Dimension Films // 2008 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 29th, 2008
How fast can you swim?
"Oh no," Judge David Johnson said to himself. "I'm not sure if I can take another mediocre creature feature." But then he watched the movie and his mood brightened significantly.
On his way out of Australia, travel writer Pete McKell (Michael Vartan) decides to take some time to check out the scenery. So he hops on a tour boat navigated by the lovely Kate Ryan (Radha Mitchell) and heads into the outback to leer at big-ass crocodiles.
Things are hunky-dory until the passengers catch sight of a distress flare and dutifully motor on over to investigate the situation. What they find is a sunken vessel and -- Hey look! It's a gigantic salt-water crocodile and he's ramming the @#$%&%$##$ boat!!!
So the survivors find themselves stranded on a tiny island, stalked by a "rogue" crocodile that death-rolls its prey silly, all while the tide comes in and threatens to drop them in the lap of their prehistoric adversary.
Mark this day down: I have watched a movie about a man-eating crocodile and enjoyed it. I would have thought I'd written the words "I'd like to drape myself in Michael Moore's undergarments" before I wrote those. But believe it folks, Rogue rocks. It's a tense, scary, thrilling, unpredictable horror film and just about the most entertaining killer beastie flick I've seen this side of Tremors.
Hyperbole? Maybe on the surface, but when you compare this outing to its brethren of crappy-to-mediocre creature bonanzas that have preceded it, Rogue looks like The Godfather. Director Greg McLean, known best for his work behind the lens of Wolf Creek, knows how to craft a thriller. His mastery of story beats, manipulation of tension, and doling out the right amount of scares and gore add up to an experience full of jagged-teeth wins.
McLean does a lot of things right, starting with creating characters that are actually more than just one-dimensional croc chow. Pete and Kate are obviously the protagonists, and you know they're going to go far into the narrative, but their comrades on the damned boat aren't just cannon fodder. Small interactions between the characters about their situation ("take this life preserver and swim or I'm dying with you" kind of stuff) flesh them out and actually made me care if one of them actually lost, you know, their flesh. Back to Pete and Kate, you might think you've got their fates figured out, but McLean plays with the formula enough to keep the home stretch tantalizing. Small hint: Radha Mitchell's in danger of getting type-cast.
Okay, I've wasted enough time talking about stuff hardly anybody cares about. What's the deal with the main draw -- The croc? As the playbook demands, the monster is hidden from the viewer for the majority of the runtime, with most attacks implied (a very effective kill is merely a shot of a guy, a cut away, and a shot back with the guy gone and a tail slithering into the water) or showed briefly. As restrained as the violence is, it's still terrifying. Gore freaks have nothing to fret about though. There are more than a few moments of in-your-face mayhem, including a jarring, graphic mauling and, the main attraction, an extended showdown with the croc in one of the most exciting finales I've seen in films of this ilk. Plus, the creature effects -- dominantly CGI -- are exceedingly well-done.
Dimension coughs up a fine DVD. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen is sharp, pushing the colors and beauty of the Outback and the 5.1 surround mix gets those raucous croc chomping sounds exactly right. Great score by Francois Tetaz, too. Extras: Commentary by McLean, a heft making-of featurette, a selection of mini documentaries looking at the music and effects and production and a short promo featurette about salt water crocodiles.
I'm as surprised as you. This killer crocodile movie kicks ass.
Not Guilty. Insert pun about sharp teeth.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Dimension Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Making-of Featurette
* "The Real Rogue"