January 26, 2007

Movie Review: Primeval

It's not a good idea when the marketing campaign is better than the film. I know, this often happens. I mean, it is the job of the studio to make the film look appealing to its potential audience. The campaign mounted for Primeval took a novel approach to marketing a movie about a giant crocodile. Rather than show it as the monster movie it is, they chose to take the serial killer angle. Interesting. It disguises what it really is, but still pays off in its promise of carnage. It's a shame the movie doesn't live up to the marketing.

Primeval plays between the fictional horror of the killer croc and the real horror of civil war in Africa, both are brutal, bloody, and unforgiving. I found it to have a similar structure to Edward Zwick's Blood Diamond. Both of these films have reporters in Africa seeking to uncover a dark secret (diamonds and crocs), and both lead to questions of how far to go and whether or not to keep a secret or expose the difficult truths. However, that is about where the similarities end.

Unlike Blood Diamond, Primeval mashes its thread together without truly integrating them into a story. It is kind of like some writer was working on a story about African civil war and another was working on a crocodile monster movie. They both realize that neither one can come up with enough material for their movie and decided to pool their resources. So, they took what they had created thus far, shuffled the pages together, slapped on a couple of bandaids, and thus, Primeval was born out of the ashes of potential failure.

A disgraced news reporter (Dominic Purcell of Prison Break) is assigned to a story to travel to Africa with his camera man, and comic relief (Orlando Jones), an animal reporter, and a Steve Irwin-esque crocodile expert. Joining them on their journey is a crusty guide (Jurgen Prochnow) who seems to have a personal stake in seeing the demise of the cold blooded killer.

Their journey takes them into dangerous territory, land controlled by a blood thirsty warlord who calls himself "Little Gustave." The name taken from the crocodile, itself, who the locals have dubbed Gustave. So begins the hunt for the croc, while they avoid having a run in with the machine gun toting thugs that patrol the land.

Seriously, this was a rather boring journey into terror. There is a lot of waiting around for the croc. When the thing does show up, they run into Little Gustave's men, resulting in them running one way and then in another in their attempts to elude the two pronged threat.

Nothing ever comes together. The attempts at serious commentary lack any depth, and on the monster side, there isn't enough of the croc. Essentially, there ism't enough of anything. Since this is a monster film at its heart, there should have been much more focus their. It is sort of like a low rent Jaws. There is no originality and not characters to really grab onto.

Bottomline. This is a flat out dud. It was fun to watch the CG croc run across an open field, but those moments were too few and far between. The attempts at commentary on the bloody conflict don't go anywhere, and don't have much reason to be in this particular horror film. The best I can offer is the advise to skip this and what for the next horror flick to come along.

Not Recommended.


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