Do you love the Jurassic Park franchise? Are you a fan of The Hunger Games? Well then you, my friend, are going to love Uncork’d Entertainment’s newest science-fiction thriller! Coming to Video-on-Demand this summer, The Jurassic Games is a fun low-budget film that pits murderer against dinosaur.
Seriously, how can you not love that?
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, death-row inmates compete against each other on a game show set in virtual reality. The story centers around a group of ten inmates who’ve all agreed to participate in The Jurassic Games, an agreement which in and of itself is an admission of guilt. Within this group of maniacal miscreants is Tucker, the audience’s favorite. He agreed to the games after being wrongfully convicted of killing his wife and survival is his only chance at freedom. There can only be one winner, however, and audiences squeal in delight as the contestants are brutally ripped apart, either by each other or a rampaging T-Rex.
Did I mention that dinosaurs and other megafauna are apparently rock stars in the future? Well, they are and audiences love them—especially the raptors. And as the show’s Host essentially uses them and the game to torture the contestants in the name of good ratings, the inmates find themselves in increasingly difficult circumstances.
Acting & Characters
Despite being a low-budget film, this was exceptionally well-cast and the actors did a great job. Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3, The Ring 2), for example, played the role of the ruthless Host, using anything at his disposal to gleefully kill the contestants in entertaining ways. Adam Hampton played Anthony Tucker and he definitely made for a believable hero. And I loved Tiger Sheu as Ren.
Out of the entire cast, I really only had issues with two characters—Stephanie (Cate Jones) and Joy (Katie Burgess). That being said, none of my complaints spring from the actresses’ skills. They did a great job in the roles they were given. Instead, my problem lies with the characters themselves and how they were written.
Let’s start with Stephanie, who is the lesser of the two evils. Stephanie was convicted for seducing and murdering 16 men. Maybe it’s just me but I sort of expect a “black widow” to be a little more personable, even in this type of situation. Unfortunately, the way the character is written is just bland. She rarely speaks, she never smiles—she’s just there. Wouldn’t she at least attempt to seduce her way into getting one of the eight men in the group on her side? I mean, for a serial murderer, she was awfully boring.
Joy was the other character to whom I took an exception. I won’t lie—I am totally down with a good chaotic serial killer, which is what Joy purports to be. But once again we have just another bland (and largely incorrect) imagining of the psychopath. Cold, emotionless, and rarely wearing any expression except a scowl, Joy is (as she describes herself) wanton chaos for chaos’ sake. In reality, however, she is just another a bad cliché of an overplayed stereotype.
Frankly, I’m more than a little sick of the mindless killing machine and deranged mama’s boy banalities that the vast majority of movies seem to keep portraying. Give me a killer with panache! With style! With personality! I mean, look at real life murderers, for example. Ted Bundy was suave and debonair. Jeffrey Dahmer’s neighbors really liked him as a person. Hell, even Richard Ramirez smiled and laughed from time to time. I don’t expect every murderer to be like the Joker (although it would be fan-freaking-tastic if they were) but give me an interesting killer, damn it! The Jurassic Games, with its somewhat tongue-in-cheek and playfully dystopian feel, could have done so much more with this. It’s disappointing that they did not.
For the most part, I thought the soundtrack was quite appropriate. At no point did it become distracting or overwhelm the dialogue, which I’ve found can be an issue in some films. Neither was it too quiet. It supported the on-screen action quite well, rising and falling with what was happening while subtly influencing the viewer’s emotions. And that’s really what a good soundtrack is supposed to do.
The camera work throughout The Jurassic Games was well-done. The framing and lighting choices the crew made fit with each specific scene. For example, in the outdoor shots, the colors were vivid and bright, which effectively communicated the high energy of these scenes. In contrast, the indoor shots, both in the labyrinth and the studio, were dark and almost monotone, making heavy use of blues and greys. This gave these particular scenes a more ominous feel. It definitely helped to boost the viewer’s perception that, while the contestants might be murderers, the Host and the game show crew were just as bad, if not worse.
Although certainly not ground-breaking, The Jurassic Games was an entertaining film. Personally, I was never a huge fan of The Hunger Games. I’ve always felt it was just an okay series (book and film) but nothing all that special. This, however…this film really took that idea and ran with it and came up with a really good combination. It might not be going up on mainstream theaters, but it’s definitely worth a watch!