I’m not going to bury the lede here: Netflix’s Camp Cretaceous is excellent – especially for what it is. And what it is is a kid-friendly romp in the Jurassic Park world.
Listen: We all, as children, loved dinosaurs for some measure of time. I bet right now you can recall your childhood favorite. Mine was the Triceratops! But the biggest dinosaur-themed franchise was a little much for our six-year-old selves. I did have The Land Before Time, to be fair. But if Sharptooth gave me the willies (which he absolutely did), there was no way I was going to stomach the terrors of Jurassic Park.
Camp Cretaceous taps into that younger market, who, as they age, will find five more movies in that setting that are ready and waiting for their older selves. But I’m here to tell you that Camp Cretaceous doesn’t only offer quality entertainment to nine year olds. Adult fans of the franchise will find it enjoyable, too.
Here’s three reasons why you should be watching Camp Cretaceous! Spoilers ahead.
Part of what makes Camp Cretaceous more kid-friendly is the lack of blood and the consumption of humans. But that’s not to say that the show lacks thrills and chills.
For one thing, the animators didn’t tone down the aesthetics of the dinosaurs. The Carnotaurus that stalks the kids is a veiny, mottled, loud, toothy carnivore, for sure. It looks no less realistic or scary than its equivalents in the PG-13 movies. It’s just less successful at the eating humans bit. But it’s not for lack of trying.
As an adult, you know those kids have plot armor. And mostly because they’re kids, right? But kids won’t know this as they watch. And again: The peril the kids do find themselves in is presented in such a way that you still wonder how they’ll navigate it successfully and, you know, alive.
Each of the eight episodes has at least one harrowing encounter or obstacle that places them in believable danger. The problems the main protagonists of Camp Cretaceous face, in other words, are a bit more hair-raising than those encountered on Sesame Street.
The show follows six kids who, for various reasons, have scored the very first spots at Camp Cretaceous – a kids camp located on Isla Nublar. As the show develops, you come to find out why each is there, and those backgrounds heavily influence their dynamics and characterizations. Initially, the kids form little cliques based on their stereotypes, but the perilous circumstances and increased knowledge and understanding of one another’s personal lives and situations brings them together in neat ways.
The presentation of the kids is so good that the dinosaurs are appropriately more like set pieces and narrative devices rather than the stars of the show. Which is awesome. By the end of the first season of Camp Cretaceous, I wanted to spend more time with the kids more than I wanted to see more dinosaurs.
Canonical Ties to the Main Franchise
This might be the neatest thing about Camp Cretaceous: It is entirely canonical. The happenings of the first season take place during the events of Jurassic World. Claire’s name is dropped multiple times, the Indominus Rex features, the island is evacuated, etc. Some of the scenes from Jurassic World are even recycled from the kids’ points of view. For instance: The scene where Masrani flies his helicopter and shoots at Indominus before crashing into the pterodon dome and releasing the winged terrors is played out within one of the episodes.
The coolest canonical tidbit is saved for last, though! During the course of the eight episodes, the kids are trying to reunite with adults and then pivot to making it to the South Docks in time to catch a ferry off the island. And they make it to the docks…but not in time. So now they’re stuck on Isla Nublar alone, and it has been confirmed that this, too, is entirely within the canon. Hopefully they make it off before the joint basically blows up in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!
This clearly leaves the door wide open for the already-confirmed sequel season, and it is going to be an interesting one. The possibility of adult saviors seems to have been removed. So what now? I personally can’t wait to find out. The kids have already proven themselves resourceful and tenacious! I am eager to see what new dangers and teamwork solutions await us in Season 2.
I highly recommend Camp Cretaceous to both young and old audiences. It is so well done and easily bingeable, so get to it!