Upon release of Primeval, audiences were lost. Claiming to be the story of the worst serial killer in the history of the world, people were confused when they learned they walked into a creature feature. This led to terrible first impressions, awful world of mouth, and the wrong expectations. On a second viewing knowing what to expect, it’s a far better movie.
This is still a wildly inconsistent film, mixing African rebel attacks, journalistic ethics, and a massive crocodile. There’s far too much material here for one movie, especially one running only 90 minutes. The crowded script leads to an overly long opening, denying audiences a chance to see the giant croc in full form for an extended period.
Based loosely on a true story, the plot follows a news team determined to capture the massive 25-foot croc known as Gustave. The creature is almost entirely CG, and the effects are passable given the budget. The obviously lacking animation destroys an otherwise classic shot of the beast chasing down one of the leads through tall grass. Discussion on how to handle Gustave fall into a pit of creature feature clichés, with the scientist determined to keep it alive, and on the opposing side, the hunter wanting to kill it.
When the cast isn’t running from the monster, they’re being chased by rebels. The action is well staged for all of its Hollywood contrivances. Attempts at serious discussion about the situation in the country are diluted by out of place humor from Orlando Jones. In any other movie, the writing would be hilarious. Here, it rarely fits in.
With its solid, exciting action, Primeval is worth (at the least) a rental. Its slow start and sloppy storytelling dilute both the message and the actual story. However, there’s still excitement to go around, making this solid, enjoyable entertainment when you head in with the proper mindset.
To fully appreciate the South African photography, you need to see this one in HD. Long shots are stunning, on par with anything delivered by the Blu-ray/HD DVD favorite documentary Planet Earth. The striking color delivers some truly demo-worthy images, if a bit overblown in terms of style. Primeval also carries some of the best contrast you’ll ever see. Grain is non-existent, leading to a clean, sharp image boasting loads of small details.
PCM uncompressed and standard fare Dolby Digital are your audio options. The PCM track is the obvious winner here, delivering superb, room-destroying bass with the croc’s footsteps or his roar. Subtle surround usage delivers an extra layer of tension to the action. Notable moments include when things go quiet and the only sound is the croc moving around grass through all five speakers. Gunfire is likewise constantly surrounding the viewer.
Extras are sparse for this release and unsurprisingly carry over from the DVD. A “Crocumentary” is a decent behind the scenes look at the film. It covers all aspects, from audio, shooting, and special effects. It runs a little over nine minutes. Three deleted scenes are available with commentary only. They run around five minutes, and one is an extended ending sequence.
The final extra is a worthwhile commentary from director Michael Katleman and the special effects supervisor Paul Linden. Linden is the heavy talker of the group. Also, as is the standard for Disney Blu-ray, the Movie Showcase option takes the viewer directly to the most demo worthy sequences of the movie.