If there was ever a film that was so awful it practically begged for the resurrection of the cult TV show Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (or MST3K), where geeks made fun of films while watching them, it's Primeval. Not only is this killer croc flop not frightening, it's insultingly stupid. The plot is a flimsy mishmash of every nature-run-amok and adventure-in-Africa film of the past 50 years, and there are sequences that feel so old -- so moth-eaten -- that I expected a man in a gorilla suit to appear and carry off the leading (white) lady.
So, this killer crocodile, with the absurd handle of Gustave, is munching on Africans in war-torn Burundi. And he's like super hungry. Given that he can live to 100 years and eats hundreds of people a year, the croc's a one-lizard population safeguard. Unfortunately for the villagers who live in fear of this monster, there's another Gustave in the bush: Little Gustave, a nasty decapitating warlord. (His name is a great example of Hollywood slap-your-forehead allegory.) When an American news network sends in a television crew to film the capture of the croc, they run afoul of both the cold-blooded river beast and the hot-tempered warlord. Hysterics ensue.
Sounds ridiculous. Sure is. Here's how I imagine the first production meeting for Primeval must have gone:
Writers: So, I've got a great idea for an Anaconda rip-off but instead of a giant badly computer generated snake we've got a cheap looking computer generated crocodile. Problem is we only have about 30 minutes of actual croc plot.
Producer: Hmmmm. What do you propose?
Writers: That Blood Diamond flick seems like it'll make some good money, why don't we just throw in an hour of subplot about civil war in Burundi?
Producer: Why not?
And that's exactly what Primeval feels like -- a schizoid combo of two completely unrelated films, neither of which are done well. The cast is uniformly wretched -- Dominic Purcell is the grizzled stud, Brooke Langton the journalist with a heart of gold, Orlando Jones the wise-cracking black guy, Jürgen Prochnow the... well, it's Jürgen Prochnow, and Gideon Emry as a Crocodile Hunter spoof (bad timing!) -- and they seem to have no idea exactly what movie they are in. If they're not running from the big Gustave across a savannah (yeah, a savannah) then they're debating the role of journalism in covering African strife. You'd think it would be easy to generate some excitement from scenes of a giant croc tearing someone in half but this film doesn't even get that right.
Primeval is being advertised as the true story of the most terrifying serial killer in history. And while the real Gustave may have racked up 300 odd kills, this film is surely an even bigger, badder killer -- of brain cells.
Faster than a speeding crocodile.