There’s a fine line between Jaws and whatever giant creature movie that Sci-Fi is currently producing. Take the story too far into the weird Sci-Fi area and you get a worthless film with horrible special effects, horrible acting and a general waste of your time. Take it in Jaws direction and you can make a somewhat enjoyable film, even though the giant monster movies have been done over and over and they seem to get worse as time goes by. Still, with Primeval, this tale is actually based on a true story, making it slightly more intriguing.
Primeval is the story of a legendary “25-foot man-eating crocodile”, named “Gustave” by the natives, in the African jungle. An American news crew comes to film the story of this terrifying creature and capture it once and for all. Unfortunately, things go wrong and between getting mixed up with the local military militia and failing to trap Gustave, the American news crew finds themselves losing members left and right and the entire team nearly facing complete annihilation.
Unfortunately the “based on a true story” is about as strong as the film ever gets. While the interaction between Dominic Purcell (taking a break from Prison Break to star in more crap movies—last good theatrical film I saw him in was Equilibrium and he died in about twenty seconds in that) and Orlando Jones is entertaining, we don’t really see much character progression between the two other than “hey we’re good buddies” and Purcell’s chemistry with the female lead, played by Brooke Langton, is nonexistent until the end the film when they’ve just faced off against Gustave.
There are so many issues with this film and not the ones that you would imagine. No, the CGI isn’t horrible (in fact, I wondered in a few sequences if they had built a Gustave puppet—it looked that good) and no the acting isn’t bad either. The directing is even pretty nice and can really get you in the suspenseful mood. The problem is it tries to be more than just a giant monster movie. On any other film in this genre, that would be a relief, but in this one it feels tacked on. When the “threat” goes from a giant man-eating crocodile to the local militia (think Blood Diamond), you are immediately thrown out of the film and wonder why they needed to make this a part of the film.
If the story wasn’t so disjointed I’d be more inclined to recommend it for at least a rental, as the actors, special effects and direction all make for a good film, but is really just not worth your time in the end. I had walked into this film fully expecting it to be a waste of time and was surprised by what I found in the film, but really…there are so many other movies on the shelves that are worth more than what this film attempts to offer. Skip this one on your next trip to the movie store.
For a film I’d never heard of, this set comes in a fairly spruced up DVD release. The packaging doesn’t stand out too much aside from the foil reflective/embossed cardboard slip and inside the case is a insert listing the chapters and special feature for the film.
The transfer for the film in both the audio and video department is strong and crisp. I didn’t notice any compression errors and the night and day scenes looked clean and crisp. Audio mix was healthy as well, with the surround channels getting heavy play during the frantic “where’s Gustav?” sequences in the film.
In the special features department is a documentary (“Croc-umentary”…ugh) that covers some of the production of the film and features cast and crew interviews. The featurette focuses mostly on the CGI and rigging of the Gustav scenes (rightfully so, as the rest of the film doesn’t offer you much to digest other than these scenes) and is rather interesting to see how much work went into this film. It’s almost a shame more people didn’t see it just for the crocodile CGI…it’s really quite awesome.
Deleted scenes are included but as a bizarre twist, they feature ONLY audio commentary by the director and the visual effects supervisor. I thought my DVD player was being finicky and wasn’t detecting another audio track, but sure enough—there’s only one and it’s only commentary. This especially sucks on the dialogue heavy “Why Crocs Kill” scene, which I would have liked to hear. Very strange and very lame.
The audio commentary may be more interesting than the film itself as it delves deep into the production of the film and has plenty of comments on the special effects featured in the film. It goes in depth in some areas and is rather lively throughout the entire film. Still, it’s likely you won’t even enjoy the film so the fact there’s a commentary will not persuade you to spend more time on an already easily forgettable film.
Despite it’s somewhat polished theatrical quality directing, acting and special effects, Primeval is destined to join the ranks of the myriad of other monster movies you see at video stores, pick up and laugh at and then wonder why people keep spending money to make these films. While Primeval isn’t quite as bad as it looks, it’s just not worth your time. Along with the film itself, Skip the DVD.
Primeval arrives on DVD and Blu Ray on June 12th.