TL;DR – This is a strong entry into the Jurassic franchise leaning both into joy and terror of dinosaurs
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous Review –
It should go without saying, I love Dinosaurs. I have loved them since I was a kid, and I still love them today. So I take whatever chance to watch, which unfortunately is few and far between. Well, today is one of those few times when I get to sit back and enjoy the world where Brachiosaurus loom over treetops, and you need to be careful at what goes bump in the night. [Insert T-Rex Roar sound here]
So to set the scene, we open with two people running through the jungle trying to reach an extraction before Raptors take one of them out. The other person who we see their point of view tries to escape before being cornered by a T-Rex. That is the point where the VR goggles come of, and we are introduced to Darius (Paul-Mikél Williams). He is trying to beat this apparently unbeatable game to win a ticket to Jurassic World’s new Camp Cretaceous because it was always his and his late dad’s dream to go. Well while tossing and turning in bed, he is woken from a dream and finally it all clicks, and he becomes the first person in the world to beat the game. With this, he books his ticket to Camp Cretaceous where absolutely nothing will go wrong … right …?
I do respect that this shows gets Jurassic Park/World, and it clearly shows that love in the first few minutes. We get Raptors jumping around making those classic sounds, we get characters running in long grass, the roar of the T-Rex, and oh Mr DNA, which is a deep cut if I have ever seen it. Even when we get to the island (Isla Nublar), it hit all those right notes, both thematically and musically with the classic John William’s score. Of course, picking that first dinosaur that Darius saw to be a Compsognathus gives the show some big The Lost World energy. The moment Darius sees that first dinosaur, we hear that musical cue, and that takes you back in time. When we get to the camp built high into the redwoods, I couldn’t help but wonder that I would have loved this as a kid … who am I kidding, I would love to go there today. It is here where we met most of our cast, Darius the dinosaur nerd, Brooklynn (Jenna Ortega) a famous blogger, Kenji (Ryan Potter) whose parents are as wealthy as they are distant, Yaz (Kausar Mohammed) an athlete whose is sponsored by the park, Sammy (Raini Rodriguez) whose parents help feed the park with their beef ranch, and Ben (Sean Giambrone) who may indeed be afraid of his shadow. Also Roxie (Jameela Jamil) and Dave (Glen Powell) who are trying to run the camp pretty much on their own.
From a story point of view, the events of this series take place in the lead up to the first Jurassic World film. This story positioning gives everything you are watching that level of menace as you wait for the needle to drop as you know what is coming. As the series goes on, you keep getting references to things that happened in the film. So you see a picture of Indominus Rex, or hear someone yell ‘asset out of containment’ you get instant chills. This is amplified by everyone having their own agenda, some of which are secret. Are all the kids just there for fun, or are some of them there to help external clients. The question was going to be how far would they go in a show designed for children which was answered in the fourth episode when people get straight up ate. There are some tense moments because this is not a safe place to be in when there are predators on the prowl.
One area which I think will be a struggle for some people is the animation and the younger focus. The animation blends what we have seen in the past with a realistic 3D animation with some stylized quirks. It takes a little bit to get used to but then it all gels together. The show uses this animation style to full effect with these moments that take your breath away. I would say the highly here is probably the canoe ride. The young people focus is the second barrier and one I think people will judge it unfairly. Firstly because nearly all the Jurassic Park films have kids in the main focus. But also because these are all unique characters with their own drives. Wanting to prove themselves to their parents, wanting to liked, wanting to prove their dinosaur knowledge, wanting to look like they know what they are doing. These are entirely relatable drives, and it all fits a sense of reality that would happen in that circumstance. There are a couple of plot armour moments, yes, but that always has been the case, unless you were that one girl in The Lost World, and I liked that they defeated the sort of big bad Ceratosaurus by just making it not worth their while. Also yes, Bumpy the Ankylosaurus might not be quite Baby Yoda levels cute, but she is not far off.
In the end, do we recommend Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous? Yes, yes we would. A lot is going on in this show and the fact that you know what is coming plays in its favour because it does not need to hype the tension that is already there. It had a strong cast and design, and it was a bold move to end it where they did. Also with this and Battle at Big Rock, it is good to see the franchise be more adventurous.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous
Directed by – Lane Lueras, Dan Riba, Zesung Kang & Michael Mullen,
Written by – Zack Stentz, Scott Kreamer, Sheela Shrinivas, Rick Williams, M. Willis & Josie Campbell,
Developed by – Zack Stentz
Based on – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Production/Distribution Companies – Universal Pictures, Dreamworks, Amblin Entertainment & Netflix
Starring – Paul-Mikél Williams, Sean Giambrone, Kausar Mohammed, Jenna Ortega, Ryan Potter, Raini Rodriguez, Jeff Bergman, Phil Buckman, Benjamin Flores Jr., Jameela Jamil & Glen Powell