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."

4 comments:

J. Astro said...

I am a sucker for killer croc/gator movies, dating all the way back to my love affair with the excellent 80's Robert Forster vehicle ALLIGATOR. That said, I liked ROGUE, but felt like it could'a been a little more creative. It looked good but actually didn't deliver as much pure entertainment value as I thought it should've... something about it just felt very anti-climactic to me. The recent killer croc film that I was honestly most impressed with was PRIMEVAL (2007) which won me over with some fairly decent FX and a unique, LAKE PLACID-meets-THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND storyline.

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

Good summary review of Rogue, Dylan! This film is indeed a notch above most of the giant crocodile/alligator movies released in recent years (and I’m not including the dreadful “SyFy originals”, which fall into a category all of their own). Not do the actors preform at a higher level than in most creature features (particularly the leads – as you mention - Radha Mitchell, Sam Worthington and Michael Vartan), but the direction, cinematography and special effects are also well above average for this type of film. Some credit must be given to the director Greg Mclean – who also wrote the script – who also showed some promise in his first film, Wolf Creek. Both films demonstrate the ability to create real tension and suspense, as well create characters that are both realistic and sympathetic. Rogue unfortunately was most likely lost in the shuffle, like a lot of Australian films released in this country, as it deserved a higher profile release like some of its British horror film counterparts (à la Neil Marshall’s The Decent and James Wan’s Saw).

Sorry, J. Astro, but I have to disagree with your assessment of Primeval. Although the special effects were indeed “fairly decent”, the direction fairly plodded through the first half of the film and even the croc attacks lacked any real suspense or sense of danger. Director Michael Katleman, who primarily works in television, lent Primeval a very pedestrian feel.

Daniel Th1rte3n said...

Welcome to the family Dylan! Great review!!

Dylan said...

Thanks for the kind words, guys! I'm glad you liked the review.

Doc, I really want to check out Wolf Creek, but I'm honestly a bit of a baby when it comes to gore and what not. Still, I should man up and watch it!

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