12th Jun2018

‘The Jurassic Games’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ryan Merriman, Perrey Reeves, Adam Hampton, Robin Acker, Daniel Barton, Katie Burgess, Dylan Cox, Erika Daly, Sidney Flack, Gary Frazier, Cate Jones, Kyle Penington, Tiger Sheu | Written by Ryan Bellgardt, Galen Christy | Directed by Ryan Bellgardt

jurassic-games-uk-dvd

The Hunger Games get jurassic in The Jurassic Games, a direct to DVD title that is best easily described as Jurassic Park meets The Most Dangerous Game. The plot goes something like this:

Every year, 10 of the world’s most lethal death row criminals are chosen to compete for their freedom in The Jurassic Games, a television show where contestants must survive against a variety of ferocious dinosaurs. The players all die gruesomely in the game zone except for one, the last one standing, the winner, who is granted not only his freedom, but fame and fortune. Survive the dinosaurs. Survive each other. Survive… The Jurassic Games.

For Anthony Tucker (Adam Hampton), survival is his one chance to be reunited with his children after having been wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his wife. As the devious The Host (Ryan Merriman) continues adding improbable challenges, the characters will find the odds stacked against them as only one victor can emerge as winner and reclaim their freedom.

Whilst yes, The Jurassic Games is essentially a timely cash-in on THAT big-budget Hollywood franchise (there’s a reason it was released on DVD the same week as the lastest Jurassic World film hit cinemas), it actually bears more than a passing resemblance to 1987′s The Running Man – both take the same cynical approach to entertainment. Whereas Schwarzenegger’s film parodied game shows and the US’s fascination with courtroom TV, Ryan Bellgardt’s film pokes fun at reality TV and eschews live action murder and death for virtual reality… Which, whilst current given the boom in VR gaming, also seems to be a throwback to 90s cinema and the likes of The Lawnmower Man, Brainscan and Arcade.

I’d like to think that there was a legitimate reason that The Jurassic Games set its dinosaur action in virtual reality but there’s a small voice in the back of my mind that says the use of VR as a storytelling device meant that the CGI dinos could look ropey and still be believeable, in terms of this particular film that is (though to be fair I’m sure that was the case in the days of early CGI and the aforementioned The Lanmower Man) – after all there’s not much of a budget to recreate Jurassic Park style SFX here. But then there doesn’t need to be given that this film actually has more to say than your typical “nature runs amuck” flick.

For while The Jurassic Games may seem like a simple retelling of a most familiar, “most dangerous” tale, the film actually takes some interesting turns and plays with the tropes of the genre, refocussing its story as something of a diatribe on modern reality TV and media manipulation as well as being, on the surface, a fantastic – if cheesy – monster movie. It’s especially interesting when the film finally ends as our hero wins the game and the creators of theshow are exposed for what they have done… Ultimately nothing changes, the games continue with an all-new line-up of death row inmates, only with a new host and even deadlier dinos. Whilst it may seem ridiculous, that conclusion is actually quite dark and a bleak reminder (much like Childish Gambino’s America) that as long as the masses are satiated with entertainment then nothing, absolutely nothing, will change – even if said entertainment is as sadistic as this!

**** 4/5

The Jurassic Games is out now on DVD from High Fliers.

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