, trusting and dedicated. They also get their first glimpse of the Joker, whom they brush off.
Scene #4 Bruce and Alfred
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Come up with plan to save Gotham with Alfred
Antagonist Mob presence
TP
Value Justice
Role Alfred Inciting Incident occurs offscreen: Alfred pledges to take care of Bruce after his parents are murdered
Analysis We see how Alfred cares for Bruce as he tends to his wounds and how they work together towards a common goal. Alfred worries about Bruce the man, rather than Batman the superhero. The separation between the two is something only Alfred understands and Bruce’s fragility will be tested.
Scene #5 Harvey In Court
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Take down Maroni
Antagonist Maroni
TP Harvey survives assassination attempt
Value Justice
Role Introduce Harvey- strong, committed to justice, going after crime, pompous. Rachel Inciting Incident Offscreen: Harvey proposes to her, setting up her choice between Bruce or Harvey.
Analysis We are introduced to Harvey and Rachel. Harvey is cocksure and dedicated, perhaps too much. We identify this as a character flaw even though we’re attracted to it.
Scene #6 Gordon and Harvey Meet
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Establish trust
Antagonist Distrust
TP Gordon gives Harvey names of the banks
Value Trust
Role Saving Gotham Inciting Incident: Crime in Gotham is terrible and Batman/Harvey/Gordon need to stop it. Harvey Inciting Incident: Harvey decides to take on the mob through their money.
Analysis Harvey and Gordon are wary of each other, not sure if they can trust one another. Harvey’s history at internal affairs shows that he is not the shiny posterboy he portrays himself as. A small bit of trust between them opens the door, but their unease will define their relationship.
Scene #7 Bruce and Lucius
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Get a new suit
Antagonist
TP
Value Friendship
Role Lucius Inciting Incident takes place offscreen: Spurred by respect for Bruce’s father, Lucius commits himself to helping Bruce.
Analysis We are introduced to the relationship between Bruce and Lucius, one of the few other ally relationships Bruce has. Lucius serves more as a moral compass than compassionate mentor, helping Bruce realize the consequences of his reach.
Scene #8 Dinner Out
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Feel out Harvey
Antagonist Harvey
TP Bruce decides to throw Harvey a fundraiser.
Value Trust
Role Saving Gotham Plot: Recruiting an ally in Harvey
Analysis We are introduced to the love triangle between Bruce, Rachel and Harvey as well as the Batman and Harvey’s roles as dual knights for Gotham. Even though Harvey doesn’t realize it, Bruce is recruiting him to join his alliance with Gordon to save the city.
Scene #9 Mob Meeting
Protagonist Joker
Desire Make a deal with the mob
Antagonist Mob bosses
TP Gamble puts a bounty on the Joker’s head
Value Power
Role Joker starts his plan to take Gotham
Analysis We again see the Joker manipulating the system to his advantage. The mob bosses, desperate to stop the Batman as well as Gordon and Harvey, acquiese to his lunacy, not understanding the depths of their own actions.
Scene #10 Batman, Gordon and Harvey
Protagonist Harvey/Bruce/Gordon
Desire Figure out plan to take out mob
Antagonist Mob
TP Batman agrees to bring back Lao
Value Justice
Role The trio attempts to gain the upper hand.
Analysis The trio moves to figure out their next move after their plan to steal the mob’s money goes awry. Trust needs to be built up between them in order for them to take down the mob.
Scene #11 Bruce Plans
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Get ready for Lao take down
Antagonist Logistics
TP Batman boards plane to Hong Kong
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham: Planning for Lao’s capture
Analysis With the backing of Gordon and Harvey, Bruce plans to bring in Lao using Lucius and Alfred’s help.
Scene #12 Joker Kills Gamble
Protagonist Joker
Desire Eliminate Gamble threat
Antagonist Gamble
TP Joker Kills Gamble
Value Power
Role Joker consolidating power and backstory
Analysis We again see how the Joker manages to acquire power and use his wits and insanity to his advantage.
Scene #13 Lucius Sets Up Bruce
Protagonist Lucius
Desire Set Up Lao
Antagonist Lao
TP Lucius leaves the compound having set up Bruce’s trap.
Value Justice
Role Set Up Bruce’s takedown
Analysis Lucius, in his devotion to Bruce, helps set the Batman up for his mission.
Scene #14 Lao Captured
Protagonist Batman
Desire Capture Lao
Antagonist Lao and Security
TP Batman absconds with Lao
Value Justice
Role Batman enacts plan to take down the mob
Analysis We see the Batman using his upmost skill to bring in Lao and take out those around him.
Scene #15 Lao Cuts a Deal
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Bring down the mob
Antagonist Lao and Mob
TP Lao agrees to give up clients
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham and Gotham’s Soul Act One Climax: The city believes in Harvey and Batman.
Analysis The fruits of the trio’s efforst comes to a head as Lao gives up the mob and brings Gotham closer to peace.
Scene #16 Harvey Meets with the Mayor
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Put into plan effort to clean streets
Antagonist Gotham
TP Dead Batman shows up
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act One Climax: Harvey becomes the face of hope in Gotham.
Analysis The importance of Harvey to the cause is emphasized. He’s the hero Gotham needs for the mob to be put away for good.
Scene #17 Joker Demands Batman Identity
Protagonist Joker
Desire Set demands
Antagonist The Trio
TP Joker states demand
Value Chaos
Role Joker Act One Climax: Joker puts plan for Gotham into motion
Analysis The Joker makes his first move against the trio, targeting Batman’s identity as a crux to break their spirit. His terror stands in sharp contrast to the good that the trio is trying to accomplish.
Scene #18 Joker Strikes
Protagonist Joker
Desire Cause havok
Antagonist Trio
TP Batman refuses to reveal his identity
Value Chaos
Role Joker putting his first dent into society. Rachel Act One Climax: It’s revealed that Harvey has proposed to her, and Bruce still cares for her.
Analysis The Joker and Batman confront each other for the first time and are able to size each other up. The Joker’s plan to destroy the spirit of Gotham has begun as the deaths of officials pile up and public confidence falls. Harvey also pressures Rachel to decide on his marriage proposal, setting up Rachel’s internal conundrum: Harvey or Bruce?
Scene #19 Harvey Stands Firm
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Keep prosecution going
Antagonist The Joker’s actions
TP Harvey shows up at the precinct, unafraid
Value Justice
Role Show Harvey’s commitment to the plan
Analysis Given the chance to flee, Harvey instead doubles down on the plan to take down the mob. This shows his dedication but also his foolhardiness. His hubris will end up as his undoing.
Scene #20 Bruce Examines the Joker
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Unravel the mystery of the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Bruce realizes that the Joker can’t be reasoned with
Value Justice
Role Show depths of Bruce’s enemy
Analysis Hero and villain examine each other and see themselves in full light. For Bruce, this is a nemesis he has never encountered before; devoid of humanity and thriving on chaos. This deepens the stakes for him.
Scene #21 A Murder Scene
Protagonist Batman
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Gotham
TP They discover the Joker’s next target is the mayor.
Value Justice
Role Batman on the hunt
Analysis We see the first glimpses of Gotham cracking under the pressure of the Joker’s antics. Gordon and Bruce are snapping as the Joker kills and threatens.
Scene #22 Bruce’s Experiment
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Bruce finds the thumbprint
Value Justice
Role Bruce on the trail of the Joker
Analysis Bruce uses his resources to find out the Joker’s hideout, getting a bit of his mojo back and thinking he has the Joker once again on the ropes.
Scene #23 Lucius and Reese
Protagonist Lucius
Desire Protect Bruce’s identity
Antagonist Reese
TP Lucius calls Reese’s bluff
Value Morality
Role Introduce subplot
Analysis Lucius, in his desire to protect Bruce, manipulates an employee to keep Batman’s identity a secret. His devotion to Bruce is an example of his strong character, a factor which will influence their relationship at the film’s end.
Scene #24 Assassination Attempt
Protagonist Joker
Desire Kill the mayor
Antagonist Triumvirate
TP Gordon saves the Mayor
Value Chaos
Role Joker instills chaos into the peace
Analysis The Joker again causes chaos and panic as he nearly kill the mayor and shoots Gordon. The pressure gets to Bruce and Harvey as they each choose drastic actions to find the Joker.
Scene #25 Gordon’s Dead
Protagonist Batman
Desire Mourn and show respect
Antagonist
TP
Value Justice
Role The strain on Bruce grows immense. Gordon Act One Climax: Gordon appears dead, driving them to despair.
Analysis Bruce’s strain is immense. He believes he has lost his friend as a result of their plan and orphaned his family. The stakes grow deeper.
Scene #26 Batman Questions Maroni
Protagonist Batman
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Maroni, Joker
TP Batman realizes Joker will keep killing
Value Justice
Role Batman comes to the realization he must turn himself in to save Gotham
Analysis Bruce’s anger drives him towards harsher and harsher actions. He brakes a man’s ankle, beats up an entire nightclub and pushes against the mob with all of his force. His strict moral code is beginning to bend as the pressures build.
Scene #27 Harvey Questions Lackey
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Find the Joker
Antagonist Lackey, Joker
TP Batman tells him he’ll turn himself in
Value Justice
Role Bruce makes his decision and Harvey starts to give in to the dark side
Analysis Harvey’s boundaries, just like Bruce’s, are being tested, and he is pushing himself closer and closer to being a villain. As Bruce decides to take responsibilities for his viligante actions, Harvey is stuck struggling against his anger, a sign of what will transform in him throughout the story.
Scene #28 Rachel and Bruce
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Connect with Rachel
Antagonist Feelings for Harvey
TP Rachel commits to Bruce
Value Love
Role Deeper love triangle
Analysis Rachel’s internal conflict comes to a head as she must choose between Bruce and Harvey.
Scene #29 Alfred Talks with Bruce
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Reason through choice
Antagonist Pressures to turn himself in
TP Bruce admits he can’t handle the deaths
Value Justice
Role Bruce facing the music
Analysis Bruce talks with his mentor, Alfred, to gain perspective on his choice to turn himself in. Alfred pressuring him to continue as Batman suggests that Bruce is failing at distinguishing between Batman and himself, Bruce’s inadequacies reflecting upon his alter ego. This results in Bruce turning away from his adventure, rejecting his call to adventure.
Scene #30 Harvey Turns Himself In
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Protect Gotham
Antagonist Chaos, Gotham
TP Harvey voluntarily admits to being Batman
Value Justice
Role Harvey Midpoint: Harvey takes the fall for Batman.
Analysis Harvey understands the importance of Batman for Gotham’s soul and voluntarily turns himself in instead of Bruce. His sacrifice again shows his recklessness, but also the importance of Batman as a symbol, in a way, overriding his own importance as a symbol.
Scene #31 Rachel Makes Her Choice
Protagonist Rachel
Desire Choose man
Antagonist Fears of future
TP Rachel leaves letter with Alfred
Value Love
Role Rachel makes choice
Analysis Rachel chooses between Harvey and Bruce, but keeps her choice to herself. Harvey’s sacrifice and Bruce’s acceptance of Harvey’s sacrifice lead her choice.
Scene #32 Harvey Transported
Protagonist Joker
Desire Kill Harvey
Antagonist Batman and police
TP Gordon emerges alive and arrests Joker
Value Justice
Role Saving Gotham Midpoint: Peace is saved for Gotham again.
Analysis Through sheer will and luck, the trio is able to trick the Joker and arrest him. For the moment, it seems as though Gotham is saved.
Scene #33 Gordon Returns Home
Protagonist Gordon
Desire Reunite with family
Antagonist Fears
TP Wife accepts him
Value Love
Role Gordon Act Two Climax: Gordon returns home to save his family
Analysis Gordon’s devotion to his family is representative of Gotham. Their ability to hope mirrors Gotham’s.
Scene #34 Interrogation
Protagonist Batman and Gordon
Desire Find Harvey
Antagonist Joker
TP Joker admits his plan and tells them where they are
Value Justice and love
Role Sets deeper emotional stakes for characters
Analysis Batman and Joker are face-to-face, their conversation mirroring the main themes of the story: the role of heroism, belief in people’s inner goodness and moral codes. This scene unifies everything that came before it and sets the stage for everything that will come after. Batman realizes what Joker is and Joker sets the stakes for the rest of the story, a battle that will ultimately resolve the soul of Gotham.
Scene #35 The Explosions
Protagonist Batman
Desire Save Rachel and Harvey
Antagonist Joker’s plan
TP Rachel is killed and Harvey scarred
Value Love and justice
Role Harvey Act Two Climax: Harvey loses everything.
Analysis The Joker exacts a terrible price as Rachel dies and Harvey is scarred. This turn of events will test both Harvey and Bruce, revealing their inner core identities and changing them in profound ways.
Scene #36 Joker Breaks Out
Protagonist Joker
Desire Escape
Antagonist Cops
TP Joker detonates bomb and escapes
Value Chaos
Role Joker Act Two Climax: Joker unleashed in the city again
Analysis The Joker’s maniacal deliberations have paid off as his plan to destroy Gotham’s peace seems to be working. Chaos reigns as the trio and their city lose hope.
Scene #37 Bruce and Harvey Mourn
Protagonist Bruce, Harvey and Alfred
Desire Reconcile loss
Antagonist Emotional loss
TP Alfred doesn’t let Bruce know about letter
Value Love
Role Turning point for characters to change. Rachel Act Two Climax: Rachel chose Harvey, but her death destroys him.
Analysis Both of Gotham’s knights, Harvey and Batman, have radically different reactions to the death of the woman they loved. Bruce is remorseful, needing Alfred’s encouragement to feel justification. Harvey is angry and vengeful. These reactions will define them for the rest of the story as both characters are changed and will transform, Bruce turning back into the guise of Batman for escape, Harvey changing into the villainous Two-Face. Alfred’s love of Bruce is tested as he worries the truth will destroy him.
Scene #38 Gordon and Harvey
Protagonist Gordon
Desire Find out who he can trust
Antagonist Harvey’s depression
TP Harvey condemns himself
Value Trust
Role The old Harvey is gone
Analysis Harvey’s depression and anger becomes evident to Gordon as he realizes that Harvey has lost the inner fight against the Joker. The scene reflects Gordon and Harvey first meeting, but with a drastic switch in tone, from Harvey full of hope to full of despair, Gordon a lens through which the audience can witness the change.
Scene #39 Joker Burns the Cash
Protagonist Joker
Desire Take over the city
Antagonist Mob bosses
TP Joker takes the mob might for himself
Value Power
Role Joker takes control of the mob and has the city in his grasp
Analysis The Joker officially takes control of the mob and sets fire to their wealth. For him, money isn’t important, but his end goal is: chaos. This further illustrates the Joker’s character as beyond reason, more a force of nature than a person. He is a storm about to sweep over Gotham.
Scene #40 Hospital Fight
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Save Mr. Reese
Antagonist Gotham City
TP Bruce throws his car into the lane and saves Mr. Reese
Value Peace
Role Batman and Gordon fighting back against Joker’s take over
Analysis Bruce must now make his choice after he loses Rachel: to continue the fight against the Joker or retreat into depression. He chooses to continue to fight, even saving a man who would have revealed his identity. Gotham now is at the mercy of the Joker, lurching into chaos. Without Harvey to guide the city, madness reigns as citizens try to kill Reese to save themselves. Bruce and Gordon struggle against a raging tide of madness and only their conviction can save the peace they made.
Scene #41 Joker Converts Harvey
Protagonist Joker
Desire Turn Harvey insane
Antagonist Harvey
TP Harvey becomes Two-Face
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act Three Climax: Harvey loses his internal fight and becomes Two-Face.
Analysis Much as Bruce must choose his path after Rachel’s death, Harvey must as well. He is transformed by the Joker’s madness into a new being, Two-Face, a merging of philosophies, from Batman’s, Joker’s and his own, dependent entirely on chance. The duality of the storyline overwhelms poor Harvey. Good and evil, fate and chance, white knight and dark knight, and the choice Bruce made that resulted in Rachel’s death all reflect this newfound madness in Harvey’s soul. Not only have his fears and anger been revealed throughout the course of the narrative, these forces have changed him and now Gordon and Batman must confront what the Joker has created.
Scene #42 Joker Claims the City is His
Protagonist Joker
Desire Take over the city
Antagonist Gotham
TP Gotham falls into chaos
Value Chaos
Role Joker moves to take the city
Analysis With Harvey gone and the city shaken to its core, Gotham is now in the grip of the Joker. His methodology has transformed the city just as it had transformed Harvey. Now it must choose in the final act whether it will believe in the good that the trio had previously sought or the chaos that the Joker instills.
Scene #43 Lucius takes the Mapping Technology
Protagonist Batman
Desire Stop the Joker
Antagonist Lucius and morality
TP Lucius agrees to take the technology
Value Justice
Role Lucius Act One Climax: Lucius directs Bruce to the right moral path. Saving Gotham Act Two: Bruce realizes he can’t break his moral code to stop the Joker and goes to stop him.
Analysis As Lucius has served as Bruce’s moral compass and ally throughout the story, the pressures of saving Gotham have pushed Bruce towards new and dangerous technology. The new mapping system that tracks everyone in Gotham is an affront that Lucius can’t fathom. Lucius helps Bruce realize that evil can seep into him as well and turn him into someone like the Joker if his power becomes too omnipresent. For Bruce, he must realize his limits, much as Alfred warned him about in the film’s opening, and his moral code. It is the only thing keeping him from turning just as Harvey has done.
Scene #44 Harvey Kills Maroni
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Kill Maroni and find the others who betrayed him
Antagonist Maroni
TP Harvey learns that Ramirez betrayed him
Value Justice
Role Harvey has turned to the bad side
Analysis Harvey’s turn into Two-Face is complete as he murders those he considers responsible for Rachel’s murder.
Scene #45 The Boats Choose
Protagonist Gotham
Desire Save itself
Antagonist Joker
TP The boats choose not to detonate
Value Chaos
Role Gotham Act Two Climax: Gotham chooses the good path
Analysis The battle for Gotham’s soul comes to a head as the Joker presents two boats with a choice: explode the other or both die. After much soul-searching, neither boat chooses to sacrifice the other to save themselves, believing in the trio’s ideology rather than the chaos of the Joker. This mirrors Bruce and Harvey’s choice after the death of Rachel with Bruce succeeding and Harvey falling to darkness. This concludes Gotham’s storyline.
Scene #46 Batman Defeats the Joker
Protagonist Bruce
Desire Stop the Joker
Antagonist Joker
TP Batman Defeats the Joker
Value Justice
Role Joker Act Three Climax: Batman affirms his commitment without breaking his code
Analysis Bruce is given the opportunity to break his code and kill the Joker in an act of revenge. He chooses instead to save him. Bruce’s ethics are unbreakable, despite the Joker’s best intentions. Bruce’s arc ends as Gotham agrees with him and rejects the Joker, for the time being.
Scene #47 Harvey, Gordon and Batman are Shattered
Protagonist Harvey
Desire Achieve revenge
Antagonist Gordon and Batman
TP Batman stops Harvey
Value Justice
Role Harvey Act Four Climax: Harvey is killed. Gordon Act Three Climax: Batman saves Gordon’s family from Harvey.
Analysis The toll of the Joker on the trio is evident. Harvey has gone insane and threatened Gordon’s family. Gordon is wracked with fear over his family’s safety. Bruce is still reeling from the loss of Rachel and the physical toll of his fight with the Joker. Compared to the Inciting Incident, the course of the story has strained all of them. The transformation of Harvey is heart-breaking, the hope of Gotham extinguished in front of Gordon and Bruce’s eyes. In order to save Gordon’s family, Bruce must break his oath and has to kill Harvey. The weight of that choice will be more evident in the next film, but the act itself, as defined over the course of the story, is gut-wrenching for Bruce. The final act of the Joker, will it result in Gotham’s breaking?
Scene #48 Batman Rides Off
Protagonist Batman
Desire Save Gotham
Antagonist Harvey’s actions
TP Batman chooses to take the fall
Value Chaos
Role Batman realizes his role. Alfred Act One Climax: Alfred protects the truth from Bruce.
Analysis The final definition of heroism is defined as Batman takes the fall for Harvey’s crimes. With Gotham’s belief in good in the balance, Harvey remains the city’s white knight, a symbol of hope that will endure long past his death. Batman, however, will take the burden as its villain for the time being, understanding that he can now take the abuse. This stands in contrast to his earlier willingness to turn himself in to stop the Joker. Over the course of the story, he has realized his strength and that Batman truly has no limits. With that, “The Dark Knight” ends.

OVERALL

“The Dark Knight” is an enthralling story of symbolism, heroism and justice. Framed as a sort of quasi-Michael Mann/Godfather movie of crime and corruption, the film smartly utilizes the city of Gotham as a living character in the story and the fight of good and evil is a battle over its soul. Will the city fall into law and order paradigmed by the trio of Harvey Dent, Commissioner Gordon and Batman or the corruption and chaos harnessed by the Joker? This elevates the film beyond a simple bad guy versus good guy storyline where the villain will blow up the city because of reasons. The Joker is a force of nature whose motivations and history are a mystery, creating a terrifying portrait of a psycho whose ability to cause chaos is impressive throughout the story. His wickedness is a stark challenge to the trio of heroes, each of whom reacts differently to the trials put on them by the Joker. The trio in many ways is similar to the triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus of ancient Rome. Caesar is even referenced in the film by Harvey Dent as one of the ways heroes die and villains survive in the public mind. And just like the breaking of the triumvirate in ancient times, the pressures of the Joker destroy the trio of Gotham. One bends but doesn’t break (the Batman), one hides to protect his family (Gordon) and one transforms into a villain under the pressure. Harvey and Batman are in many ways two sides of the same coin (a reference to Two-Face); one is Gotham’s white knight and the other its Dark Knight. But what Gotham sees is not truth, only symbolism. Harvey, in death, is a stronger symbol for Gotham’s hope than the truth even though he ended up a villain. Batman is seen as a villain because he survives, but he is actually the hero of the story. It is an interesting story arc that transcends the genre.

The film is also an interesting portrait of the post-9/11 mentality. As society deals with the madness of terrorist attacks that venture beyond morality and reason, our response to these perpetrators reveals a core aspect of us: committed to justice or a need to turn to a totalitarian society. This is typified by Bruce and Lucius’ relationship. Lucius serves as Bruce’s Jimminy Cricket in a way, reminding him of the value of a strict moral code to survive such chaos.

Where the script falls short somewhat is the Rachel and Gordon storylines. Rachel is not given a fair enough due as a character and her choice of Bruce or Harvey is superficial compared to the weight of the rest of the story. In addition, Gordon’s role with his family could have been expanded upon with some scenes of his life at home, his relationship with his wife and more information about why he fights. Perhaps his son defends Batman at school and his wife is worried about safety in the city but Gordon promises her that things are going to get better, just wait and see.

Otherwise, the script is a deep, thrilling tale of heroism imbued with modernist and classical themes. The characters are interesting and the arcs make the film a classic of not just superhero film, but modern filmmaking.

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“Filmworker” shows the dedication to genius

People are attracted to genius. It’s what’s driven legions to Albert Einstein or Leonardo di Vinci or Galileo. To be enamored with someone who is so committed and so influential breathes vigor into our lives. So when Leon Vitali, a trained Shakespearean actor decided he wanted to work with Stanley Kubrick, one of the most famed filmmakers of all-time, it’s a wonder if he knew just how maniacal his soon-to-be mentor would be. Warm and loving one minute, crazed the next, it is the mark of genius to demand perfection while not understanding the human cost such ambition requires.

“Filmworker” follows Vitali from his role in “Barry Lyndon” through the end of Kubrick’s life and his work on the film restorations of all of Kubrick’s films. In between, we see the intense dedication Vitali has for Kubrick, serving as his assistant after turning down a career as an actor, working day and night to put Kubrick’s vision onscreen. We wonder how any person could submit himself so entirely to another individual, especially someone who at times seems to take others for granted and goes through misdirected tirades. It’s an interesting story about dedication, art and mentorship.

Directed by Tony Zierra, the film does a good job examining Vitali, his story and how his relationships were strained by his devotion to Kubrick. It tries a bit too hard to illustrate his upbringing and tie Kubrick to his abusive father. Nothing, especially a biography, traces linearly from one point to another point through causality. People make decisions irrationally for subliminal and overt reasons. Trying to pinpoint Vitali’s reasoning is a fruitless endeavor. His dedication despite Kubrick’s rashness is what’s truly fascinating.

While interesting, the film could have used a little more budget and editing as it sags near the middle and has some odd jump cuts during interviews. It tries to end on a happy note, almost forcing it upon the viewer, when a much more nuanced approach may have been worthwhile. Is Vitali’s life a tragedy, a sort of bizarre comedy or something else? He claims it’s a happy story. The viewer may feel differently.

“Julieta” another solid Almodóvar film

Writer-director Pedro Almodóvar has crafted quite a collection of films that primarily examine the modern female psyche in Spanish culture. “Julieta” is another pristine film that is heartfelt, multi-layered and unique yet familiar.

Julieta (Emma Suárez) is preparing to move to Portugal with her boyfriend, Lorenzo (Darío Grandinetti) when a chance encounter with Bea (Michelle Jenner), her estranged daughter’s best friend, upends her life. Delving into the past, young Julieta (Adriana Ugarte) meets Xoan (Daniel Grao) and their love leads her down a strange path of random chance and heartache.

Almodóvar deftly blends together themes of regret, depression, hope and maturity into Julieta’s story. The plot uses backstory, flashbacks and clear progression to illustrate Julietta’s emotional state as she goes from naive youth to young mother to sorrowful widow to distant matriarch, and we recognize the transfer of her story to her daughter, Antia. The passing of a similar story from mother to daughter (and we assume eventually to her daughters as well) brings universality to the narrative.

Almodóvar has never been an especially flashy filmmaker, especially in later years, but then again, he doesn’t need to be. His camera focuses on actors and their interactions and reactions to tell the story. This guiding principle keeps the drama focused on the characters and really allows his actors to inhabit their roles. It makes for a very personal experience.

“Chi-Raq” an interesting concept, but bogged down by message

“Chi-Raq” had so much going for it: a modern day adaptation of the Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, an all-star cast, director Spike Lee, timeliness with the backdrop of the violence in Chicago. It’s disappointing to say that the sum of its parts is therefore lacking.

Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) is Chi-Raq’s (Nick Cannon) girlfriend. Chi-Raq is a rapper in Chicago, burnishing guns and screaming about taking his enemies out. Violence erupts on the streets, resulting in the death of Irene’s (Jennifer Hudson) daughter. Motivated by Miss Helen (Angela Bassett), Lysistrata encourages her friends and their friends to partake in a sex strike, refusing to put out to the gangsters until the violence abides.

The film is a visual feast and has a kinetic energy that keeps things interesting. The premise is interesting and timely, and the style different, though at times overdone. But the whole film is overly preachy, a soapbox, overriding the ability of the audience to partake in the story of the film.

Long sermons are given to characters such as Father Mike Corridan (John Cusack) and Dolmedes (Samuel L. Jackson), shoving messages and statistics at the viewer, taking away from Lysistrata’s story. Spike Lee has never been a subtle filmmaker, but “Chi-Raq” dials up the preachiness to 11.

This is not to say that his film does not make a strong point. Just that he has let his feelings override his ability to tell an involving story. For his passion, perhaps a documentary would have served a better outlet.

And feminism takes somewhat of a backseat. Lysistrata and her friends are highly sexualized and also trivialized from a character standpoint. When dealing with cultural issues involving race and sex, every little thing will be judged scrupulously and Lee’s female characters are lacking.

Throw in some bad comedy, unnecessary sequences and a general lack of focus and “Chi-Raq” is not the milestone it could have been.

“Isle of Dogs” a lot of fun

Wes Anderson makes the same movie again and again, just in a different format. For some filmmakers (Tim Burton), the formula has become stale and tedious. For Anderson, with his kinetic style and dry wit, it’s still fun for the time being.

“Isle of Dogs” tells the story of Atari (Koyu Rankin), a young boy and ward of Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura). After dogs are deemed a public health crisis after a string of diseases is associated with them, all dogs in Japan are shipped to a trash island far away. Atari runs away from his home, steals a plane and flies to the island to find his dog, Spots (Liev Shreiber). He befriends a group of dogs including Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray) and Duke (Jeff Goldblum), who agree to help him find Spots. Chief, the only stray of the group, is a reluctant ally and resents humans for what they’ve done, but as he grows to know Atari, his emotions change.

The film is a visual feast, with the swift camera pans accentuated by the vibrant colors and smooth animation. Anderson has always done a good job of focusing the viewer’s eye to his subject and exemplifying the film’s emotions through the actions on the screen. Whether it’s a closeup of a character’s eyes as they come to a realization or a chaotic zoom in to emphasize a shocking turn of events, he uses film composition to keep his stories interesting and heartfelt.

He also continues to display his unique wit and charm. The main characters have interesting personality quirks and story arcs and the script keeps the action going at a brisk, never-boring pace. Things move fast and the audience is rewarded for keeping up with his trademark jokes.

For Anderson though, his repetitive style is beginning to border on unoriginality. There are enough differentiations in theme and plot to keep his films interesting for the time being, but like many others before him, his movies are all starting to feel the same: dysfunctional family, long lost relatives, quirky side characters, prestige vs. instinct quarrels, blatant yet funny dialogue, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, F. Murray Abraham, Jeff Goldblum. There is a risk that he may soon seem to be parodying himself and that would demean his otherwise strong stories.

And a continuous problem with Anderson in all of his movies is his lack of female characters. Not only are they not protagonists, they are distinctly lacking everywhere onscreen. The vast majority of his characters are white males. And the women of the story serve mostly as companions or sex objects (not in an overt, callous way but in a matter-of-fact way). They are distant and detached or committed to a cause past thought of their own lives. It would be interesting for him to branch out not only in his style, but also his cast list. Many of the roles in his films could indeed be women characters, but he has trouble writing that way.

Ultimately, “Isle of Dogs” succeeds not only as another strong Anderson film that fits into his canon, but also because it mirrors current events. It’s a story about the outsider who benefits society, about government manipulation to find a common enemy to consolidate power, about abusing the environment and leaving our children messes and trash, about the importance of science and reason over preconceived biases and about our basic communication with nature, respecting and cultivating it. It’s a beautiful story that exemplifies what Anderson does best.