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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10%
Worth A Look: 0%
Just Average: 23.33%
Pretty Crappy: 20%

4 reviews, 6 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Come Back, Uwe Boll--All Is Forgiven!"
1 stars

Although the newspaper ads, commercials and trailers have been designed to make you think that it is just another ordinary, run-of-the-mill slasher film featuring your ordinary, run-of-the-mill serial killer, the new horror film “Primeval” is actually about a gigantic killer crocodile wreaking that is wreaking bloody havoc throughout war-torn Africa. Walking into the film, I couldn’t begin to understand why Disney was going so far out of its way to hide what you would think would be its chief selling point–I know that if I had to choose between seeing an ordinary serial killer extravaganza and something involving a giant crocodile eating people, I would go with the crocodile in a heartbeat and I suspect that many of you out there feel the same way. After watching it, though, it occurred to me that playing down the crocodile aspect might not have been that bad of an idea. After all, the studio might some day make a great film involving a giant killer crocodile and it wouldn’t do to waste all their promotional ideas on a useless January dump that essentially comes across as what “Hotel Rwanda” might have been like if it had been produced for the Sci-Fi Channel.

The film takes place in the African nation of Burundi, a land where the poor and impoverished people have a choice of being slaughtered by a mysterious and unseen warlord known as Little Gustave or being chomped to death by the real Gustave, an enormous crocodile that lurks in the nearby water and which has already killed over 300 people. Of course, all of those people are black villagers, so no one notices until a white U.N. worker arrives to expose the former and winds up getting digested by the latter. Since everyone knows the importance of the death of a single white American woman, a cable news network decides to send a team–consisting of professionally disgraced producer Tim Manfrey (Dominic Purcell, apparently cast because the producers couldn’t afford Colin Farrell’s quote), ambitious reporter babe Aviva Masters (Brooke Langton, apparently cast because the producers couldn’t afford Jessica Biel’s quote) and wacky black cameraman/sidekick Steven Johnson (Orlando Jones, apparently cast because the producers could afford Orlando Jones’s quote)–to track down the beast and, as the big boss puts it, “Bag this croc in time for sweeps!” Upon arriving in Burundi, they pick up a couple of additions to their party in the former of earnest explorer/environmentalist Matt Collins (Gideon Emery, whose vague resemblance to Steve Irwin is especially unfortunate when you consider what happen to him along the way), who, in the tradition of idiot movie scientists, wants to capture the beast alive in order to study it, and Jacob Krieg (Jurgen Prochnow, whose mere presence gives the film even more of that certain eau de Uwe Boll), a mad German hunter who will go to suicidal lengths in order to find it and kill it in a manner that is certainly not at all like Robert Shaw in “Jaws,” of course.

While on their way up the river to lay a trap for Gustave, Steven inadvertently films some of Little Gustave’s men beheading a local shaman and murdering his wife and son because of their opposition to his tyranny. This leads to much debate amongst our heroes as to what should become of the tape–the idealistic reporter, like most idealistic reporters out there, wants to broadcast the film in order to break a career-making story while the cynical news producer, like not-too-many cynical news producers out there, doesn’t seem particularly interested because he doesn’t think that people will care. Of course, realizing that the audience paid to see a killer crocodile film and not a meditation on journalistic ethics or worldwide apathy to the various tragedies in Africa (okay, technically they paid for a run-of-the-mill serial killer film), director Michael Katleman soon pushes all of that aside for a series of poorly put-together attack scenes involving some fake blood, plenty of incoherent editing and a CGI beast so unconvincing that it resembles one of the screensavers that came with the computer that you bought back in 1994. Amazingly, the screenplay by uberhacks John Brancato & Michael Ferris (the scribes behind such deathless entertainments as “Catwoman” and “The Net”) somehow manages to contrive a climax in which both storylines are resolved thanks to some convenient munchings and a surprise reveal that even the most loyal “Scooby-Doo” devotees might find somewhat questionable.

As someone who is not immune to the pleasures of the animals-run-amok genre, whether they are top-shelf classics like “Jaws,” “Piranha” or “Alligator” or second-tier silliness like “Grizzly,” “Anaconda” or “Lake Placid,” I went into “Primeval” assuming that it wouldn’t approach the former titles but that it might work on the same dumb, fundamental levels as the latter. Alas, “Primeval” comes off so badly that to compare it to the likes of “Jaws 3-D” or “Anacondas” would be doing those titles a grave disservice. For starters, the creature itself is so shoddy looking that you can’t believe that the producers, after glimpsing it for the first time, didn’t either fire the special-effects team or simply scrap the project entirely–the chicken-wire croc that appeared in your child’s elementary school presentation of “Peter Pan” is infinitely more convincing that the beast seen here. Perhaps realizing how shoddy his crocodile looks, Katleman tries to hide it as much as possible, either by keeping it off-screen altogether or by having it attack so quickly that we can’t get a decent look at it, but by the second half, he just gives up and lets us see it in all its poorly-rendered glory. There is one shot of the crocodile chasing Jones through a field–in slo-motion, no less–that is so hysterically awful that it is almost worth the price of admission, provided that you can somehow sneak into the theater without paying.

As for the attacks themselves, there is virtually no suspense because it becomes evident early on that Gustave has read the screenplay and knows which characters are the untouchable leads and which are the anonymous day players who can be pulverized without worry. In the most inadvertently amusing example of this, the perky reporter babe is being sexually assaulted by one of the evil soldiers–a moment that feels like nothing so much as a desperate effort to get Langton out of her shirt–when the rape is interrupted by the crocodile who chows down on the lowly bad guy while allowing the female lead to get away without a scratch. Then again, it could be that Gustave has developed a taste for dark meat–towards the end, he is presented with the choice of eating two white people (our heroes) or one black person (the major bad guy) and happily chooses the smaller of the two meals. (Yeah, the bad guy has been covered with croc bait but the others are themselves bleeding enough to make that a moot point.)

However, what makes “Primeval” especially odious is the way in which it drags in the real-life tragedies of war-torn Africa in an effort to lend weight to its stupid killer crocodile story. Yes, I am aware that films such as “Jaws,” “Piranha” and “Alligator” all contained a certain amount of social/political commentary amidst the thrills (in fact, the latter two titles were among the earliest screenwriting efforts of indie iconoclast John Sayles) but those filmmakers earned the right to utilize such real-life material because their films were made with a certain intelligence and skill. “Primeval,” on the other hand, was never going to be anything other that a stupid programmer that would only play in empty theaters during a quick January dump and to drag in such real atrocities is the film’s biggest crock by far.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15617&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/13/07 18:14:14
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User Comments

9/08/07 Rachel It was amzing, i love it! 5 stars
9/07/07 jyfujrxf it was awsome and if u think it was shit ur shit 5 stars
6/17/07 action movie fan a bit too hyper and overloaded but last half hour was exciting 3 stars
2/02/07 g-c-c Political statement disguised as horror movie..and bad CGI too. 1 stars
1/29/07 Roger Sheebi Probably the best movie ever... or at least since the Toxic Avenger 5 stars
1/16/07 steve owen to quote kool and the gang, "misled." this movie is a crock o' shit! 1 stars
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  12-Jan-2007 (R)
  DVD: 12-Jun-2007


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