Take a great movie like “Inside Out” or “Star Wars.” Every scene, every character, and every bit of dialogue supports the main story. There’s never a scene, dialogue, or character who doesn’t belong. Now look at a bad movie, such as any of the “Star Wars” prequels. That’s when you see characters who appear and disappear for no reason, dialogue that doesn’t make sense, and scenes that vary in tone from serious to comedic.
In “Prometheus,” the prequel to “Alien,” there’s such a mish mash of storylines and character goals that nothing seems unified. That same feeling of disjointedness occurs in “Jurassic World” as well.
“Jurassic World” seems to have trouble deciding if it will be a thriller or a comedy. In one scene, a worker falls into the velociraptor pen and the hero has to rush in to save him. That’s a fairly suspenseful scene. In another scene, there’s a goofy man who’s a beginner at flying a helicopter, so his flying is erratic and choppy to the point where no one feels safe riding in his helicopter. These helicopter scenes are played for comedic effect, but that destroys the basic thriller theme of the dinosaurs attacking people. You can have comedic relief, but you can’t keep tossing in comedy for the sake of amusement only.
Another disjointed scene in “Jurassic World” occurs when a man and woman in the control center are told to evacuate. The man decides to stay behind while the woman leaves. The man is about to kiss the woman but the woman says she has a boyfriend. This scene exists solely for comedic effect, but because it centers on relatively minor characters and their story has no effect on the rest of the story, it’s distracting and pointless.
Now compare the disjointedness of “Jurassic World” with the unified approach of “Inside Out” where a girl’s different emotions try to control her behavior in the outside world. The main story is about the emotion of Joy trying to control the girl and keep her happy while the girl moves from Minnesota to San Francisco and tries to fit in to a new neighborhood. Every scene, dialogue, and character supports the main story of Joy trying to keep the girl happy.
The more unified your story is, the more focused and satisfying it will be. The more disjointed your story is, the less satisfying it will be. “Jurassic World” didn’t have enough action to keep action thriller fans happy, it didn’t have enough comedy to keep comedy fans happy, and it didn’t have enough drama to keep suspense fans happy. It had a little of everything, which is like mixing in ice cream, pizza, and a salad in a single bowl and wondering why it doesn’t taste that good.
Your story always needs to stay focused on a single emotion with room for minor deviations. In “Die Hard,” the overall emotion is action, yet there are minor moments of comedy such as when Hans rattles off a list of demands and tells his fellow terrorist that he read about them in a magazine. That’s funny, yet it fits in with the overall theme because it demonstrates Hans as clever and dangerous. It would not have worked if Hans had simply cracked a joke for laughs and didn’t demonstrate his deviousness in any way.
“Jurassic World” was a combination of a love story between the hero and the director of the theme park, a bonding story between two brothers, a secret weapons program, and a story about a man trying to protect his velociraptors. In other words, “Jurassic World” is all over the place and thus never focuses on one main point. What does the idea of a weapons program with dinosaurs have to do with an aunt who’s emotionally distant from her nephews or the two boys’ parents about to get a divorce?
Stay focused in your story. The sharper your focus, the tighter your story. The tighter your story, the more impact it can make on an audience.
“Jurassic World” is a movie that still manages to entertain because of the dinosaurs, but it could have been far better. Focus is always better than scattershot disjointedness. You don’t have the benefit of dinosaurs and “Jurassic Park” to attract an audience, so keep your story focused and you can attract an audience through quality instead.