Saturday, November 20, 2010
Guest review: Rogue (2007)
By Dylan Duarte
With Rogue, I was taking a big risk. It's a movie that involves a giant crocodile, which is the premise of precisely half the terrible Syfy Original Movies that populate the channel of the same name. In those movies, by the end of the whole thing, you're usually begging the monster to kill off the rest of the boring characters. Yes, there's nothing unique about Rogue. It's a movie about a gigantic, man-eating crocodile and his human prey. However, much to my surprise, it's a damn good movie about a gigantic crocodile and his human prey.
Rogue takes place in Australia, where tour guide Kate Ryan (Radha Mitchell; Silent Hill, Surrogates) takes visitors out on a cruise of the river, where they get to ooh and aah at crocodiles. She has a full boat, and among those onboard is our leading man, American travel journalist Pete McKell (Michael Vartan; Alias, Hawthorne). The rest of the of the cast is made up of Austrailian actors and actresses who probably won't be recognized by American audiences, but don't let that turn you off. They all do a fine job. Some moreso than others, but overall a solid cast.
However, there is one more face that you'll recognize, that of Sam Worthington, an Australian actor who catapulted to stardom with his leading roles in Avatar and (the criminally underrated) Terminator: Salvation. Like Mitchell, he's sporting his native accent as Neil, who starts out as an obnoxious jerk but dire circumstances quickly turn him into something of a hero. Worthington is a hell of an actor, and he's totally believable as a hero, but unfortunately his role is a fairly minor one. Rogue came out a year before Terminator did, so at the time Worthington wasn't the A-lister he is today.
Coming back to the cast as a whole, they're really something special. Not only does everyone do an admirable job, but the characters are well-written. One of my favorite little touches is when we see one of the older men take out an urn and dump ashes into the river during the cruise. He's never confronted about it. It's never shoved in our face that he lost someone close to him. The dumping of the ashes is the extent of the whole thing, but we immediately sympathize with the man and that simple act makes him somebody we care about. It's an attention to detail that benefits all of the characters.
The bulk of the movie takes place on a small island that the crew gets stranded on. The croc is hunting the waters all around them, so escape proves tricky. To make matters worse, the tide is rising, so the clock is ticking. While the movie is indeed scary, and it'll make you jump a time or two, it's the moments of silence that really work. It's the oldest trick in the book, keeping the danger just out of sight, but it's used wonderfully and makes Rogue quite a nailbiter. And what's better, the times when we do see the croc, the CGI is pretty impressive for such a low-budget movie.
The only downside to the entire thing is the lackluster and fairly standard ending. It's not bad, but it's nothing great either. Luckily, the rest of the movie really is something special, and the disappointing ending isn't enough to detract from this creepy and effective monster movie.
"Our guest writer, Dylan Duarte, is a horror buff and writer who writes about Halloween costumes for StarCostumes.com. He can be reached at dylnduarte at gmail.com."