Primeval (2007)

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Released 16-Jul-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Audio Commentary with director Michael Katleman and visual e
Featurette-Making Of-Crocumentary: Bringing Gustave to Life
Deleted Scenes-Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 90:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Katleman
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Dominic Purcell
Brooke Langton
Orlando Jones
Jürgen Prochnow
Gideon Emery
Gabriel Malema
Linda Mpondo
Lehlohonolo Makoko
Dumisani Mbebe
Eddy Bekombo
Chris April
Ernest Ndhlovu
Erika Wessels
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music John Frizzell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Ukranian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Polish
Czech
Hungarian
Russian
Ukranian
Latvian
Lithuanian
Estonian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   When a news team led by recently disgraced reporter Tim Manfrey (Prison Break's Dominic Purcell) is sent to Africa to bring home a legendary 25-foot crocodile, they find themselves fighting for their lives against an African warlord, his soldiers, and the gargantuan monster himself, a 2000 pound killing machine with a taste for human flesh.

   Primeval is pretty awful creature feature fare, directed with a Hollywood shine by Michael Katleman, and featuring a reasonably talented cast, including Dominic Purcell, Orlando Jones and Brooke Langton, none of whom get a chance to do anything with the abysmal script. The beastie, an oversized croc named Gustave, is obsessed with doing idiotic things while looking as unconvincing as possible. Across the running time the croc takes the time to get its head stuck between two trees instead of eating its prey, get its head stuck in a car instead of eating its prey, bash the side of a cage with the prey inside instead of just going inside and eating it, and later demolishing a house Jaws Unleashed style by throwing itself at the stilts holding it up. And yet, at other times, he seems to be super-intelligent, almost psychic, as he outwits and outguesses the main character's attempts to capture or destroy him in the most convoluted ways imaginable. Clearly he can't be that intelligent, since he still ended up in this stinker of a film.

   The only thing separating Primeval from truly B-grade excrement like Komodo vs. Cobra is that nice big Hollywood budget, and with that comes along many of the common issues with said fare: awful camera-in-a-blender editing, stereotypes standing in for characters, awful awful CGI, and an astonishing amount of racism. It's the sort of reprehensible garbage to stage dictatorship violence in an airport to rap music, then turn third world violence and suffering into action sequences (see: excruciating trash Blood Diamond). The formulaic plot is lacklustre and predictable while heaping on said racism: you can tell exactly which good-looking privileged white folk are going to be far far away from the disaster when all is said and done, and Primeval goes the extra step to let us know that Gustave is still gloriously maiming those hapless darkies long after our heroes escape his tennis-ball-on-string clutches. Better not to mention the particularly foul decree of being "inspired by a true story," nor the seedy feeling that the film wants us to have learnt a great big moral lesson from the entire mess.

   Most of this would be somewhat forgivable if the film was at least passably entertaining, but Primeval really has nothing at all to offer. Although giant "intelligent" shark monster flick Deep Blue Sea was monstrously stupid, it wasn't afraid to deliver some wonderful disgusting surprises; when it comes to the crunch, Primeval is not just formulaic and poorly made, but also offensive. Best just to forget it ever happened, and move on.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   As fate would have it, Primeval looks absolutely superb on DVD - the transfer is stunning. I spotted no artefacts or errors across the entire film, and the transfer is consistently bright and sharp.

   Dark scenes are appropriately detailed and never suffer from low level noise. Likewise, there are no problems with pixilation or interlacing or anything at all - it's pretty much flawless, making it one of the few DVDs I've come across that I can say that for.

   There are subtitles in English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian and English for the Hearing Impaired. The subtitles I sampled were readable and accurate.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 and Ukrainian Dolby Digital 5.1.

   Initially, watching this movie sounded to be another glorified Dolby Digital 2.0 track, as first 15 minutes of the film showed little interest in using the bass or rear speakers at all (and, with six different six channel audio tracks on the disc, I am to be forgiven for my lack of faith). But then the rear speakers kick in gloriously to deliver the best scare of the film, and I'm left impressed by the way this soundtrack uses the soundscape to create an exceptional atmosphere - much better than this film deserves, to say the least.

   Primeval sounds great, mostly restraining itself to the front speakers but using the rear speakers to create ambience, particularly effective during scenes in the water in which big splashes reverberate around the room, or quieter scenes that build up with the sounds of the night and then clash as the monster attacks. Some sequences are better than others, with the first and last parts of the film failing to utilize the entire range, but for the most, this is a very good example of a thorough and effective audio track.

   The dialogue and effects are all perfectly audible and well mixed, meanwhile the soundtrack by John Frizzell is pretty standard monster movie fare, with some occasional African-style chants and offensive gangsta rap to level out the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

   These underwater menus set the scene with a lovely sample of the soundtrack and ambient noise, and come to life with each option chosen as we're treated to one of the film's many flash cuts of the crocodile attacking. It's really professional and very nice.

Audio Commentary with director Michael Katleman and visual effects supervisor Paul Linden

   Against all odds, this is a pretty good commentary track, and is my preferred option for watching the film. The director has plenty to say, discussing the difficulties shooting in the African outback, and how everything worked and didn't work to shoot on location. Although completely clueless about how ghastly the film is, there's some good stuff here that fans will surely rejoice in.

Crocumentary: Bringing Gustave to Life (9:39)

   After some patting-on-the-back explaining the "character" of Gustave, we get a look behind the scenes at the special effects that went into making the creature. Everyone is extremely happy with how Gustave looks, meaning they're either insane or didn't see the same movie I did. Still, they did their research, using references and art to bring the creature together, and adding some of those environmental effects that many CG artists seem to forget (backlighting, moving ground, water interaction, etc) while unfortunately neglecting things like physics or realism. In flawless 2.35:1.

Deleted Scenes with director Michael Katleman and visual effects supervisor Paul Linden (5:40)

   Three deleted scenes (or "abbreviated" scenes, as the commentators appropriately decree) that were all removed for being completely absurd finish off the Extras, and they're all worth a watch. A surprise multiple-croc attack after the big firefight scene at the start makes no sense, but pales in comparison to the main female character taking a shower in the middle of a big crocodile attack scene. (No, there's no nudity). The final deleted scene is a completely over-the-top final death scene for the human antagonist that goes on and on with limb removal, bones breaking and the amazing miracle of a maimed man continually escaping a 25-foot crocodile, only to have him come back for more. Good fun to watch, and the commentary is interesting as well. Presented in clean but incomplete 2.35:1.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Aside from a bonus trailers, the R1 and R4 versions of the DVD are identical. Buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

   Primeval is a tacky, high-budget creature feature with offensive undertones that brings nothing new to the table. Basically, you've seen this film a dozen times before.

   The video and audio are excellent, both engaging and atmospheric.

   The extras are decent, though there are few of them - of particular note is the nifty commentary track, that is better than watching the film by itself.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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