(Dominic Purcell, Brooke Langton, et al / DVD / NR / 2007 / Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
Overview: Inspired by the true story of a legendary 25-foot man-eating crocodile comes the intense, terrifying horror movie PRIMEVAL, starring Dominic Purcell (TV's PRISON BREAK) and Orlando Jones (RUNAWAY JURY, EVOLUTION). An American news crew, determined to capture this voracious monster and stop his demonic rampage, travel deep within the darkest reaches of Africa to hunt their prey. But Gustave, as the natives call him, is also on the hunt — always on the move, always elusive, always hungry for human flesh. Heart-pounding fear is nonstop in this edge-of-your-seat nail-biter about the cunning killer who continues to blaze his blood-soaked trail of terror.
DVD Verdict: OK, I fully admit it ... "Primeval" tricked me! I knew nothing about the film other than a brief blurb I'd read that said it was about a serial killer and was based on a true story. Turns out the "serial killer" is, in fact, a large, hundred-year old crocodile named Gustave. Ho ho! Yeaaaaah! More fool me!
The story is about a news team that has been sent to Africa in order to cover a story on (and perhaps capture) the elusive beast. The movie briefly explains why a blood-thirsty crocodile is news (and even why it would be left up to journalists, a cameraman, and two wild animal experts to catch a critter that's been eating unsuspecting humans for decades), but the explanation is weak, at best.
Even weaker is the awkward melding of the croc plot with another story thread involving an African civil war that is propogated and prolonged by a blood-thirsty warlord named - that's right - Gustave. Is this a powerful political metaphor? Probably. Is it done well? Of course it isn't.
Populated by stock characters of the worst kind (although Orlando Jones manages to do some good things with his smart-aleck cameraman role), "Primeval" succumbs to ludicrousness (the characters, after a recent croc attack, decide that a rickety shack built IN the river is their best safe haven), pointlessness (the dull bonfire "bonding" scene where a tribal drum session is followed by the Westerners singing "Amazing Grace" off-key), and confusion (most of the croc attacks take place at night and are dizzyingly hard to follow).
Tack on a hokey (albeit unfortunately true) message about American apathy toward African brutality, and you're left with a jury-rigged mess of a movie, a schizophrenic cinematic experience that tries to be viscerally scintillating as well as politically charged. If it had picked one or the other, it may have had at least a shred of consistency to give it pluck and cohesion. Instead, it's a mawkish blend of macabre and moralistic.
Oh yeah, and for those skipping their way through this review ... once again, "Primeval" is NOT about any serial killer you've ever heard of on two legs! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with director Michael Katleman And visual effects supervisor Paul Linden
"Croc-unmentary: Bringing Gustave To Life"
French And Spanish Subtitles