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Primeval

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 94 Minutes

MPAA Rating: R (For Strong Graphic Violence, Brutality, Terror and Language)

Starring: Dominic Purcell, Orlando Jones, Brooke Langton, Jurgen Prochnow

Written by: John Brancato & Michael Ferris

Directed by: Michael Katleman

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Michael Katleman and Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Linden, Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary, Crocumentary: Bringing Gustave To Life

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (16 Scenes)

Released: June 12th, 2007

 

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Primeval" looks quite sharp and lush - pretty impressive for what was probably a cheap B-movie marketed toward mass audiences. The film's specific filtered style - with lots of muddy greens and yellows - come across as outstanding on the transfer due to really vibrant color saturation. Fleshtones are spot-on, shadow and black levels looks great and overall detail is strong and crisp. The only nitpicks I have are edge enhancement, noise and some edge halos. Very nice stuff, and pretty atmospheric.

 

A DTS track could have easily been included, but we'll have to make due with a strong 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. Given how much violence is in this movie, the surrounds are discrete and packed. It's a smorgasboard of the expected, and your speakers will love it: machine guns firing, rain, water splashing, people running and of course, one killer crocodile chomping so much that you almost feel the flesh being teared off and the blood being smeared. Even the subwoofer gets some good use, with some pounding moments (it's nice that Gustave the croc sometimes rumbles like an earthquake).

Other than that though, the track still impresses: John Frizzell's kinetic score is mixed well and leads into the intensity, the dialogue is very clear and easy to hear and even smaller surrounds to create atmosphere - like the opening scene in the newsroom - go a long way. The movie may not be a masterpiece, but given the verocity of the mix, it helps pull you in and definitely sucks your ears in.

Also included on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in Spanish, English closed captions, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

 

The main supplement here is the Audio Commentary with Director Michael Katleman and Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Linden. The two have a really friendly and jokey rapport, and they were definitely strong collaborators on the movie who really respect one another. As far as the movie, they each have a clear vision of it, and seemed to really work hard as far as planning their shots and creating tension. The two offer a lot of details about the special effects, locations, stories from the set and the actors. There aren't many dead spots here either, and I was really impressed how much ground the two cover - they are not just limited to the technical side of things. This commentary is a must listen if you have even the slightest interest in the movie.

There are also three Deleted Scenes with Commentary from Katleman and Linden. The scenes are "Pigman," "Shower" and... I won't give away the final scene, since it's a spoiler - but I will see it's an alternate death scene for one of the characters. The scenes are in non-anamorphic widescreen, and total five minutes and forty seconds. For some inexplicable reason, the scenes are ONLY available with the commentary. The commentary, like the feature, is solid. Katleman explains his cuts well along with some production stories, and Linden chimes in with some special effects anecdotes (i.e. the first deleted scene's title comes from stuffing a guy's costume with pig parts). Still, it'd be nice to hear the ACTUAL production audio during these sequences, and then have the option of getting the insight on the cuts. Or maybe we should be thankful that there is not additional atrocious dialogue to be heard?

Crocumentary: Bringing Gustave To Life focuses on the movie's terrorizing crocodile (and is in anamorphic widescreen to boot). The actors and production crew give some brief background on the film's "true story" portion, and then much of the focus is on the special effects of the movie - researching the crocs, and then designing them via computer for the movie. As with your typical making-of featurette, you get clips from the film and a ton of on-the-set footage (plus some storyboards). Nobody is identified by name here, which may add to the movie's B-list feel in the long run. It's a bit fluffy, and will probably only appeal to the movie's die-hard fans and those who are curious how computer generated imagery gets added into the film. Nothing special, but there are worse ways to kill ten minutes.

 

I don't know how "true" the story of "Primeval" is despite the existence of a killer crocodile, but as far as a movie, it's your typical stylized-yet-brain cell-killing man vs. animal horror film that offers nothing new (I hate to be a film snob, but I'm sure there will be those who will be impressed by the movie, and really take the "true story" and all its story and visual elements to heart). On the plus side though, it's nice to see Orlando Jones in a movie. As far as a DVD, this is not bad. The transfer and 5.1 mix are pretty stunning and make for a good home theater experience, and while the extras are on the slim side, they do give more insight into the making of the film. If you feel like a mindless horror flick one evening, then "Primeval" should fit the bill as a good rental. (Just don't expect anything more.)