Retro Reviews: Rogue

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Retro Reviews – A short but sweet look back at some of the older films that hit my radar this week.
  
Rouge (2007)
  
Let me start this review by saying that I am a big fan of Australian director Greg Mclean’s first movie – Wolf Creek. His nasty, low-budget Crocodile Dundee gone bad slasher was an impressive debut, and I was therefore excited see what Greg did next. His follow-up film Rogue, is his take on the killer croc movie. Sadly, the results are mixed.  
  
Rouge tells the unhappy tale of a group of tourist on an idyllic wildlife cruise through Australia’s secluded Northern Territories. The movies begins with an effective, slow burn opening that showcases the beautiful scenery of the films location.  We are then introduced to the cruises doomed passengers. The movies slow pace allows the audience to get to know each of the characters on board. They are quite the one-dimensional bunch, but believable non the less. We have the strong sheila Captain (Shadha Mitchell), the slightly wimpy American journalist (Michael Vartan) and a small ensemble of expendable English and Ozzy stereotypes.  After half an hour or so of relatively peaceful sight-seeing – a distress flare is spotted and shit begins to aggressively hit the fan.   Their boat is attacked by a 7 meter long Crocodile! Dang! The crew is thrown overboard, and the survivors find themselves stranded on a small island with only hours to spare until the tide washes them back in to the dark and lethal waters of the crocodiles domain.
 
So far so good/scary. Unfortunately, from the moment the beast takes its first victim (in a confused and poorly stage set piece) Rogue starts to lose its credibility. Although the acting is above what you would generally expect from a movie like this, the characters are just too calm and collected to be truly believable. I know if I saw my loved one get carried off, kicking a screaming in the jaws of a giant Croc, I would be pretty devastated. These guys – not so much. I doubt I would be able to talk at all, let alone have a calm and diplomatic discussion seconds after like this group does. All of the characters seem to take everything that is happening a little too well for my liking. Their individual personas also have the awkward habit of changing from scene to scene depending on what the plot needs. For example – hill billy Neil (Sam Worthington) goes from passive aggressive asshole – to strong, leader of men in the space of a few seconds, simply because the movie needs someone to take charge and move things forwards. Very contrived. The film is further  dented by some unbelievably stupid decisions made throughout the film. The characters bring on most of their problems themselves by some downright laughable actions. For example – if you had just barely made it to shore after your boat had just been capsized by a giant man-eating Crocodile – would you first thought be to jump right back in and swim to the other side to fetch help? I think not. Believability goes completely out of the window as movie draws to its climax. Which leads me onto the Croc itself…

The creature is surprisingly impressive for such a low-budget picture. A combination of practical and CGI effects are creatively used to bring the animal to life. At the beginning of the movie, the Croc is only shown in frightening glimpses. This is when the film is at its most effective. Sadly, as we progress, we are shown more and more of the beast, and the more we see, the less scary it becomes. The fear factor is lost entirely during the rather silly, and anticlimactic finale in the Crocs Lair. A word of advice guys – if you don’t have the money to pull off a truly realistic CGI monster – keep it in the shadows! Has Jaws taught us nothing?!     

That aside, the movie is a perfectly enjoyable B-movie.  Ok, so the leading man is a bit bland and the croc isn’t all that scary- but the production values are high, the acting is good and the cinematography is gorgeous. If nothing else, the movie does a wonderful job of showcasing the natural beauty of the Australian outback. Everything else is a bit of a let down. Not a complete waste of time, but I would recommend skipping it, and renting the far superior Wolf Creek instead.    

6/10     

Check out the trailer below.

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