Andrew Ellard · @ellardent

26th Nov 2013 from TwitLonger

@twatterer Oh, I do wish you hadn't said complacency! Now I'm using Twitlonger and I HATE doing that.

I have a real problem when folk accuse makers of emotional/professional attitudes that they have know way of knowing. You don't know anyone making that film was complacent. You don't. You know you don't like the choice they made. But choices that don't work out can be made for the best reasons. And be worked on heavily.

There's no need for accusations of laziness, stupidity, complacency or just sheer failure of talent. "Didn't work for me" or "Here's WHY it didn't work" give you plenty. You sling around accusations of unprofessional behaviour based solely on the script - not on any information you have from the set - and my respect kinda goes out the window.

The script doesn't show you the writer's face. Their time. Their effort.

I'm utterly indifferent to if the scenes work for any one person. If it enrages you, fine. But it's not fair to assume bad motive. Especially not when no audiences rioted after the movie. Nobody thinks of Jurassic Park as "That film where the kid grows computer skills out of nowhere, wholly unestablished."

It's stated in dialogue. It's insane to say it's not enough set-up, but if we had seen Lex hack earlier it would have been fine. Because it's still a kid doing a thing kids can only do that well in movies.

You think the makers don't know the genre they're working in? You think nobody debated if this was enough? Or too much? Or the right method?

If I'd seen an early scene where Lex does hacking, I'd have suggested it get cut. (And btw, for all we know that WAS drafted and WAS cut at some stage. We don't know, and Spielberg guards most of his deleted scenes from release. You don't have all the drafts, nor every set rewrite.) Why? Too on the nose. too obvious. We'd be waiting for it from the moment the systems got sprung. It deadens the movie. And the sacrifice is for what? To please some pedants.

It doesn't make a kid hacking major park systems any less daft by setting it up. The genre rules are still leant on to give you what sheer, tedious reality does not. The dead weight that gets attached - long set-up, more predictable pay-off - harms the rest of the film.

You make creative choices. It is not complacent to weigh those up and pick the one that does less harm.

Now, to be fair, your link didn't help. It repeated your concerns, but I didn't doubt those. It didn't prove my lack of concern suddenly uncritical and misguided. What it did do, sadly, is have a pop at Crichton's first draft.

To attack a first draft publicly is a fundamental failure to understand the process. As if what was delivered was meant to be shot as-is, as if it all represents the writers' best possible work! As if a first draft doesn't knowingly include fudges that you'll fix later.

For a writer not to get that - to scoop a first draft you were never meant to see from the web then to mock its failings as if it were a published work of finished art - makes me very sad.

But I think “She certainly knows her way around a computer” IS a lousy fix, for the reasons listed above. And for one more: you've misunderstood the set-up.

Lex says she's a hacker. We maybe take that with salt, as kid bravado. But we recall it. And when she takes to the computer we go "Wow, she wasn't kidding." (Also: "Okay, we're in a movie where dinosaurs are back I guess this isn't THAT nuts.")

The moment Lex starts typing she PROVES what we only half-believed, but utterly KNEW.

We had the data. It was smuggled past in a way that's set-up, not statement. Hidden in an argument. A way that makes her computer moment a development of an existing thread, not simply a tab going into a slot. Not "She certainly knows her way around a computer" being paid off in the way we utterly expected and had been waiting for since Nedry did his thing.

The Lost World smuggled the gymnastic information into the second film the same way. We get told, we dismiss it as a domestic kerfuffle, it later saves us from a raptor.

In neither film do audiences go "Where did that come from?" They knew. They just weren't sure they knew. And that lends tension and structure where otherwise there's just leaden execution. Not all set-up has to be subtle, you're right. But the set-up that would otherwise harm tension should be.

I don't get how getting that difference and executing to make it work is something we can off-handedly refer to as complacent.


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