From looking at Jurassic Games, you might assume that this is just some knockoff of another Jurassic film franchise meant to profit off confusion and association without any regard for being a good movie in any way shape or form. You’ll turn it on, watch it, be bored for a while and maybe amused for a couple minutes in total, and that’ll be that. It’ll be just about forgotten by the next morning.
And, yeah. Wow. You’re right. Do you, like, have a hotline or something?
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Director: Ryan Bellgardt
Rated: Not Rated
Release Date: June 12, 2018 (VOD)
The main point that Jurassic Games wants you to know from the offset is that it’s a cross between Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games. That’s why they named it Jurassic Games, duh. If you think the titling is the height of cleverness that this movie aspires to reach, then, yeah, you’re right again. This movie can’t get one over on you.
Nor will it try to. The setup is basic: A group of death row inmates has agreed to join a game show where there’s only one survivor, and that winner earns his or her freedom. This all takes place in virtual reality, and when a character dies digitally, a lethal injection puts him or her down in real life. Your hero is a father of two who is innocent of his wife’s murder, and everyone in America knows it, but he got convicted and agreed to do the show, anyway. He intends to not kill anyone. He’s a good man with a strong jaw and unshakable conscience. And that sucks and is stupid, and I’m asleep already.
You can see how this is unwinding, and the movie does little to stray from your expectations. The plot glosses by its every beat of reality show parody, ethics of killing killers, barebones backstories for the characters that matter, dinosaurs appearing to perform bloodless kills, and the usual shakeups that lead to a predictable conclusion. The screenwriter could have printed out the script for Death Race 2000, changed the names, crossed out every “car” to scribble in “dinosaur,” and made this movie. And that’s not okay.
When a movie is being sold a hundred percent on the title alone, then why does its content have to be so painfully safe? Why does not caring have to mean defaulting to the most boring version of the story that could be told? Why not tell the most ridiculous, absurd version, if there’s nothing to lose? Will being forgettable really help sell this movie to anyone?
But enough of me rambling into the void. It’s time to come clean. There does stand one single good part in this entire movie. And it’s something special.
So, there’s this stereotypical Chinese character. He shouts about honor and spouts fortune cookie sayings, and it’s all very tone deaf. But this deafness leads to one moment of pure beauty. This guy ends up alone and armed only with a chain surrounded by raptors. And yes, he does kung fu fight them. It’s an extended sequence of whip swinging and jump kicking, and it’s pretty awesome. Still, it’s way tamer than it needs to be. He doesn’t get many hits in and certainly doesn’t kill one. But it does serve as a peephole into the movie that could have been.
In a week’s time, I’ll only remember Jurassic Games as that movie where the guy jump kicks the raptor.