Primeval
Disney // R // January 12, 2007
Review by Brian Orndorf | posted January 14, 2007
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Hey, I'm all for a giant killer crocodile movie, but "Primeval" doesn't know what it really wants. As strange as this might be to read, the last thing on this film's "to do" list is to whip up some monster croc mayhem.

Sent to Africa to investigate reports that a massive crocodile is gobbling up the locals, reporters Tim (Dominic Purcell, "Prison Break"), Aviva (Brooke Langton, "The Replacements"), and cameraman Steve (Orlando Jones, "Evolution") meet up with a croc expert (Gideon Emery) to figure out a way to cage the beast and bring it back home. Hunting through the wild, the team finds themselves in the middle of an African warlord's rampage, witnessing firsthand the horror of murder and oppression. But that's nothing compared to the body count the croc leaves behind when the reporters finally catch up with the ferocious beast.

The possibilities of a killer croc film are endless, and "Primeval" disregards every last opportunity to have some serious fun with itself. Not in a winky fashion like "Lake Placid," but in a more lawless style like 1980's "Alligator." It seems impossible to even consider this, but "Primeval" bores relentlessly. Either you're faced with the muddled direction of television vet Michael Katleman (a 50-something filmmaker who wants desperately to fit in with today's hip, glossy helmers), or the cast, made up of humdrum talent who are urged to look confused, which doesn't seem like such a stretch for the expressionless Purcell.

Factor in the Orlando Jones sidekick factor, and "Primeval" is one harsh sit. An exceptionally unfunny comedian, Jones turns on the obnoxious afterburners early in this film. He's the comic relief and the urban character in the script. How do we know? Because he wears shirts with "FUBU" or "Harlem" logos, and has comedic opinions on slavery.

Where's that damn croc when you need him.

Somewhere in the middle of this turkey, between the lengthy moments waiting for the next croc attack, the script longs for meaning well beyond its range of competence. You see, "Primeval" uses the killer croc angle to suck audiences in, but actually lectures on the nightmares of African genocide and how we, as pig-like outsiders, are pathetic for not showing interest in the plight of these people. It's one thing if the film was "Blood Diamond" or "The Constant Gardener," but "Primeval" has a ginormous mutant crocodile swallowing helpless people whole in it. A lecture on the ineffectiveness of the U.N. seems a might bit out of place when dropped into the same movie. If Angelina Jolie ever desired to direct a rampaging killer crocodile film, I'm positive it would look a lot like this.



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