Review: Realistic personality over a robotic personality. Lets talk about filling out the character’s personality. Usually Its good writing practice to have the characters serve the plot and not the other ways around, but if this is done incorrectly the character will seem empty to the audience. An example of this in Selene from the movie Underworld (2003). In the behind the scene DVD footage, Kate Beckinsale says that the Character Selene is very robotic in the first movie. This is because of focusing on the plot so much that sometimes there is not enough screen time to build the characters. Brilliant screen writing and directing will incorporate character development into a scene while moving the plot forward making a scene more dense and layered. One problem that happens in movies is that you see a character reacting to every thing around her and not really participating in environment. Lets remember that motion picture film is an art and not a clinical series of techniques.
Warning Spoilers Ahead!
What does the main protagonist believe in? Does this person have a religion or a code of some sort? We can see that Rey is more of an empty shell in the Force Awakens. It seems like this is being done on purpose for the next film The Last Jedi but is that really ‘good’ screen writing? Is it really OK for a movie creator to leave their audience more confused that satisfied with your movie? Katniss believes in freedom and peace. This is expressed in the movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part-1 (2014) when Katniss gives her Mockingjay speech. Rey never expressed what she believes in with the movie The Force Awakens at all. She acts as though freedom and peace is what she is fighting for but why? It is a legitimate question. The Star Wars universe is big, she can go anywhere so why help the resistance? Is it because of Han Solo? Her beliefs are unclear there fore we as the audience must assume what her motivation is. That is just terrible. Using a story telling technique like ‘show don’t tell’ is a very artistic way of showing the audience the motivation of the character with out straight out telling you. Luke Skywalker looking at the twin suns on Tatooine in A New Hope (1977) is a great example, as well as Anakin looking out the window in Coruscant thinking about Padme’s survival before he ‘saves’ Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith (2005). Again Rey’s motivation and beliefs are confusing when she says she wants to go back to Jakku. Lets look at some other characters beliefs. David from Alien: Covenant (2017) is asked ‘what do you believe in David?’ David looks up to the sky and then says ‘ Creation’. Hypatia in the movie Agora (2009) says that she believes in philosophy. Yoda says that ‘luminous being are we not this crude matter‘ in the Empire Strikes Back (1980). Han Solo says ‘Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster by you side‘ in a New Hope. All of these characters are well written in their respective movies and we as an audience follow the stories well. One nice idea that is usually used in science fiction is that each character represents a philosophical idea. I have written before about the characters Tubal-cain in Noah (2014) and Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series. These characters represent the dark side of the human beings.
Katniss likes to use Game theory when handling her enemies. Any one familiar with Simon Sinek’s work will be familiar with his interpretation of Game theory. Katniss in what we call a infinite player in this game of war between the resistance movement and President Snow’s capital. Snow is a finite player. He wants Katniss to die, the people be suppressed, starved, and believe in the ‘illusion’ of hope. Snow believes that if he sticks with this plan, he will be victorious and maintain his power. This is idiotic beyond idiotic. Katniss is an infinite player that understands that asymmetrical warfare will frustrate the enemy. Like Sun Tsu’s Art of war says to attack the enemy general’s mind, getting your enemy to commit to an irrational move. This is exactly what happened in the second Hunger Games movie. Katniss shoots an electrically charged arrow at the dome of the Hunger Games tournament causing the electrical grid to over load and fail. Frustration is the main goal here. Well done Katniss. The apex alpha male Snow is psychologically knocked off his perch, causing him to commit to very irrational moves in order to emotional hurt Katniss because he himself has been tricked. These moves of his are very weak though. Trying to turn Peeta against Katniss as if she is going to stop harassing Snow and attacking the capital. Katniss understands the value of wearing down her enemy and attacking their mind in order to get her enemy to commit to a irrational move that exposes their weak points, just like when she shot Alma Coin in Mockingjay Part-2. Katniss got Alma to agree to a new Hunger Games tournament and when Coin spread out her arms and said ‘Mockingjay, may your aim be as true as your heart is pure.’ Sun Tsu says that all war is based on deception and Katniss knows this well.
Rey just gains force powers out of no where when she deals with her enemies. It was so much fun watching Arya Stark learning who to shoot arrows better, how to be a faceless person, and water dancing as a sword fighting style. The fun is in the character building skills, personality, and meaningful relationships overtime. There is so much fun watching the journey takes place. We don’t get a consistent story like this in the Force Awakens, maybe The Last Jedi will do better. We have no idea why Rey does the things she does. We can only hope her logic makes more sense in the later movies but even hoping for Rey’s logic to make sense is a massive failure on the screen writers and director’s part. Why is she a part of the resistance? Is it because her heroes are in the resistance? Why does she care so much? What is her stake in all of this? Does she have a vendetta against the resistance like Jen Erso did with the Empire in he movie ROUGE ONE? Poe Dameron is already a soldier in the resistance. Finn is running away from the First Order because of the evil actions he refused to take against innocent people and by helping the resistance he will help stop more innocent people from getting killed by the First Order. Rey on the other hand? We really don’t know. We can say that Rey is drawn to Luke by the force but she never expressed this in the movie. Maskenada is the little alien that convinced Rey to find Luke. That is so sad that Rey did not make a decision for herself as a individual person using her own mind. She didn’t use her own logic to make a decision.
When writing a protagonist we have to remember that a protagonist needs to come to their own conclusions. Yoda and Obi Wan wanted Luke to kill Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back but Luke found another way using his own idea of redeeming Anakin in Return of the Jedi. This shows the audience that deferent characters have deferent points of view. In real life people don’t always agree on the same ideas from politics, to taste in food, to songs, movies, etc. Instead of this being a weakness, the main protagonist can uses this to their advantage. In the Force Awakens the characters all come from deferent places and backgrounds, so this is an advantage for characters like Finn having intimate knowledge of the First Orders systems and procedures. His knowledge was very valuable for Leia and the resistance. Bottom line is to have the main protagonist use their own sense of logic. This works best in stories. It helps give the protagonist a sense of individuality and not just some robotic character going along for the ride.
A Lone Wolf vs. A team Player:
The main protagonist would have better dialog and character building they have a team to play off of just like Major Motoko Kusanagi and Section 9 in Ghost in the Shell (1995), Rey with Finn, Chewbacca, and BB-8 in the Force Awakens (2015), Katniss with Haymitch, Effie, Gale, and Peeta in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Padmé with Anakin and Obi Wan in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002) Tony Stark with The Avengers (2012), Marvel’s Blade with Dr. Karen and Whistler Blade (1998) and so on. As you can see, the most popular movies worthy of the big screen typically have their main protagonist along side a team whether they are female or male.
Katniss for the most part is a team player. She did this Mostly by necessity rather than by choice. When Katniss was helped by Rue in the First Hunger games tournament, Katniss didn’t ask for the help but took it any way. Rue’s partner Thresh saved Katniss in the Cornucopia. I can go on and on about the many times Katniss was saved in the Hunger Games tournaments and in the war for the capital. The team player is more realistic. Rarely do people actually do everything completely by themselves as far as war is concerned. There is a chain of command that is followed. Even in the business world a team is usually used for production, data based operations, human recourses, upper management, etc. Team work is what armies use to win wars, what tech companies use to grow, and what communities do to succeed. The main protagonist has a higher survivability rate by being a team player. This is where we get into group theory. Every member of the team has something to offer the group.
It is possible for the main protagonist to be lone wolf as far as survival situations are concerned but it will always be harder to complete objectives without the support of others. When Katniss hurt her leg in the first Hunger Games tournament, she needed medicine in order for her leg to not become infected to the point where her leg would become septic. If that happens the leg would need to be amputated. Instead the character Haymitch Abernathy talked sponsors into sending Katniss medicine so that her leg would heal. This is an example why being a lone wolf isn’t always a good idea. If the main protagonist is hurt, completely alone, and does not have advanced knowledge of medicinal herbs, the protagonist is in serious trouble. This can be a major problem. The screen writer can write them selves into a corner if they are not careful. A lot of movies do this and rely on a cheap Ex Machina to save the main character. This comes off as poor writing at the worst. At best it will make sense like The Avengers (2012) when Iron Man is falling from a portal in the sky and the Hulk saved him just in time. That’s more believable because of the superpowers the characters have. Too many movies rely on a contrived way to save the character, so its best to think the screen play through a little more so that the movie has its own ‘set up and pay off ‘ as well as a natural ‘flow’ or ‘pacing‘. Sometime it is very interesting to see what the main protagonist will do by them selves, like Sigourney Weaver in the movie Alien (1979) but lets not forget that she was not always completely alone. There was a nice ‘balance’ in the movie to keep the audience interested in what was happening on screen. A balance between being alone and working with a team. Again, we are looking at motion picture film, an art. An artistic balance is great for the director to show the audience but this ultimately comes from the screen play first.
Honestly the best protagonists have something captivating about them, usually they are very likeable. Its a little more difficult to write this kind of character down on paper. Many times producers and the director cast the celebrity first in preproduction and then write out the characters dialog and more of the protagonists personality. I would define star quality as a special attribute that a person has that makes them seem very successful, delightful, a magnetic personality, and or causes attraction of some sort from fans into the personality of that person, in this case our protagonists. Just like with Robert Downy Jr in the first Iron Man (2008). It was easier to write in a screen play how Tony would react to certain situations, especially after the main actors all had the reading of the screen plays. We can see that the most magnetic personalities help keep TV shows on air. The Vampire Dairies is a show that more than likely should have been canceled very early, but the creators cast the characters so well, the celebrities start quality was a major factor in keeping that show alive for so long. Star Trek the Next Generations has great actors with charisma and star quality. This played a part in the show staying on the air and ending successfully unlike the original getting cancelled. Not to say that the original cast is bad but the Next Generations had better execution of the story and use of the celebrities star quality. Star Gate SG-1 has great characters that grow over time and have excellent star quality. SG-Universe? Not so much. I can go on and on but is the little things that add up into a great characters over time, but the celebrity them selves add so much more.
Star quality is so important with media that is ‘episodic’ in nature because the creators need everything they have to get people to watch their content over and over again rather than the movie you see only once like Jupiter Ascending (2015). So for Star Wars and The Hunger Games, we are looking at two episodic movie series that need to keep people coming back to the theater and watching the next films. So again, all of the little things will add up for the viewer when these fictional worlds are being created and the fan base grows bigger. The characters like Luke, Vader, Yoga, Obi Wan from the Star Wars Series become legendary when you do this right. The well developed characters grow on us and feel more real to us as we watch the films that the main protagonist are in. We feel like we know the characters and we start to care about them. When this happens you know your on the right track when writing a screen play.
This blog focuses on the top ten British actresses of today. Showing our appreciation for all of the wonderful hard work these incredible women do to entertain us with their truly magnificent art.