Jurassic Park breakdown

A paleobotanist, a paleontologist, and a couple of kids try to survive a night in a dinosaur park with the security out.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Prolog

Jurassic Park staff member is killed by a dinosaur (introducing the conflict: “we want to see dinosaurs but not be eaten by them” and NOT “we must escape dinosaurs”). 5

Act 1

As Dr Ellie Sattler looks on, Dr Alan Grant explains that dinosaurs were terrifying killers. (This actually introduces a secondary conflict in which Ellie wants children and Alan does not. This is played for laughs thruout and used to maintain tension.) 10

John Hammond invites Alan and Ellie to Jurassic Park. Dennis takes a payoff for stolen dinosaur embryos. (Introducing the villain.) 15

Alan, Ellie, and Ian Malcolm reach Jurassic Park and see live dinosaurs. 20

John Hammond explains Jurassic Park. 25

John gives them a tour of the lab. Ian warns that “life finds a way”. (This seems to reinforce the conflict, but the fact the dinosaurs are managing to breed is actually not relevant to escaping them; it only speaks the the fact that John Hammond is playing with forces he doesn’t understand. This way, John’s hubris is just as much at fault as Dennis’s greed.) 30

Act 2

The guests witness a feeding and hear Muldoon’s concerns about velociraptors (introducing the secondary villain). 35

The guests express their concerns. John’s grandchildren arrive. 40

The guests go on the automated motor tour but see nothing. 45

The guests leave the SUVs and wander thru the park. 50

The guests find a sick triceratops. The staff is evacuated for the oncoming storm. 55

Midpoint Crisis

Dennis steals the embryos. His program shuts down security and stops the tour. (This is the first actual danger the heroes are in!) 60

The t-rex breaches the fence next to the stopped SUVs . 65

The t-rex attacks the SUVs . Alan helps Lex escape, but the SUV ends up in a tree. 70

Dennis runs off the road and is killed by a dilophosaurus (killing the villain but not ending the conflict!). 75

Alan helps Tim escape the SUV in the tree. Ellie searches for them. 80

The t-rex chases Ellie, Ian, and Muldoon. 85

John waxes philosophical over ice cream. Ellie condemns his vision. (This is the emotional bottom, but it’s unusual because it does not really seem like all is lost. It works because we laid a lot of pipe about John’s hubris, making it a substitute villain for Dennis’s greed.) 90

Act 3

Alan and the kids flee a herd of gallimimus pursued by a t-rex. Ray goes to flip the breakers. (A false turn!) 95

Ray having gone missing, Ellie and Muldoon go to flip the breakers. (The real turn!) 100

Alan and the kids climb over the perimeter fence as Ellie turns it on. Tim is injured. 105

Alan revives Tim. He leaves Tim and Lex in the main building, but raptors stalk them. 110

The kids evade the raptors. Alan, Ellie, and the kids reboot the system so they can call for a helicopter. 115

Raptors break in. The guests escape but encounter the t-rex and slip away when it fights the raptors. (The end of an extended climax with the secondary villain, and John even gets a line rejecting his own park and therefore his earlier hubris.) They reach the helicopter (resolving the conflict). 120

Epilog

They fly away. (Very brief and resolves the secondary conflict of Alan not liking children. Unfortunately, this is thrown away in sequels.)

Tangled breakdown

A thief meets a captive girl in a tower and agrees to show her the world, but they are betrayed.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Prolog

As a baby, Rapunzel was kidnapped from the king and queen by the witch Gothel for the power of her magic hair (introducing the conflict and villain). 5

Act 1

Rapunzel occupies herself. Flynn Rider steals a treasure from the palace with the Stabbington brothers. 10

Rapunzel fails to convince Gothel to let her leave the tower to watch the annual floating lantern ceremony. 15

Fleeing the palace guards and his partner with the treasure, Flynn meets and is captured by Rapunzel. 20

Gothel returns, and Rapunzel tricks her into leaving for three days. (Note that it is Rapunzel and not Flynn who accepts the call to action.) 25

Act 2

Rapunzel demands Flynn take her to see the floating lanterns. 30

Rapunzel leaves the tower and feels freedom and guilt. 35

Gothel returns early to find Rapunzel gone. Flynn takes her to a ruffian tavern. 40

Ruffians and Rapunzel sing about their dreams. The palace guards arrive. 45

Midpoint Crisis

Flynn and Rapunzel flee the palace guards, including the extraordinary horse Maximus, and get trapped in a flooding cave. 50

Gothel offers the Stabbingtons revenge on Flynn. Rapunzel heals Flynn with her magic hair/song. 55

Flynn and Rapunzel get to know each other. Gothel dares her to offer Flynn the treasure. 60

Rapunzel pacifies Maximus. They all go to the palace. 65

Rapunzel and Flynn watch the lanterns. She offers him the treasure. 70

Flynn gives the treasure to the Stabbingtons, but they betray him. Gothel takes her home. (All seems lost!) 75

Act 3

Rapunzel realizes (the turn) and confronts Gothel about the fact she was kidnapped. 80

Flynn escapes. Gothel stabs him. He cuts Rapunzel’s hair. Gothel falls to her death. 85

Rapunzel revives Flynn with her tears. She reunites with the king and queen. 90

Epilog

They live happily ever after. (very brief)

Pirates of the Caribbean 1: Curse of the Black Pearl breakdown

A swordsmith and a friendly pirate chase a pirate ship to rescue a pretty girl and get more than they bargained for when they learn the pirates are cursed.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Prolog

Young Will is rescued at sea. Young Elizabeth hides his gold coin. 5

Act 1

Elizabeth wakes up. Will delivers a fine new sword. 10

Jack Sparrow makes port at Port Royal. 15

Elizabeth falls into the sea. Jack saves her from drowning. 20

Jack is defeated in a duel by Will and sentenced to hang. (introducing a subplot and secondary conflict before the central plot?!) 25

Barbossa’ Black Pearl attacks Port Royal (introducing the villain). 30

Elizabeth is captured for her gold coin (introducing the central conflict). Port Royal is sacked… by undead pirates. 35

Act 2

Elizabeth offers her gold coin. Barbossa keeps her for her blood. 40

Will frees Jack in exchange for help rescuing Elizabeth. 45

Will and Jack steal the Interceptor. 50

Jack and Will make port at Tortuga to find a crew. 55

Midpoint Crisis

Elizabeth learns about the pirates’ curse. (This is several minutes early, and that should have been fixed by cutting a few minutes from the second half, which is a little flabby.) 60

Jack recruits a pirate crew and sets sail for Isla de Muerta. 65

Fearing betrayal, Will knocks Jack out again. 70

Elizabeth’s blood fails to lift the curse. Will rescues her and leaves Jack. 75

Jack tries to barter information for the Black Pearl. 80

The Black Pearl pursues the Interceptor. 85

The Black Pearl destroys the Interceptor. 90

Will negotiates the release of the others for his blood. But Barbarossa maroons Jack and Elizabeth on an island. 95

Act 3

Elizabeth signals Norrington’s Dauntless for rescue. 100

Back on Isla de Muerta, Jack convinces the pirates to take the Dauntless. 105

Barbossa has his undead crew attack the Dauntless. 110

Jack frees Will and fights Barbossa. The pirates take the Dauntless. 115

Elizabeth frees Jack’s crew. They steal the Pearl. 120

Will lifts the curse. Barbossa dies. The pirates surrender. (resolving the central conflict) 125

Will declares his love for Elizabeth and saves Jack from hanging. (resolving the secondary conflict) 130

Epilog

Jack escapes to the Pearl. Will is released to marry Elizabeth. 135

Superman Returns breakdown

Mysteriously gone for five years, Superman returns to Metropolis to find Lois has a son with another man and Lex Luthor has another catastrophic real estate scheme.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Prolog

Legend: Superman disappeared for five years (suggesting this is the late 1980s, after Superman 2, but it’s not clear, which causes problems with Lois’s character later, since in Superman 2, she slept with Superman but he wiped her memory at the end). 5

Act 1

A dying woman wills her fortune to Lex Luthor. Superman falls to earth on the Kent farm. 10

Lex finds the Fortress of Solitude and learns the secrets of Krypton (introducing the conflict, sort of, with the villain). 15

In the morning, Clark reminisces about his childhood. 20

Clark and Martha talk. Clark returns to Daily Planet. Lois has a son with a pilot named Richard. 25

Jimmy says Lois might still love Superman (introducing a sub-plot conflict, which make the circumstance of Lois’ long relationship with Richard its villain, not Richard himself). Lex tests Kryptonian tech and causes an EMP. 30

Lex’s EMP endangers Lois’s flight. Clark sees it on the news. 35

Act 2

Superman rushes to aid Lois (even tho he has no conflict with Lex; he’s just being Superman and it happens to be in response to an incidental side effect of Lex’s plan). 40

Superman and Lois meet again. Perry declares Superman the big story. 45

Clark meets Lois and Jason, her young son by? with? Richard White (it’s not spelled out; it’s Superweird). Lex prepares for an expedition. 50

Superman spies on Lois’s home life (which is Supercreepy) then stops bank robbers. 55

Lex steals some Kryptonite. 60

The Daily Planet team discusses the news. 65

Kitty rants at Lex. Lois and Clark work late. 70

Lois and Superman talk. He takes her for a flight (which is Superawkward). 75

Midpoint Crisis

Lois says she’s with Richard now. Superman discovers his crystals have been stolen. (The crisis for the plot and the crisis for the sub-plot.) 80

Lois goes to Lex’s mansion and takes Jason onto his yacht (which is Superdumb), and she and Jason get kidnapped. 85

Lex reveals his plan and puts it into action (introducing a ticking clock, altho only Lois knows it). Clark and Richard search for Lois. 90

Lois faxes her coordinates but is caught and locked up after Jason protects her by killing a guy (which is Superdark), revealing he is Superman’s son (which Lois apparently knew, but how much Jason and Richard know remains a mystery). 95

Richard and Clark get Lois’s fax. Separately, they rush to save her and Jason (still unaware of Lex’s plan). 100

An earthquake rocks Metropolis as the new continent rises (all is lost! except Superman still has no idea what’s going on). Superman returns to save people in Metropolis (which is a turn, but kind of a turn in the wrong direction). 105

Act 3, but is it?

Flying the Daily Planet seaplane, Richard almost rescues Lois and Jason. Superman rescues them all. 110

Richard flies the seaplane. Superman confronts Lex but the Kryptonite makes him powerless. 115

Lex beats Superman and throws him into into the sea. Lois and Richard rescue him. 120

Richard just manages to take off in the choppy seas. Superman recovers. He flies to space to recharge from the sun. 125

Lex flees as Superman flies the landmass into space (resolving the central conflict he just learned about; Kitty has heroically dumped the crystals Lex stole), but it makes him powerless again. 130

Superman falls to earth and is hospitalized. A shard of Kryptonite is surgically removed. 135

Lois visits the unconscious(?) Clark and confesses Jason is his (which only vaguely resolves the sub-plot’s conflict, since the real conflict is that Superman and Lois still love each other and have a child together but Lois is in a long-term, loving relationship with Richard). Lex and Kitty are stranded on an island without helicopter fuel. 140

Epilog

Later, Superman visits Jason and assures Lois he is “always around” (which is, again, Supercreepy as well as demonstrably untrue). 145

Carousing Rules for Dungeons & Dragons

I was recently inspired to create table-top role-playing game rules for carousing between adventures, which adds fun and realism for heroes returning from an adventure laden with treasure. The reward is luck, which allows you to reroll almost any die roll.

The basic mechanic is simplified from the Medieval dice game “hazard”, which evolved into craps. The player characters go out carousing, and take turns.

The current carouser rolls 2d6.

  • On a 7, everybody gains a point of luck.
  • On a 2 or 12, everybody loses a point of luck.
  • On anything else, only the current carouser gains a point of luck and establishes a “hazard”. However, this luck remains at risk…

Once the current carouser has established at least one hazard, he or she can choose to end their night on a roll of 7, 2, or 12 and pass the dice. Otherwise, the current carouser keeps rolling.

When losing a point of luck from 2 or 12, the current carouser can choose to lose one of his or her hazard points, which clears that hazard.

After each of these rolls, the current carouser rolls on the Carousing Event table.

If the current carouser rolls one their their hazards, they lose all their luck from the hazards (not from 7s) and pass the dice. You may want to write down the hazard numbers and cover them with a point token as they get established.

hazard

Once everyone has had a turn, everyone who hit one of their hazards rolls on the End of a Wild Night table to see how they wake up in the morning.

Here is a link to the full document on Google Docs with the tables.

Sample carousing events:

You injure yourself trying to show off your strength or dexterity, whichever is higher.

You find a vial that got mislaid in a dark niche and, fairly tipsy, drink it. It’s a spoiled potion. Roll on the Minor Wild Magic Effects table.

You make a gaffe that gets you mocked for your… (1d8: 1=singing; 2=dancing; 3=clothes; 4=looks; 5=wit; 6=adventure stories; 7-8=drunken clumsiness). (+2 for any entertainment skill)

A little drinking, a little music, some good stories…. It’s a fine time! You get into a fascinating conversation about… (1d6: 1=hide tanning; 2=beekeeping; 3=shoemaking; 4=weaving; 5=wheel-making, 6=brewing).

You accidentally get locked in the privy and fall asleep until someone bangs on it. It is a… (2d6: 2=female halfling; 3=male halfling; 4-5=female human; 6=male human; 7=male dwarf; 8=female dwarf; 9-10=female elf; 11-12=male elf)

Good music, good drinks, dancing, good stories, a little romance…. You meet someone who gives you a solid lead on a job or adventure… (1d6: 1=a foreign envoy; 2=a foreign merchant; 3=a merchant; 4=a local official; 5=a royal official; 6=a minor noble passing thru) (Name that NPC and give them a background.)

Sample wild end of the night results:

You wake up with a hangover in jail for creating disorder. Pay 10 gp for bail or spend 1d4 days behind bars. You have no money on you. The constable is… (1d6: 1=hostile; 2-3=irritated; 4-5=amused; 6=surprisingly friendly).

Things got crazy, with lots of drinking and dares. You wake up with a hangover behind a dye shop with both arms… (1d6: 1=red; 2=yellow; 3=green; 4=blue; 5=orange; 6=royal purple).

Things got a bit crazy, with lots of music and drinking. You wake up with a hangover under a canvas tarpaulin in a wagon on its way thru the gate out of the city. You share the wagon with… (1d6: 1=clean straw; 2-3=animal carcasses; 4-5=pigs; 6=horse manure).

You had a bit of a crazy night, most of which is a blur, but there was drinking and dancing, great stories, romance of some sort….You wake up on the floor next to your bed with a hangover. Tucked into your bed is… (1d6: 1=your muddy boots; 2=a piglet; 3=a portrait of a distinguished noble; 4=a raccoon; 5=a jug of wine; 6=a dress stuffed with straw with a melon for a head to “throw off the assassins”).

Note that it references the Minor Wild Magic Effects table, which is something else I created. But many people have created minor wild magic effects tables. I’ll probably publish mine along with my rules for creating magic items and new spells (and Major Wild Magic Effects) in the near future.

Blade Runner – The Final Cut breakdown

In a dystopian future, Deckard is a retired cop who finds and terminates runaway replicants, the android workers built to do work humans don’t want to do. He’s called back for one last quadruple execution.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.

Prolog

Narration: Tyrell replicants need to be terminated. 5

Act 1

Leon shoots the replicant test’s examiner (introducing the central conflict). Deckard is “arrested” by Gaff. 10

Deckard is forced by Bryant to take the job to hunt Nexus 6 replicants Leon, Roy, Pris, and Zhora (introducing the rest of the villains). 15

Deckard tests Tyrell’s assistant, Rachael. 20

Rachael is a Nexus 6 with implanted memories. Deckard searches Leon’s apartment and finds photos and an animal scale. 25

Roy and Leon force Chew to tell them JF Sebastian has the information they want. 30

Act 2

Rachel tries to prove she’s human. Deckard proves she’s not. 35

Pris cons JF Sebastian into taking her in. 40

Deckard analyzes Leon’s photos and sees Zhora. 45

Deckard tracks the animal scale to a club but learns little. 50

Deckard finds Zhora in the club and gets attacked. 55

Deckard chases and kills Zhora. 60

Midpoint Crisis

Deckard is told he must also terminate Rachael because she has run away. (Zhora’s awful death and the prospect of killing Rachael the same way is a crisis of conscience for Deckard.) 65

Leon tries to kill Deckard. Rachael kills Leon. 70

Deckard promises not to hunt Rachael. 75

Deckard and Rachael fall for each other. 80

Roy and Pris confront Tyrell and find there is no way to extend their lives. 85

Roy kills Tyrell. Deckard goes to Sebastian’s apartment. 90

Deckard fights Pris. Her death throes horrify him. (Every success is a failure for Deckard. He is horrified by who he has become. This and Roy’s heartbreak over Pris are his emotional bottom.) 95

Act 3

Malfunctioning, Roy hunts Deckard in Sebastian’s building. 100

Roy chases Deckard onto the roof in the rain. 105

Roy saves Deckard from falling and talks about dying. He shuts down. 110

Deckard retrieves Rachael so they can flee together. 115

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