'Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous' Season 1 Review: Tight storytelling makes Netflix show superior to 2016 film
Spoilers for 'Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous' Season 1
The original 'Jurassic Park' was an action-adventure that was enjoyed by audiences of all ages, including a significant number of younger audiences. Though it may have been the kind of film one had to beg their parents to see, it's still a fond childhood memory for many who grew up in the '90s. It rekindled a love of dinosaurs that nearly no franchise has done since, and it's frankly surprising that it took this long for an animated series in the 'Jurassic Park' universe to be made. The wait appears to have been worth it, however, as 'Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous' shows us another side to the events of 'Jurassic World' and is a much more enjoyable watch than the movie that it's based on.
The series features six kids, who are the inaugural class for 'Camp Cretaceous'; a park experience designed for children to get up close and personal with the park's dinosaurs. Each kid has a different reason for being there. Darus Bowman (Paul-Mikel Williams) won a special prize in defeating a 'Jurassic World' video game, social media starlet Brooklynn (Jenna Ortega) is promoting the park to her 27 million followers, Kenji Kon (Ryan Potter) is a VIP guest from his wealthy father's connections, Yasmina 'Yaz' Fadoula (Kausar Mohammed) is as world-class athlete, sponsored by Jurassic World, Sammy Gutierrez's (Raini Rodriguez) family ranch provided the beef that feeds the dinosaurs and Ben Pincus' (Sean Giambrone) mother works for the park. They all arrive at the camp a few days before the events of 'Jurassic World,' where the Indominus Rex escapes and wreaks havoc on the park.
Though the events of 'Camp Cretaceous' happen concurrent to 'Jurassic World', with several of the film's characters either making a brief appearance or being namedropped for offscreen Easter eggs, the show holds up on its own, neither relying too heavily on the film's storyline nor feeling incomplete without them. The kids get into enough trouble on their own, even before everything falls apart halfway through the series, after which it's a desperate race to get out of the park alive.
It's a true ensemble cast, even if Darus is the POV character through which we're introduced to the world. Each kid not only gets their moment to shine, and their own personal story arc, but they also each get some great moments of interaction with the rest of the campers. The voice acting and animation go hand in hand to really bring the characters to life, with performances more compelling than even the live-action film's actors managed to give us. At eight episodes, 'Camp Cretaceous' doesn't meander in its exploration of the park, and has some very tight storytelling where every scene feels important.
The show is still meant for children, meaning that while random park employees do die, there is none of the graphic, on-screen violence that's seen in the films. Nevertheless, the dinosaurs do feel like a real threat, and when disaster hits, the stakes feel real as the kids run from one near-death experience to another. In between all that, the show still finds time for quieter moments where the kids process all they're going through, and form bonds despite the way that they personalities clash in key moments. As the show unfolds, we see that there's a lot more going on to each kid than first meets the eye, doing a great job of fleshing out six characters in a relatively short amount of time.
The series ends leaving a lot of room open for more seasons, especially as the sequel to 'Jurassic World' is set three years after the events of the original film, giving 'Camp Cretaceous' a lot of room to breathe. With a well-characterized, diverse cast of characters and a unique, exciting setting, here's hoping that Season 1 of 'Camp Cretaceous' is just the first of a much longer-running series.
All episodes of 'Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous' Season 1 are now available to stream on Netflix.