What do you get when you put dinosaurs, terrorists, and Navy SEALs all in one place? The answer in “A mess,” and in this case such a disaster carries the title Raptor Island. Starring Lorenzo Lamas, the film continues the long standing tradition of putting guns and monsters in the same place in the hopes that something good will come out on film. Indeed, it seems that more effort is required to serve up a plate of Hamburger Helper than was put into the story and dialog of this slice of movie cheese, and its painfully apparent from the very first scene.
We meet our hero, “Hack” (Lamas) and his SEAL team preparing to rescue an allied operative from terrorists. Military/macho clichés abound, the soldiers being advised to “listen up” because “it’s hit the fan” so they should all “saddle up” by your standard grizzled officer in charge. In case there was any doubt of the attitude the men should have going in, Lamas reinforces his C.O. with the equally trite “You heard the man. Let’s get this party started.”
The location of the aforementioned “party” is a rusty old ship harboring terrorists, the conflict being filmed in “nausea-vision” as the camera won’t stop shaking. As for the terrorists themselves, no background is given as to where they’re from or their motives through the entire film, the director apparently feeling that all we need to know is that they’re arms dealers with unfamiliar accents and AK-47s, and therefore they’re the bad guys. There is a vague reference to “the West” at one point, but it seems that the creators of the film couldn’t decide whether their villains were Islamic fundamentalists, Eastern Bloc gun runners, or Cuban communists.
Anyway, things get complicated and the SEALs follow the terrorists to a nearby island that bears a striking resemblance to someone’s backyard in the northeast USA, some parts of the island resembling November and others June. Later we’re told that the island is supposed to be in the South China Sea, but somehow I get the feeling that the producers didn’t put out the dough for on-location filming for this one.
What the SEALs fail to notice upon their arrival, however, is that the “special effects” crew threw some dry sand onto the wet sand at the tide line and made raptor tracks in it, a clue that the soldiers will soon be firing wildly into the woods at dinosaurs that aren’t really there. Just because something isn’t really there, however, apparently doesn’t mean that it can’t kill you, soldiers and terrorists alike being turned into purée my packs of what I can only assume are CGI Utahraptor. While most dinosaurs have to work to get flesh off the bones of their prey, these creatures can turn their victims into much just by looking at them; one second a terrorist gets charged by a dinosaur, and literally the next he’s a pile of goo. Once the cast is thinned out a bit, the remaining characters continue to wander through the forest, Lamas wearing his Ray Stantz-esque nightvision goggles even though the vast majority of the film takes place during the day.
As for the dinosaurs themselves, they actually look a bit better than I expected. Sure, they all look the same and are just about the most stupid critters I’ve ever seen in a film (when the soldiers open fire on them, the raptors stand in place, looking confused as to why they’re taking a resemblance to swiss cheese), but as far as looks go they’re a large improvement over other dinosaurs I’ve seen in this, erm, caliber of cinema. What is referred to as a “Carnotaur” (i.e. the abelisaur Carnotaurus) also makes an appearance, but more closely resembles a blurry envisioning of a Tyrannosaurus with horns on, its main purpose being to chomp on the last remaining bad guy at the end (oops, did I spoil the ending?).
How did the dinosaurs get on the island in the first place, you ask? Something is mumbled about a Chinese aircraft carrying American weapons-grade plutonium crashing on the island, but that’s about all you get. Apparently the good ol’ radioactivity = monsters type mentality is still alive in modern filmmaking. In fact, the radioactivity is apparently so powerful that it gives the dinosaurs superpowers, as the closing shot is of a group of raptors walking out to sea in order to avoid the exploding volcano on the island. Too bad for them there isn’t a land bridge, but given the presence of a sequel to this movie, I guess they eventually made it to their destination.
What I learned from this film;
- Radioactive waste + deserted island = Raptors + Mutated T. rex/Carnotaurus Thing
- A raptor can take an entire clip of automatic weapon rounds to the chest and only seem slightly annoyed by it.
Oh no, not again…;
Followed by the sequel Planet Raptor
Available for viewing online via Monster Casts.