Dir: Greg McLean
Star: Michael Vartan, Radha Mitchell, Sam Worthington, John Jarratt

Between this and his previous "It's in the outback, and it can kill you" film, Wolf Creek, I think it's safe to say McLean will not be working for the Australian Tourist Board any time soon. He's moved on, threat-wise, from a psychotic local to an oversized crocodile, which tips a tour boat containing a guide (Mitchell), a travel writer (Vartan) and a buffet of other characters. They find themselves on a small island in a tidal waterway - with darkness falling and the tide now coming in, they have to work out how to get off the shrinking sanctuary, before becoming lunch for the gargantuan reptile. Much like Creek, this is loosely based on actual events: here, a croc called Sweetheart that attacked boats during the 1970's, though for cinematic purposes, the beast here is enlarged by about 40% and given a taste for human flesh.

Despite costing almost twenty times as much as McLean's previous film, this got dumped, playing in just ten theatres Stateside, then heading to DVD. I can see why, since it's the kind of thing on which the SciFi channel lives, though I have to say, the crocodile effects are very, very good; they mix mechanical, CGI and live footage, and you basically can't see the join. However, there just isn't enough going on in the film, containing long periods where you keep expecting something to happen, only to be disappointed, and there's also none of the sarcastic wit that was so prevalent in the far-superior Lake Placid. This plays it dead straight, but is curiously lacking in tension, up until a final, contrived sequence where the hero ends up facing the monster in its lair. While it's workmanlike enough, and the scenery is stunning, that's not enough to make it more than an acceptable way to pass 95 minutes.

March 2009

Crocodile, Hunter
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