Dino Dicember #12: Terrordactyl / Jurassic Wars (2016)

“Pteranoperil” was too bland, i guess, but feel free to use that one, if you want.

So yeah, i got this while hunting for dinosaur flicks on Amazon, and the UK DVD copy goes under the “Jurassic Wars” title, but at least the cover promises pterodactyls… and the movie is about pterodactyls. Checks out, not always a given with these kind of movie covers that promise more than the movie can actually deliver.

Directed and written by Don Bitters (Geoff Reisner co-directs, alongside acting as editor and cinematographer), Terrodactyl tells a tale as old as time, of men, cheap rime, and dinosaurs with excessive CG shine.

As for why there are dinosaurs in Los Angeles (i’m sure the United States have other cities and states that would love to be featured in a movie like this, but whatever)… meteors. A meteor shower lambastes the city, making a couple of awkward friends, Lars and Jonas, seize the opportunity to “strike it rich” and escape their tiring, boring lives as eternal gardeners and failed “inventors”. But as the “terrordactyls” attack the city, they will have to survive the situation, alongside a couple of other… characters, including The Barmaid, her roomie The Bitch (patent pending) and Drunk Hobo Marines Prospector.

I have seen a certain number of these low budget and… well, low everything dino flicks attempt to be somewhat serious or not completely farcical, more than you would think, but Terrordactyl is definitely not one of them. So i was fully expecing it to just be “lazy bad” and play its crap factor as being funny, two things that often are entwined, but are not the same, despite many first time (and not-first time) genre directors trying to cynically repeat the Sharkenado formula.

I was wrong, thankfully. It has that B-movie self-awareness in both story and characters, and they come off as stock but also kinda likeable and charming because of that, there is a certain affection to the B-movie cliches used, which isn’t always the case. It knows what it is and never take itself too seriously, but also doesn’t triple down on its own bullshit to pad itself out or to downright annoy or show comptent for its own audience. Acting it fairly bad, on purpose to a certain point, but overall i’ve seen far worse, it’s alright for what a movie like this may need it.

It’s definitely more on the “quite presentable” spectrum for low budget dino movies, because you can glance at it and NOT immediatly feel absolute, abysmal cheapness. Also, the dinosaurs look better than i expected, they have that weird color saturation you often see in low budget CG dinosaurs, but the models themselves are fairly detailed, for this kind of film, they look good, and the composition is decent enough you don’t see the dinosaurs clip through things they should be attacking or latching onto.

The downside is that there’s no almost no gore and very little blood, but i feel the exchange is worth it, in this case.

As for why the dinosaurs are there, they didn’t die out as much as were flung into space and now they’re coming back with a vengeance… or so the crazy old coot character says. And he turns out to be right, the meteors were basically an invasion tactic for a race of intelligent “space pterodactyls” (complete with kaiju sized “Queen ‘Dactyl”), too bad Samus Aran isn’t around this time.

I think the most fitting descriptor for Terrordactyl/Jurassic Wars is “cute”. It’s a cute B-movie, it probably won’t be remembered or become a cult classic among genre fans, but it’s a likeable dino flick, it’s entertaining enough, it’s one of the better produced ones you can find as far as TV or direct-to-video cheap dinosaur films, the moves alongs at a decent pace, and even manages to get some genuine laughs in.

Good, dumb fun, exactly what it wants to be!

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