Primeval – DVD Review

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Directed by
Michael Katleman

Dominic Purcell … Tim Manfrey
Brooke Langton … Aviva Masters
Orlando Jones … Steven Johnson
Jürgen Prochnow … Jacob Krieg
Gideon Emery … Mathew Collins
Gabriel Malema … Jojo

The Movie:

Without a doubt, the ad campaign for Primeval was one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen. Comparing statistics between some of history’s most notorious murders, such as Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer, we were then hit with the death count for what the trailers called “The most notorious serial killer in history”, saying that a being named Gustave had taken the lives of over 300 people. Researching this apparent madman, it was appalling to realize that this supposedly legendary killer was actually in fact a crocodile that had been killing villagers and bathers in the African country of Burundi for years. Imagine the further disappointment in finding out that even with this premise, the minds behind Primeval decided to make a film that hardly featured this crocodile, even in its own movie.

The main plot of the film has to deal with disgraced TV news producer Tim Manfrey (Prison Break‘s Dominic Purcell), who takes part in a network special in which he and his crew will capture Gustave as a promotional piece. Taking along a ragtag group of reporters and big game specialists, the plan is to lure Gustave into a rather unimpressive steel cage and capture it on camera for all to see. Unfortunately for the news team, Civil war and militants in Burundi keep them in mortal danger far more than the notorious croc.

Perhaps more than anything else, this is Primeval’s fatal flaw. For a movie that was wrongfully advertised as a serial killer film, only to turn out to actually be about a killer crocodile, there’s surprisingly little footage of the creature. This isn’t the same as Spielberg’s attempts to hide the shark in Jaws early on in that flick either, this is more like almost completely ignoring the crocodile at all, with it feeling like the monster is on screen for about ten minutes within this 95 minutes movie.

It’s possible the reason for this is the fact that the all-CGI version of Gustave used in this film is pretty ridiculous looking. Way more cartoonish than frightening, Gustave’s brief appearances could probably inspire a type of awe at just how fake it looks, as when the monster is finally revealed to the audience, an extreme feeling of being under-whelmed is pretty inevitable. For this reason, it’s possible that director just wanted to use his monster sparingly, but apparently didn’t have any other facets of this picture to fall back on.

Instead we’re fed a ham-fisted tale of genocide, complete with stereotypical villains and plastic acting from the principle cast. The only actor that seems to have any life in his performance is Jürgen Prochnow as Jacob Krieg, a lifelong poacher trying to complete a personal vendetta against the giant croc. Then again, his character is really just cut from the same mold as Robert Shaw’s Quint from Jaws, though he is given some of the best scenes in the picture.

Primeval is a misguided venture in every facet. With a little seen and terrible looking monster, few likable characters, and scatter shot direction; the movie is just a lifeless exercise. The movie isn’t pain inducing or offensive, but that’s really not saying much at all, even paling in comparison to other tepid “Killer Animal” movies and Jaws rip-offs, such as Grizzly and Orca. What could have been a fun hour and a half with a giant creature and a bunch of victims ends up a joyless waste of a semi-true story.

The DVD:

The Video
Say what you want about how horrid the movie is, but it’s hard to argue with the print on this DVD. Disney has done a nice job bringing this to disc with a good looking print that allows you to see everything, including how bad Gustave looks. The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

The Audio
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and also sounds quite good. We’re given a couple of good “boo” scares because of the good sound dynamic on the disc, and the action never drowns out dialogue.


Commentary by Director Michael Katleman and Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Linden – Katleman refers to Linden as Special Effects “guru” in this track, which I think is praise that isn’t quite deserved when you see the final results on screen. We get some interesting tidbits here and there and the track is never really silent, but really there’s nothing that would possibly change your mind about the quality of this film on this track.

Croc-umentary: Bringing Gustave To Life – Pretty standard featurette goes about 16 minutes, but covers a lot of the film’s production, especially the movie’s digital effects. They spend a lot of time on a scene which Gustave takes out a bunch of victims on the end of a dock, but the final scene isn’t quite as impressive as the struggle it took to make it happen.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Michael Katleman – You get three scenes here, but nothing very interesting. There is an alternate death scene for one villain in the movie that makes his death a little more elaborate, but at the same time it’s also filled with a lot of unfinished effects.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Primeval
(OUT OF 10)