June 20, 2011
Right before the first shot of the fan-made dinosaur flick Jurassic Park: Prime Survival, a warning flashes on the screen: “Remember. We were young.” Not a good sign. I’ve seen a lot of bad films, but never one that apologized for itself beforehand. Say what you want about stinkers like Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Blood Waters of Dr. Z , but they were proudly, unabashedly terrible.
The plot of Prime Survival is generally the same as the last two Jurassic Park films. Three British teens visit what they think is a deserted island only to find that it has been overrun by dinosaurs, and they spend the remainder of the film trying to find a way back home. While meant as a continuation of and tribute to the canonical Jurassic Park storyline, the movie sticks so close to the source material that it lifts a number of plot points and scenes from the official movies. (Though even professionals fall into this trap—compare 1987′s Predator with 2010′s Predators for a high-profile example of copycat filmmaking.)
Initially, the bad acting, plot holes and low production value of Prime Survival reminded me of another cringe-worthy disaster film: Birdemic. Then I realized this comparison was far too harsh. Prime Survival was an unquestionably amateur production—the sort of movie I’d normally have a lot of fun with in a Dinosaur Drive-In post—but, to the credit of the filmmakers, there was no endless mumbling about “slr panls,” the movie did not try to deliver an environmental message with all the subtly of a lead pipe to the head, and the effects didn’t look like animated clipart hovering in the air. (If you don’t get why any of those things would be important, you obviously haven’t seen Birdemic!) In fact, the dinosaurs in Prime Survival are actually very impressive for an amateur production. Many look like lower-res versions of their big-screen counterparts, and the special effects artists did a pretty solid job of making the dinosaurs look like they were actually in the same universe as the actors.
Prime Survival isn’t a good movie, but it isn’t exactly a bad movie either. The short film is a loving tribute to the Jurassic Park franchise, and, I have to admit, it’s far and away better than any of the homemade films I tried to create when I was in high school.
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