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Rogue (2007)

Dimension Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 8/5/2008

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/5/2008

Well, here we are, with another case of what Hollywood would call "synergy" and what the rest of us would label as coincidence or possibly more than that. Within months of each other in late 2005 and early 2006, two giant crocodile movies went into production. (Outside of any Sci-Fi Channel movies or Lake Placid 2.) Not only were Primeval and Rogue shot around the same time, they both suffered similar fates by having their release dates delayed, the latter moreso than the former. Well, Rogue has finally come to DVD and maybe the current giant crocodile trend will be laid to rest.

Rogue opens with travel writer Pete McKell (Michael Vartan) arriving in a small town in the Australian wild. He soon joins a riverboat tour which is guided by Kate Ryan (Radha Mitchell). The boat is filled with several other tourists. They head down (up?) river in order to see crocodiles. After cruising all afternoon, they turn to head back to the dock, when they spot a series of flares. Kate reports that she is obliged to investigate and she takes the tour boat to a small cove, where they find an overturned boat. The group is immediately attacked by a giant crocodile and the boat begins to sink. Kate and the tourists seek shelter on a small island, but they soon realize that as the tide rises, the island will become covered by water. As the monstrous reptile circles, the group must find a way to get off of the island without being eaten.

(If I were a member of the Australian board of tourism (or whatever the governing body is called), I would have a word with writer/director Greg McLean. His first film, Wolf Creek, played like an Australian version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as it portrayed a group of tourists being attacked by a madman in the middle of the Outback. With Rogue, he's telling us that there are monstrous animals in Australia which are more than happy to chomp on visitors. These films are like anti-commercials for the land down under. )

I guess that sharks have been done to death, as we've seen a glut of alligator/crocodile movies in the last decade. The problem with this sub-genre is that while some of the movies are better than others, none stand out as the shining example of the trend. (And none come close to matching the suspense in the 1980 classic Alligator.) So, while Rogue is in no way a classic, it does redeem itself as being one of the better films in this group.

Rogue scores point by, if nothing else, having great production values. The scenery in the Australian Northern Territory is beautiful and the vast landscapes really enhance the sense that the tour group is cut off from the rest of the world. The acting is uniformly good and the special effects are fairly seamless. Once the group is stranded, McLean forgoes any effort to continue building characters or plot and turns the film into a series of set-pieces. While this may not sound like a positive thing, it truly helps the film and makes it much easier to digest. While the overall film can be easily be labeled as just another Jaws clone, the last reel does show us some things that we haven't seen in other alligator/crocodile films.

But, Rogue has its share of problems as well. The opening where Pete arrives in the dusty town feels as if it's from another movie, as he's told that they don't get many tourists, and suddenly he's at a dock where not one, but two tour boats are filled with people. The first act does a good job of introducing the characters, but unfortunately, none of them are likable. So, once the croc attacks begin, it's difficult to feel anything for the victims. As for those attacks, they are fairly well-staged, and the scene with the rope is very well done. However, McLean has chosen to go the Jaws route and not give us a good look at the crocodile until the finale. This is an odd, and ultimately unsatisfying choice, as, despite its monstrous 21-foot size, the crocodile looks just like any other croc that we've seen in other movies. (Of course, this could have been a budgetary decision.)

After comparing Rogue and Primeval, I must give the edge to Rogue. Primeval had some outstand crocodile attack scenes, but the movie got bogged down in real-world politics. Rogue exists only to be a scary movie about a killer croc and it succeeds in that respect. While the movie won't leave any lasting impression on you, it makes for a good rental, and it's light-years ahead of entries like Lake Placid 2.

Rogue swims after DVD courtesy of Dimension Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot on HD and the result is an image which is razor sharp and crystal clear. There is no discernible grain here and no defects from the source material. The landscape shots look fantastic, and close ups reveal a nice amount of detail. The colors are vivid and true and the image is never overly bright. I didn't detect any artifacting or video noise here. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround effects are excellent here, and the sound design truly brings the trip down river to life. The stereo and surround channels are filled with the noises of animals and splashes. The croc attacks boom through the subwoofer. The audio really adds to the film's overall effect.

The Rogue DVD offers a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Producer/Director Greg McLean. This is a good chat, as McLean keeps his talk fairly scene-specific and touches on many facets of the movie. While complimenting his cast, he gives us a great deal of information about the locations and some real croc facts. He also discusses what it was like to shoot on a river and how the croc was created. "The Making of Rogue" (46 minutes) is a highly detailed look at what went into the film. Through comments from McLean and other cast and cre members, we learn about the locations, the characters, the challenges of location shooting, visual effects, stunts and creature effects. The actors talk their experiences working in the wild and the actual animals which they saw. "Welcome to the Territory" is divided into three segments. "The Effects" (17 minutes) examines the stunts and visual effects used to create key scenes. "The Music" (15 minutes) has comments from composer Francois Tetaz who explains how the music fits into the film. We also see some of the unusual things he did to get certain sounds. "Northern Territory" (15 minutes) looks at the locations used for the film and how this part of Australia has its own personality. "The Real Rogue" (2 minutes) doesn't explain that the film is based on a true story, but rather examines how the croc effects were designed. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER, which is 16 x 9.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long