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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course
The Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course
MGM // PG // December 17, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 5, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

(Review written early in 2002)
Watching Steve Irwin is an odd, fascinating and often funny experience. The Australian often does not seem to think twice about jumping into a river to grab an angry croc - not for sport, mind you, but to relocate it in an area where humans aren't. "Collision Course" is Irwin's first movie, co-starring his wife, Terri. Essentially, the filmmakers have attempted to extend one of Irwin's Discovery channel episodes with a plot that the film obviously doesn't care about (and, quite honestly, neither did I).

The film does have some positive aspects. Irwin discusses the need to provide wildlife convervation areas and the fact that we must realize that the animals are not invading on our land, but that we are increasingly building further into theirs. The film's first hour zips back and forth between scenes in offices, where Government agents decide what to do about a lost satellite, and Irwin and wife Terri trying to help out animals who have gotten themselves into a spot of trouble.

The scenes with Irwin and the various creatures were highly entertaining and occasionally, genuinely terrifying. Irwin spots a "bird eating" spider on a nearby log and excitedly runs over to it, picking up the log and showing it to the camera. He explains that the spider can jump a great distance (well, for a spider) and that it has an enormous amount of highly toxic venom. I sat, waiting for the spider to jump on Irwin's face. It doesn't. He wants to take the creature along with him to study the venom at the Australian Zoo, which I believe he is part (or complete, I'm not sure) owner of. While wife Terri gets a box, Steve starts poking the extremely dangerous (and, at this point, obviously a little angered) spider with a twig. He keeps saying that he wants the spider to show its fangs. Although the audience likely believes him that the spider has fangs, he nearly gets his hand bit in the process. 2 other sequences - one at night, one in the day - show Irwin jumping into the water to wrestle a crocodile (who doesn't seem pleased) into a boat.

Again, the scenes where Irwin is trying to catch various animals are very entertaining (and I'm guessing that, when you're wrestling a croc, most of your dialogue is probably improv). However, it was a terrible mistake to actually try and attach some sort of additional plot to this movie. The three agents who visit Australia to try and get the satellite back don't actually get there until a little over an hour into the 60 minute movie and, when they finally run into Steve, he mistakes them for poachers. The three unknowns who play the agents act indifferently, as if they're aware they clearly aren't the focus. In my opinion, they only proved to be an annoyance, as I'd much rather the film go back to watching Irwin picking up random deadly creatures. Honestly, I would have rather seen the film's budget to go to providing what would essentially be a bigger episode where Steve goes to various countries and educate about the local wildlife.

Overall, I liked the film's message and Irwin is entertaining and obviously has respect for the creatures (even though the way he pokes at them sometimes seems to border on insane). If you've never seen Irwin on cable, you may want to check out this film, either at a bargain matinee or when it comes to video. Irwin fans can probably wait for a rental or continue to watch the episodes on Discovery channel.


The DVD

VIDEO: MGM presents "Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Strangely, the film was shot in both 2.35:1 and, apparently, 1.85:1 (the main story scenes were in 2.35:1, while the Irwin scenes were in 1.85:1). The 1.85:1 scenes have been windowboxed, so the film's viewing experience is more consistent and enjoyable than when I saw the film theatrically. As for the DVD quality, MGM has done a surprisingly good job with this title, offering image quality that, unexpectedly, looked better than how I remember the film appearing theatrically. Sharpness and detail are impressive throughout the film, as the image offered a consistently crisp and well-defined look, not to mention nice depth.

Only a few little flaws were scattered throughout the presentation. A couple of minor specks were seen on the print used, as were a few minimal instances of grain. Very slight edge enhancement was present on a couple of occasions, but these instances were certainly not very bothersome.

Colors looked terrific during the entire show, and were another aspect where I felt the DVD improved over the theatrical viewing experience I had. While the film's color palette appeared a little washed-out theatrically, colors looked brighter and more vivid here. Black level remained solid, while flesh tones looked accurate.

SOUND: "Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1. While the comedy doesn't lend itself to aggressive audio use, this soundtrack actually did present a little more active use than I'd expected. Surrounds kick in occasionally throughout the movie, providing a bit of ambience here and there, as well as a few more noticable effects during some of the bigger scenes. Otherwise, this is a front-focused mix, with other effects, the score and dialogue sharing the front speakers pleasantly. Dialogue remained crisp and clear, as did the other elements.

MENUS: Nicely animated main & sub-menus, complete with occasional dialogue from Irwin and clips from the movie.

EXTRAS: While a commentary track from Irwin would probably have been entertaining, MGM has still provided a surprising amount of supplements for this release.

A Croc in Shot: This is a 23-minute "making of" presentation, hosted by Irwin. While Irwin's attitude during this documentary as if he's made the next "Lawrence of Arabia" is a little annoying, there's still enough behind-the-scenes clips and entertaining moments to make for a solid piece. Thankfully, this documentary also rarely goes for the "promotional" - simply talking about what happens in the film.

Behind-the-Scenes: This section breaks things up into a few smaller pieces: "Croc Swallowing Beacon", "Night Croc Capture", "Barn Explosion", "Microlite Crashing into River" and "Steve as Brozzie Stunt Double". Each of these smaller featurettes last a few minutes.

Lights! Camera! Animals!: This 36-minute set of featurettes (you can select "play all" for a total of 36 minutes) offers the best material of the supplemental section. This material details the lengthy preparation period for both Irwin and the film crew, who had to go through test runs with the film's various creatures again and again to ensure safety and skill when final filming began. Some of the behind-the-scenes clips also offer another perspective on filming of final scenes. Some pretty scary/close moments are scattered throughout. Irwin narrates.

Deleted Scenes: 5 deleted scenes are offered, with intros from director John Stainton.

Also: "Crocodile Rock" music video by the Baha Men; theatrical and teaser trailers; photo gallery; interactive DVD-Video games; "Croc Track" subtitle track facts; animal text info; Steve & Terri Irwin bios and trivia.

Final Thoughts: This is not great filmmaking, but "Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" still manages to be fun and enjoyable, while also offering some good messages about nature. While Irwin may not be for everyone, I think this is a film that will likely entertain both kids and adults equally. MGM's DVD edition provides very good audio/video quality, not to mention a nice set of supplements. A recommendation for fans of Irwin, while families who haven't seen it should consider checking it out as a rental.

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