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Who would have thought that Primeval, a movie about a giant man-eating crocodile, would turn out to be closer in spirit to Hotel Rwanda and Blood Diamond than to the average slasher-movie horror flick? Perhaps it doesn't aim at the social-issue heights of those more prestigious films, and the acting is uneven to say the least, but give this monster movie credit for trying to get in the smart, edgy vein of some of John Sayles's early scripts for Roger Corman. A cable-TV news crew travels to Burundi to capture footage of (and, if possible, just plain capture) the enormous crocodile that's been terrorizing the local landscape. Making things more complicated: the local landscape is also being terrorized by a civil war. The film does a clever job of weaving the two scourges together, and the script by John Brancato and Michael Ferris pays surprisingly explicit attention to the way the West has been slow to acknowledge human-rights disasters in Africa, calling out Rwanda and Darfur by name. Now if only the characters were more than cardboard-thin; only Orlando Jones, doing the standard-issue wisecracking black sidekick, makes any particular impression. (Poor Jurgen Prochnow, glowering about in the Great White Hunter role--you'd think the guy who commanded Das Boot could knock off a giant reptile, no problem.) Pedestrian direction doesn't bring the human element to life, but give it up for a fine crocodile--his name is Gustave--who exists in a nifty, hungry computer-generated frenzy for most of his performance. And the script even provides Gustave some behavioral motivation that recalls the it's-not-their-fault-it's-man's-fault spirit of 1950s monster movies. Not a bad effort at all. --Robert Horton
List Price: $14.99
Rating: R (Restricted)
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Actors: Dominic Purcell Orlando Jones Brooke Langton J-rgen Prochnow Gideon Emery
Size: 7.1000" x 5.4200"
Weight: 0.1800 lbs.
Language: English, Spanish, French, Spanish, English, French, Kirundi, Swahili, English