Director/Visual Effects Supervisor – Joseph J. Lawson, Screenplay – Hank Woon, Producer – David Michael Latt, Photography – Richard Vialet, Music – Chris Ridenhour, Production Design – Vincent Albo. Production Company – The Asylum.
Treat Williams (Gabe Jacobs), Jillian Rose Reed (Jade Jacobs), Ronny Cox (Justin), Jose Rosete (Doug Donovan), Joshua Michael Allen (Dr Craig Carson), Max Aria (Leo Karst), Andray Johnson (Police Chief Dawson), Johannes Gotz (Hans)
In Los Angeles, Gabe Jacobs is a former firefighter now working security. He takes his teenage daughter Jade with him to attend a demonstration by Justin, the CEO of Geneti-Tech. Justin claims they have discovered miracle regeneration techniques and demonstrates them by getting up out of his wheelchair and walking. He then reveals that they have used the same techniques to recreate dinosaurs. However, things behind the scenes go wrong and the dinosaurs burst free from their cages and start devouring the attendees. With the convention hall under security lockdown, Gabe tries to find a way to escape the building.
The Asylum is a company that specialises in ‘mockbusters’ – low-budget films that attempt to copy the titles of more successful big-budget studio releases, being released at the same time to exploit the other film’s publicity campaign, not to mention seek to fool unsuspecting browsers into thinking they are watching the other film. The Asylum’s mockbusters have included the likes of The Da Vinci Treasure (2006), Pirates of Treasure Island (2006), Snakes on a Train (2006), I Am Omega (2007), Transmorphers (2007), Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls (2008), The Day the Earth Stopped (2008), Death Racers (2008), 100 Million BC (2008), Sunday School Musical (2008), The 18 Year Old Virgin (2009), Paranormal Entity (2009), The Terminators (2009), Almighty Thor (2011), Battle of Los Angeles (2011), Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012), Age of the Hobbits (2012) and Atlantic Rim (2013), among others.
The surprise about Age of Dinosaurs is that it is not one of The Asylum’s mockbusters. It was released two years before Jurassic World (2015) came out but that is forever in terms of The Asylum’s mockbuster schedules when their films come out a day or two, at most a week before their namesake counterparts do. The film is however heavily reliant on Jurassic Park (1993) – businessman reveals to the world that he has brought dinosaurs back to life, dinosaurs escape their confines and go amok. The major difference is that Age of Dinosaurs is being made on a B budget and rather than Isla Sonora the dinosaurs’ rampage is contained to a convention centre before they burst out into downtown Los Angeles.
Against the lowered expectations of an Asylum film, Age of Dinosaurs proves halfway reasonable. The effects vary between the passable and the occasionally ropey but are mostly much better than average. Part of the reasons for this is because the film was directed by Joseph J. Lawson who is usually better known as visual effects supervisor for The Asylum, although has taken a director’s role on several occasions with the likes of Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012), one of The Asylum’s best films, Age of the Hobbits (2012), Alone for Christmas (2013) and Ardennes Fury (2014).
As a result of his background, Lawson stages the dinosaur effects far better than most of the other Asylum directors. He builds the opening up particularly well where wheelchair-ridden CEO Ronny Cox fronts the demonstration and then surprises everybody by getting up out of his wheelchair and walking to prove the formula works, before everything predictably goes pear-shaped and the dinosaurs break loose.
Once the dinosaurs break out, there are some quite good effects with dinosaurs chasing Treat Williams’ SUV through the streets. In particular, there are some excellent shots with the dinosaurs fighting with helicopters in an alleyway, and of the mass destruction scenes showing them climbing the sides of buildings in downtown L.A.