A cursory glance at Hollywood megastar Hugh Jackman's filmography on IMDb and you won't see the title The Rat Tamer anywhere — leading you to think, perhaps, that despite Jackman's significant presence on the DVD cover, this must be one craptacular film, an early appearance for Jackman that, until now, has remained thankfully under wraps, only to be unearthed by a DVD company eager to cash in on Jackman's slightly higher visibility.
Dig a little deeper and you'll see that "The Rat Tamer" is indeed on the list of Jackman's films — it's an episode of Australian TV drama "Correlli," the very series where Jackman met his now-wife Deborra Lee-Furness. "Correlli," which debuted in July 1995, ran for only one season, lasting a mere 10 episodes. Furness stars as prison psychologist Louisa Correlli and in this first, 90-minute episode, Jackman stars as prisoner Kevin Jones, an inmate who arrives at Blackstream Prison beaten and suffering from brain damage. It's clear that Kevin was somehow assaulted during his transfer from one prison to another, but thanks to his injuries, it's not exactly clear who or why that happened. I could keep providing a summary but the amusing copy on the back of the DVD case does a far better job: "Someone at the prison knows Kevin's secrets; and when they meet, a deadly war will be ignited, thrusting the entire prison into a battle of hate and revenge ..." (Insert dramatic music here!)
Created by Denise Roberts and Carol Long, "Correlli" is a lot of overheated night-time soap opera nonsense, complete with leaden dialogue, awkwardly staged action scenes and wildly inappropriate score that sends the drama spiraling to absurd heights. The Rat Tamer is directed by Kate Woods, who doesn't have the sharpest grasp on filmmaking, preferring to rely on two-shots and jarring close-ups. Furness makes for an awfully bland heroine, while Jackman's trademark charisma and intensity are somewhat hamstrung by the thoroughly crummy script and uncomfortable verbal tics assigned to his brain-damaged character.
Grim setting and marginally intriguing premise notwithstanding, The Rat Tamer doesn't really function on its own, given the fact that in episode two of "Correlli," the story begun here continues on, not really providing this first episode with any kind of closure. Die-hard Jackman fans might want to seek this out, merely out of curiosity ("Correlli" is Jackman's first, consistent major acting role, coming after 1994's appearance on Aussie TV show "Law of the Land") but everyone else in the world would do well to give this disc a wide berth. The DVD
The Rat Tamer is, I imagine, presented as it was originally broadcast on Australian TV in the mid-Nineties in 1.33:1 fullscreen and unfortunately, the program doesn't look the greatest: slightly noisy, very soft and grainy, often appearing like a PAL port. Definitely not the sharpest film I've seen lately. The Audio:
Much like the visuals, the audio is fairly unremarkable — a perfunctory Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack rendering the Aussie-accented dialogue and ludicrously overheated score with clarity and no noticeable defects. I'd hoped for subtitles to help with the occasionally thick accents, but unfortunately, none are provided. The Extras:
No bonus material is included. Final Thoughts:
Die-hard Jackman fans might want to seek this out, merely out of curiosity ("Correlli" is Jackman's first, consistent major acting role, coming after 1994's appearance on Aussie TV show "Law of the Land") but everyone else in the world would do well to give this disc a wide berth. Skip it.