I am writing a book about space marines, ’cause I like stories where high-marine types are sent into remote locations and get torn apart by monsters. Aliens. Starship Troopers. Doom. Predator. That kind of shit is my jam, yo. It sings the sweet songs of my youth too my inner child, and those songs go pew! pew! pew!
When I hit the third chapter, I’ve got a scene that’s…problematic. Lots of military types gathered together for a briefing, learning the details of the remote planet where they’re destined to be torn to shreds. This is a scene that has the potential to be…dull.
Lots of info-dumpy shit and not a lot of conflict.
So, this week I’m searching out movies and books that do this kind of thing exceptionally well. Things I can study and learn from, in terms of their techniques.
Star Wars, for example.
Star Wars is the first briefing scene to burn itself into my psyche, ’cause it’s got the urgency of impending doom and the insertion of small-scale conflicts to give the scene juice. Random alliance guy stands in front of a computer screen and explains the hopeless situation. Some pilot says, that’s impossible. Luke says, yo, womp rats, motherfucker. I kill them.
Then it’s all may the force be with you as the pilots are sent off to die with the gormless farm-boy looking cool as shit for refusing to be freaked out by the impossible.
Aliens? In Aliens, James Cameron uses the mission briefing to establish the difference between Ripley and the Colonial Marines. She tries to tell them what they’re heading into. They’re all STFU, stupid civilian. What would you know about blowing shit up?
Which, because it’s a sequel, we know is mightily stupid on their part and pits the characters up against the audience as well as Ripley, who knows exactly what’s coming.
Those scenes are my starting point. I’m looking for more.
So I’m sending out a request: what briefing scenes do you rememberer from fiction and film? Which ones stick in your mind?