Dino December #4: Jurassic Galaxy (2018)

So, either someone really liked Dino Crisis 3, or more likely was “inspired” by the Godzilla animated trilogy, which i feel it’s really underrated and often quite maligned just because the 3D CG looks kinda ass…which it does, but the script by Gen Urobuchi is quite good, so much it makes the trilogy worthy of being seen, i’d say.

While it isn’t the case, i find it hard to not think of it, since the premise still see the main crew of interstellar explorers landing on a planet full of dinosaurs, but it lacks the whole patriotic drive of “conquering back the motherplanet Earth” (this isn’t Earth), or the social tensions forming between the different groups and races on board of the ship. Still, space dinosaurs is still quite the proposition that could do for some good b-movie entertaiment, and isn’t exactly a sub-genre….yet, this isn’t even the only “dinosaur sci-fi in space” flick released in 2018.

Directed, edited, produced and pretty much funded by the brothers Kondelik (as in James and Jon Kondelik), Jurassic Galaxy feels like a labour of love, as they clearly put together a lot more money than usual for a movie like this, you can feel they went the extra mile to make sure production values were a bit higher than most of these low budget dinosaur flicks, they wanted it to look as good as it could be within reason and money costraints. The cast isn’t bad either, has Erik Paul Erickson and Dough Burch, and the acting is decent, overall.

Sure, the CG for the dinosaurs is a bit better than usual, still kinda bad (dinos still don’t look real or seems to be a presence with weight on screen), but the script is where the movie falls apart, among other things. Like, there is a bit more to it than what the premise says, but as the movie throws you into the planet without properly characterizing the survivors, it takes time to make them develop, and even when it does it’s hard to care, especially when the script has to contrive lazy conflict by stating that the planet emits radiation that makes people feral, aggressive and crazy.

It’s not just an hypothesis by the characters, it becomes a real explanation that you’re supposed to accept, despite not making much sense. Even with this to crowbar conflict and a second act that slow things to a crawl to try and develop the survivors, it’s mostly not particularly good exposition and you end up not hating them, but also not really invested in whatever they have gone through or happens to them. Doesn’t help that some of the dialogues are plain stupid, annoying stupid, and that some plain old incompetence slips through, as the movie shifts to a “day for night” blue video filter… for like 20 minutes straight, at one point it goes away and a minute later reappears.

It seems like it was an accident, but also inadvertly highlights that the previous scenes (at least some of them) took place in daytime as well, so the “day for night” filter being there was pointless to begin with, but it still there to make many scenes look even worse, and was never fixed. I’m no editor, but i have a feeling they realized this too late in production, so they couldn’t reshoot even if they wanted to, so we ended up with…. this. Maybe i’m asking much from the directors of Dam Sharks and Hornet (the Bumblebee mockbuster, coincidentally also from 2018), maybe i’m being an ass, but there was some spark of potential here, and some of the photography is decent.

Shame they just didn’t even bother giving the dinosaurs any variations or mutations, it was the perfect set-up, but they are just plain ol’ “Earth dinosaurs” of CG quality that fluctuates between scenes, as the shots with the pterodactyls look like ass, others with raptors look almost good, it’s a bit uneven. Action scenes are okay, there’s some entertaiment from seeing them “double spear” raptors right in ze brain, but i can’t deny it feels a bit longer than it should, just a bit, not an huge issue in itself, but a problem when the movie is really short, 76 minutes total.

It’s definitely one of the… less worst ones, it’s watchable if you’re on board with the idea, but it’s kinda disappointing, as there is some effort and a lot more money than usual, but also incompetence and a script that fails to make dinosaurs the protagonists of a movie called “Jurassic Galaxy”, somehow.

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