A team of American journalists go in search of a giant man-eating crocodile in Burundi. However their search for the legendary beast is hampered when a local warlord makes them as his next target. What will get them first – the bloodthirsty warlord or the ravenous Primeval man-eater?!
Whilst not the strongest movie to be based on a real life crocodile, Primeval still delivers where it really counts.
Most films use political unrest as a backdrop to their main story but Primeval often places it front and centre. I have no idea of how accurate the depiction of the Burundi is but it’s very unflattering. I couldn’t help getting the impression that this was Africa seen through a very American lens as we are treated to various African stereotypes such as rampant corruption, voodoo witch doctors, blood-thirsty criminal war lords and the desperate dream of immigration to America.
The acting is pretty good across the board with the surprisingly international cast including Americans, Brits, Germans, Australians and genuine African actors. The only real standout is Orlando Jones as the cameraman Steve who is easily given the best jokes but also some of the more racist lines. The screenplay, from the writers of Catwoman and Terminator 4, is occasionally problematic with some oddly racist throwaway lines and one particularly strange joke about the advantages of the slave trade.
However, perhaps they are not 100% to blame, as according to the DVD commentary Jones actually ad-libbed a lot of his lines which makes the whole situation confusing and weird. Another revelation from the commentary is that the film-makers originally had a giant animatronic crocodile that unfortunately didn’t work when it arrived in Africa and forced them to go the CGI route.
There are countless tales of failed animatronics in creature features (Jaws and Grizzly II most notably) and it is always a terrible shame because giant robot animals are awesome. This also brings us nicely to the real star of the show.
Gustave is a really cool creature. Design wise, he looks just like any giant crocodile but behaviour-wise, he is fascinating. Rather than being slow and lumbering, Gustave is astonishingly quick and agile, becoming far more dinosaur-like when he is on land. The high quality VFX really emphasise the fluidity of his movement and Primeval Kill really takes advantage by creating moments that I’ve never seen before such as having a giant crocodile roll a cage into the water, getting stuck in a tree and trying to death roll whilst inside a car.
It’s a shame that there’s so little crocodile action but at least the original ways they do use, mean that every time Gustave is on screen becomes an instant highlight.
With solid direction and some beautiful and atmospheric cinematography, Primeval is unfocussed but is saved by some fantastic creature action. Whilst the characters and the storyline may be rather forgettable, Gustave definitely isn’t and this film is a great testament to his legacy.
|Writers||John D Brancato & Michael Ferris|
|Cast||Dominic Purcell, Brooke Langton, Orlando Jones, Jürgen Prochnow, Gideon Emery, Gabriel Malema & Dumisani Mbebe|
|Creature||Gustave the Nile Crocodile|