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5 Reasons Why You Should Watch Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

Dept. of Dino DNA


I won’t lie, I get a shiver down my spine each and every time I see the words, “Based on the novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.” In fact, I’ve spent the last 27 years waiting for something to come out of the Jurassic franchise that somehow inspires those same feelings I felt the first time I watched Steven Spielberg’s classic. Let me tell you, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous comes pretty damn close.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Surely this is just another shameless cash grab by DreamWorks Animation (those same people responsible for such spinoffs as The Boss Baby: Back in Business and Fast & Furious Spy Racers and DreamWorks Dragons: Rescue Riders) looking to pad the franchise and hopefully rope in a younger audience who are unfamiliar with source material. But despite being built on a television budget – the animation isn’t great, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from these small screen excursions – this series relies on some really solid storytelling to make up for its occasionally flat and textureless imagery.


Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous takes place between the last two Jurassic World movies and centres around a group of six kids – Darius, Ben, Yasmina, Kenji, Sammy, and Brooklynn – who have been selected as guinea pigs for their brand new summer camp programme. Nestled in a previously unseen part of the island is Camp Cretaceous, a youth-oriented adventure park in which kids get to zipline over the heads of roaming brachiosauruses (brachiosauri?) and drive gyrospheres through a herd of Sinoceratops. (Yes, I know, it’s all fun and games until someone loses a leg!)

All of this plays out à la The Breakfast Club before quickly descending into your standard Jurassic fare of chaos, and death, and destruction. Lost, alone, the kids are left to fend for themselves as the events of Jurassic World take place on another part of the island.

As we are well aware by now, the folk who run the Jurassic parks truly are the worst. These are some of the most irresponsible people on the planet. Well-meaning, but completely ineffectual. So it is no surprise that someone, somewhere, thought it would be a good idea to have a summer camp in one of the most dangerous places on the planet. Did none of them watch Jurassic Park?

While Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous doesn’t necessarily bring anything new or unexpected to the franchise, what it does do is reinvigorate that classic tried-and-tested survival story.

1. This Looks, and Feels, and Sounds Like a Jurassic Movie

Right from the outset, from the moment we hear the first few bars of that iconic theme song, from when we see that T-Rex busting through the gates of the Park, we are immediately aware of what this is. The creators of Camp Cretaceous use every tool at their disposal to get you invested. And it works. They get the basics right. 

This series doesn’t feel like a watered down version that’s been made to keep your kids occupied for about four or so hours. There is a proper story here, with real characters, all of whom have compelling backstories and act with an agency that creates, changes, and pushes against the plot.

What’s more, the series is also smart to subvert our expectations by exploiting the narrative framework of the franchise and make it pay off in different ways. There is a hair-raising set piece that takes place on Jurassic World’s monorail that will leave you gasping. I promise.


2. It Manages to Strike that Perfect Balance of Fear and Awe

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

What made the first movie so great was how Steven Spielberg managed to inspire both fear and awe from these creatures. From the implied violence of the opening sequence, in which we don’t quite see the velociraptor viciously maul gatekeeper Jophery Brown, to that soaring moment in which Dr. Alan Grant sees a flesh and blood brachiosaurus for the first time, the movie constantly toys with the way we perceive these dinosaurs.

It was something that none of the other movies in the franchise have been able to do. In Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs were painted as complex creatures. In every movie that followed, they were reduced to nothing more than a cautionary tale.

What the writers of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous successfully do is return some of that awe. They manage to fill us with wonder while, at the same time, make us afraid for the lives of our six young heroes. As for how they do it?

3. Camp Cretaceous Completely Shifts the Franchise’s Point of View

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

While every Jurassic movie has always featured a kid or two, we have never actually seen the franchise through their eyes. Making the children the central focus of the series, and showing us this world from their point of view, was a great way to remind us of both the infectious joy and abject horror that dinosaurs inspire.

We get a first hand look at how the perennial failures of adults affect these kids. We get to feel their anguish and disappointment when they realise that they can’t rely on the people, or the system, to protect them. As one of the kids sadly points out: “I don’t think finding an adult is going to help.”

That’s when you knew that this series wasn’t messing about.


4. There Are Real, Actual Stakes

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

This isn’t one of those family shows in which there never is any real peril. You know the ones I’m talking about. Where any danger is reduced to a series of close calls and near misses. Where nothing really happens and nothing is ever at stake.

These kids get into some trouble in Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. Real, actual, life-threatening trouble. I went into every set piece not knowing if these kids would make it out in one piece. And they don’t. They get bruised, and battered, and broken. In fact, by the end of this first season, all of them would have been changed so indelibly that they are all but unrecognisable as the characters you were introduced to a mere four hours ago.

To be able to walk that fine line effectively, especially in an eight episode animated series that’s primarily aimed at kids, is truly remarkable.


5. It Is Earnest

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

But the thing I loved most about this series was just how earnest it was. There is a message here and, unlike the movies that this show is based on, it isn’t a metaphor about the folly and arrogance of man. It isn’t about corporate greed or chaos theory. It is something far more simple. It is optimistic, it is necessary, even critical for our current condition.

Early in the season, Darius, the resident Dino-geek and kinda-sorta leader of the gang says it best: “Life is messy and sometimes things fall apart. But that’s okay because when that happens, we pick up the pieces and keep going. And we never give up.” 

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous
Netflix, Season 1, 8 episodes
Directors: Lane Lueras, Dan Riba, Zesung Kang, Michael Mullen, and Eric Elrod.
Writers: Zack Stentz, Scott Kreamer, Sheela Shrinivas, Rick Williams, M. Willis, and Josie Campbell
Cast: Paul-Mikél Williams, Sean Giambrone, Kausar Mohammed, Jenna Ortega, Ryan Potter, Raini Rodriguez, Jameela Jamil, and Glen Powell

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is now streaming on Netflix.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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