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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is an animated adventure series set in the Jurassic Park universe about a group of teens who are chosen to become the first campers on Isla Nublar. Violence includes dinosaurs that are realistic and pretty scary, with lots of close-ups on gnashing teeth and angry dino faces, so if your kids are sensitive, this show may be a bit intense for them. Language is limited to "crud," and there's some discussion of dino farts as well as some barfing by various characters. Some of the campers feel stereotypical -- the Texas rancher, the rich kid, the carsick nerd -- but over time they're given more depth, and the main character Darius is exceptionally likable as the only real dinosaur expert in the mix. This delightful, action-packed series fills a gap for tween dino lovers who have long since aged out of Dinosaur Train and are a little old for Dino Dana; it's also a really great pick for whole-family viewing.
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What's the story?
Dino-obsessed tween Darius (Paul-Mikel Williams) gets his lifelong wish when he wins a contest to be one of the first campers to visit CAMP CRETACEOUS, located within the infamous Jurassic World theme park. On Isla Nublar, he meets his fellow campers, including conceited rich kid Kenji (Ryan Potter, Big Hero 6), social media star Brooklyn (Jenna Ortega), boisterous Texas ranch kid Sammy, sensitive and cautious Ben, and the quiet, focused Yazmina. With two counselors (Roxie and Dave, played by Jameela Jamil and Glen Powell) to keep the kids in check, camp activities include lab visits, island exploration, and, of course, lots and lots of up-close dino action. Action and adventures ensue as the campers encounter more than they bargained for on this island filled with intrigue, danger, classified experiments, and possible traitors within their midst.
Is it any good?
This fun, well-written, and beautifully animated series is a great addition to the Jurassic canon, serving an audience that might not be quite ready for the movies. The plot clips along at a perfect pace for tweens, and they'll love the well-rounded (if sometimes stereotypical) characters and the seamless use of kid slang ("bruh" makes many appearances, and Darius states that "dinosaur migration patterns are my jam"). As for the dino drama, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is a lot like the movies: People are put into peril that seems wildly unnecessary, but heck, that's the Jurassic way. Jurassic World itself remains as dangerous and poorly-thought-out as ever, and adding mostly unsupervised kids into the mix? Yeah -- but it's easily overlooked as all part of the fun and fantasy of this world.
Just like at real camp, the characters bond over a short period of time, showing each other their vulnerabilities and learning to communicate by sharing their own stories. Also, kudos to this series for casting its diverse characters with an equally diverse group of voice actors, as well as including more physical diversity than many shows (teen and adult characters look realistic and have a range of body types). Families should note that each episode ends with a cliffhanger, so while it's tempting to binge, it could be fun to parcel this show out slowly for maximum impact and excitement.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dinosaurs. What do we know about them? How did scientists put this knowledge together over many years?
All the campers at Camp Cretaceous are very different from each other. How do they end up getting along? What do they have in common?
Why do you think Jurassic Park and its many sequels are so popular? Would you ever want to be face to face with a dinosaur? Why or why not? Do you think dinos could ever walk the earth again?
- Premiere date: September 18, 2020
- Cast: Jenna Ortega, Jameela Jamil
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Adventures
- Character strengths: Communication, Courage, Curiosity, Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: October 23, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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