Jurassic City (Review)

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JURASSIC CITY

THE SETUP

“Jurassic City” is the latest creature/feature film made for the SyFy channel. It’s directed by Sean Cain (editor on “Sand Sharks” and director of “Silent Night Zombie Night”). I enjoy these low-budget movies, for what they are you know exactly what you’re going to get. I dug Sand Sharks for how truly nonsensical it was, plus I’m a Corin Nemec fan, so I was thoroughly entertained. Jurassic City is about a top-secret, government facility housing raptors for scientific purposes. One night they are accidentally unleashed in downtown Los Angeles, where Convicts, Black ops teams and Sorority sisters must ban together if they have any hope of surviving the night. The film stars “Twin Peak’s”, Ray Wise, along with Kevin Gage, Dana Melanie, Kayla Carlyle, Sofia Mattsson, Jack Forcinito and my fellow Aussie, Vernon Wells. I’ve enjoyed most of Cain’s films (the ones I’ve seen), and the fact he manages to get a lot of cool talent attached to his projects is a big reason for that.

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THE GOOD

The beginning of the film was a blast. It get’s straight down to business, and that’s exactly what we, as viewers want. Majority of these low-budget creature/feature films spend a lot of time building character development early on. They end up missing the point of why people watch these kind of films, and it’s not really for that. The raptors are released in the first 5-10 minutes of the film, and then it cuts to the opening credits. They were fast and much more interesting to look at than most of these films introductions. I love the casting of Ray Wise as Warden Lewis, he has been a favorite of mine since Twin Peaks. I figured he might just wing it here, being a film of this nature and budget, but to my surprise he delivered a really solid performance as the most likable character in the film. On the other side of the coin we have Kevin Gage. He is nearly always a solid addition, and even though I didn’t like some of the writing for his character, he did it well. He plays “Doyle”, a serial sex offender and murderer, currently in jail awaiting trial. Jack Forcinito was the lead in Sean’s film “Silent Night Zombie Night”, which was a really cool low-budget horror film that flew under the radar. Jack plays Captain Talbot, who is army/black ops, whatever you want to call it. Fun fact, it’s the same character he played in SNZN, it’s almost as though this is a prequel to that film and I thought that was cool.

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Not only do the males give solid performances, but this is the best group of young female actresses I’ve seen in this genre. Playing sorority sisters, Pippi, Sarah and Stephanie, Dana, Kayla and Sofia are really convincing. They portray each character with such diverse personalities, and they all look gorgeous. Eye candy is often missing in these types of films, made all the more noticeable when they do cast girls like this. The acting isn’t the only better aspect, when comparing this to its counterparts. The audio and camera work, are both a lot better than what we are used to seeing from SyFy. Also, it’s rare that the movie opens with a really cool kill with some practical effects, so that was new. The CGI is marginally better than what you’ve come to expect from these films. Depending on the backdrop of the scene, it can vary between looking straight off a computer screen (eek), to feeling like it does fit appropriately.

THE BAD

The music choices, editing and lighting could have used some improvement. It’s a very generic 3 or 4 note score, or when it supposed to be suspenseful, they go with a short shrill violin that’s better suited to a James Wan film (Insidious). Transitions between scenes are fine, but after something action based happens the camera cuts away far to quickly. Even if the kills look average when combined with computer graphics, you could still see a grisly aftermath if it wasn’t so short. The lighting in the prison is pretty decent, but in some of the other locations it leaves a lot to be desired. The suspense is non-existent, and seems destined to stay that way with these types of films. Because they are so silly in nature, it makes it difficult to feel like anything is building to something bigger.

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The two things I was hoping Jurassic City would deliver on, was the body count/action with the use of some cool practical effects, and hoping there was a decent story to tell. Those are the biggest problems with most of these films. CG is the cheap way out and most of the time it looks terrible, So why not do things practically where you can??. On the story front, this is pretty generic. Government screws up some secret experiment, the military comes in etc etc, we’ve seen it all before. Hence why you need to deliver on action and effects, to keep people interested. In the beginning it’s literally one soldier patrolling a facility that contains an unknown number of raptors… seriously, just one then??? (haha), seems logical. The sorority house early on in the film, is far to small to be considered a sorority house. It’s basically just one room, and no one is ever seen going anywhere else in the house. The smaller attention to detail probably doesn’t count for that much, but when you have raptors as cargo being transported, and you don’t know where they are going or for why, you begin to question how well this screenplay really holds up.

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The prisoner sub-plot was interesting enough but Doyle never felt truly menacing. It has nothing to do with Gage’s performance, the issue lies in the writing. Other than attacking a guard, he never has that threatening manner or screen stealing moment. He basically seems like a decent guy for most of the running time, it’s only at the end they have to remind you that he’s the bad guy, a little cliché. As far as the sorority sisters go, there’s no references to their parents, nor is it realistic that they be sent to lock up for such a minor infraction. A lot of stuff just doesn’t add up and the attention to detail is poor. Making matters slightly more disappointing is the action, or lack there of. Big chunks of running time are spent hatching an escape plan, as we (the viewer), are missing the carnage. I say it again, cheap and nasty CG blood and gore that doesn’t spray in a way real blood ever would, is never going to look any good. Abandon that approach and get your cast messy with some practical blood, it’s so much more professional looking.

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Jurassic City entertained, it did. I never felt bored with it and I like the cast, from Wise and Wells, to the lovely eye candy. The audio and camera work are good and things move at a fast pace. If the screenplay was altered and re-written in places, this would have been a much more enjoyable film. I can deal with the average CG, which we have all had time to adjust to, but quit it with the computer blood and do everything in your power to do things practically. This doesn’t have the cheese appeal of Sand Sharks, but it’s slightly better than what’s normally on the SyFy menu.

Below is a direct link to purchase the film

http://www.amazon.com/Jurassic-City-Ray-Wise/dp/B00PV09C08

My rating for “Jurassic City” is 5/10

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