3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 18th February 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Adam J Spinks (Survivors (2015))

Cast: Sarah Mac, Ben Loyd-Holmes, Daniel Caren, Simon Burbage, Emily Lillie Lees, Dolores Reynals and Neil Newbon

Writer: Adam Spinks & Ben Loyd-Holmes


Review below by Matt Ushersaurus




  1. Review by Matt Ushersaurus

    Dinosaurs in the Amazon! Say what you like about this terrible film (and I will), it certainly has ambition. If only it hadn’t.

    A team of explorers set off down the Amazon (the famous South American river, not the allegedly tax-dodging employee-abusing booksellers) in search of anything that hasn’t been seen before (that’s their official scientific remit). And my, do they get more than they bargained for! Their search for new monkeys and previously undiscovered snakes is rudely scuppered by dinosaurs. (Not a spoiler: there’s a massive tyrannosaur on the cover.) But alas, EXTINCTION JURASSIC PREDATORS makes use of the found footage medium (with a twist!: it’s actually recovered and properly edited together content, so there).

    Our team comprises some scientists and a film crew of two. Yes, two. I know we’ve all had to make cutbacks since the bankers stole all our money and blamed it on the poor but still. A crew of two (one of whom is a substitute). One is Michelle, the producer/director/writer/presenter, not that she seems to perform any of those duties. The other is James the cameraman, possibly the worst wildlife cameraman to have ever been allowed into the British countryside / Amazon rainforest (whichever it really was – I couldn’t tell. Honest.) One thing I’m sure of: this is not how David Attenborough worked.

    Meanwhile the explorers are led intrepidly by chief-explorer-scientist-and-nice-South-African-even-though-he’s-white Ben Loyd-Holmes channelling his inner Indiana Jones (well, he’s got the hat). He’s assisted by a bearded bloke (character trait: fancies Michelle), a giggly shy girl scientist, and Tim. Tim is basically a Martin Freeman wannabe (he even shares the name of Freeman’s The Office character). Tim’s almost interesting because he seems to have been dragged on this mission against his will, which seems to be an odd approach to exploration (‘let’s take Tim! So what if he doesn’t fancy travelling halfway around the world and is scared of insects – he’ll be great because he’s really good at… well … hey look, a leaf!’) There are also some South American guides, who, as South American guides always do, run off at the first sign of trouble. (It is possible that some may read this as being offensive to women, South Americans, South Africans and Martin Freeman; I can only point out that I’m just reporting on the film’s slightly clichéd attitudes.)

    As you may have noticed, that’s quite a small cast for a film where they’re going to be killed off at regular intervals. I think the film-makers realised this themselves, so they subvert expectations by having nothing happen for ages and ages apart from James the cameraman messing about and annoying everybody, especially the viewer. Then the dinosaurs appear and munch most of the cast near the end. Then the survivors get picked off one by one. Or do they?

    What we see in the film is ostensibly the footage that James the cameraman shot between getting up to pack one morning and the doomed end of the expedition. I think he may have got about three minutes’ worth of usable footage. The rest is

    variously him being a monumental pillock, or else myriad shots of Michelle’s bottom, presumably as part of the film-makers’ clever strategy to distract people from noticing the total lack of Amazonian rain-forest.

    There is a thin line between amusing buffoonery and desperately objectionable pathological perversity, a line which James crosses early on (i.e. within the first minute) and never returns from. Designed presumably as both the viewer’s ‘in’ to the worlds of broadcasting, science, and exploration, he is also meant to be the purveyor of light-hearted comic relief. I fervently believe that the film-makers believe they had struck comic gold both with the character and the actor. They were wrong. Despite spending most of his time off screen (though he still manages to film himself a fair bit, the narcissistic twerp), you will want this character eviscerated, and the sooner the better. You will be disappointed – he’s our eyes for the vast majority of the film. And he’s desperately unfunny and there’s no escape. Imagine being trapped in a coffin with Bernard Manning. It’s much worse than that. For reasons unknown , James spends his time sowing seeds of discord between his fellow cardboard cut-outs, but when tested by unimaginable terror (i.e. the intervention of the dinosaurs) he suddenly finds a kind of gung-ho redemption. It is tooth-achingly painful to behold.

    Away from the catastrophic James there are some compensations. There are a number of sweet moments where the actors handle creatures they’ve borrowed from a nearby zoo. It doesn’t add to the illusion, indeed it underlines just how unlike the Amazon their location is, but I like the idea that they were constantly thinking ‘how can we make this look more like Brazil? Stock footage of a monkey! Has anyone got a pet scorpion? Maybe Brian could bring his iguana along.’ And anyone who thinks they can disguise a wood in Wales (according to IMDB) as the Amazon, then fill it with flesh-eating dinosaurs, and do so for anything less than fifty million pounds, is setting themselves a challenge. They fail. But they had a go. And even more impressively they released the film so we could see them fail. And even more cheekily they dangle the prospect of a sequel, whose aim is to film the dinosaurs properly, at the end.

    You may have noticed a dinosaur-shaped elephant in the room. Briefly, as far as the dinosaurs themselves are concerned, I respect and admire the film-makers for their ambition and the decisions they made, though I think they were unwise. And, let’s face it, if we actually did come face to face with dinosaurs in real life, maybe we’d be a bit disappointed. And although the creatures are less than convincing, I nevertheless think the moment where a dinosaur pops its snout into a tent is one I will treasure for a very long time. It’s little moments like that which make movies worthwhile.

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