Brett E. Niethamer - Started - 08/07/20, Finished - 10/13/20
WARNING: Spoilers for Jurassic Thunder
I think I did it. I honestly think I have. I have watched the worst film I have ever seen and WILL ever see in my entire life. I can only pray to God that I don’t see anything worse. It was so bad that I had to stop watching half-way through and put on a better, yet still not amazing film, Peter Benchley’s The Beast. While not a masterpiece, that film did certainly appear to be exactly that after the horrendous trash I had objected myself to just moments before. I almost didn’t want to finish this film, but once I decided that it was so bad I NEEDED to review it, I came to the sad and painful realization that I was indeed going to have to finish the film. But only for you, my loving audience. I watched Jurassic Thunder so you don’t ever have to put yourself through the same terror I just sat through.
Where to begin? Let’s start with a short overview of the plot. An African warlord has a nuclear missile and is threatening to use it on a rival. Also, there is a zombie virus that has broken out in the same area. Coincidence? I’m actually not sure, because the movie doesn’t bother to link the two elements at all. It’s simply, we have a warlord with a nuke, AND zombies. The US military is monitoring the situation and getting ready to take action, but they don’t want to use their own nukes because it might cause WWIII. I only say that now because that detail is going to become very important later. So President Trump (yes, THAT President Trump) decides to go with a harebrained Russian plan to send in dinosaurs that have guns strapped to their heads to deal with the situation. You heard me right, dinosaurs with guns strapped to their heads. They gloss over the Jurassic Park-ian miracle of, you know, BRINGING DINOSAURS BACK, and focus mainly on the fact that they have guns on their heads and are controllable. In fact, I don’t even think Trump knew this was the plan at all. There is a line of dialogue later in the film that suggests that he just thought the Russians were going to send some missiles. So I have no idea where they thought up this dinosaur idea. Oh, and I forgot to mention that there is a wrap-around story that suggests that all of this is simply a comic book being read to two women in a store.
So there you have it, a tale as old as… 2019. Yes this film came out in 2019. It isn’t high art, and I wasn’t expecting that going into it. But I certainly was not expecting it to be as bad as it turned out to be. The main problem is in the execution. Literally every element of this film is done incorrectly, from the cinematography, to the lighting, to the acting, to the script, and finally (and most obviously throughout my watch) the special effects.
We are treated to a cacophony of hard to watch images, from terrible green-screen, to cgi blood, to hand puppet dinosaurs. The green-screen is EVERYWHERE. Even where it need not be at all. And not only is it terribly lit, but they don’t even anchor the actors into the scenes, so their characters just slide around a digital background. Some scenes take place in completely green-screened rooms and therefore have no geography, making the film very confusing and hard to watch at times. During the moments when zombies attack, clip art blood explodes out of nothing just to make the scene feel more exciting. It doesn’t. Then we get the highlight of the film - the dinosaurs. These were probably the most expensive part of the film and they are some of the worst hand puppets I’ve ever seen. So, disappointment all around.
And then there is the acting. Everyone is terrible. EVERYONE. There isn’t a single good performance in the entire film. The one person who gets the closest to even resembling entertaining is the cartoonish President Trump. And even then, he’s trying really hard, and not all of his lines work. The film also likes to jump around between characters. Certain characters are set up as leads in the beginning, but then halfway through, the film introduces a whole new set of leads. We follow these new characters more closely in the back half for some reason.
The dialogue is also atrocious and may actually be the film’s complete undoing. You may be thinking to yourself: “Brett, this sounds terrible. So terrible, it will probably be entertaining as all hell!” Under normal circumstances you would be right. But sadly, the script here is what throws that theory under the bus. It’s very obvious that many of these “bad” decisions were made on purpose and much of the dialogue reflects that the filmmakers were self-aware. They seem to be self-aware enough that they know what they are making is bad, just not aware enough to realize they are bad at making it. And that sort of kills the “so bad it’s good” vibe. The Room and Troll 2 are among some of the worst films ever made, but they also happen to be among the most entertaining due to their incompetence. But what sets them apart from this film is you can tell everyone involved with those films were very sincere and actually believed in what they were doing. They just catastrophically miscalculated their efforts. No the case here. If the person making the film knows it’s trash, then where is the fun in the watch?
The film ends with a dinosaur banging his head against a nuke until it blows up. Remember when I said the military didn’t want nukes involved? Well look what just got involved. And then the film cuts to the military men in the MOJAVE DESERT watching the mushroom cloud. The mushroom cloud from the nuke that went off in Africa. They just step outside and see it. Just take that in for a moment before I tell you that after the credits, we discover that two of the men, along with the dinosaur, that were right next to the missile are still alive. I hate the fact that I watched this whole film.
The bottom line is this film is terrible. I could go on and on about everything wrong with it, but in an effort to not waste any more of your time, I will instead recommend watching my massive two-part video review of this film (in which I did go on and on). It is far more entertaining than my words and I go into much more detail about why certain scenes and moments don’t work. The film has no internal logic, the characters make no sense, the dialogue is atrocious (and mostly not even in a laughable way), and the acting hurts my soul. Jurassic Thunder has slightly more value if you go into it wanting to laugh as a terrible movie, but even then, you are testing your own patience with how much you can put up with.
Avoid at all costs.