The Jurassic Games (2018) starring Ryan Merriman, Perrey Reeves and Adam Hampton. Directed by Ryan Bellgardt.
Back in 1999, Japanese writer Koushun Takami unleashed an awesome novel which would very quickly become an awesome movie: Battle Royale. This is important because it would very quickly spawn a new genre of books, movies and video games, most famously becoming the blueprint for Suzanne Collins shameless rip-off The Hunger Games, as well as video games like PUBG, Fortnite, The Culling, Realm Royale and er, H1Z1 Battle Royale.
So what is a Battle Royale? Take a bunch of delinquents, drop ‘em onto an island, provide them with weapons, and the last one alive is the winner.
2018’s The Jurassic Games does exactly what its name implies, it takes two popular genres, Battle Royale and Dinosaur movies and mashes them together. And you know what? It’s actually a fun ride.
In the not too distant dystopian future, people on death row are allowed to enter The Jurassic Games, whereby contestants not only have to survive each other but gigantic prehistoric beasts too. The trick The Jurassic Games has up its sleeve is that all the action takes place in a virtual reality arena, so if the CGI looks dodgy then it’s OK, because the dinosaurs aren’t even real. Genius! If a contestant dies in game, a lethal injection goes into the person back in the real world.
Of course we have to have a person to root for, so this falls on dad of two Anthony, wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder and sent to compete in the competition. The rest of the contestants are rounded by the usual assembly of miscreants in these types of movies.
The competition takes place in four stages. First, the contestants have to make their way across the island to a safe zone without getting eaten by a T-Rex. Second, the contestants are placed in a maze filled with Velociraptors and have to navigate their way out. Third, the contestants have to walk across a minefield while being bombarded with aerial attacks from Pterosaurs. And lastly, anyone lucky enough to survive all of that (and the other contestants) is chained in the desert with the key buried somewhere in the sand, while more T-Rex are unleashed.
For a movie like this, the acting thankfully steers clear of the cringe that normally ruins films like this. Also, the movie straddles the fine line between not taking itself seriously but thankfully avoiding the all out over the top ridiculousness of Sharknado.
Ultimately, I felt the filmmakers were playing it safe, or maybe wanted to appeal to a younger audience because if they had ramped up the blood and gore in this film and given us some really over the top deaths then it would have pushed the movie from pretty good to cult classic. Movies like Piranha 3DD and Zombeavers are ridiculous but they also have copious amounts of gore that help elevate the movies to the next level. This was missing from The Jurassic Games and I think it hurt the movie ultimately.
Great for a Saturday afternoon when you want to put your brain in cruise control.
Steve Barnard lurks in the Stygian swamps of South America. He divides his time between scouring ancient jungles for the lost City of the Monkey Children and watching horror movies. Literally any horror movie he can get his hands on. Especially Japanese ones.