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.