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E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
If I say "giant crocodile movie", what do you say back? Maybe, "That's gonna suck"? That's a reasonable response. In fact that was my exact thought when I heard about this particular giant crocodile movie. But that's not fair so I tried to watch with an open mind.
PRIMEVAL was directed by Michael Katleman (TAKEN [TV], DARK ANGEL [TV]) and written by John D. Brancato (WATCHERS II, THE UNBORN , MINDWARP, THE NET, SEVERED TIES, THE NET [TV], THE GAME, THE OTHERS [TV], TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES) and Michael Ferris (TERMINATOR 3). It opens with text on the screen telling us this movie is based on true events.
Big time network news reporter Tim Manfrey (Dominic Purcell: EQUILIBRIUM, BLADE: TRINITY, THE GRAVEDANCERS) gets himself in trouble with his boss by mistakenly reporting that a Senator was taking bribes. As punishment he gets assigned to a lesser story: the hunt for a huge crocodile in northern Burundi, Africa.
Tim and "animal reporter" Aviva Masters (Brooke Langton: SLIDERS [TV], THE NET [TV]), along with Tim's cameraman Steven Jonson (Orlando Jones: EVOLUTION), head to Africa and meet up with reptile researcher Matt Collins (Gideon Emery: A CASE OF MURDER). Matt is an environmentalist determined to capture the crocodile alive.
The croc himself is known as Gustave and has been a legend among the locals for years. Like most reptiles, crocodiles keep growing their whole lives and they apparently can live to be a hundred. So Gustave is old and big and smart and has a hide thick enough to make him nearly bullet proof.
Tim has a serious chip on his shoulder, partially because he's here as punishment but mostly because he's a "serious" journalist and there can't be anything worth reporting in this middle of nowhere place, which pretty much describes all of Africa.
They reach the tiny river village where Gustave has been sighted and meet up with their guide, Jacob Krieg (Jurgen Prochnow: DUNE, PRIVATEER 2: THE DARKENING, HOUSE OF THE DEAD, DARK ASYLUM). He's a hunter so he and Matt don't get along so well. At one point, when the number of human victims Gustave has claimed gets mentioned, Matt dismissively says, "There are more than enough human beings on this planet." Jacob responds, "You don't seem stupid so you must be insane."
I agree with Jacob, by the way. Stupid treehugger.
And speaking of being judgmental, I will pronounce judgment on this movie as soon as we have a brief
For other movies and how they got the science right or wrong, go to THE SCIENCE MOMENT.
But enough reality – what about the movie? Much to my surprise this giant crocodile flick turned out to be pretty damn exciting. The story moves very fast but is well written and well acted enough for us to get to know and care about the characters. The effects are decent and, even though the crocodile seems to magically be everywhere and seems far more active than reptiles are known to be, I still bought into it enough to suspend my disbelief.
But what really made me enjoy the story was the unblinking portrayal of a much worse monster: Africa. The corrupt, chaotic mess and lack of respect for human life that sadly seems to be the natural state of affairs in most places on this continent turns out to be more dangerous than a herd of giant crocodiles, and much more difficult to escape.
I can't believe I'm going to say this. I give PRIMEVAL, a giant crocodile movie, four shriek girls.