Rogue (dvd review)

The Movie ***1/2

The DVD ***1/2

I am a huge fan of monster movies. From the early Universal monsters all the way through Godzilla, I love them all. That is why it surprises me that it took me so long to watch Rogue.

The Story: A group of tourists take a boat trip through the rivers of Northern Australia. This area is known for it's crocodiles. When one of the tourists sees a flare going off in the distance, when pilot of the boat decides to go investigate.

The group stumbles into a remote area and are attacked by a huge crocodile. They lose their boat and are stuck on a tiny island. With the creature in the water and darkness falling, the group has to make it to land before their tiny mud island is engulfed by the incoming tide. Some of them die while trying to get off of the island, while the survivors have to find help.

The Skinny: Greg McLean made his directorial debut with 2005's Wolf Creek and Rogue couldn't be any different. While they both take place in Australia, the similarities end there. While Wolf Creek was down and dirty "torture porn", Rogue is a sparkling clean monster movie.

Wolf Creek was a movie about a serial killer who traps his victims and then let's them go, only to capture them again. McLean made that movie for very little money and a go as you shoot attitude and turned out a horrific horror movie. Now with Rouge, he is giving us a different side of the horror genre: the fun side.

Horror movies for the most part fall into three categories, at least for me. The first is the "horrific" horror movie. This a movie that you need to be strong in mind and stomach in order to make it through the movie. Movies like Wolf Creek and Hostel fall into this category. The second is the "fun" horror movie. This is a movie that, while trying to possibly be realistic, the movie is not out to mess with your mind or scar you for life. Most monster movies fall into this category, along with the Final Destination films. The third and final category is the "numbers" movie. This is the type of movie that is made by a "committee" of people, in order to make money. They don't care if the movie is scary or gory, just as long as the movie turns a profit, movies made "by the numbers". Movies like Darkness Falls and most horror remakes fall here.

Rogue is a "fun" horror movie. It is a movie that tries to scare you, not by horrifying you, but by making you jump and then wait in anticipation until the next jump. I love these kinds of movies because they are fun, just like the category says. While I do take in the "horrific" and "numbers" horror movies, my heart lies firmly in the "fun" category.

McLean and director of photography Will Gibson give us an Australia that many of us have never scene before. If Wolf Creek was a warning of the dangers in Australia, then Rogue is a travelogue for people to come to Australia, just stay away from the water. The movie is a beauty to look at. Every color pops off the screen and makes you want to live there.

It is this beauty that captures us. McLean takes his time, setting up the enviorment before unleashing his killer croc on us. We are given many long looks at the river all around us. This helps give us a sense of our surroundings before he starts killing people off.

McLean has said that he wanted Rogue to be more of an adventure movie than a horror movie. He is right in some regards, but I look at Rogue as a disaster movie. The movie has all the trappings of a disaster movie- the stranded group of survivors trying to get out of a situation, the man with no patience who tries to get out without thinking and gets some people killed, etc- but by adding the horror element to it McLean makes the material fresh. Sure, we get all the standard characters, but something makes the dialogue and most of the actions realistic.

There was another "killer croc" movie made around the same time as Rogue, called Primeval. That movie was released to theaters and bombed, so Rogue was shelved and then released straight to dvd. It is a shame because Rogue contains everything that Primeval strived to achieve: beautiful cinematography, good acting, and some really good scares. Rogue should have been the one in theaters, not Primeval.

The DVD: Even though Rogue didn't go to theaters, we are given a really good DVD.

The Picture: Preserving the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, Dimension has given us a great picture. The colors are vibrant and the black levels are deep.

The Sound: The 5.1 track provided is very good, using the surrounds very wisely.

The Goodies: We are given some pretty decent extras, although they begin to become repetitive.

Commentary: Greg McLean provides a very good track, loaded with information, although some of it overlaps with the rest of the features.

The Making Of Rogue (45 min, 16x9) This is a very informative documentary. We learn that there was a crocodile in the 70's that terrorized fishermen in Austarlia. We also get some behind the scenes footage of how the movie was shot and how the special effects were done.

Welcome to the Territory: This is a set of three featurettes. The first, The Effects (17 min, 16x9) goes into more detail about how live action and CGI were blended together to make the movie more believable. The second, The Music (15 min, 16x9) gives us a look at how the music was created. The third, Northern Territory (15 min, 16x9) gives more history about where the movie was shot. All of these featurettes play like extended footage from the documentary. They should have edited it all together to give us the ultimate look at Rogue, while cutting out the bits that overlap.

The Real Rogue (3 min, 16x9) Here we get another look at the crocodile that terrorized Australia in the 70's

And finally we get the movie's Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 16x9)

Overall: Rogue is a great monster movie that, while ignored for some time by the studio, is given a lot of love on DVD.

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