What makes a great hero? Is it their super powers? Or ability to accomplish mighty tasks even without powers (I'm talking about Batman, natch)? Is it always doing the right thing? Is it brains? Is it heart? Is it the perfect, skin-tight, color-coordinated jumpsuit?
Nope. It's the villain.
Flat out, the biggest thing that makes our heroes heroic are their villainous villains. There's a reason why Hollywood can't seem to make enough Batman and Spiderman movies - it's because they have amazing rogues galleries! Batman might be the biggest, toughest, smartest guy around, but it doesn't mean anything if he doesn't have someone like the Joker to push him to his limits. Spiderman's menagerie of baddies seems endless - Green Goblin, Doc Oct, Vulture, Lizard, Electro, Mysterio and on and on and on - and it makes our friendly neighborhood Spiderman all the more impressive that he keeps up with them.
(Side note: I believe that's why most superhero series putter out after #2 or #3, because they don't have any more good foils to pit the heroes against.)
Go out and find someone who's never seen "Star Wars" (there's actually a few of them out there) and ask them for some quick details that they've picked up. They might be able to tell you about the laser swords. They could probably wish you a quick "May the Force Be With You." Maybe they can call out the little funny green guy.
But it's a good bet they can come up with the name Darth Vader.
Why? Because he's a great villain. And great villains make great movies.
Die Hard. Brawny John McClane matches wits with brainy Hans Gruber.
Shawshank Redemption. Would only be half as good if that warden was only half as bad.
And the O.G. Jurassic Park had those velociraptors.
I mean, let's be honest, before the first movie came out, only the greatest of dino-enthusiasts even knew what velociraptors were. (Thankfully, those same dino-enthusiasts have refrained from letting us all know that velociraptors were probably closer to size of chickens and similarly covered in feathers). Now, everyone knows about those brainy beasties, and we all make sure to secure our doors with a slide chain just in case there's a velicraptor on the other side who's figured out how to pick the lock with a credit card. Even the T-Rex paled in terrifying comparison, and was given redemption as a noble beast as she helped save our heroes by fending off the pack of relentless raptors.
Since then, with each new entry into the Jurassic series, the raptors have taken on new and greater roles.
The latest Jurassic World with its falling kingdoms continues taking the velociraptor to the next level, and it serves as both a great example and a cautionary tale of the need for a great villain.
With its new and improved Indo-Raptor, the movie clearly loves its villain and gives us a new twist on the killer in the house as the monstrous dino tracks our heroes all over a dark and stormy mansion. The director gave us all chills as the Indo-Raptor climbed onto the roof and howled at the night sky while lightning struck in the distance. There were creepy shadows. And long curving talons. And big sharp teeth.
That is a good villain.
Too bad we can't say the same about the human.
The Jurassic Universe has done some great things, but human villains is not one of them.
In the first movie, of course, is the exception. Greedy glutinous Nedry turns out to be a great villain as he robs the park, then causes all sorts of mayhem as he tries to get away with it. We even feel kinda bad for him as he gets splattered by dinosaur face cream and then becomes the Dilophosaurus's dinner.
Past that, the human element is lacking in the Jurassic Park oeuvre and the movies suffer for it.
Unfortunately, Jurassic World 2 doesn't solve the problem.
In this movie, we're introduced to Eli Mills, the "brilliant" businessman, who inexplicably decides that, instead of continuing to enjoy a charmed life suckling at a billionaire's teet, he'd rather spend millions engineering new dinosaurs that he can then sell for far less money than he probably spent rescuing the dinosaurs in the first place. He believes so much in losing money that he even kills the billionaire just to show that he's a principled idiot.
Needless to say, we don't feel kinda bad for him when he... um... when he... to be honest, I don't remember what happened to him, and doesn't that say something?
In the end, the movie was good, but not nearly as good as it could've been if they'd just spent a little more time on their villain.
Simply put: a good villain is the reverse of the hero.
In Jurassic Park, Alan Grant can't touch a computer without breaking it and doesn't like kids because he thinks they're smelly, but he knows everything about dinosaurs. Nedry is a fat, slobby, presumably stinky, tech genius who destroys a dinosaur park despite not knowing anything about dinosaurs.
Die Hard - rough and tumble, shoeless New York beat cop takes on the sleek, well-dressed Euro-terrorist.
Shawshank - an innocent man goes to prison and outwits the actual criminal who runs the place.
Batman (dark on the outside, good on the inside) vs. the Joker (bright and jovial on the outside, evil on the inside).
And I can guarantee you that every single writer who created every single one of those villains had an absolute ball cooking up said baddie. I suspect, too, that the writer(s) of Jurassic World had a grand ole time playing with all sorts of scenarios for the Indo-Raptor. I doubt they had quite as much love for poor, confused Eli Mills and they might've been the only ones who really got pleasure out of watching him... have whatever eventual happened to him happen to him.
Gotta love your villains.
Screenwriter. Novelist. Sketch Comedian. Hippy-looking guy.