Everyone knows of the fantasy epics where a team of heroes travels to a mystical land to slay the terrible dragon and save everyone. Now replace all of that with a team of journalists traveling to Africa to trap a crocodile and somehow causing more problems, and you’ve got the 2007 movie “Primeval.”
See, the entire concept of the movie is that these journalists are complete failures and are, for some reason, sent to capture a 25-foot long crocodile named Gustave that has lived for over 100 years and is killing just about everyone in this African country. Why a group of journalists? I watched the movie 3 times, and I still couldn’t tell you.
“Primeval” is one of those movies where the concept of the entire film is flawed: “Let’s have a monster movie where the monster isn’t even the main villain!” I can just imagine the writer trying to sell what a great idea it is to executives.
But this is where the movie tries to be novel by having a bait and switch: While the croc is killing a lot of people, the real villain is the warlord – because of course there’s a warlord – trying to take over the country. A man who named himself after the croc as Little Gustave.
Because Gustave is the most terrifying name in existence.
Now despite the awful premise, the actors do an amazing job delivering the sub-par lines placed in front of them. While what they are saying may be some of the most asinine lines I’ve ever heard, at least they are saying them in an exciting way.
Now, when I say the writing is bad, I mean it leaves a lot to be desired. There is a whole subplot focused around how the cameraman is a Black guy named Steven Johnson, played by Orlando Jones, from the states and that he is completely out of place in Africa while there is a young man from the village named Jojo, played by Gabriel Malema, who wants nothing more than to go to America.
Jones has some of the most … “interesting” lines in the movie including an O.J. Simpson joke and a joke about slavery being a good thing just to get out of Africa. Woah, buddy.
While there was the first twist about the warlord being the real villain, there is one more twist in that the warlord is literally the first man they met in Africa to have speaking lines. He’s literally the first guy they speak to when they get off the plane – a.k.a, the biggest Chekhov’s Gun in history, and they treat it like a big surprise in the last 20 minutes of the film when he was revealed to be a warlord. Was anyone surprised by this? I doubt it.
Now there is one character that I’ve neglected to mention yet because I need a whole paragraph just to get across my hate for him. There is a ripoff Steve Irwin who is working with our journalists to capture the croc, but the character is an awful attempt to make fun of the things Irwin stood for.
Irwin had died several months before the movie was released, so I think he was meant to parody Steve during filming, and they already had him in too many scenes to scrap him after Steve passed away. They even had him killed by the croc while trying to keep a soldier from killing it.
Honestly, the worst part of the movie by far is the ending. Little Gustave gets chomped, and the two living Americans scare the croc away with a machete to the snout. They then cut to them bringing the African kid on the plane to bring him to America which brings up so many red flags for me.
Firstly, the kid is from a village in the middle of nowhere, meaning he probably has no passport or even an ID. Secondly, he doesn’t have a visa, so he will get kicked out of the country in no time which means it’s not helping him in the slightest to just load him up and go.
Lastly what do they expect he will do in the states? He has minimal English skills, only knows life in the village and has no paperwork. Will they just keep him as a pet like the dog on his lap in the plane? ‘Cause that’s what that scene implies. Yes, they actually pet a human being like an animal. What the hell?
And then, after that mess, they cut to a scene back in Africa to let us know that the journalists accomplished absolutely nothing because the croc is still killing people. They saved one guy and left thousands to die by this monster, and the movie tries to hint that they are such kind-hearted heroes.
Now, I rate movies from -10 to 10, with negatives being ironic enjoyment. I give this movie a 3, because even competent acting and effects can’t save bad writing.
This was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon and edited by Margot McClellan.