Dino Dicember #22: Anonymous Rex (2004)

Ah yes, the “Jurassic Park X Blade Runner” crossover you never asked for but was actually made, not so much to chomp on a Ridley Scott movie released 22 years priors (at the time), but as to put out something since the TV series based on Casual Rex, the prequel to the novel of Anymous Rex (both written by Enry Garcia, who also wrote a sequel book, Hot N Sweaty Rex, and Repo Men), and – aactually serves as the base for this movie, despite being titled after the first novel.

Yes, they basically reworked the unproduced work for the Casual Rex TV series as a 2 hour movie… not called “Casual Rex”, but “Anonymous Rex”. I guess because it’s a more catchy title. Confused yet? Hope not, but still, how many dino-noir films are out there? I wouldn’t exactly consider Theodore Rex as noir, myself.

I have to add this one is quite hard to even see, it’s on Amazon Prime Video… in the US, and i draw the line at using a VPN or registering to suspicious site for downloads. So i had to watch it on Youtube, in parts, hardsubbed in chinese in an embarassing resolution. I’m not gonna use screenshots from that, for obvious reasons.

In an alternative timeline, dinosaurs have managed to survive the mass extinction event back in the Cretaceous days (thankfully, and now live in society disguised as regular humans. Vincent Rubio, a private detective and his partner, Ernie Watson, are both dinosaurs (a Velociraptor and a Triceratops, respectively), and after Ernie’s ex-girlfriend brother is found dead, she doesn’t believe it was just a suicide like they said, and they investigate the crime scene, only to pick up the scent of another dinosaur, implying he wasn’t alone that night.

Vincent and Ernie attend his funeral, talk to a strange man to the cult the victim belonged to, called “The Voice Of Progress”, notice the same dinosaur smell from the crime scene, and attending the cult meeting they’re invited to, they learn it’s a dinosaur cult that believes their prolonged anonimity has made the dinosaurs lose their unique identity, made themselves feel like monsters compared to humans. As the duo discovers, the cult leader’s final plan is to promote a violent revolution by turning cult members into frienzed, feral dinosaurs and unleashing them on the humans, but Vincent and Ernie clash, as they have contrasting opinions about the uprising and what it will bring.

While the Super Mario Bros live-action movie did have the set designer from Blade Runner, this one gets compared to Ridley Scott’s film….. and i while i get why make this comparison to begin with (aside from obvious marketing power it holds), it’s not just a case of swapping “replicants” with “reptilian people” (which in itself gives a different context), it’s not a Blade Runner rip-off more than a story that declines the usual detective stories themes of oppressed minorities with the fantasy element of anthromorphic intelligent dinosaurs.

It’s like someone saw Theodore Rex and actually knew what to do with the premise of “dinosaur cyberpunk detectives”, what demographic to target, instead of wallowing into complete indecision and unsatisfying compromise so to alienate everyone. Here, we have a solid worldbuilding that explains the hows and whys of “dinosaur people” existing in modern times, while having a sense of humour to play with the “reptilians conspiracies” stories, some exposition explained via stop motion animation of children dinosaur toys (or dinopeople watching old black n white dinosaur movies on the TV)…. and it just works a fuckton better.

Heck, even the flashback where they pass a dinosaur child as a “disguise” for Halloween…… it still works better than the entirety of Theodore Rex.

But i promised to let it rest, so let’s drop it.

As i was saying, it’s also quite nice that the movie manages to balance out things quite well, enough to have a sense of humour about its own oddity without compromising on the noir stylings (down to the main character often narrating or introducing some characters after the facts), the good acting helps too, effects aren’t too shabby for a Sci-Fi Channel production, it’s clear they still kinda cared to actually put some budget into this one, obviously within reason.

And in the end, you kinda forget how ludicrous is the concept, as the plot is intriguing enough to follow despite some really cheesy moments (like the “Made for TV” visual innuendos in lieu of a sex scene) and the fact you know where it’s going, direction is decent and the movie overall is never boring nor it would be completely useless if you took out the “dinosaur” factor, which helps to spice up a bit the typical detective noir formula as declined by cyberpunk conventions.

Surprisingly decent-to-good one, and still an original concept that, aside from related novels by the author Enry Garcia, really hasn’t be exploited or tried again. Ending could have been better without handing a clear resolution to Vince’s moral dilemma, yes, feels a bit “weaker” than necessary.

Overall, Anonymous Rex is worth checking out, even just for curiosity’s sake.

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