A while back I mentioned that “Jaws” was the greatest movie ever made. Don’t worry, that hasn’t changed, and I’ll stand by that statement until the day I die, no matter how great “The Godfather” and “The Dark Knight” are. The problem with a movie like that is everybody and their mother is going to try and rip it off; and you’d think it’d be easy with a premise that is as simple as: Giant (fill in animal of your choice here) comes into town and won’t go away. They forget that what “Jaws” has going for it is a plot that transcends the premise, characters you love, the right amount of humor, and something you can relate to. Maybe you’re familiar with movies like “Tentacles,” “The Beast,” “Shark Attack” (1, 2 and 3), “Lake Placid,” “Alligator,” “Crocodile,” and “Anaconda?” Maybe you’re not, and for that I applaud you, because all of those movies had none of that going for them, and are pretty much unwatchable (although I’ll be the first to admit that Robert Forster was awesome in “Alligator”). So having said that, let me get to the movie I’m talking about this week, which is 2007’s “Rogue.” It’s a good, old-fashioned monster movie, and one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
It takes place in Australia, and involves a group of tourists who become stranded on a river tour smack dab in the middle of a feisty salt-water crocodile’s territory. Needless to say, the croc is none too happy and reacts by trying to eat them. The captain of the tour boat is Aussie vet, and as close to modern day scream queen as we’re going to get nowadays, Radha Mitchell. Also aboard, playing a journalist from Chicago, is Michael Vartan, whom most of you will recognize from “Alias.” Sam Worthington also tags along.
There’s a whole slew of other Aussie actors who do their best not to get eaten, but the three I mentioned are the principals. And while I’m on it, allow me to pay a compliment to Mr. Vartan. I wasn’t thrilled about seeing him in this movie simply because I thought anyone involved with the show “Alias,” and anyone who watched it (including you), was a complete tool. And while I still feel that way, Vartan really shocked the heck out of me. He played a good hero, not invulnerable or over-the-top, plus he had a certain likeability about him. It’s sort of along the lines of Roy Scheider in “Jaws” with the same type of “I-don’t-want-to-be-a-part-of-this-but-somebody-has-to-be” attitude.
Bottom line: if you’re looking to kick back with a decent, somewhat realistic “monster movie,” then you can’t go wrong with “Rogue.” If you pick up the DVD, you’ll notice it’s released under the “Dimension Extreme” label, with a cover that makes it look like some piece of junk you’d catch on the Sci-Fi channel. Please don’t be misled. The “Dimension Extreme” label encompasses some of the worst horror films Hollywood has to offer, so, please, I beg of you, do not judge a book by its cover. This is actually a good one. And don’t worry, prudes, it’s not too gory, and leaves a lot to the imagination. What it has, though, is a lot of suspense, good characters, and even a few laughs. Plus it’s a movie about a giant crocodile. In this case, you can’t miss.
Joe Altomere is a freelance movie writer for The Banner and some of our company’s Web sites. His column is published in The Banner each Saturday.