Date Posted: 27/09/20
Part of the Jurassic World franchise, Camp Cretaceous is set during the events of Jurassic World. It is an animated series in which the audience follows the adventure of a group of children trapped on Isla Nublar when the Indominus Rex escapes.
After watching numerous animes recently I was in the mood for something a little different, and when I went looking for a new show to watch, Netflix helpfully dropped Camp Cretaceous into my lap. The show is a computer generated animation with both Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevarrow onboard as Executive Producers.
The series opens with Darius Bowman (voiced by Paul-Mikel Williams) playing a first person Jurassic World survival game. Despite repeated attempts he, like the other players, always get eaten by the T-Rex before escaping the island. However, he figures out how to escape, and as he is the first player to ever beat the game he wins a place at the very first Camp Cretaceous. As a dinosaur nut this is a dream come true for him.
Once he arrives at the island he meets his fellow campers Ben (voiced by Sean Giambrone), a nerdy computer geek, Yasmina (Kausar Mohammed), an athlete, Brooklynn (Jenna Ortega), an online influencer, Kenji (Ryan Potter), the spoiled rich kid, and finally Sammy (Raini Rodriguez), an enthusiastic and bubby Texan girl. They are taken by the camp counsellors Roxie (Jameela Jamil) and Ben (Glen Powell) to the large tree house which will eventually house up to five hundred calmpers, but they are the first to stay there, and get a taste of the behind the scenes of Jurassic World.
Initially things seem to be going well, the group do a zip-line ride over a heard of dinosaurs, and are struck by the wonder of the park and the animals.
However, as Dr Ian Malcolm said in The Lost World “Oh ahh, that’s how it always starts, and then later there’s running, and screaming”. Things take a dangerous turn for the campers when the Indominus Rex breaks out of its confinement and sets its sights on killing anything it finds. Separated for the grown-ups Darius must use his dinosaur expertise to get the group to the final boat before they are stranded on the island...
The opening sequence was done from the 1st person perspective and I initially thought the whole show was going to be made like that Hardcore Henry style, but fortunately that was a VR game. The rest of the show is a more traditional computer animation style, and as it is produced using Spielberg’s company DreamWorks it would look familiar to anyone who has seen How to Train your Dragon, Turbo, or any animated movies made by DreamWorks.
The characters are all basically walking clichés, you have the dino-nut, the spoiled rich kid, the athletic one, the chubby one, the nerdy one and the latest the influencer one. The personalities of the all is what you would expect from the couple of words needed to describe them. The chubby girl is very outgoing and friendly with the athletic one cold and distant. It takes a few words of dialogue for the two to become BFFs (Best Friends Forever), with Brooklynn interested in keeping her subscribers happy. I have to admit though that I did like the characters and whilst there were moments when I was seriously questioning their motivations, I cannot say I disliked any of them.
A group of children struggling against a dangerous enemy has been done before and once it escaped the Indominus Rex sets its sights on munching them. You have to admire the Indominus in some ways because during the events of the film it managed to kill numerous dinosaurs and chase around Clare Dearing’s nephews, but during Camp Cretaceous it also managed to destroy the tree-top camp, and hunt down the children remorselessly. It was remarkably dedicated to being everywhere and hunting down absolutely everything on the island. Admittedly the sequence when the children were being stalked around a series of shipping containers was very tense and could work in a future film.
For a show centred around children and being a show designed for children, Camp Cretaceous doesn’t shy away from some of the more disturbing elements of the Jurassic Park/World films, namely people getting eaten by dinosaurs. There is a sequence when a panicked scientist attempts to flee in a van which is attacked by the Indominus Rex, in true JP style he runs in terror but you see the Indominus cornering him and its head going down to devour the unfortunate man. There is even a sequence in which one of the children is attacked, and I was hoping so much that they wouldn’t pull a cop-out from their asses (which sadly they do)
There was a decent amount of action and I found the show entertaining. Although it does make me wonder why humans are so quick to abandon islands once the dinosaurs escape, I mean zoos aren’t left alone because a lion gets out or the monkey’s get free or something. I also wonder why the animals don’t have vials of cyanide stitched into their bodies which can be released in the event of a mass escape.
However, as with the majority of Jurassic Park there are so many things which are just stupid and honestly you wonder how any of the characters manage to escape alive.
Right so the councillors tell the campers that they are not to wander off alone, and must be in bed with lights off by 9pm. Now on the first night on the island, the FIRST night, Darius decides that he wants to go off exploring. He sees a light in the distance which he mistakes as the compy enclosure, he heads off with Kenji and Brooklynn in tow. Brooklynn drops her phone and Kenji climbs into the enclosure to retrieve it. The enclosure has an outer edge but also has an inner cage so people could presumably walk around the outside without going inside the main enclosure. Anyway, it turns out that he has managed to climb into the Raptor enclosure, and naturally he begins to panic. The thing is that he is in the inner cage and the raptors cannot get to him. However, Darius hits a button which opens the inner area and then jumps into the enclosure himself...
Er...Darius, what the fuck are you doing???
Kenji was in no danger, until you opened the gate to let the raptors get to him. The grown-ups arrive and rescue them both (sadly Owen Grady doesn’t make a cameo at this point), but there was no reason for them to be there in the first place.
On day two, Kenji and Darius are tasked with cleaning up dino poop as punishment for their actions the night before. They are warned that if they make any other mistakes then they will be sent home. Kenji encourages Darius to go with him to look at a Carnaotaurus, which is not on display to the public because it is hard to manage. Kenji has had VIP access to the park so is able to sneak into the maintenance tunnels, and leads the two of them to a fence. Unfortunately he has led them inside the enclosure where the pair are attacked by the Carnotaurus, and only just manage to escape alive.
When the Indominus is chasing them they end up in a field lab, (where the scientist guy abandons them to get eaten) but they don’t remain indoors or try to phone someone to come and get them. Even if the phone lines are dead, is it not safer to be in a building with locked doors then out in the jungle with the dinosaurs??
Seriously how the hell do these kids keep surviving??
There were times when I just wanted to shout at the screen and tell these dozy brats to stop wandering off. Jurassic World is clearly a dangerous place if you are stupid enough to keep getting inside the enclosures with the animals, and even when they are given the simplest tasks they end up getting into life or death situations.
I did like the characters but thinking about it now, I am not really sure why I liked them. I guess because for all its faults, it is fun being back in the world of Jurassic Park once again, and that is a place I like to be. I think it is a shame that the concept of humans running from dinosaurs has not really evolved since it was first envisioned in the original film, however, paradoxically it is still entertaining to watch.
When all is said and done I did enjoy watching the show and will tune in to watch the next one when it is released. Camp Cretaceous gets a rather dubious Thumbs Up, it is entertaining but realistically the kids should have ended up as dino shit several times over.
7/10 – The kids wouldn’t get into so much trouble if they followed the guidance of their counsellors, however, the action is entertaining and the show has the nerve to not shy away from the whole people getting killed by dinosaurs thing.
Date Posted 31/01/21
Aired in 2021 Season 2 of Camp Cretaceous picks up immediately after the end of Season 1 in which our unfortunate campers have been left on the dinosaur infested Isla Nublar after the civilians and staff were evacuated at the end of Jurassic World. The principal voice cast return to reprise their roles from the first season with Stephanie Beatriz, Angus Sampson, and Bradley Whitford joining them this time.
So as you know from my review of Season One that despite some issues with the kids being stupid, and them wandering into trouble over and over, I still enjoyed the season. At the beginning of 2021 Season Two was released on Netflix so I sat down to watch it...
Set immediately after the end of the previous season with the kids realising that they have been left on the island. Returning to Main Street, they begin to have some fun playing with walkie-talkies, and Kenji encouraging them to not lose hope. Whilst reading a book about Jurassic World, they realise that there is an emergency beacon hidden inside a fake tree with its own independent power source. If they can find it and activate it then it will alert authorities on the mainland that there is some left on the island.
Unfortunately the T-Rex has made a nest-like structure in its enclosure, and considers Main Street to be its territory. The children are able to activate the beacon, but are forced to flee Main Street discovering a medical facility in the jungle where sick dinos are treated. There are numerous animals in cages that are slowly starving to death as there is no one to feed or let them out after the island was evacuated. The kids let the dinos out, including a baryonyx that is one of a family group of three. The kids eventually return to the site of the destroyed Camp Cretaceous, where they build their own structure to keep them safe whilst they wait for rescue.
One night in the distance they spot a campfire in the distance, and race towards it assuming that someone has got their distress call, and is searching for them. When they arrive they find adults, who promise to take them off the island, but as time goes on the kids realise their savours may not be who they claim...
I think that I may have liked this season more than the previous one because the kids seemed to be a little less stupid this time around. They work together effectively to keep one another safe from the dinosaurs on the island, team work is really the key to their success and survival.
However, there are still moments that made me roll my eyes, such as the moment when Darius and Sammy decide to free the caged baryonyx. In the first season the dinosaur they dubbed Toro was the main enemy. Here it is the trio of baryonyx are the main threats that are trying to hunt down the children, having two after you must be bad enough but it is established that two of the animals are trying to free the trapped third. So why would you open the cage, letting it out, so they can hunt as a trio??? There is no connection of mutual understanding between the children and the freed dino like there was in the moment between Blue and the T-Rex at the end of Jurassic World, they let the dino out so it and its family can hunt them remorselessly. Seems a tad ungrateful when they could have just left it where is was to die slowly of starvation or dehydration.
It isn’t the only stupid decision they make either. They decide to make their shelter near the destroyed Camp Cretaceous, because Kenji doesn’t know the password to get into his father’s exclusive penthouse. But, wouldn’t Jurassic World have had numerous hotels for the guest to stay in whilst they are staying on the island, so would it not make more sense to go to one of those??? There would be food, shelter, bottled water. Doors could be barricaded, and if the hotel is on or near Main Street which the T-Rex has made his own territory, then they don’t have to worry about other dinos trying to hunt them down. They could easily sit on the roof of the hotel and watch the T-Rex go about its routine without have to fear getting chomped on because the Rex can’t get into the hotel anyway.
The kids discover that the watering hole is a neutral zone where predators and prey drink together without attacking one another, yet when they find this out they don’t build their shelter in proximity to it. No, they just marvel at the wonder of it. Then build their camp in a free for all zone of all dinosaurs.
I did like that a character thought dead in the first season does return and not surprisingly they have become a badass Rambo or Schwarzenegger’s Dutch from Predator that has made the jungle his ally. He has his very own Toothless (from How to Train Your Dragon) type companion. It was fun to see someone going native having found a way to shake off the fear of the dinosaurs, and instead make them respect him.
The adults they encounter seem friendly on the surface but they have their own agenda, and the children must decide whether to trust them or risk being stuck on the island. Naturally this is one of those “man is the real monster” deals. Which I’d usually be sick of, but here it does work because the dinosaurs are dangerous, so is it better to throw their lot in with the people or try to protect the animals that would eat, trample, or swat them like bugs at a moment’s notice?
I do wonder though, does no one care that they kids were left behind???
Is there no one on the mainland that gives a crap that the children are missing? It is mentioned once or twice an episode, that Kenji is rich so why haven’t his parents sent people to the island to search for survivors?? Why would they just assume they are all dead? Perhaps not every civilian on the island was able to be evacuated so why aren’t rescue teams being sent back to search for anyone that might be hiding or holed up somewhere waiting for someone to come for them?
Plus the emergency beacon was activated and a signal was sent, so why did no one see it??
How much time has actually passed between the end of the first season and this one??
“Bumpy” was hatched then seen as a baby dino in the previous season and now is fully grown. It was said that the dinosaurs grow faster than normal, yet events in Season Two must have taken place over several weeks at least. Which further hammers home the point that someone should have come looking for them by now. Especially if the authorities had written off the island as lost, and the emergency beacon suddenly activates.
The T-Rex appears more prominently in this series, as she was not in the first. It is always cool to hear the roar of the Rex. I do wonder though, why doesn’t Darius know not to move when the T-Rex is around? He is a dino-nut after all, wouldn’t the Rex’s vision being based on movement be a fun factoid that would be found in or around the viewing gallery of the T-Rex paddock? There is a sequence when he and Sammy are hiding under a table whilst Rexy (I think that is her unofficial name) is trying to sniff them out. The table is flipped over and both kids run. If they had remained still then they would have been safe. The moment they run they are chased.
Being a Jurassic Park series, people do get killed by the dinosaurs, now whilst we don’t see anything, the deaths are implied to be pretty brutal. Two are killed by the baryonyx, with the audience hearing the screams of one of them as the character is attacked, torn apart, then presumably devoured. Another is taken by the T-Rex, again the death is implied, but people are actively left behind to be killed whilst other characters try to save themselves.
Season Two end with the children still on Isla Nublar and deciding that if no one is going to come and save them, then they need to save themselves. I am wondering if Camp Cretaceous is going to become what Prison Break did. Prison Break should have been a two season story arc that was milked to oblivion into at least five or six seasons (I forget which) with so many tangled plot threads, twists, betrayals, enemies becoming allies, that I just lost the plot with it in the end (which is why I don’t know how many seasons there were). I think if there is a season three then it needs to be the last because whilst I am enjoying the show, the episodes are short, and punchy, I think that seeing these children being chased around the island by yet another dinosaur for another season may just get dull. Especially when it has become obvious that all the children have got plot armour preventing any of them from actually being killed at the hands of the dinosaurs or any other enemies.
I am still happy to give the show a Thumbs Up because I started watching it almost as soon as it was released, and I basically binge watched the episodes, viewing them almost back-to-back. However, I think this is a finite premise that needs to end before it gets boring. I therefore hope that it ends at the climax of Season Three because I don’t want it to become a tedious show that just needs to go extinct already.
7/10 – I’ll stick with the same rating as I did before, yes there is stuff to enjoy, but once again there are stupid decisions made by all the characters. Plus we know following the fake-out death of one of the children at the end of Season One, the show doesn’t have the balls to kill off any of them. However, we know that whether they are ultimately good or bad, the adult humans are basically walking dino-happy meals.