Thursday, August 18, 2011

REVIEW: Croc (2007)

Last year, I reviewed a movie called Blood Monkey. It was a terribly frustrating film that advertised itself as a killer ape horror flick, but was really just filled with dull padding and a lack of any kind of excitement. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was part of an asininely long series of made for TV crapfests put out by Sci Fi called the Maneaters series, all low-budget movies with terrible actors focusing on natural monsters and outdoorsy themes. Joy. A whole series of mind numbingly awful films about animals killing people. At least the one I’m reviewing today was directed SO WELL by the guy who gave us The Ice Pirates though!

…wait, that isn’t a positive at all. But then, as you’ll see, there isn’t much with Croc that is.

Director: Stewart Raffil
Starring: Crocodiles...

The movie starts off in a swamp in Thailand where two guys are hunting for crocodiles or something in a boat. That comes to a close when the croc does his favorite karate move, the Nose Chop, and slices their boat in half.

Hiiiii-YAH!

Then it’s feeding time, and we see some of the WORST CGI since the Anaconda movies; oh joy!

Amazing. Is that from a really old 90s computer game? Because it would have been state of the art back then.

But then we move onto important scenes, like our main character Jack gawking awkwardly at a hot chick who comes into his crocodile farm. He’s so smitten with her that he instructs his nephew Theo to watch her all day…creepy, but I guess it could be worse. He could be courting a fat green frog-man-lady-thing like in The Ice Pirates.

Eugh, I've got to stop putting this in reviews.

So after some stupid stunts for the crowd involving basketball-playing elephants and calling down a member of the audience to be a goalie in an elephant-soccer game, Jack finds out that the chick he’s been tailing all day is some kind of animal health inspector. She points out all kinds of silly problems like how he’s feeding the birds tiny parasites in their food, or how the water and the meat is of extremely shifty quality. But he waves it all off because the safety of his animals is no big deal, as long as he can get a dinner date with the woman. She turns him down like any sane girl would do to such a terrible actor, though.

We see later that she’s talking to her bosses, who run a rival crocodile farm down the street. She says that she didn’t shut down Jack’s farm because the problems she found were all rather minor…wait, so feeding the animals parasites and having unsanitary water and food are minor problems? And even she didn’t ACT like they were very minor when she was there, so what the hell? When she gets back to her bosses it's like “Oh, they're basically mistreating these animals in every conceivable way…it’s no big deal!” Some animal welfare inspector you are, lady.

And it seems like the guys running the other farm don’t even know her name when she’s about to leave, despite the fact that they were acting like they clearly knew her in the beginning of the scene? I mean, they did hire her to look into Jack's farm; it's not like they'd forget her name that fast in real life...oh, screw it; nobody proofread this slop anyway.

Then the movie decides to delightfully treat us to scenes of what we all wanted to see in a killer croc movie, POLITICS. LOTS AND LOTS OF POLITICS. Yes, this is the movie for you if you wanted a bunch of scenes where the characters talk about debts and what’s going to happen if their farm closes down! In one scene, Theo spies on the rival croc farm owners and finds out they’re plotting against them, taking a few pictures for proof. They chase him down and he gets in the car with Jack who just happened to be driving by, only they get caught by the police and the gangsters at the same time. The gangsters break his camera memory card (how do they get away with this when the police are there? Are they corrupt? It’s never really explained), but it turns out he switched it with a spare one, so the whole scene was pretty much pointless.

In another scene we see Jack escape from a debt collector by having some smoke cover them while he runs away on the beach…I’m sorry, was there a crocodile anywhere in this? Did they really think all of this would be interesting to us? Why do I get the idea this director would be liable to make a werewolf movie and focus on the main character dealing with his insurance agency? Or maybe he’d make an alien movie and focus on the main girl’s pregnancy dilemmas? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.

Phew, so in case you were dumb enough like me to watch this movie past that point, we actually DO get another scene with a crocodile, believe it or not. Because I guess the riveting world of crocodile farm politics just wasn’t enough for this movie. But seriously, movie, you could at least try? The scene goes like this – the girl’s boyfriend goes underwater to make out with her legs or something, and the croc gets him, but all she does is stand around and look confused. How come she doesn’t just look under the water? Might save her…oh wait:


Whoops! Message gained from this scene: sex is bad. We should all just abstain from even looking at the opposite sex, and that way we will never be eaten by crocodiles.

So seeking an opportunity, the rival croc farm leaders decide to do the normal thing for this situation and break loose a bunch of crocodiles from Jack’s farm, to make it look like one of them did the nasty, bloody deed. This actually does get Jack’s croc farm shut down by the police, even though I’m not sure that should be their first priority when there’s a croc on the loose KILLING PEOPLE right now. Deal with the farm itself later, guys! I’m not even sure what this is supposed to accomplish, anyway. It’s not going to stop any more murders from happening, so why the hell are they focusing on shutting down the farm as their first priority? And wait…I don’t even really care! I often forget that I’m stooping to lower intellectual levels when watching these things.

Yeah, you really need that many cops to hand the guy a piece of paper and shut down his farm, right? I bet these idiots also send 10 cops to save a cat stuck in a tree while there's a serial killer investigation going on.

We get some more banal banter and boring acting, with the police about whether or not to cut the captured crocodile open to see if it’s the one that did the killing. God, it’s like every time we get a kill in this movie, we have to suffer through six or seven scenes of nothing but talking and legal nonsense. HOW IS THIS ENTERTAINMENT? How did they mess this up? All they had to do was make a stupid slasher movie with a crocodile eating people! Was that not complex enough for the writers? Was the chief marketing audience for this movie grad students who wanted to feel smart for watching something about the legalities of crocodile farms in Asia? What’s the draw in that? Can someone explain it to me?

So then we see some more EXCITEMENT when the two guys who run the other farm debate about whether what they did was right or not…man, I miss Lake Placid. Hmph. At least that movie had ACTUAL STUFF HAPPENING. Jesus.

I really like this one scene where on TV it shows this guy on a boat being filmed from up above in a helicopter (or something…), with a croc swimming around him. The narration explains that it can’t be Jack’s crocodile because it’s a different kind. But there’s something off about this scene…

Oh, I know. WHY THE HELL ISN’T ANYBODY HELPING THIS GUY? He’s just down there stuck on a boat with a huge man-eating crocodile, no big deal at all, right? Seriously, they’re just filming him for the news and not making any apparent attempt to save him. That’s pretty harsh. In another scene, we see a family of four being warned that there’s a man-eating crocodile on the loose, and they just kind of blow it off. They get theirs, though, when their little boy gets eaten by the giant CGI croc just moments later, like the croc was waiting for a cue or something.

"I'm a douchey white suburban dad, and I'm right about everything. When you tell me there's a man-eating crocodile in the water I think you're joking, just because I haven't seen it yet."

Truly parents of the year, people! Exemplary work! Give them a medal! Ugh…

They meet a guy played by Michael Madsen, whose only character trait is ‘guy with gravelly voice so you KNOW he’s a tough veteran.’ He’s some kind of croc hunter, or something. He doesn’t really do much of any importance throughout this whole thing, but that’s because nothing of any importance happens in the rest of the movie anyway. I mean, are you really surprised? Did you really expect the film with as much purpose and meaning as that Rugrats All Grown Up cartoon to pull itself together in the last act?

There's one scene of note where a bunch of the other croc farm leaders get massacred by the croc when it SOMEHOW hides in their pool and they don't notice - plot convenience at its worst:

OK, seriously, how does he not see the crocodile? They're both underwater. How do you not notice that?
Is he just blind or something? Seriously, how do you mess this up? Is the crocodile just super-silent? Does he have camouflage powers? WHAT?

But otherwise it's just bland as all get out. Pretty much it just plods on and on and makes me want to go to sleep. The final battle is an unpleasant and unentertaining cobble of horrible wooden acting, illogical scenes, bad CGI and completely stilted, un-engaging fight scenes that pretty much couldn’t be any worse if you put frigging Space Eunuchs in there. I mean, the final battle gives more importance to the scene of the characters trying to get Jack’s leg free from the mouth of the gator, than the actual fight scene with said gator beforehand! I’m serious. They kill the thing in like, a second, and then spend a minute or two more debating what the best way is to make sure they don’t have to amputate Jack’s leg. Oh, yes, I’m SO INVESTED in what’s going to happen to Jack’s leg after this is all over! Please, spare me the suspense; my heart is about to give out! God, what a load! This movie is awful!

But then again, what was I expecting from this anyway; groundbreaking cinema? No, how about just mild entertainment; the bare minimum of laughter or excitement to keep me from falling asleep? Croc didn’t even have that, and even for a Made for TV movie it’s bad. Director of Ice Pirates, you failed again. Go sit in the corner.