Netflix’s Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous Offers Good, Old Fashioned Dino Chaos | TV/Streaming

The heroes of “Camp Cretaceous” are far more innocent than the adults who have played god in previous “Jurassic Park” movies; they’re just on the island of Isla Nublar for fun. “Camp Cretaceous” is the location of a special summer program, where a batch of teens are meant to have supervised, non-deadly fun seeing the dinosaurs up close, or even getting to zip-line over them. Our main hero in particular is self-proclaimed “dino-nerd” Darius (Paul-Mikél Williams), who wins a chance to be on the island after defeating a VR game about the park, thanks in part to the knowledge given to him by his dad. He joins people like the phone-fixated influencer Brooklynn (Jenna Ortega), the lonely and also rich Kenji (Ryan Porter), the exceedingly friendly Sammy (Raini Rodriguez), worrywart ben (Sean Giambrone) and the introverted Yaz (Kausar Mohammed). Their chaperones are Roxie (Jameela Jamil) and Dave (Glen Powell), two adults who are helpless to the chaos that unfolds when dinosaurs break loose. Such dinos include a speedy Carnotaurus, a towering Indominus Rex, a bunch of raptors, and even an adorable Ankylosaurus named Bumpy, oh my! 

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I was skeptical about much of this, as you might be—the kids seem like a standard bunch, and some of the jokes are especially corny, as if all trying to educate young viewers in cliches. On top of that, the animation is a bit stilted and, with an exception of the dinosaurs, overly smooth with its surfaces where a higher-budget project would have put more texture into skin, clothes, backdrops. But the action is great, with the sequences taking after the movies in the best ways. On top of that, the plotting leads the 22-minute episodes right up to a cliffhanger, making the choice of finding out what happens in the next episode a no-brainer. 

It’s hard to dog on the animation when the story successfully won me over, especially in the attention that it gives to the teenagers. Like with Darius’ backstory with the loss of his father, or the genuine ideas of creating friendship, the series has an ability to sneak up on you. There’s a flashback with Darius and his father in episode four that’s a show highlight. And other teens have a moment in which a secret come to light, or they learn something about friendship, and it feels like a genuine moment.  

It’s also in episode four that the show really kicks off, even though the previous ones have their own exciting set-pieces. The teens find themselves in a situation similar to the other movies—getting lost in this new world of dinosaurs—and the pacing gets even faster as they run for their lives in cleverly designed action sequences in a giant field, on water, or on a runway monorail. It could have been a movie, but you become grateful that this means there’s eight episodes of exciting chases and close-calls, meaning eight robust sequences of pure “Jurassic Park” indulgence. It also gets funnier too, like when the neurotic Ben tries to comfort his friends in a later episode by telling them, “I memorized the evacuation plan on the way over [to the island].” He, like the others, prove to be a fun variation on the typical Jurassic Park visitor. 

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