First off, do you know what is really scary, unlike Primeval? Crocumentary: Bringing Gustave to Life shows Michael Katleman and the digital effects guy exuding excitedly over Primeval. Now, that’s really scary. What these guys are saying is so delusional, you cannot just say, oh, Katleman doesn’t know any better because he is just a TV director and producer. It is so horrifically delusional, I do not recommend this documentary to anyone under the age of dead and buried.
Before I get started, let's go over some facts. The character Tim, played by Dominic Purcell, says in the movie that Burundi is the poorest country in the world. Well, some people would argue that Congo or Zimbabwe are poorer, but other than that, he's right, Burundi is truly poor, way poorer than even the abject poverty and corruption of Bangladesh. Now, Gustave is a famous killer crocodile, about 20 feet long, who lives in the Ruzizi river in Burundi. By reputation he's killed 300 people. http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/2005/03/gustave-crocodile/michael-mcrae-text -
Now, let's get into what is good about this movie.
And I have no problem with spoiling the spoiled.
The first good thing is the choice of subject. You have a real life crocodile who apparently has become large eating the corpses of Burundi's civil war, so much so that it can only hunt large prey now, like hippopotami, water buffalo or humans, and does so at an alarming rate. A croc like that in a situation like that dealing with themes like humanity creating its own problems, not to mention contrasts like animal violence vs. human violence and affluence vs. poverty - this deserved a movie. Let me be clear, though - I commend the choice of subject, not the movie.
There was one scene where JoJo, played by Gabriel Malema, unknown to the others places himself in the croc cage to lure in Gustave. That scene is probably the best scene in the movie. I can't help but imagine that only a few tweaks could turn that scene into a really tense nailbiter. Good job on that scene.
I also commend the acting of Dominic Purcell and Dumisani Mbebe. Based on the acting they exhibited despite being in this dull if not comically bad dozer, I wish them luck in their careers. May they find roles in movies worthy of their talents.
As for Jürgen Prochnow, what have you been doing with your career lately? Well, he’s not vacillating over having an umlaut over the "u" in his first name, he's either been wowing us with his performances and appearances in great movies like Das Boot, Dune, Air Force One and The English Patient, as well as the TV series 24, or he's been bating Razzie members with The Keep, The Seventh Sign, Body of Evidence, Judge Dredd, Uwe Boll's Heart of America, Uwe Boll's House of the Dead, The Da Vinci Code, Beerfest and Primeval. Somehow he managed to do all that and remain unscathed. In Primeval, his jaded longtime Burundi transplant is so clichéd, not to mention given such bad dialog and bad scenes, you hope he will be shot or eaten soon.
Which brings me to another problem. After the first 20 minutes of the movie, you pretty much can anticipate who is going to die and who is going to make it to the end. Anyone who is clichéd, duplicitous, calloused or irritating has committed a deadly sin and will be shot or eaten. For example, Orlando Jones plays cameraman Steven, who criticizes disgraced reporter Tim for being an ae, and then Steven becomes incredibly irritating for the rest of the time he's in the movie. You can't wait for him to be shot or eaten, and you do get to see him get shot, but you'll be disappointed to know he gets eaten off screen. More on that later. . . .
There are no flashbacks, only a few cases of exposition (where a character goes off explaining things rather than the director showing them to us), and quite a few cases of blurred, choppy or too dark action scenes. On the other hand, it is surprising there are not as many of these scenes as one would expect. For those who don’t know why I’m bringing this up, if an action scene is too blurred, choppy or dark, it means either there was a problem with the special effects, or the director didn't plan out the action well enough ahead of time.
The movie starts with one of these scenes when South African actress Erica Wessels portrays an U.N. inspector of mass graves who makes an unplanned inspection of Gustave's digestive tract. Katleman either was intent on hiding the fact that Gustave was a crocodile, or that he screwed up the death scene, or that the special effects in this scene sucked. But what ensues is a bunch of chopped clips until the U.N. commander walks up, gives an order and then all of a sudden all these U.N. troops appear out of nowhere and start shooting. Didn't do the eaten inspector one bit of good, but it's nice to know that U.N. troops can spontaneously appear on command. . . .
And the special effects do suck. They're a little better than, say, what you would see on a SyFy movie, but they're on par for network television, not for a motion picture shown on a theater screen. And nowhere is this more apparent than in Gustave himself. Jurassic Park set the bar way back when, and Primeval didn't get the memo.
For example, we see this scene from an impoverished Burundi village, going about their lives at the banks of the Ruzizi river, when suddenly we see a child swimming to the middle of the river fetching a plastic doll. There is no real set up for this scene, so instead of being concerned for the girl, we instead laugh at how badly the croc is superimposed onto this scene, obviously fake right down to the water splashes.
And then there's Steven's death scene. He is wounded, dripping blood, wading in the water near the grass where he was just told that Gustave was hiding, and what happens? Gustave starts chasing him at breakneck speed in the water (realistic enough). Then, when Steven gets on dry land and that adrenaline sets in, with him running like his life depended on it, Gustave continues to run at breakneck speed on dry grassland, and gains on Steven. This goes on for awhile, until we cut away to something that isn’t so side-splittingly unrealistic.
And then there's the final confrontation. By this time, all the characters we knew that were going to be killed - the psychotic Steve Irwin wannabe, the guards, cameraman Steven, Prochnow's character, the laughably horrible shaman, the massacring rebels - they're all thankfully dead. So, Tim, Jojo and Aviva (played very badly by Brooke Langton), are in this Rover about ready to take off, when Gustave breaks through the back window. Gustave does this because he's pissed at Tim, who earlier rammed Gustave with the Rover and knocked him clear into the Ruzizi. Gustave then wiggles his head back and forth until he pushes up through the roof of the rover without busting out the supports on either side. My guess is Gustave mistook the Rover for coveralls and decided to try it on. In any case, Tim tickles Gustave's gullet with a machete, which prompts him to pull out of the hole in the roof without any ragged metal edges digging into his scales. Tim then drives the Rover, relatively unscathed save for the back window missing and a hole in the roof, off to safety, Gustave trailing far behind, wondering what other ridiculous feats Katleman has planned.
Other problems are unexplained things like why is Aviva still at the camp instead of with the others trying to save JoJo from his foolhardy attempt to capture Gustave. And, no, the deleted scene does not give an exceptable explanation (she’s taking a shower!). Or, where does this covered platform at the end of a dock suddenly come from or why they would go out on it at night in the rain to tend to Prochnow's wounds with Gustave active and about. While Gustave is approaching, suddenly, Prochnow has a hand grenade, and he is going to let Gustave eat him while he blows himself up. Yeah, right. . . .
Other laughable moments are contrasting Aviva harping on Steven for not preventing a massacre when, later on, she just hides in the grass and watches the Steve Irwin wannabe get shot up. Way to go, Aviva, you really took a stand and stopped those brutes! Or, when the helicopter lift they're unsure about finally appears, they all get into the water even though they know Gustave is nearby. Disappointingly, Gustave doesn't wake up at that moment, or we could have been spared several minutes.
Speaking of minutes, it is never a good sign when, 18 minutes into a movie, I'm sitting there hoping the movie would be over soon. So, when we see Tim, Aviva, JoJo and that damned dirty dog flying in a jet plane home to America, we can only hope that Megashark would leap out of the ocean, eat the airplane and finish the job Gustave started. Unlike what director Katleman deluded himself over in that documentary, his movie took a great subject and fell apart badly.
I give this movie a generous 3 stars out of 10.
Recommend Razzie noms for:
Worst Actress: Brooke Langton
Worst Supporting Actor: Jürgen Prochnow, Orlando Jones
Worst Couple: Gustave and anybody he may be eating