With global box office returns over a billion dollars (and counting), it’s a Jurassic World– and we just live in it. Though certainly no threat to win a Best Picture Oscar, it’s fine summer fun with adventure, thrills, humor, a dash of romance, and a really nasty villain to stir the pot. Forget the mad scientist or the reckless security chief- I’m referring to Indominus Rex, the genetically-engineered super predator that can camouflage herself, hide from heat sensors, and communicate with other dinosaurs (including her velociraptor kin). Oh, and she has lots and lots of teeth.
Last time I provided a rundown of my Heroism Quotient (HQ) and Villainy Quotient (VQ). To recap, I rate villains along five factors (0-20), yielding a Villainy Quotient (VQ) with a maximum score of 100. The higher the VQ, the wickeder the villain. The factors are drawn from the thinking and research of Dr. Philip Zimbardo (of the Stanford prison experiment) and other experts on evil.
Here’s my take on Indominus Rex, with consultation from my son, Josh, with whom I saw Jurassic World.
- Absence of typical moral restraints on actions: Indominus Rex gets a maximum score of 20 on this factor. Morality, shmorality! She’s primal and acts on her basest instincts. She’s cold-blooded literally and figuratively (she even ate her sibling, for crying out loud).
- Degree of harm or damage done: By the end of the movie the body count is pretty high, not to mention thousands of injured park guests. Indominus Rex’s spree also likely brought an end to the theme park (can you say, “lawsuit?”). The only reason she tops out at 15 on this factor is that the damage is contained to the island.
- Track-record of evil-doing: We’re giving Indominus Rex a low score of 3 here because her escape and rampage are confined to a single day (albeit one really bad day).
- Malice towards victims, intent to cause suffering: She clearly holds her captors (and all humans, for that matter) in low regard. She also attacks a lot of other dinosaurs and it is less clear how much malice she actually bears towards them. So we split the difference and gave her a 10.
- Taking pleasure in actions: Even though Indominus Rex may not disdain fellow dinosaurs, she kills for sport. Protagonist Owen (Chris Pratt) commented on how much she was enjoying being at the top of the food chain. Max score of 20.
Add up these factor scores and Indominus Rex’s VQ is 68. That’s pretty bad, but could be much worse, especially if her reign of terror wasn’t brought to such a dramatic end. Her VQ below 70 puts her in the range with Gordon Gekko from Wall Street (VQ 52) and Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver (VQ 44).
Check back to find out which hero or villain I rate next!