Directed by Greg McLean
Starring Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan, Sam Worthington, Caroline Brazier, Stephen Curry, Celia Ireland, John Jarratt
Ever since Jaws, I’m not too fond of movies where there is some underwater beast making meals out of people. It is the one sub-genre that can still under my skin. I don’t completely avoid them, but I’m usually not in a hurry to run out and watch them. But I made an exception for Greg McLean’s Rogue when it first came out over here in the states. This film is about a very large crocodile that doesn’t like the fact that a boat tour has come into its territory and decides to make sure they don’t leave.
Radha Mitchell plays the tour guide of this little outback boat trip which shows the tourists the dangerous wild crocodiles. Michael Vartain is a writer of travel guides, and really seems to be out of his element. But when they follow what looks like a distress signal, and go off the normal tour course, they become hunted by a 20+ foot crocodile who’s not too happy about these visitors in his waters. And so the ride begins.
McLean surprised audiences with his first feature film Wolf Creek back in 2005. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, we really liked how different the story varied from the typical plot lines that we usually see. It was a nice change and is worth your time. Plus, we were really impressed with John Jarratt, as well as the rest of the small cast. McLean wrote and directed Wolf Creek. With Rogue, McLean once again wrote, directed and even produced this time out. This is a talented guy, folks.
Here, McLean gives us a great cast of characters during this wild tourist boat trip. Most of the characters seem a little shallow in the beginning, but as the story plays out, the depth of their characters start to come out making them a lot more real. Mitchell does a good job as the guide, in which she actually had to re-learn her native Australian accent. Vartain gives a strong performance as someone who really doesn’t want to be there, and even doesn’t seem to be the nicest person. But like the others, as the movie plays out, we get to see the real him. John Jarratt does a great job bringing his character to life, showing a little more than what is at face value.
But what about one of the most important parts…is it scary? Well, you have to understand that this review is slightly jaded. Not because I loved or hated Wolf Creek or admire the director himself, but it’s due to the simple fact that movies about creatures under the water eating people simply scares the hell out of me, as I mentioned in the first part of this review. So with these types of movies, it doesn’t take much to get me a little nervous or uneasy, which is why I give this film such high praise in the scare factor. It’s just I’m a real puss when it comes to such things. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Many times during my viewing that I felt uneasy, almost like I was having Jaws flashbacks. I felt that McLean does a great job building that tension with the viewer. You know something bad is going to happen, but you just don’t know when or to who.
Some viewers might be disappointed at the low body count here and even the small amount of gore. This is not a blood filled gorefest. Yes, there are some gooey bits, which are done quite well, but the real impact behind the movie is the tension and suspense. If these people are going to make it, and if not, who’s going to be the next meal.
Now even though a crocodile that big has been known to exist, which according to the behind-the-scenes footage, one that size was spotted or captured in the area they were filming at some point. No amount of money would get me into that water. But, since they didn’t have a stunt croc, the title creature is a combination of animatronic puppets and CGI that are fused together flawlessly. You never know the part you’re seeing is a real effect or CGI. Really beautiful work. There were a few parts when I thought they had used real footage of crocodiles and just modified it a bit, only to find out in the behind-the-scene footage it was all CGI. Nicely done. The visual effects guys not only do an incredible job with the crocodile, but also the surroundings. The part of the northern territory where this was filmed is simply beautiful. But they even modified it to fit what they needed.
Which brings us to the special features of the DVD that I had gotten a hold of. First off, the disc has audio commentary by McLean who goes through the basics of the making of the film. Some of the information is mentioned in the featurette as well, but it’s still interesting stuff. You also get a lot of information about the film as well. There is also a Making Of documentary, made by McLean. This also covers the making of the film from the start to finish. It covers a lot of info, with interviews with the cast and crew, working with the visual effects artists, and even the music composer. There’s also some mini featurettes on a few other subjects, where some info is repeated.
So the bottom line is that if you like movies about sharks, alligators, and any nature run amok type themes, then you will love this film. If you are a bit of a puss when it comes to these movies (like me) then tread those waters at your own risk. Shortly after watching this movie, I had some pretty nasty images going through my head while trying to go to sleep. Thank you, Mr. McLean.