THE CROCODILE HUNTER:
* * * (2002, 90 minutes, Rated PG)
A true TV movie.
I'm sure you remember "The Crocodile Hunter." It was a very
popular show on the Discovery channel, featuring a kooky Aussie in
khaki shorts (Steve Irwin) running about the wilderness and playing
with a variety of deadly animals like they were plush toys.
Did I mention that the show was very popular? Because it was.
Still, I think even the biggest fans of "The Crocodile Hunter" were
shocked to learn that they were giving Steve Irwin his own movie. If
ever there was a case of “Why pay to watch this when I can see it for
free on TV?” this is it.
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course opens in Space, the Final Frontier. In a sequence that
probably took up half of the film’s budget, a CIA satellite blows up real good, sending a highly
classified chunk of metal -- they call it a "tracker," but I call it a MacGuffin -- crashing into the Outback.
Where it is promptly swallowed by a crocodile.
And suddenly, we're in an episode of "The Crocodile Hunter."
This review is part of our special MAY SWEEPS month here
at the Bargain Bin Review, where I'll take on some of the
choice films featured on WPNY's "Magnificent Movies @ 8."
Which I just happen to host.
Miss Steve Irwin? You can check out some choice moments
over at Animal Planet's memorial, or you can make a
contribution to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors.
|Steve Irwin (above, holding the lizard) in his
natural state of excitement.
Oh, and I don't mean we're at the taping of
an episode of "The Crocodile Hunter." I
mean we plunge straight into the show's
format, complete with Irwin and his wife,
Terri, chasing animals around and talking
directly into the camera. After failing to nab
a particularly evasive lizard, Irwin diverts his
excitement over a chunk of lizard poo.
Needless to say, Irwin is easily excited.
Back to our actual plot: There's a
roughneck lady rancher who is gunning to shoot our MacGuffin-eating croc for snacking on her cattle.
The local law tries to talk her out of it, promising to call in experts to relocate the croc. Also, we get a
heap of intelligence agency politics, as the CIA sends out a pair of agents to retrieve the MacGuffin,
and the NSA sends their own agent, a hottie Australian (played by Kate Beahan of The Wicker Man
fame), to intercept it.
Just when we think we've settled into the actual film, we jump back into TV mode. This happens
throughout the film: Someone makes a comment like, "There's nothing in Australia that will hurt you,"
followed by an immediate cut to a close-up of some intensely poisonous creature that Irwin is
Steve and Terri Irwin are called in to relocate the MacGuffin eater, which they do in an extended action
sequence that sees Irwin. It seemingly takes forever, yet it somehow never gets old watching Irwin
get yanked out of his boat.
After spending some time being hounded by the rancher's pack of dogs -- see what I did there?
That's why I have my own site -- the agents soon come to believe that Irwin has the tracker and
pursue. Irwin assumes that the agents are poachers, and fights them off with some help from his
animal friends. It's all very silly, but intentionally so.
Honestly, the best parts of the film are when the plot is jettisoned in favor of Steve Irwin doing his
thing. It almost made me wish the filmmakers had scrapped all of the CIA silliness in favor of a
Jacques Cousteau-esque documentary of Irwin wrangling crocs.
These sequences are an immediate reminder of why the man was so popular to begin with: his
enthusiasm and reckless abandon are incredibly infectious. The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course
might not be particularly good, but that doesn't mean that Steve Irwin isn't missed.