MGM Studios DVD presents
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (2002)
"Crikey!"- Steve Irwin
Stars: Steve Irwin, Terri Irwin
Other Stars: Magda Szubanski, David Wenham
Director: John Stainton
MPAA Rating: PG for action violence/peril and mild language
Run Time: 01h:29m:17s
Release Date: 2002-12-17
DVD ReviewIn the 1980s, America experienced the "Aussie Invasion" as Australian star Paul Hogan stormed cinemas with his twin blockbusters, the Crocodile Dundee movies. Hogan, a charismatic if limited actor, was great fun, but his shtick got old quickly—after all, a fish can only be out of water so long before it dies. Now that Hogan has retired to kick around the outback in a Subaru, we've found a new Australian oddball to admire. Steve Irwin, host of a popular series on Animal Planet, is affectionately known as the "Crocodile Hunter," though he'll track down pretty much any animal (provided it's deadly). His documentary series is pretty bizarre, actually. Irwin approaches, say, a nest of snakes, warning that no one should go near them, as "one bite and you're done for!", before he proceeds to jump right in and begin taunting the snakes. Steve: "Look at 'er! She's a beaut!" Snake: "You are SO dead."
But somehow, Irwin, who also travels on the show with his wife Terri and his faithful pooch, has managed to survive his various animal encounters long enough to attract a devoted cult fan base. I have friends in college who have turned the show into appointment TV, and I admit, watching this eccentric environmentalist is oddly fascinating and addictive (which is why Animal Planet frequently features Crocodile Hunter marathons). It seems only natural that he was given his own movie. The money saved on stuntmen alone would guarantee a financial success!
An odd blend of reality and fiction, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course mixes faux-footage of Steve and Teri filming their series with a narrative about a bunch of CIA agents tracking down a valuable lost satellite, one that's been swallowed by a grumpy croc. Steve, always eager to protect an animal's natural habitat, is convinced that the agents are poachers, and he and his equally loony wife set out to relocate the beastie to friendlier waters.
The whole poachers plot is really secondary, an excuse for stretching Steve's antics into a 90-minute movie, but these segments have their own charm. The CIA guys are certainly out of their element in the outback, and they visit a number of colorful locals while tracking their lost machinery. But the real reason for watching is Steve's antics with the animals. The man obviously has a death wish, diving into the water to wrestle a crocodile or waving a venomous snake around by the tail (and remember, as the bonus features reveal, these are real critters). These portions of the film feel like material right out of his television show. They're even presented in a narrower aspect ratio to enhance the documentary feel.
Director John Stainton (not to be confused with actor John Stanton) handles this material pretty well, giving Irwin free reign while keeping the pace clipping along. He should be used to it; he's directed the documentary series for years, and now he proves himself reasonably capable at working with actors. Truthfully, if you don't find Irwin himself amusing, this movie will be a downright bore, as the wafer-thin script provides little distraction from his carousing with crocs. Personally, though, when I see a guy running head first into a nest of killer critters, I simply cannot look away.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: This 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is quite nice, even if it does reveal a bit the films low-budget limitations. Colors are nice and crisp, and the blacks, quite rich. Fine detail is fairly good, though the picture is slightly soft in scenes. The aspect ratio shifts between 1.85:1 (for the "TV" scenes), and the full 2.35:1 for the "film" scenes, and both look about the same. I noted no artifacting or aliasing, despite the number of supplements on the disc (likely because the movie itself is pretty short). Source material shows some dirt and grain, and there's some visible edge enhancement, but nothing that's a major distraction.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
|DS 2.0||Spanish, French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: This front heavy 5.1 English mix spreads out quite nicely across the front channels, and features limited but effective support from the surrounds. Dialogue is always clear and understandable (unless you miss out on the Aussie accents), and is anchored in the center channel. The score fills out the left and right mains and is sometimes augmented by the surrounds, which also kick in during "action" scenes (like when the satellites fly by at the beginning of the film), with several front-to-back pans throughout. The surrounds also help out a lot with creating the "outback ambiance" of various nature noises. LFE is surprisingly strong and punchy.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
- Baha Men music video, Crocodile Rock
- Pop-Up "Croc Track"
- Photo Gallery
- 3 Interactive Games
- Outback Trivia
For less air-whipped behind-the-scenes fun, check out the gallery of 5 "effects featurettes," selectable individually or via a "play all" option. There's Croc Swallowing Beacon, Night Croc Capture, Steve as Brozzie Stunt Double, Barn Explosion, and Microlite Crashing into River. All five clips feature candid on-set footage and voiceover from Steve, who explains the difficulties of capturing these complicated special effects shots on a low budget and with real animals in the scenes.
If you want to see more about the animal wrangling, check out Lights, Camera, Animals!, a collection of 10 featurettes with a total combined running time of just over 30 minutes (once again, these short clips are selectable individually or all at once). Their names are self explanatory, and all are again comprised of on-set footage and Steve's commentary. The clips are: "Rehearsing Charlie the Crocodile to Attack the Boat," "Final Rehearsal for Charlie Attacking the Boat," "Charlie Attacking the Boat," "Rehearsing Monty the Crocodile to Attack Steve," "Final Rehearsal for Monty Attacking Steve," "Monty Attacking Steve Shoot," "King Brown Snake Shoot," "King Brown Snake Sequence for Truck Chase," "Fierce Snake Shoot," and "Joey Kangaroo Shoot". So yes, it seems all of the animals are real and yes, Steve Irwin is insane.
Four deleted scenes and an alternate ending are included, complete with brief introductions from director John Stainton. The clips are fairly brief, and most are simply excised bits of narrative or short gags. The alternate ending wraps up the CIA subplot a bit differently, but outside of the context of the film, it's not all that interesting. Total running time for the deleted scenes is less than 10 minutes.
In place of a commentary there's a fun subtitled trivia track, dubbed a "Croc Track." Running the length of the feature, it includes production stories, crocodile trivia, and infomation about Australia. More production notes and bios for Terri and Steve can be found under Outback Interactive Games; the subsection also includes a trivia challenge, survival tips, animal facts, and three dull games to play with your remote: "Ultralight," "Joeygotchi" (a kangaroo virtual pet), and "Outback Adventure" (a seemingly endless "choose your own adventure" through Australia).
What would a special edition be without promotional goodies? We've got the original trailer and the cute teaser (where Steve taunts the MGM lion), a photo gallery, and a music video from the Baha Men. Because I know you wanted to hear the Who Let the Dogs Out? guys cover Crocodile Rock.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsThe Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is a movie for animal lovers. Provided the animals you love are deadly and poisonous. Its got the same bizarre charm as the similarly titled television show, thanks is large part to the insane (in a likeable way) duo of Steve and Terri Irwin, not to mention a whole host of lethal snakes and cranky crocs, and it succeeds admirably as an adventure for kids and adults. The DVD from MGM is loaded with more bonus features than you'll know what to do with, and the video and audio quality is great.
Joel Cunningham 2002-12-16