This month, Netflix and Dreamworks are releasing the third season of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, an animated spin-off of the popular Jurassic Park franchise that focuses on a group of kids trying to survive in Isla Nublar. And in April, the fourth season of Fast & Furious Spy Racers premiered on Netflix — another show that took a huge live-action franchise and made it more accessible for younger audiences.

This is not unlike a trend in the ’80s and ’90s that saw all kinds of live-action franchises turned into kid-friendly cartoons, no matter how not-for-kids the movies were. Everything from RoboCop to Godzilla were turned into a toy-churning machine that entertained, and baffled, kids on Saturday mornings. To celebrate the release of the new season of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, grab your favorite cereal because we’re looking at the weirdest animated spin-offs of blockbuster franchises originally aimed at adults.


Godzilla: The Series (1998-2000)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: Though no Godzilla movie has been rated R, the films still feature a story about a giant monster rampaging through the city and sensationalize the horrors of nuclear power. The much-maligned 1998 film unleashed a giant monster (which basically treated Godzilla like a dinosaur) on the Big Apple and caused all kinds of chaos. This year’s Godzilla vs. Kong scored better on the Tomatometer but is still rated PG-13.
What the Cartoon Changed: For many ’90s kids, this was their definitive Godzilla story. It helped that the cartoon actually had its titular monster go up against other amazing monsters, from mutated animals to mythological beings like Quetzalcoatl and the Loch Ness monster. Though not really a violent show, there was a lot of cool monster action, creature designs, and even homages to horror films like The Thing.


Rambo: The Force of Freedom (1986)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: An R-rated franchise about a Vietnam war veteran suffering from PTSD who kills, maims, and otherwise obliterates dozens of people wherever he goes, Rambo is a franchise that doesn’t really scream Saturday morning cartoon. And yet, a 65-episode show graced our screens in the ’80s.
What the Cartoon Changed: Well, to the surprise of no one, Rambo: The Force of Freedom (“The Animated Series”) severely toned down the violence from the original movies. Rather than being dropped into a war zone or sieging a small town while struggling with his PTSD, this Rambo leads a team of heroes from around the world to fight an evil organization called S.A.V.A.G.E. This is basically G.I. Joe but with more muscular men. Rambo never mentions the Vietnam war, nor does he ever kill anyone, but he certainly does take the time to teach kids about morality, doing the right thing, and even the environment. He even dressed up as Santa Claus at one point!


Police Academy: The Animated Series (1988-1989)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: Though later films would tone down enough to get even a PG rating, the franchise started life as an R-rated comedy with everything from foul language, to nudity. The franchise is known for its low-brow humor, sexual innuendo, and physical comedy. Still, that didn’t stop it from becoming a cartoon made by Warner Bros. that lasted two seasons and 65 episodes.
What the Cartoon Changed: Taking place between the fourth and fifth films in the franchise, the cartoon focuses on the cast getting into trouble, some slapstick comedy ensues, and the mismatched group of cops learning to be a team and solve crimes ends up saving the day. Some episodes start featuring a recurring villain in the form of a crime boss nicknamed Kingpin, whose stature and intelligence really resembles that of the Marvel villain of the same name.


Beetlejuice (1989-1991)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: Out of the films in this list, Beetlejuice is the only one rated PG, but that doesn’t mean it was kid-friendly. After all, there is a lot of talk about suicide, and the eponymous Beetlejuice is a depraved and devious poltergeist who tries to force a teenage girl to marry him.
What the Cartoon Changed: The ABC animated show brings back Tim Burton to executive produce, and only loosely adapts the movie into a long-form series. The scares and gore are gone, as is the sexual innuendo. Instead, the show turns Beetlejuice into a lovable goofball who goes on journeys with his friend Lydia across the Neitherworld. Beetlejuice usually tries to scam the residents of this afterlife realm, and the duo goes on adventures with monsters, ghouls, and other creatures. The show was praised for its mix of traditional 2D animation along with CGI, and it won an Emmy for best animated show.


RoboCop (1988)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: Alongside Rambo, this is arguably the weirdest film to have been adapted into a kids cartoon, but like most Paul Verhoeven films, RoboCop got severely misinterpreted and turned into a franchise that glorified what the first film criticized (as we’ll see later). A film that barely avoided an X rating because the titular character constantly blows heads and genitals off feels very much unsuited for a Saturday morning cartoon, but that didn’t stop Marvel from producing one anyway.
What the Cartoon Changed: Rather than a scathing indictment of capitalism and militarization of the police, RoboCop is also turned into a superhero who fights everything from polluters to a KKK-like gang. At one point, RoboCop even plays a part in Middle East peace processes. Of course, the character doesn’t kill anyone, with his deadly weapons turned into non-lethal lasers that later are added to the main live-action franchise.


Conan the Adventurer (1992-1993)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: In case it hasn’t been clear so far, most of these cartoons were adapted from popular live-action movies that had a lot of merchandising potential, they just needed a way to market directly to kids, even if they could not watch the original film. Even if a kid was not allowed to watch Conan the Barbarian crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and hear the lamentation of the women, they might still want a muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger action figure that brandishes Conan’s cool sword.
What the Cartoon Changed: Rather than a child slave, Conan is — you guessed it — kind of a superhero now. Like in the film, he’s on a quest for vengeance against a villain, but this time he embarks on the journey with more naïveté and sensibility than the film suggested. He does not rip a vulture’s throat out with his teeth, he’s more like He-Man, honorable and with a strong sense of morality. Despite this, the cartoon stayed strangely accurate to the original works of author Robert E. Howard.


Toxic Crusaders (1991)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: The Toxic Avenger is an early attempt at a superhero comedy. The story of a man who is dumped into a vat of toxic waste and becomes a hideously disfigured monster with superpowers, the film is hyper violent, full of sexual references, and incredibly gory.
What the Cartoon Changed: Toxic Crusaders takes a cue from other environmentally conscious cartoons of the time like Captain Planet and Swamp Thing and focuses squarely on the toxic waste part of the Toxic Avenger. Now part of a superhero team, the Crusaders combat pollution and a lot of aliens.


Little Shop (1991)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: Whether you enjoy the original Roger Corman film or the Frank Oz–directed musical from the ’80s, Little Shop of Horrors has something for everyone — except children. The film versions are full of sexual innuendo as well as a ton of darkly comedic murders, which the musical takes a step further by having the man-eating plants conquer the entire world and eat everyone.
What the Cartoon Changed: The early ’90s saw a lot of films turned into short-lived animated shows, especially those with environmentalist messages. Little Shop takes Audrey II and turns the man-eating plant into the prankster and “hip” rapper, Junior, who gets into all sorts of whimsical trouble with its friend, the de-aged Seymour. The plant can still hypnotize, but rather than hypnotize people, Junior can control other plants to aid in mischief. There are still a lot of musical numbers, but they are paired with moral lessons.


Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles (1999-2000)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: Though not as hyper-violent as RoboCop, this is another franchise Paul Verhoeven touched that got its political aspect diluted with the years. The original Starship Troopers film was a poignant sci-fi satire about fascism and military-led nationalism. There is a ton of graphic violence involving soldiers being gruesomely killed by an alien race known as “bugs.”
What the Cartoon Changed: The cartoon heavily tones down the political satire of the movie and book, focusing more on the sci-fi action and war against the bugs. There’s some cool sci-fi concepts brought over from the original novels like powered armor suits, and a new alien race. There is a surprising amount of depth to the storylines, and boundary-pushing CGI animation that hasn’t aged well but was ahead of its time.


Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1995-1997)


Why the Original Isn’t for Kids: Though not strictly for adults, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective had more sexual innuendo and broad humor than you’d find in contemporary family-friendly movies. Still, everyone likes Jim Carrey, and 1995 saw the premiere of not one, not two, but three cartoons based on Jim Carrey movies, including Ace Ventura.
What the Cartoon Changed: Unlike most of the shows on this list, Ace Ventura wasn’t that toned down when adapted into a cartoon. The toilet humor and slapstick comedy are still there, and Seth MacFarlane even wrote for the show, displaying his signature style of humor. Rather, Ace Ventura as a film was already cartoonish, so the jump wasn’t so drastic. The show even had a crossover episode with The Mask cartoon, and you see Ace putting the Mask on his butt so it can literally talk.

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous season 3 launches on Friday, May 21 on Netflix.


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This week brings big news for Game of Thrones fans, J.J. Abrams’ bank account, American Horror Story fans, and more. Read on for more of the week’s biggest TV stories.


TOP STORY

Another Game of Thrones Prequel Planned

Game of Thrones, season 5, episode 2 photo: courtesy of HBO

(Photo by HBO)

HBO? More like HBD: Here Be Dragons. (Pause for groan.) Sorry about that, but there’s some exciting dragon-related happenings at HBO. The network is planning another Game of Thrones prequel series, and this one will focus on the downfall of House Targaryen in the age where dragons ruled Westeros. According to Entertainment Weekly, the network is close to ordering a pilot for the potential new series, which would follow the Dance of the Dragons, a.k.a. the Targaryen civil war around 200 years before the events of GoT that marked the beginning of the end for the powerful family.

GoT author George R.R. Martin will executive produce the project, which should draw plenty of inspiration from the subject matter of his recently published history of House Targaryen, Fire and Blood. It’s the same topic that GoT writer Bryan Cogman previously tackled for his prequel series, which was passed on by HBO. The new version of the story was written by Colony’s Ryan Condal.

This potential new series is not connected to the other potential Game of Thrones prequel, which wrapped filming earlier this year.


Ryan Murphy Hires Fan to Help With AHS: 1984 Opening Credits

American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy debuted the title sequence for the upcoming ninth season of the FX drama. The retro-inspired clip for AHS: 1984 was created by Murphy’s longtime collaborator Kyle Cooper, along with a newcomer: Corey Vega, whom Murphy hired after seeing the fan video Vega posted on Twitter after the season’s announcement.

“I liked it so much, I decided to bring him on board to work together with Kyle as the evolved the concept into something major,” Murphy said in an Instagram post featuring the credits.


J.J. Abrams Signs Massive New Deal

Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection

(Photo by Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection)

The latest super-producer to get a major payday is J.J. Abrams, who just signed a huge new deal with WarnerMedia that will cover television, film, video games, and digital content from his production company Bad Robot. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal could be worth anywhere from $250 million to $500 million and gives WarnerMedia exclusive rights to the new projects Abrams and his company, which is also led by his wife, Katie McGrath, produce. (It also makes exceptions for Abrams’ previous commitments, including Star Wars.)


Jurassic World Expands on FX

A brand new short film set in the Jurassic World universe will debut on FX on Sunday, Sept. 15. The blockbuster’s director, Colin Trevorrow, announced Battle at Big Rock on Twitter this week. Andre Holland, Natalie Martinez, Melody Hurd, and Pierson Salvador star in the short, which was written by Trevorrow and his Jurassic World 3 co-writer Emily Carmichael.


Live from New York, It’s Saturday Night Live‘s Newest Cast Members

NBC has hired three new comedians as featured players in Saturday Night Live‘s upcoming 45th season: Bowen Yang, a SNL writer known for his lip sync videos, Chloe Fineman, an impressionist known for her celebrity impressions on Instagram, and Shane McGillis, who came under scrutiny hours after the cast announcement when an 11-month-old video featuring the comedian making racist comments on a podcast surfaced online.


You Can Now Stream Cobra Kai for Free

PSA: The second season of YouTube’s Cobra Kai is currently available to stream for free even without a Premium subscription: The first two episodes are now available to watch with ads, and new episodes will drop in front of the paywall weekly. You can watch the season 2 premiere above; the season, like the first, is Certified Fresh.


Casting News: The Stand Finds Mother Abagail, The Umbrella Academy Adds 3

Whoopi Goldberg has landed the role of Mother Abigail in CBS All Access’ The Stand series. She’ll be joined in the Stephen King adaptation by Jovan Adepo, playing young musician Larry Underwood, Owen Teague as Harold Lauder, Brad William Henke as Tom Cullen, and Daniel Sunjata as Cobb.

Hailee Steinfeld is reportedly “circling” the role of Kate Bishop in the Disney+ series Hawkeye with Jeremy Renner.

Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy has cast Ritu Arya, Yusuf Gatewood, and Marin Ireland. Humans’ Arya will play Lila, “a chameleon who can be as brilliant or as clinically insane as the situation requires. Unpredictable, mischievous and sarcastic, Lila’s gifted with a twisted sense of humor.” Good Omens and The Originals vet Gatewood is Raymond, “a born leader with the smarts, gravitas, and the confidence to never have to prove it to anyone. He is warm, dedicated and has the innate ability to disarm you with a look. A devoted husband, he’s the kind of guy everyone wants to know.” Homeland’s Ireland will play Sissy, “a fearless, no-nonsense Texas mom who married young for all the wrong reasons. Still in her prime, she’s eager to rediscover what life and love has to offer.”

Uzo Aduba will star in the upcoming fourth season of FX’s FargoCraig T. Nelson is playing coach once again. Not Coach, but rather a little league baseball coach in the upcoming third season of Young Sheldon. Dale Ballard butts heads with George Sr. when Missy wants to join the team. Amanda Peet and Christian Slater will star in season 2 of Bravo’s true crime series Dirty John.

Liv Tyler will star opposite Rob Lowe in the upcoming spinoff 9-1-1 Lone StarJohn Lithgow has signed on to star alongside Jeff Bridges in FX’s pilot The Old Man, as a former FBI agent called back into service by the FBI after suffering a terrible personal loss. He’s tasked with hunting down Bridges’ rogue CIA agent character, with whom he has a complicated past. The CW veteran Cassandra Jean Amell is joining season 2 of Roswell, New Mexico as Louise, an alien who seeks refuge in 1947 Roswell.

Speaking of The CW, John Wesley Shipp will return for the Arrowverse’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, according to TVInsider.com. Also returning is Johnathon Schaech as Jonah Hex, per EWDesperate Housewives’ Ricardo Chavira and The Purge’s Gabriel Chavarria have joined Netflix’s Selena series as the late singer’s father and brother, respectively, according to DeadlineJohn C. Reilly is replacing Michael Shannon in HBO’s pilot about the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers.


Development Update

The CW is planning a Dark Shadows continuation series. Dark Shadows: Resurrections would follow the camp-tastic vampire Collins family in present-day Maine.

Upcoming streaming service HBO Max has ordered two unscripted series: Legendary, from a producer of Queer Eye, follows competing vogueing houses as they battle for the title (think Pose IRL, in 2019, on a reality competition); The Greatest Space follows interior designers traveling around the world and transforming various empty rooms into spectacular spaces.

Summer’s New York Times bestseller Fleishman Is In Trouble is being adapted into a limited series for FX, per Deadline. The novel follows a father whose estranged wife drops off their children one day and never returns to pick them up.


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The bond between Marvel and Hulu is growing thanks to a recently announced plan to develop four animated series and, with a certain amount of tongue planted in cheek, unite the main characters of each in an animated special called The Offenders. But the move also indicates the increasing importance of animated projects based on comic books. Of course, both Marvel and Warner Bros. have been making programs aimed at younger viewers for decades, but the new crop of announced projects indicates a great focus on a broader age range. Considering the high quality of animated superhero shows for children (a la Batman: The Animated Series) or a slightly older demographic (Young Justice: Outsiders), these new shows will definitely have to bring something new to the medium to find critical and commercial success.

So what is on the horizon and can we predict a project’s success from what we know of its development so far? Let’s take a look.


Marvel’s Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck (Marvel)

(Photo by Marvel)

Based on: The comic book character created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik, featured in his own self-titled comic book from 1976-1979, and short-run series in 1986, 2001, 2007, and longer run from 2015-2017. He also makes appearances across the Marvel Universe.

Premise: Transported to Earth against his will, Howard does his best to make do under the circumstances. He generally finds work and sometimes even gets paid for his troubles. He also battles absurd villains, like the obsessive Dr. Bong, while also trying the best way to get rich quick and escape the quarrelsome tendencies of the Marvel Universe.

Status: Announced as part of the Offenders quartet of Hulu projects in February, Clerks director Kevin Smith and Aqua Teen Hunger Force co-creator Dave Willis are developing the project for Marvel Entertainment. The pair seem suitably chosen for Howard’s anarchic take on comic book tropes.

Chances for Success: If it can get out from under the shadow of the infamous Howard the Duck feature film, the irreverent humor baked into the premise should keep this around for a few seasons. But as with almost all of Howard’s solo outings, it will probably end prematurely.


Marvel’s Tigra & Dazzler Show

Tigra and Dazzler (Marvel)

(Photo by Marvel)

Based on: The stalwart Avenger Tigra, created by Roy Thomas and Wally Wood — later refined by Tony Isabella and Don Perlin — and the mutant pop star created by Tom DeFalco, John Romita Jr., Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern. Both have had storied careers in and out of the core Avengers and X-Men titles, joining various super-teams, going solo, and changing their looks to match the times. Fun fact: Dazzler began her career as a disco singer in a cross-promotion with Casablanca Records. Both the label and Marvel hoped to launch her as a multimedia entity in film, music, and comics. An animated series 40 years later may not have been what Casablanca wanted, but we’ll take it.

Premise: The politically minded duo make their way to Los Angeles, a world apart from Marvel’s favored Manhattan, where they try to get their superpowered heads, hands, and hearts around their lives.

Status: Chelsea Handler and The Last Man on Earth veteran Erica Rivinoja are developing the series for Marvel.

Chances for Success: The unusual pairing of Tigra and Dazzler makes this the outlier of the new Marvel animated projects, as does Handler’s brand of humor. That said, it could always prove to be the standout thanks to those very elements.


Marvel’s Hit-Monkey

Hit Monkey (Marvel)

(Photo by Marvel)

Based on: The simian assassin created by Daniel Way and Dalibor Talajić, who appeared in a 2010 Hit-Monkey one-shot release, a Deadpool storyline, and a three-issue, self-titled miniseries.

Premise: An angry Japanese macaque makes for Tokyo to avenge the deaths of his clan. Luckily, he has the skills and aid of a ghost who was once an American assassin. And if the two have anything to say about, all of the city’s criminal underworld is going to pay.

Status: Blades of Glory directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck are currently developing the series as part of Marvel and Hulu’s Offenders initiative.

Chances for Success: While Blades of Glory has a Tomatometer score of 70%, the duo’s subsequent films have not been as fresh. The Jennifer Aniston/Jason Bateman comedy The Switch struck out at 51%, while their most recent film, Office Christmas Party, stumbled with a 41%. Of course, the absolute wackiness of the premise may give them a renewed energy.


Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.

M.O.D.O.K. (Marvel)

(Photo by Marvel)

Based on: One of the greatest gifts Jack Kirby and Stan Lee ever gave to comics. Making his full debut in 1967’s Tales of Suspense #94, the Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing and his successors in name and appearance became one of the Marvel Universe’s most constant, bewildering, and wonderful foes.

Premise: The egomaniacal supervillain with a really big head and a really little body struggles to maintain control of his evil organization and his demanding family. He also faces an inferiority complex of sorts as villains like Doctor Doom look down on him.

Status: Hulu and Marvel secured the services of Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum to develop the series, with Oswalt set to voice the lovable, if misunderstood, M.O.D.O.K.

Chances for Success: We might be a biased, but we’re sure viewers will love M.O.D.O.K. once they meet him.


Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn teaser screencap (DC Universe)

(Photo by DC Universe)

Based on: Batman: The Animated Series’ breakout character Harley Quinn. Created by series producer Bruce Timm and writer Paul Dini as a one-time gun moll for the Joker, she took on a life of her own, eventually debuting in the DC Comics universe in 1999. She’s since become a big deal thanks to her own monthly comic, her appearance in the Suicide Squad feature film, and her own upcoming spinoff film, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).

Premise: Harley has finally kicked the Joker to the curb. Her next target: a spot within the Legion of Doom. And she’ll push her way past any and all of the DC Comics ne’er-do-wells to do it. With some help from Poison Ivy, of course.

Status: First announced in late 2017 as one of the key projects on the then-unnamed DC Universe streaming service, the series will debut this October with Kaley Cuoco voicing Harley, Lake Bell voicing Ivy, and Alan Tudyk voicing Joker. Other cast members include Diedrich Bader (once again playing Batman), Ron Funches, Wanda Sykes, Natalie Morales, Jim Sykes, Giancarlo Esposito, Jason Alexander, and Christopher Meloni as Commissioner Gordon. Powerless‘s Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, and Dean Lorey developed the series and serve as executive producers.

Chances for Success: The service’s first animated offering, Young Justice: Outsiders, has a 93% on the Tomatometer. If Harley Quinn is of similar quality, it will no doubt return to the service for a second season. Then again, Powerless folded after one 61% season on NBC. But with the metrics between network and streaming being wildly different, Harley could prove victorious in the end.


Invincible

Invincible (Image Comics)

(Photo by Image Comics)

Based On: The Image comic book series by The Walking Deads Robert Kirkman and artists Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, which ran for 144 issues and a number of special releases from 2003 to 2018.

Premise: Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) is your typical 17-year-old boy. Well, as typical as he can be when his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). Thanks to his father’s alien physiology, Mark is super-strong and possesses the ability to fly. But as Mark develops these and other powers, he discovers that his father’s legacy may not be as heroic as it seems.

Status: Amazon revealed a rich and varied voice cast for the series in January 2019, which includes Yeun, Simmons, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Mark Hamill, Walton Goggins, Jason Mantzoukas, Mae Whitman, Chris Diamantopoulos, Melise, Kevin Michael Richardson, Grey Griffin, and Max Burkholder. In a break from traditional half-hour format for animation of all stripes, Invincible will feature hour-long episodes. The first eight-episode season is expected to debut in 2020.

Chances for Success: The comic book series ran for a long time, indicating the story has an engrossing appeal — not unlike The Walking Dead. But the hourlong format is untested and it remains to be seen if viewers will take to the longer runtime. Of course, viewers may hardly notice if they binge-watch it as they do Amazon’s The Tick and other original programs.


What If…?

What If? (Marvel)

(Photo by Marvel)

Based On: Marvel Comic’s What If…?, an anthology series that ran from 1977 to 1984 and again from 1989 to 1998 — with a handful of shorter runs in the years since — and told stories based around different outcomes of various classic Marvel tales. Issues centered on questions like “What if Spider-Man joined The Fantastic Four?” and “What if Daredevil became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.?”

Premise: Taking inspiration from the comic book, each episode will explore a pivotal moment in Marvel Cinematic Universe history and turn it on its head. The first episode, for example, will ask “What if Peggy Carter took the super soldier serum?”

Status: The project was announced in April of 2019 as another partnership between Marvel Studios and the Disney+ streaming service. Because of the studio’s involvement, MCU actors including Hayley Atwell (Carter) will reportedly reprise their roles. It is currently unclear when the series will debut, but the service is set to launch in November 2019.

Chances for Success: It is a Marvel Studios project on Disney+. The only thing that could hobble it would be Disney+ failing to woo enough subscribers when it launches in November.


Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering logo (Wizards of the Coast)

(Photo by Wizards of the Coast)

Based On: The legendary collectible card game that kept many comic book shops afloat in the dark days of the 1990s. Players choose elemental forces to power their armies and face off against friends and strangers. The game continues to thrive more than 25 years later with professional leagues, online games, and various other forms of merchandise.

Premise: The Planeswalkers — the game’s unique magic-wielding heroes and villains who travel across Magic’s own multiverse — vie for control, not unlike players of the game in the real world.

Status: Announced in June 2019, the series will be overseen by Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who will develop a never-before-told story of the Planeswalkers. Bardel Entertainment will animate the series for Octopie (the animation studio that is producing it), and it’ll debut on Netflix in 2020.

Chances for Success: Considering Magic‘s appeal spans decades, generations, countries, and various types of media, it should work about as well as other Magic initiatives. At the same time, film and television are new realms for the Planeswalkers, and they may find their adventures there as perilous as Dungeons & Dragons‘s attempts at crossing into those same arenas.


Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous

Based on: The Jurassic World movie series, which is itself based on the Jurassic Park movie series. Both are based on the novel by Michael Crichton in which a Walt Disney-type industrialist recreates dinosaurs to open an amusement park. Jurassic Park represents it going disastrously wrong while Jurassic World shows it as a viable business — at least for a time. Then, disaster strikes (as it always must).

Premise: Six teenagers find their once-in-a-lifetime trip to a new adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar (where most Jurassic films occur) is anything but a wonder summer vacation. The dinosaurs wreak havoc across the island — as they often do — forcing the stranded campers to bond and help each other survive the ordeal.

Status: As revealed in June, the series will be part of Netflix’s ongoing animation initiative with DreamWorks Animation, the company behind the excellent Voltron and She-Ra revivals. Pinky Malinky’s Scott Kreamer and Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny’s Lane Lueras will serve as showrunners and executive producers while Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, and overall Jurassic producer Frank Marshall will be on board as executive producers. Thor screenwriter Zach Stentz will be a consulting producer. The series is set to debut in 2020.

Chances for Success: Netflix’s partnership with DreamWorks yielded Voltron: Legendary Defender (95%), She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (95%), and Guillermo del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia series. The animation and storytelling is top notch and surprisingly compelling. If they can bring that standard to the Jurassic World brand, the only real concern will be making the kids’ summer vacation last for 65 episodes.

The Jurassic Park franchise fell into a long hibernation after 2001’s Jurassic Park III, and development on a fourth installment went on for so long that for awhile, it seemed like it might never happen. But that all changed in 2015 with Jurassic World, a new beginning for the series that starred Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as the latest hopelessly outmatched humans hoping to stave off a wave of dino-distruction. To celebrate the recent release of the latest chapter int he Jurassic saga, we’ve decided to look back at the movies that led us here. Hold onto your butts — it’s time for Total Recall! [Updated 6/25/18]


1. Jurassic Park (1993) 92%

(Photo by Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

Before the advent of computer-generated graphics, novelists had something of an upper hand over filmmakers: While writers have only ever been bound by their own imagination, a director’s ability to test the bounds of reality has always relied on the best efforts of his effects department — and while practical effects definitely have their place, they also have their limits. With 1993’s Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg proved the old rules no longer applied, taking Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel about the misguided efforts of a billionaire philanthropist (played here by Richard Attenborough) to bring dinosaurs back from extinction and turning it into a box-office bonanza driven by some of the most spectacularly lifelike special effects ever seen.

Of course, even the most amazing visuals can only go so far if a movie’s other elements are lacking. What made Jurassic Park so successful — and what continues to make watching it so much fun — is the way Spielberg brings Crichton and David Koepp’s screenplay to life with an outstanding group of actors that includes Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern, as well as memorable appearances from Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight. It’s another of the escapist thrill rides that helped him build his empire — a souped-up Saturday afternoon serial in which an increasingly panicked team of scientists (Neill, Goldblum, and Dern) work to stave off the dinopocalypse that threatens to erupt after a corrupt employee (Knight) bungles his attempt to sell dinosaur embryos and a technical glitch leaves packs of our lethal predecessors running scot-free on an island near Costa Rica.

It all added up to a picture that left critics largely powerless to complain. Even if they were fairly quick to identify a general lack of depth in Jurassic Park‘s archetype-driven entertainment, they couldn’t deny its power; as Roger Ebert put it in his review, “You want great dinosaurs, you got great dinosaurs.”

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2. Jurassic World (2015) 71%

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Jurassic Park III was enough of a letdown that it took quite awhile for development on another sequel to start in earnest – and when it did, producers found themselves sorting through years of false starts with storylines that would have taken the franchise in some fairly odd directions (like the rumored Jurassic Park IV whose storyline centered on dinosaurs that had been trained as weapon-toting mercenaries).

In the end, Jurassic World took viewers right back where the saga started: Isla Nubar, where the ruins of Jurassic Park have given rise to a full-on tourist trap whose once-amazing attractions have become passé to unimpressed visitors. Seeking to goose revenue, the park’s CEO (played by Irrfan Khan) oversees the creation of a brand new, even more dangerous hybrid dinosaur, whose inevitable rampage forces a pair of panicked employees (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) to race against time in order to prevent complete catastrophe.

While World didn’t wow critics like the original, most agreed it held up pretty well on its own as an efficient delivery mechanism for modern, CG-assisted popcorn thrills. “For much of its running time, Jurassic World plays like a great theme park ride,” observed Jacob Hall for the New York Daily News. “In an age of blockbusters that lumber like herbivores, it’s refreshing to see a movie as lean and mean as a velociraptor.”

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3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) 53%

(Photo by Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

Despite Jurassic Park‘s incredible success — and its sequel-teasing ending — Michael Crichton wasn’t all that interested in penning a follow-up novel at first, and only wrote 1995’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park after persistent badgering (including some from Park director Steven Spielberg, who had a vested interest in getting another installment out of the gate). Like its predecessor, The Lost World‘s screen adaptation diverges from its print companion in some important respects, but it’s still easy to detect the air of obligation that hangs over the whole enterprise, which helps explain why — although it was certainly a major hit — it failed to land with Park-sized impact.

Returning to the director’s chair and working again from a David Koepp screenplay, Spielberg brought Jurassic fans a story that injected a handful of new ingredients (including Julianne Moore and Vince Vaughn) while retaining a few holdovers from the first film (most notably the returning Jeff Goldblum — as well as a bunch of CG-crafted prehistoric co-stars, of course). With InGen, the company behind Jurassic Park, in tatters, it’s discovered that there was a second island being used as a containment facility for freshly bred dinosaurs, and they’re running rampant — so the new CEO (Arliss Howard) decides to bring them to the mainland in order to turn them into a new revenue stream.

Chaos inevitably ensues, leading up to a third act that does everything it can to raise the stakes from the first film, but no matter how much bigger the action may have been (and despite the presence of Pete Postlethwaite, who always made everything better), the dino derring-do in The Lost World didn’t feel quite as fresh as Jurassic Park, and critical praise was far less plentiful the second time around. Even Owen Gleiberman, in his largely positive review for Entertainment Weekly, was forced to concede, “The movie, at its best, is good fun: deft, scary, engrossing. Yet it’s never great fun.”

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4. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) 47%

(Photo by Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures)

The long wait between Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World may have been frustrating for some fans of the franchise, but it clearly had a positive impact on its critical fortunes — World‘s reviews weren’t anywhere near as rapturous as those that greeted the original, but they suggested there was still plenty of life in a series of films many believed had long since exhausted its supply of worthwhile ideas.

If the critical reception afforded the Jurassic World sequel is any indication, an extended downtime between sequels might actually be the key to success for this franchise. Three years later, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom continues the story started by its predecessor, reuniting Owen Grady and Claire Dearing (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) — this time on a quest to save the dinosaurs from re-extinction and the nefarious plans of some DNA-splicing lunatics who clearly haven’t seen the earlier films. It’s all very exciting in the moment, but ironically for a series fueled by the idea that nature will always find a new way to get things done, Kingdom suggests this story might be content to run in circles on old ground.

Critics were mostly content with Fallen Kingdom‘s set pieces, and praised incoming director J.A. Bayona for playing up the franchise’s horror elements, but beyond all the roaring and running around, they felt it came up short — lacking a compelling story, fresh thrills, and increasingly reliant on CGI dinosaur spectacle over identifiable characters. “If this is the best the Jurassic series can manage,” warned Stephen Whitty for the New York Daily News, “it’s the real endangered species.”

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5. Jurassic Park III (2001) 49%


The scientists of Jurassic Park were able to circumvent the laws of nature by bringing dinosaurs back from extinction; sadly, the filmmakers behind the Jurassic Park franchise were unable to similarly flout the law of diminishing returns, which put a dent in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and its successor, 2001’s Jurassic Park III.

Production was somewhat bumpy from the start. Director Joe Johnston, taking the reins from Steven Spielberg, didn’t have the luxury of working from a book by Michael Crichton, and was forced to contend with script problems that necessitated a complete overhaul mere weeks before shooting was scheduled to begin. What he ultimately ended up with was a story that, like its predecessor, drew former Jurassic Park stars back into the fold in service of a plot that brought dinosaurs roaring back to the big screen.

This time around, Sam Neill and Laura Dern — both absent from The Lost World — reprise their roles as Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler (now Degler), although Dern’s appearance essentially serves as a pivotal cameo. Here, Grant’s shanghaied into returning to the re-prehistoric tropics under the guise of a surveillance expedition that will provide sorely needed funding for his research, only to discover he’s really been hired for a far more dangerous mission; his lack of enthusiasm for seeing dinosaurs again roughly mirrored the response of the critical community, whose growing disdain for the franchise corresponded with obviously dimming enthusiasm on the part of ticket buyers. Still, it’s hard to call a movie that grosses $368 million worldwide a flop, and Jurassic Park III does have its defenders: As Jeffrey Overstreet argued for Looking Closer, “It’s not art… it’s entertainment, and it knows it. Boy, does it entertain.”

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(Photo by © Universal)

With a pretty atrocious 36% Audience Score, and an only slightly better 50% Tomatometer rating, it’s fair to say that this 2001 triumvirate-completer is the most dubiously received of the franchise. (Even the famously loathed The Lost World has a slightly better Tomatometer rating of 53% and Audience Score of 51%.) With a new Jurassic movie about to hit theaters, I sat down to ponder why the third Jurassic try wasn’t quite the charm.

There are some obvious offenses: the script encourages Tea Leoni to scream way too much, and includes the franchise-favorite “Bipeds Have Dino-Mazement” shot with humans staring agape at Brachiosaurus… that doesn’t quite inspire that JP wonder. But it’s still a fun ride, if you watch it the right way. In fact, it can be very fun, if you stop thinking of it as a Jurassic Park movie, and start thinking of it as a pure horror flick.

Hear us out. There are so many classic horror tropes used in JP3 that, when viewed through a certain lens, you can see that time has been kind to the film. (As has the internet, spilling over as it is with JP3 defenses.) Join me on a journey through story beats (warning: spoilers ahead) where we will ultimately land on the other side of the electrified fence, celebrating JP3 for the brave genre departure it made from any of the other films in the Jurassic Park franchise.


Jurassic Park 3’s horror tropes


1. Characters Who are Enticed to a Location By What Turn Out to be Lies

Paul and wife Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) tempt Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant with funds for his latest paleontology project in exchange for his presence on their airplane. Their shadiness is off the charts, which makes it clear that Dr. Grant must be wicked poor if he fails to notice vague phrases like “we have permission to fly low,” and “it’s pretty much whatever we want.” And then Paul says he’s in the “Import/Export” business, which is movie code for smuggler. And it turns out that they’re actually going to land illegally on the island to find their lost son, and they just needed a Dino-sherpa.

Also used in The Boy: OK, the idea of being lured into a trap is super common in horror, but we recently saw it play out in a very similar way to JP3 in The Boy. Lauren Cohan thinks she is showing up for a standard nanny job in a remote location… without anyone telling her that her charge is a pale dolly in a little suit! And both she and Dr. Grant are screwed since there’s basically no escape from either situation.


2. The Troubled Couple Brought Back Together By the Horror

I used the word “wife” liberally in the above paragraph. Even that was a ruse. Macy and Leoni’s characters broke up and her new boyfriend became dinosaur food, paving the way for Macy to show some bravery born out of love for his family (like climbing construction machines, taunting Pteranodons, etc.)

Also used in The Ring: Rachel (Naomi Watts) turns to her ex-boyfriend, Noah (Martin Henderson), to help her figure out the genesis of the troublesome VHS tape. All of a sudden, she doesn’t mind his messy industrial loft with an abundance of video equipment, which I can only assume was part of their conflict when they dated.


3. A Hired Gun Who Gets It (And Kinda Breaks Our Hearts)

Going into Jurassic Park 3, we see Michael Jeter as Udesky, a guy who looks good in a utility vest and has a penchant for rallying tough-looking dudes who shoot large stationary objects with bazookas. It takes exactly :50 for him to realize that he’s made a terrible mistake, as is customary in the world of freelance. When the raptors finally get him, it’s sad.

Also used in Jaws: All Robert Shaw had to do was sing us a little sea shanty to make us really hate Bruce for eating him… that heartless piece of overgrown cartilage.


4. An Un-killable And Soulless Villain

The Spinosaurus was being positioned as the new T-Rex, a title which he/she never lived up to, since there was no character arc built into the script (we can’t only defend the film!). But what the Spinosaurus lacks in personality, it makes up for in persistence. It snaps a T-Rex’s neck and then stands on his head in a real d–k move. Then, at every point in the film with a down moment, it pops up again, apparently impervious to fire or any other makeshift weapon. Also: the Spinosaurus’ death is never confirmed. 

Also used in Halloween and nearly every other slasher movie. Remember in the original Halloween, when Michael Myers pinned Bob to the wall with a knife while he stared at him with his head cocked to one side? D–k movie. He’s the Spinosaurus of Horror Movie Psychos. And he too never seemed truly affected by anyone fighting back, and definitely didn’t die, since a new Halloween movie is coming out later this year.


5. Ringing Phones That Scare the Bejeezus Out of Us

Isla Sorna is totally abandoned and screwed up, so when Tea Leoni picks up a phone, it’s no surprise that there’s no dial tone. When the family is reunited at the paddock fence and they hear a cute early-era cell phone ring, you’re left with a sinking feeling that culminates in the dang Spinosaurus charging around (probably angry that he’s going to have to pass the phone, like my great uncle when he had a kidney stone).

Also used in Black Christmas:  Yes, and When a Stranger Calls and Scream, but let’s focus on the holiday horror flick for now. The sorority girls have been getting weird calls just when they start getting bumped off. Every time we hear its old-school jangly ring, it just gets scarier and scarier (until we realize that it’s coming from inside the house – aghhhh!).


6. The Dummy Hero Who is Somehow Still Alive at the End

Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola), the genius who stole raptor eggs so he could sell them and continue to fund their digs, sacrifices himself to save the poor kid who’s been stuck on the island for eight weeks (solid move man, but still… raptor eggs?). Luckily at the end, his life has been spared and he’s nice and comfy on a military stretcher. 

Also used in War of the Worlds: Justin Chatwin, who plays Tom Cruise’s headstrong movie son, decides in a valiant snap decision that he’s got to fight for our species. He runs off into the middle of the siege and we don’t see him until he is at his grandparents’ house at the end of the film, drinking cocoa.


When you add in an incredibly ominous score (even in bars or when people are discussing usually happy things) and dinosaurs, you’ve got a solid heart-pumper that employs classic horror scares to surprise and delight audiences that have already sat through two miraculous big lizard experiences. For that, we say give it a chance – if you dare.

“The park is gone” say the posters for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And with a volcanic eruption set to burn and smother Isla Nublar, they’re not lying. But while the park may be headed for extinction, some key Jurassic World dinos are returning for the much-anticipated sequel. Plus, there are some new beasts in the mix, including one mixed-DNA abomination that’s being touted as one of the deadliest weapons man has ever made. (Damn you, Dr. Wu). Before you hit the theaters to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on June 22, check out our guide to the dinos set to outlive the island.


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is in theaters June 22

DC Super-Villains video game trailer screencap (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

The 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo offered some promising new titles inspired by our favorite films and television shows when it hit the Los Angeles Convention Center June 12-14. Games based on movies and serialized TV are nothing new, but the genre has a history of pushing out products more focused on promoting an IP than offering a quality interactive experience.

That’s changing. Game developers, passionate about the same titles as the rest of us, are shelving the marketing-spun schlock in favor of crafting ambitious projects that put us in our favorite fictional worlds.

Here are 10 we can’t wait to play!


JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION


Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: Available now
As fans of the Jurassic Park franchise films are well aware, the movies are primarily action-ratcheting affairs focused on dinos unleashing all kinds of hell on unsuspecting park-goers. Jurassic World Evolution, however, trades epic destruction for careful construction, as it tasks players with planning, building, managing, and monitoring their very own prehistoric theme park. While the game’s more of a cerebral stimulation, it’ll still spike your adrenaline when, say, your burgeoning management skills accidentally let a velociraptor loose in the food court.


LEGO THE INCREDIBLES


Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Available now
If seeing Incredibles 2 hasn’t completely satisfied your craving for the superhero family’s unique brand of crime-fighting fun, you may want to suit-up for LEGO The Incredibles. Brimming with block-y bad guys, brick-based puzzles, and the LEGO series’ signature personality and humor, this latest plastic toy-packed adventure lets fans relive the best moments from both entries in the popular Pixar franchise. Tons of playable characters – including fan-favorite Edna Mode – and special moves, requiring the entire Parr crew to participate, round out this family-friendly romp.


MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN


Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony
Systems: PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Set in a sprawling, open-world New York City, this original Spider-Man tale – from veteran developer Insomniac Games – forgoes the origin story slog in favor of putting players behind the shooting webs, acrobatic combat, and wisecracking sense of humor of a more seasoned Spidey. An eye-popping visual presentation, adrenaline-spiking set pieces, fluid action, and more iconic villains than you can cram into Raft prison complement the cinematic wall-crawling, web-spinning action.


WORLD WAR Z


Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Paramount Pictures
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 2018
Plenty of games task players with shooting zombies, scavenging for supplies, and generally doing whatever it takes to survive the undead apocalypse. World War Z – which borrows more from the Brad Pitt film than Max Brooks’ book – breaths some fresh life into the rotting corpse genre, however, by putting up to 500 flesh-eating freaks on screen simultaneously. Of course, these hungry hordes can also form horrifying zombie pyramids, making it more difficult for you and your co-op partners to fend them off and live another day.


SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER


Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Fans of the Tomb Raider films and games can expect to meet a very different Lara Croft in this trilogy-capping entry. More Predator than Indiana Jones, Shadow of the Tomb Raider sees a confident, capable, vengeance-craving Croft camouflaged in mud and employing brutal combat tactics to turn exotic jungle locales into goon graveyards. Though Shadow isn’t your typical relic-hunting romp, players can still expect seat-of-the-pants storytelling, cinematic set pieces, and, yes, plenty of tombs to raid.


LEGO DC SUPER-VILLAINS


Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: October 16, 2018
TT Games has no less than three Batman-starring installments in their stable of brick-busting LEGO adventures, but their latest DC entry is taking a decidedly different approach to the iconic comic book universe. As its title suggests, LEGO DC Super-Villains is all about the bad guys, from Harley Quinn and Lex Luthor to Poison Ivy and the Crown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. Rather than playing as these iconic foes though, players will join them as their very own, fully customizable and upgradeable evildoer.


OVERKILL’S THE WALKING DEAD


Developer: Overkill Software
Publisher: Starbreeze Studios/505 Games
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Hundreds of games have pitted players against hordes of foot-shuffling foes, and a handful of those have even unfolded in Robert Kirkman’s walker-infested world. Overkill’s The Walking Dead separates itself from the brain-craving bunch, however, by translating the unforgiving world of the comic books into thumb-blistering gameplay. For fans, this means strategically cooperating with three other players to not only survive brutally difficult encounters with the undead, but also joining forces to fight the game’s most challenging enemies, a human faction dubbed “The Family.”


HITMAN 2


Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: WBIE
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: November 13, 2018
We haven’t seen the bald, bar-coded assassin on the big screen since Rupert Friend wore his signature sharp suit and red tie in 2015’s Hitman: Agent 47. Fans needn’t wait for a film sequel to be reunited with their favorite hired killer, however, as Hitman 2 is headed to game consoles this fall. Assuming the role of the titular professional, stealthy players will travel to stunningly-realized exotic locales, don disguises, and incorporate improvised weapons – such as rat poison, frying pans, and frozen fish – to permanently silence high-level targets.


RESIDENT EVIL 2


Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Long before zombie shooters and apocalypse survival sims spread through the video game world like a population-wiping plague, players were fighting virally-infected canines and gobbling up green herbs in Resident Evil. Now, Capcom is inviting fans back to Raccoon City to relive what’s widely considered the seminal survival horror series’ best entry. More than a mere remaster though, Resident Evil 2 is a completely rebuilt re-imagining, featuring brand new visuals, audio, controls, and a nerve-fraying narrative to rival any contemporary take on the walking corpse genre.


KINGDOM HEARTS III


Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: January 29, 2019
The Kingdom Hearts series has always been defined by its appealing, if unlikely, mash-up of Disney and Final Fantasy characters. Its long-awaited sequel though, is doubling down on the Disney – and Pixar – content, inviting fans to explore worlds and interact with heroes and villains from a variety of favorite films from Walt’s vault. From Frozen, Tangled, and Toy Story to Hercules, Wreck-It Ralph, and Pirates of the Caribbean, this fan-servicing sequel has something for Disney and Pixar enthusiasts of all stripes.

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