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Do you agree that the producer offset should be raised from 20 to 40 per cent for television?
[Mon 21/07/2008 02:09:51]
Distributor: Roadshow Entertainment Director/writer: Greg McLean Producers: Matt Hearn, David Lightfoot, Greg McLean Key cast: Radha Mitchell, Sam Worthington, John Jarratt, Stephen Curry, Michael Vartan
Wolf Creek scared the bejeesus out of me but Greg McLean has chosen a tamer genre flick to follow up: the beastie movie. Somehow an enormous rogue croc just isn’t as frightening as John Jarratt lurking in the dark with a drill. What sets this above the usual horror fare is its location — the sumptuous, still landscape of Northern Territory — and the actors, who work hard to provide dramatic tension rather than just being grisly grist for the churning waters; even the dog Kevin does a good turn with anxious yawns. Judging from the DVD extras, lead US actor Vartan (as Pete) was genuinely terrified through most of production (taipans, eels, leeches, porcelain teeth in animatronic jaws) so it wasn’t such a stretch.
After an elegant start with echoes of an Australian tourism commercial, as helicopter/camera tracks through sheer gorges to Aboriginal song, Rogue follows genre conventions pretty neatly: an American tourist out of his element; a tour boat full of travellers — the more annoying or selfish, the more likely to be picked off first; a crocodile who doesn’t want to obey the rules. Kate, the tour operator (a laconic Mitchell) tells her visitors early they’re quite safe: ‘The crocs won’t attack anything bigger than they are.’ ‘How big’s the boat?’ ‘Big enough’ We know we’re in trouble.
This film also explores the crisis of the contemporary male (again, a key theme in Aussie film these days), Australian men portrayed as ignorant, burping, mooning, moronic, boring, sexist hoons who can be resourceful when pushed. Disturbingly, McLean argues that Neil (Worthington excels in true yob form) represents ‘what an international audience thinks Australians actually are’. Maybe it’s time, though, to break the mould? Our hero this time comes fresh from Chicago in a sweat-soaked suit, classy frames with a low tolerance for the outdoors. Unfortunately, the film seems to stop chugging soon after we meet the croc; the audience stranded, like the passengers, on an island where the tide is rising slowly.
Fantastic disc extras offer insight into the difficulties of production (50-degree heat in Katherine Gorge; make-up a waste of time), special effects that mix animatronics with CGI and real footage of crocodiles, the making of an exceptional score with symphony strings and percussionist Graeme Leak (who floats bowls and tins in water then strikes them) and documentary footage of Sweetheart, the real-life croc who inspired this tale.