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Old 08-18-2004, 06:33 PM
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Default Crocodile 2




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: November 14, 2002
Released by: Lion's Gate
Release date: 8/13/2002
MSRP: $24.99
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes



Crocodile, Octopus, Deep Star Six, Lake Placid, Anaconda, and Piranha. We have Steven Spielberg to thank (or blame) for making the "animal attack" films such a prolific genre. When his Jaws was released in 1975, it shattered box office records, and to this day it remains one of the most popular films in film history. Because of Jaws' popularity, it is no surprise that filmmakers sought to emulate its success by pitting humans against nearly every aquatic animal imaginable (I am still waiting for Attack of the Sea Snails). After over 25 years, the Jaws formula still seems to be drawing interest, with Lions Gate releasing a couple of direct-to-video cheapies like Octopus 2 and Crocodile 2. Tobe Hooper already proved how dull a croc movie could be, so Crocodile 2 should be the same, right?

The Story

inline Image The film begins with a bank robbery. The robbers are successful and get away with millions of dollars worth of cash hidden in their suitcases. They are heading by plane to Aculpulco, Mexico, but so is a group of other unlucky travelers. Included on the flight is a pretty stewardess name Mia (Heidi Lenhart) who is also heading to Mexico to rekindle her relationship with her boyfriend Zach (Chuck Walczak), who is already soaking in the Mexico sun. Unfortunately for all of them, the plane encounters some bad weather, and when the pilots are forced to turn around and go back the bank robbers hijack the plane, demanding that they land in Aculpulco.

inline Image None of the parties get their wish, and instead the plane crashes into a gigantic swamp some 50 miles away from Aculpulco. With only a few survivors remaining, Sol (John Sklaroff), the head robber, orders them, as well as his crew, to take his baggage as they head towards Aculpulco. The group's trip is complicated even further when it is discovered that a monstrous crocodile is roaming the waters, snacking on more than just weeds and tiger lilies. The pilot has already been eaten, and it is only a matter of time before the croc consumes his next victim.

inline Image Meanwhile, upon hearing of the airplane crash Zack recruits a backwoods veteran, Rolan (Martin Kove), to help him find his darling Mia. Mia is, unbeknownst to Zack, one of Sol's prisoners, and eventually the two groups cross paths. But instead of squaring off against each other, they must team up to fight the Titanic-sized crocodile that threatens their lives. Will the croc get the best of them, or can this group of misfits prove that teamwork really does pay off?

inline Image Crocodile 2 is a classic case of execution outdoing concept. The story is like a cookie cutter of common movie clichés, with the inevitable Jaws-like monologue and the mandatory shock ending. None of the characters ever realize that all they need to do is stay out of the water, and instead they return to the swamp repeatedly as if they had gills. There are so many inconsistencies in the plot that it is almost impossible to overlook. For instance, what happened to the plane after it crashed? Presumably it sank, but given that the characters were able to walk out of the plane in the waist-deep water, it makes no sense at all. Aside from Zack's two men excursion there is no rescue team to be seen, despite the plane crash's huge publicity all over the news. I could go on forever about the infantile script, but it really doesn't matter, because Gary Jones' direction is able to rise above the scripts weaknesses and make the film enjoyable.

inline Image Despite being a direct-to-video flick, the direction is surprisingly strong, with some nice camera work (especially during the plane crash scene) and a very tight pace. The action is kept at a constant high, and there is little time to get restless with the dull and uninspired story. Like the title implies, we get our fair share of crocodile attacks, and they too, like the rest of the film, are well staged and executed. There are times when the croc lunges out of nowhere, and others when it carefully stalks his pray, giving the film some variability. Even the CGI is better than it ought to be, producing some nice crocodile and plane crash effects. The CGI is obvious (as always), but it is carefully done and never really distracting. It is really tough to fault this film for its direction, especially when the low-budget and mundane story are considered.

inline Image It is easy to fault the acting though, as it is mostly just caricatures of past characters. Martin Kove as the knowledgeable veteran is like a crossbreed between Robert Shaw's character in Jaws and Steve Erwin from The Crocodile Hunter, and unfortunately he has little success in emulating either of those characters. John Skarloff as the villain is about as lame as you get; he never thinks about anything other than his money, and feels the mandatory need to utter bad ass one liners to reaffirm the fact that he is black. Heidi Lenhart is a sight for sore eyes, but really lends nothing other to the story. The rest of the cast is disposable and unmemorable as well.

inline Image So really, what we have here is a bad film masked by commendable directing by Gary Jones. I guess it is no surprise, considering that Jones' past titles have been Mosquito and Spiders. The acting and story are weak, but the pacing and direction are more than acceptable, making this a nice piece of fluff entertainment. It certainly won't leave a lasting impression, but it is a fun 90 minutes, and for some people that will do just fine.

Image Quality

Lions Gate presents the film in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the overall transfer is decent. The overall picture is fairly soft, and considering it was made last year, it should have been much better. It still looks fine though, and the saturation is nice and consistent. The blood, and the reds in general, appear somewhat pinkish at times, but it is never really distracting. There are some blemishes on the print as well, but they appear only intermittently. Although the transfer is decent, it is a step down from other low-budget companies like Full Moon and Synapse's transfers. It could have looked a whole lot better than it did, but I doubt people will be checking out this disc for the video transfer anyway.

Sound

Surprisingly there is quite an enveloping Dolby Digital 5.1 track included on the DVD. There are some solid surround effects to be heard here, and the rears are given a considerable workout with the airplane and croc attack scenes. Dialogue and music are clear, and ambient effects are nicely rendered as well. The audio does however suffer from inconsistent volume levels. There are times when the sound is so loud that the speakers shake, and others that are so quiet that they cannot be heard without a volume adjustment. It is a pain at times, and unfortunately hinders what is otherwise a strong surround track.

Supplemental Material

inline Image The only extras on the disc are three trailers accessible only by clicking on the Lions Gate logo. The trailers included are the suitably themed Crocodile, Crocodile 2 and Octopus 2. It would have been nice to hear Jones talk about the film, but 90 minutes with this movie is probably enough for anyone.

Final Thoughts

For a direct-to-video cheapie, this is surprisingly entertaining, especially considering the wooden acting and atrocious screenplay. The video transfer is not quite up to par, but the audio track is much stronger, despite its variable sound levels. With only a few trailers included, this is a disc that can be over and done with in 90 minutes, and if you have time to burn and are willing to put your brain in comatose, then you might just enjoy this Jaws rip-off.

Rating

Movie - C+
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B
Supplements - C

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements
  • Trailers for Crocodile, Crocodile 2, and Octopus 2.

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