Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jurassic Fight Club: No Rules In the Prehistoric World
I’m not really sure why we’re fascinated by dinosaurs. Maybe it’s wired into the Collective Unconsciousness, some racial memory that serves as a constant reminder that the world can be scary if we’re not vigilant. Perhaps it has something to do with our ego, as we look at the world we’ve made in our own image, and reflect naively on how far we’ve progressed. Or it could be that we watched way too many Ray Harryhausen movies, especially Valley of Gwangi, as a child.

What it really gets down to, though, is dinosaurs reside in our dreams. They transport us back to a time before dragons existed, to a land we walk upon to this day, transformed by millions of years of upheaval. Earth was a very different place 100 some-odd million years ago, an unforgiving environment where only the strongest, most brutal creatures survived.

Jurassic Fight Club (premiering on the History Channel Tuesday, 9P EST) explores that world with extensive live-action HD location production, as well as hours of full-CG imagery recreating the dinosaur battlefields where the weak were separated from the strong. In recent years, archaeologists have gained new insight into a predatory world inhabited by cunning, quick-thinking, highly maneuverable dinosaurs. Not only is the series fascinating from a scientific viewpoint, but it’s extremely entertaining in its detailed recreations.

The premiere episode “Cannibal Dinosaur,” takes the viewer back 70 million years to a late Cretaceous Madagascar, and focuses on the tiny island’s largest predator of the time, Majungatholus. Standing about nine feet tall at the hips (compared to Allosaurus, at 16 feet), and weighing around a ton, Majungatholus was a medium-size predator. On the isolated island of Madagascar, it reigned supreme. With its sharp serrated teeth and powerful tail, no other native creatures could surpass it in brute force. None, that is, except another Majungathalus.

That’s the conclusion modern-day paleontologists come to when they unearth the bones of a Majungatholus who came to a grisly end 70 million years ago. What follows is a detective story that could have easily been called “CSI: Jurassic”, and involves a mating ritual gone terribly awry. As unlikely as it sounds, the episode is engrossing and dramatic, balancing the dry facts with a likely scenario that draws the viewer deeper into the mystery. The climactic battle isn’t overplayed, but ends with a resolution that’s at once numbing and disturbing, but somehow satisfying.

History Channel has committed to a 12 episode run of Jurassic Fight Club. It’s a promising series, which looks to explore the strategies and minds of various prehistoric predators. What emerges is a fresh portrait of various dinosaurs, and shows us that we’re just now beginning to realize they were far more calculating and complex than we grew up believing.

As a companion to the series, History Channel has launched a minisite that complements the battles depicted in the episodes. The prominent feature of the minisite is an interactive game called Jurassic Fight Club: Turf Wars. In addition to the game, the minisite includes a program synopsis, an episode guide for upcoming and archived episodes, a Dinopedia featuring an introduction to and stats for the featured dinosaurs, image gallery, discussion board, a multimedia gallery filled with wallpapers, posters and screensavers, and a three-tiered video player. The game is what will initially draw visitors.

Jurassic Fight Club: Turf Wars allows players to take control of prehistoric creatures and assault their opponent with a wide variety of special moves and techniques, including ferocious lunges, vicious bites and punishing tail whips. The pre-premiere debuts two dinosaurs, a dueling pair of the aforementioned Majungatholus. As the season progresses, the cast of characters will grow larger and larger. Following the television broadcast-premiere on July 29, new beasts are unlocked each week allowing players to recreate epic showdowns featured on air. The detailed 3D models and lush backgrounds, pulled straight from the Jurassic Fight Club program, will bring these prehistoric brawlers back to life for an epic gaming experience.

You can link to Turf Wars here:

The game was developed by This is Pop, the company that developed the highly successful, award winning Bible Fight Club game for Adult Swim. The Jurassic Fight Club series producers’ 1080, the production company known for providing creative and practical post-production solutions, created dinosaur animation assets for the game.

Both Jurassic Fight Club and Jurassic Fight Club: Turf Wars feature extensive live-action HD location production as well as hours of full-CG imagery, recreating the dinosaur battlefields where the weak were separated from the strong. So watch the series, play the game and be glad you live in a world that’s only threatened mostly by humans.

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