Primeval (2007)

Primeval (2007)

The hunt begins soon

A news team is sent to South Africa to capture and bring home a legendary 25-foot crocodile that has apparently killed a white woman. Their difficult task turns potentially deadly when a warlord targets them for death when they film his men committing human atrocities.


Hotel Rwanda meets Crocodile in this rather silly and plodding offering featuring a killer CGI crocodile, guys pretending to be ‘Quint’ and that bald guy from Prison Break running around doing exactly the same thing he does on TV in a feature film. It’s almost as if the writer was walking to pitch the screenplay to the suits in the studio when he bumped into someone else carrying a script archives box. All of their papers fell to the floor, the writer picked up what he thought was his script and kept going, unaware he had ripped out pages from various other scripts in the process. Then when he pitched his idea he had pages from about ten different films all jumbled together. The film doesn’t have a clue what it wants to be and switches frequently from generic monster-on-the-loose flick to the dramatic ‘let’s make a statement on Africa’ thriller it clearly has designs on being. Neither works very well.

Let’s start with the patronising statement it is trying to make on Africa that the West doesn’t care about revolution, genocide and the generally unpleasant stuff that happens in most of these turbulent countries. For one, I’m watching a film about a killer crocodile. That should be enough reason not to care. Secondly, the film approaches the material in such a childish, cartoon villain way that it’s hard to really care. Faceless thugs brandishing AK-47s and doing detestable things like rape, murder and so forth belong in films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. At least give the guys some depth instead of having them drive around in jeeps mounted with guns. Needless to say that the crocodile is quite the political force and when the chips are down and the white characters are up against it, the croc has a good sense of right and wrong and leaves the do-gooders whilst munching on the rapists and murderers. Having said that, it gets hungry pretty quickly and then proceeds to chase the white characters too.

What bothers me about a lot of recent action/horror flicks is that events happen and characters make decisions not based on what you would actually do but what would actually set up a thrilling (or in most cases not so-thrilling) set piece. Take for example the decision of the group in this film to make their stand against a massive giant crocodile in a flimsy wooden hut on the end of a jetty in the middle of a lake during a thunderstorm. Would you not think to get as far inland as possible away from the waterways? No, they make their stand here simply so the crocodile can smash the hut up and allow the effects guy to play with their creation for a few minutes. It’s actually quite insulting when I think about. The special effects have nothing to write about either as the crocodile looks rubbish. Once again a CGI monster is too fluid and quick for its own good. Giant crocodiles surely would not be able to sprint across open fields in pursuit of its next meal. I want a believable monster that looks like it exists and has been dreamed up on the spot by an xBox playing ten year old.

Dominic Purcell gets top billing here. For those of you who don’t know, he plays the part of a wrongly-convicted murderer on the thrilling television series, Prison Break, and spends most of the time in the second and third series running around hot locations, occasionally walloping bad guys, firing off a few rounds on a handgun and generally looking like a bad ass. Nothing much changes here and if you’ve watched enough of him on TV, then you will not be able to detach him from his Lincoln Burrows character. That’s all you see in him when he’s acting. Maybe that’s because he’s done such a good job on TV or maybe it’s because he’s just a poor actor who struck gold. I’ll have to judge him in something else before I make a decision.

Also starring alongside him is Brooke Langton, clearly cast for her looks and to become the token damsel-in-distress. Orlando Jones turns up as the comic relief foil. Then you have Jürgen Prochnow doing his worst Quint impression as the obsessed croc hunter. Someone in here has the bright idea of putting a dart into the crocodile so that they can tell when he gets near. Where have I seen that before?


A right old mess of a movie, you’re best off avoiding Primeval. Want a moving drama about Africa and Western foreign policy? Watch Hotel Rwanda. Want to watch a killer crocodile tearing up stuff left, right and centre? Watch Crocodile. Want to see Dominic Purcell kicking ass? Watch Prison Break. Or better yet just watch a documentary about crocodiles. They are real. You’ll get more crocodile action in a half-hour long documentary than the whole film. And at least the crocodiles will tear up some animals for your viewing pleasure.





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