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Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
MSRP: $29.99
Running Time: 94 minutes
Special Features:

• Commentary with the director and visual effects supervisor
• Crocumentary: Bringing Gustave to Life

The Pitch

To paraphrase Peter Hartlaub of The San Francisco Chronicle, it’s Anaconda meets Hotel Rwanda. Or if you want an original one…how about, “Take a trip on Lake Flaccid”.

The Humans

Dominic Purcell, Brooke Langton, Orlando Jones, Jürgen Prochnow, Gideon Emery

Meet your star!

The Nutshell

Tim Manfrey (Purcell) is a hot shot reporter for an international television news organization and he just screwed up bad. He may, or may not have written an erroneous story that has gotten his company into some hot water. His boss wants him to get out of dodge and head for South Africa to document the hunt for and hopeful capture of Gustave, the most notorious serial killer that Africa has ever seen. Manfrey doesn’t want to go and he especially doesn’t fancy the idea of taking the lovely, but inexperienced Aviva Masters (Langton) along as the producer of the story.

Ya see, it’s not like Manfrey has anything against doing a story about a serial killer, but Gustave isn’t your ordinary murderer; he’s a twenty-five foot long crocodile that just loves chomping on human flesh and he’s got the natives running scared. But to our world weary reporter, this is just another animal story, a fluff piece that would be better suited to someone like Aviva than himself.

In the end though, his boss wins out and Manfrey and Masters hop a plane to South Africa with their videographer Stephen Johnson (Bloom [and seriously, maybe it’s just me, but these fake names suck]) where they realize, that a big crocodile may be the least of their problems.

"doll goes in the water…girl goes in the water…croc in the water…"

The Lowdown

Yes, this is the film publicized as “inspired by the true story of the most prolific serial killer in history”, and while you may think it’s misleading, I think that this tag line is the only reason the movie was made in the first place. While looking up some information about Gustave the crocodile online I came across an article from National Geographic that uses the same “serial killer” line that the movie uses. Reading a little further into the article, it seemed that the producers of Primeval cribbed more than a provocative slogan for there film.

They decided to delve much further into the story of the one-ton crocodile that is rumored to have ended the lives of three hundred people in Burundi, Africa. The creative team behind this picture must have figured that a story that only revolved around the hunt for a twenty-three foot long killing machine wasn’t intense enough, so we get a whole secondary plot that covers our news team being thrust into the middle of a military struggle between African Warlords. And then this secondary plot becomes the main story of the film, leaving very little time for croc carnage.

It’s not that I have anything against a film trying to show to the world the violence and turmoil that take the lives of innocents in third world countries…I just know if I want them showcased in a movie that is supposed to be about a giant killer crocodile. It isn’t reinventing the wheel folks, it’s Jaws with four legs and a tail. Its Lake Placid plays Sun City.

Prochnow has just finisished his audition for Hostel and it doesn’t look like it went so well.

The one person who gets into this mentality in the movie is Jürgen Prochnow. He is channeling his best Quint, all steely eyed and quiet. I have no problem admitting that I will sit through nearly anything Prochnow does due to the sheer creepiness of the man. The others in the cast are mainly cardboard; Dominic Purcell manages to export his character from Prison Break and plop him comfortably into Primeval. He shouts occasionally, and gives a vaguely bewildered stare the rest of the time. Brooke Langton, who is soon to be seen in Peter Berg’s The Kingdom, does a fine job of being the tough lady in this crew of men, and Orlando Jones shows that his turn in Evolution was no fluke…take that however you want to.

I don’t think it’s a fault of the actors though that they aren’t terribly memorable. Taking most of the blame should be director Michael Katleman, a man with twenty-one years experience behind the camera. Many of the shows he has worked on were very character driven (X-files and Northern Exposure to name a few). some of these shows demanded someone with a sense of pacing to heighten the drama. On paper he seems like the perfect director to handle a movie like this, and the opening scene of Primeval teases you that this is going to be a tension filled, blood soaked adventure. But along the way it seems Katleman got more interested in showing beautiful landscapes than bloodthirsty reptiles.

Finally, something that can motivate Orlando Jones!

He also allows the film to pull a bait and switch on the audience. Okay, that may be a bit strong, but I definitely felt conned. It’s like going to a church bake sale hoping to partake in some tasty treats, but instead the sale is just a front for some anti-abortion rally. Sure, you may want to take up the cause one way or another, but you showed up for baked goodies. Same here; I feel for the hardships that the little guy in Africa has to go through, but I put in this DVD hoping for a movie about scary crocodiles. While I understand that the filmmakers are trying to be as close to the factual events of this story, don’t push it on me as a horror picture. It’s a cheat that ultimately tilts Primeval into the “croc of shit” category.

Onto the aforementioned beast; I’ve seen people bashing the CG work on this one pretty hard, and to tell you the truth, I don’t get it. When it’s on the screen it looks pretty good. Sure, the scenes are usually dark, and there is a lot of quick cutting, but Gustave doesn’t look too bad in his scenes, and even when you don’t see him personally making the kill, there are a few splatterrific moments to take in. He may not look as good as the croc from Lake Placid, but compared to how bad everything else in this film is compared to better giant creature features, that’s quite a compliment.

Ever since they replaced the guard dog with a croc…fence jumping has become less of a
problem for the Rich family.

The Package

Primeval has a couple of things in the way of extras. There’s a commentary with the director and the head special effects guy, which again, seems strange because Gustave the croc gets about six minutes of screen time over the films ninety-four minute running length. But we do learn that anything Orlando Jones says is “brilliant” and “genius”, so now I understand why they cast him.

There is also a making of featurette focusing on the digital work that went into creating the great croc. Although this seems to be no more than a standard featurette that comes packed with every electronic press kit, they at least float the idea that the conflict in Barundi and the giant crocs attacks are tied together, being that the dead from all the fighting were dumped into the rivers surrounding the village and that brought the terror to the inhabitants. Good explanation, but too little too late, I already hated the movie.

And as a third bonus, keep your receipt and have a good enough excuse, and you can get a full refund and use that money to buy Lake Placid and have enough left over to pick up the original Alligator.

3 out of 10

Mr. Jones’s answer to anyone who felt the promotion for the film was a touch misleading.