STUDIO: A&E Home Video
MSRP: $39.95
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 564 minutes
• Additional footage

The Pitch

“They’re the Earth’s first fighters… the ultimate predators. New discoveries and forensic science bring to life the prehistoric art of war. This is… Jurassic Fight Club.”

The Humans

Dinosaur George” Blasing, his colleagues and contemporaries, and many Terrible Lizards (with a few sea beasties and prehistoric mammals to round out this demi-Kaiju Big Battel). Yep, fan faves, T-Rex and Velociraptor show up early and often. There’s even quite a few critters that have never been presented on film before. Alas, none of the contenders were skull-punched by a giant amorous gorilla.

… and the card attached would say “Thank You for Being a Friend”.

The Nutshell

I’m not supposed to talk about it (Rule #1!)… Well, all-righty then, if you’re gonna get rude. Imagine CSI: Mesozoic, but instead of Caruso quipping and posturing, Dr. Alan Grant’s waaay nerdier brother solves the case with a sudden-death match of Atari Game’s Primal Rage (which was totally cooler than Jurassic Park: Warpath, BTW).

Similar to Discovery’s Animal Face-Off, the History Channel eggheads stage a Battle Royale between two formidable creatures and hypothesize the outcome. Unlike Animal Face-Off, JFC chooses the opponents based on fossil finds and not just “Wouldn’t it be badass if an Angry Badger (pick one?) went toe-to-toe with Van Damme?” Yeah, I’d watch that too.

The T. Rex VS McNugget massacre was deemed “Too delicious for television”.

The Lowdown

If you’ve read my review for Primeval (BBC series), you know I’m an easy target. And if the special FX (specifically the dino models, animation, and compositing) are more Walking With Dinosaurs and less Sci-Fi Original (which I also guiltily snack on), a paleo-apologist like me wouldn’t have anything to complain about. Or would I?

Over the few weeks it took me to watch all 12 45-min eps, I enjoyed the series for what it was. But let’s dig through the upper crust, down deeper, and uncover the core of the show firstly. JFC’s skirmishes (the premise and climax for every episode) are so exact, so choreographed, that it seems there’s only one possible way they could have gone down. Although the conflicts themselves are not hypothetical (probably, as the rival fossils are found at the same sites), a certain amount of presumptive conjecture (educated or not) has to be utilized in order to stage the incidents that took place millions of years back. Fortunately, for those who have more than a passing interest on the subject, the JFC experts also consider the behavior of modern animals and take advantage of state-of-the-art forensics and technology.  For example, just about every skull gets a CAT scan to determine brain strengths and sizes. I found this aspect truly fascinating. See? I don’t need mind-controlled space-dinos with armored saddles and laser cannons. Not that that wouldn’t be bitchin’, mind you.

Everyone knew that Ice Age 4 was milking the franchise for all it was worth, but as soon as the plastic fedoras and inflatable instruments came out during the wedding reception scene, all was forgiven. This Ice Age was Hot Hot Hot!

But these nerds don’t joust aboard Extreme Dinosaurs. They don’t even take sides. The various interviewees (bone-diggers, Profs, and museum fixtures) are usually in agreement, as they frequently bandy about the loop-holish term “theory”. However, “Dinosaur George” (our host) is always so sure of himself. More storyteller than lab-monkey (he left a life of retail to go into education), he sports-announces the inevitable bouts with a confident and believable fervor. Speaking of presentation, Jurassic Fight Club is surely a ton more sophisticated than my glue stick and poster board version from the grade school science fair. It’s all whiz-bang with their maps, 3D turnarounds, diagrams and stats (reminding me of The Future is Wild series).

That Steve. He’s such a Carch-tease.

It’s also really repetitive. I reckon I’ve heard the phrase “teeth like serrated bananas” more times than I can count, but most viewers will probably not watch this series within such a concentrated time period. I feel that by the end of an episode, I know as much about any particular fight as the paleontological expert witnesses. I’m ready for the quiz. And if they’re holding back info? They should have inserted it in lieu of all the over-used stock footage, cohort paraphrasing, pre-commercial teases (here’s what you will see), and post-commercial recaps (here’s what you did see). The made-for-TV format is all too obvious here on home video, due to the excised commercial breaks. The action? Always exciting, but it’s also always shown from every angle and with every filter, and recycled in other eps where applicable (which is understandable for a TV budget). The show could be shorter, but I’d rather they trim some of the rehash and give us a best-outta-3-fights finale instead.

I can’t imagine the format will be changing any time soon though, as the season capper ends with a cataclysmic space rock existence-frakking 100% of the Mesozoic monsters. Since the reptiles didn’t have their own Bruce Willisaurus, ARMAGEDDON was victorious. You can’t get more final than that… unless you watch the hopeful Monster Quest (and I do).

Don’t misread my nitpicks as discontent. I could watch this stuff all day long, pass out mid-episode with a smile on my face, and dream of Albertosaurus getting shanked/shivved by Pachyrhinosaurus face-horn (ala Diablo VS Armadon). It’s got ‘saurs. It’s my poison. For the rest you, it’s not a terrible lazy Saturday education or diversion amidst a couch-ridden sick day (in doses, with commercial buffers). If you cracked open this DVD set expecting to see Carnosaur VS Construction Equipment, you’d be wrong. Corman’s New Horizons is thattaway… and I like the way you think.

His puny fore-arms and foul breath were not the only reasons BallsOnChinasaurus was picked on by his peers.

The Package

The cover’s kinda lame. It gets the point across, even if they showcase a showdown (Showcase Showdown!) between some of the more inbred retarDinos of the bunch, a dueling coed pair of Majungatholus. I appreciate that they used thin amrays in a slip cover case instead of the multi-fold-out approach, but they should have doubled-up for a slimmer set, or crammed all 4 discs into a single case, like the Monster Quest Season 1 steal book. Audio and video are what you’d expect from a History Channel product. The hi-tech presentation tickled the part of my brain that still loves watching monsters go at it (not that way, you perv!). Tribal music, reptilian roars, and geekspeak come in loud and clear (AKA white & nerdy) on my system. Do I wish there were more special features than just 23 minutes of additional footage? You bet Jurassic.

*But hey, you can play a Primal Raging fighting game on their site, called “Turf Wars”! You’re welcome.

5.0 out of 10 for the discriminating TV watcher

7.0 out of 10 for the dino-fan (ME)