dir: Michael Katleman
How do you solve a problem like Maria? On that same tack, how do you fuck up a cheap movie about a giant crocodile chomping on people and making their heads pop like grapes? Ask these shmucks.
It should be impossible to stuff something like that up. Just deliver what you say you’re going to deliver, and the audience should take care of itself, as it lolls about stuffing its gaping maw with candy and popcorn as if to mimic the CGI reptile on the screen.
For a reason I cannot work out, they refer to the crocodile, Gustav, as a serial killer. It’s just a crocodile, it’s not Hannibal Lecter. Although maybe this should have been the next Lecter film instead of Hannibal Rising: whilst on safari, Sir Anthony Hopkins takes some time out from eating some of the local cannibals to strike up a romance with a sexy, slinky lady croc. After a few wines, and to the sweet background sound of the buzzing of millions of tsetse flies, they consummate their relationship on the banks of the Mfulakwe river. A year later, a brilliant, sociopathic young crocodile starts targeting rude tourists and ripping out their organs whilst expounding on the virtues of 14th century Alexandrine poetry.
How is it that these stunning ideas of mine aren’t making it into feature film screenplays? That’s gold I just gave up, there, for free, no less. Just a little bit of payback, is all I ask, just kickback a few bucks and I’ll keep the lawyers out of it. Promise.
Unfortunately for the makers of this generic man-eating monster flick, they use a premise far less interesting than the one I supplied. In their flick, a bunch of journalists are sent against their will, in some cases, to try to capture a giant crocodile whilst a civil war blazes around them.
With them is a grizzled old veteran of one of the Napoleon-era wars with the Prussians (Jurgen Prochnow), who does a very literal but not very entertaining impression of Quint from Jaws. Also, there’s the young, girly journalist trying to be taken seriously, who does stupid thing after stupid thing as if begging to be eaten. By the crocodile, you smut merchants, get your minds out of the gutter.
The lead is blandly played by a bored Dominic Purcell, with an overactive and irritating Orlando Jones as support and for comic relief that is never funny. Never close to funny.
The makers of this flick have the gall to try to give it some kind of geopolitical / sociological importance by having a running commentary on the local conflicts in the region, and it comes across as funnier than any of the attempts at comedy. The thinking behind some of that dialogue has the depth and intelligence of an empty shot glass.
Mmm, shot glass: that’s making think about alcohol. Alcohol would probably have enhanced my cinematic experience, but I can’t imagine by much. A lot of the time the characters are made to do things so incredibly stupid that you actively start wanting them to die, and alcohol wouldn't alleviate such a symptom.
Cases in point: if you think there’s a giant crocodile out to get you, why would you all huddle together in a hut on stilts in the middle of a river? If you were running from a crocodile the size of a bus, why would you have a thirty second sequence where you’ve got a character standing hip deep in a stream, looking around with a concerned expression on his face, thinking perhaps that it’s not a good idea to go for a swim right about now?
If you have a way of knowing where exactly the crocodile is at any time, and you’ve somehow intuited that this virtually magical beast wants to eat all of you, why can’t you set off in the opposite direction? The crocodile doesn’t have a similar tracking device or access to Google Earth, does he? It could work, couldn't it?
There’s about forty minutes of this movie where you can just feel the makers stretching it out as much as they can. All their ideas were expended with “giant croc chases people, people run, some people get eaten”, all their money went on the cheap CGI and they’re left with a whole bunch of screen time to fill up with pointless filler.
I can’t really say this flick worked for me at all, because it’s boring and uninspired, and does little by way of building tension, menace or any form of excitement in at least this audience member. But, by the same token, I can’t really fault the bozos who put this all together.
See, it’s a flick about people being eaten by a giant crocodile. It delivers exactly what it promises. It can’t be faulted for delivering on its mission statement, since it never pretended to be about the Oslo Peace Accords or the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. It has numerous scenes of people being eaten by a crocodile. If you get off on that, then this surely is the stuff of dreams for you. Me, I prefer a bit of existentialism with my nature documentaries.
5 times the fact that there is an actual crocodile they call Gustav who’s believed to have killed over 300 people doesn’t change the fact that this is shamelessly exploitative and uninspired trash out of 10
“You know, that croc's a lot like OJ. He made a mistake when he killed that white woman.” - Primeval