Director: Ryan Bellgardt
Writer: Ryan Bellgardt, Galen Christy
Stars: Robin Acker, Daniel Barton, Kaye Brownlee-France
Ok…Not judging any medium by its cover is the most common of aphorisms, but you would be forgiven for thinking you know what to expect from a movie with a title like The Jurassic Games. “Bro, is it like Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games? Dude, let’s light one up and watch this shit!” So yeah, it is a cross between those two films, but an expected premise leads to some unexpected thrills. This movie is really a mashup of every dystopian/prison/reality TV inspired film, encompassing Matrix-style commentary to the capitalistic spectacles Death Race and the truly underrated Gamer. And that’s a good thing!
I’m sure, dear reader, that you have deduced the title to understand the plot, but here’s a brief synopsis. It’s obviously the near future, and The Jurassic Games is the most successful reality television show in the world. The game pits 10 death row inmates in a remote setting a la Battle Royale not only against themselves but amongst ravenous dinosaurs. Only one will survive and have their sentence commuted. How do they manage this? The twist is a VR setup, essentially uploading their entire conscious a la The Matrix into a virtual world. Not surprisingly, if you die in the VR world, you die in the real one as well. The latter death is what allows for a violent show like this to pass the moral test (and make dinosaurs, of course): Yes, these inmates will die, but their suffering is only in the digital world. Their actual death is via lethal injection, part of this virtual reality setup. It’s all twisted fun with none of the ethical responsibility. Shoot your mate and kill him, too.
Like most of these films, there is always one hero, one maniac who loves the games, one black guy who gets killed, and one charismatic host. The host, played handsomely by horror favorite Ryan Merrimen, (you’ll remember him from Final Fantasy 3 and Pretty Little Liars – or that kid actor from The Deep End of the Ocean if you’re really paying attention), is a cross between Ryan Seacrest and Richard Dawson in The Running Man. He truly deserves accolades for his performance.
The film itself is quite entertaining and funny when it should be. I was surprised, for example, to see one actor display his bravado with some cool karate moves, only to be eaten seconds later by a Velociraptor. It’s that self awareness that allows for sophisticated action to meet the silly head on, especially in the movie’s climax when there were only two contestants…and three T-Rex’s.
So yes, judge this book by its cover all you want, but it’s quite the page turner.
The Jurassic Games is available on Digital on June 12 & DVD on July 3.
Eric Dinsmore | Twitter: @dinsmorality