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review added: 4/7/03



The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course
Special Edition - 2002 (2002) - MGM

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course - Special Edition Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/B-

Specs and Features

89 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, keepcase packaging, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), A Croc in Shot: The Making of Collision Course documentary, 5 "behind the scenes" featurettes, 10 Lights! Camera! Animals! featurettes, 5 deleted scenes, Crocodile Rock music video by Baha Men, optional Croc Track text commentary, The Outback (3 interactive games: Australian Critters, Survival Trivia, Meet Steve and Terri), original theatrical teaser and trailer, photo gallery, Easter eggs, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), French and Spanish (2.0 Stereo), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Closed Captioned


This whole movies-based-on-TV-shows thing is now officially out of hand. Obviously they're here to stay and there's nothing anybody can do about it, but come on. A whole movie based on the most popular show on Animal Planet? At this rate, I fully expect to see a trailer for Trading Spaces: The IMAX Experience any day now.

If you've been doing without basic cable for the last few years, you may be unfamiliar with The Crocodile Hunter. Basically, Australian croc-tease Steve Irwin and his American wife Terri wander through such remote locations as the outback, unnecessarily provoking dangerous reptiles while exclaiming "Crikey!" a lot. There's plenty of that kind of thing in Collision Course, too, but in an effort to ratchet up the excitement, the filmmakers strand the Irwins in the middle of a direct-to-video spy plot. Seems a surveillance satellite has crashed and burned in Australia. Warring American government agencies are dispatched to retrieve a vital Black Box-type recording device, chock full of top secret info. But the high-tech gizmo has been swallowed by a giant croc that's been devouring cattle owned by Aussie rancher Brozzie (Magda Szubanski, better known as Mrs. Hoggett in the Babe movies). The Irwins are sent out to capture and relocate the croc. Naturally, they cross paths with the spies, whom the Irwins think are poachers. Crikey, indeed.

Somehow I can't picture Marlon Perkins taking part in such a bizarre project as Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom - Collision Course but Irwin chomps into the challenge with his usual exuberance. Perhaps realizing that Steve and Terri aren't really ready for the big screen, the filmmakers keep them apart from the other unfolding stories for virtually the entire length of the film. This isn't a bad strategy but it does mean that nobody ever really collides in Collision Course. It's like there's two completely different movies going on at the same time, a feeling that's heightened by the fact that the film is shot in two different aspect ratios: 2.35:1 for the "movie" sequences and a smaller 1.66:1 frame for the "documentary" sequences. Ultimately, it feels like everyone involved with the project just gave up. The movie doesn't really end. It just kind of trails off and is capped by a stammering monologue in which Steve fills us in on what happened to all the other characters.

On the other hand, I'm the first to admit that I am not this movie's intended target audience. This is a family-friendly comedy adventure and as such, it's better than some. Compared to some other recent kids movies, this is perfectly innocuous fun and there's certainly nothing wrong with the Irwin's pro-conservation message. You do actually get to see some interesting animals along the way and learn a thing or two about them. And as far as I'm concerned, any modern kids movie that I can make it through without coming down with a splitting headache is aces in my book.

MGM's DVD looks and sounds just fine. It's not going to give your home theater system much of a workout but I don't foresee anyone being bitterly disappointed by the technical aspects of this disc. The disc is packed with extras and like many discs aimed at the younger set, they're kind of a mixed bag. The "making-of" documentary is a rah-rah bit of promotion narrated on-camera by Steve that reveals absolutely nothing about the making of the film. The Behind-The-Scenes featurettes focus mainly on effects and stunt work, while the Lights! Camera! Animals! featurettes divulge more information on the featured animal actors. Director John Stainton introduces five deleted scenes, most of which flesh out the spy plot and were obviously cut when Stainton realized that the spy plot needed no fleshing. You can play an optional Croc Track during the movie that gives more facts and figures about the animals and other, more tangential matters in Pop Up Video style. The interactive games and features in The Outback section are aimed squarely at kids. The games seemed pointless and unwinnable to me but other sections focus on educational features like animals of the outback, how to survive in the wilderness, and that kind of thing. The trailer and a teaser that's actually funnier than anything in the movie itself are also included, as is a music video featuring the film's awful cover of Crocodile Rock (aka Who Let the Crocs Out!) performed by Baha Men, unsuccessfully trying to avoid one-hit wonder status.

If you're in the market for a halfway decent kids movie, you could certainly do worse than The Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course. But you could also do a whole lot better. If you or your kids are fans of Steve and Terri, you'll likely be left wishing for a lot more animal adventure and a lot less espionage slapstick. If you're not... well, if you're not a fan, I can't imagine why you'd pick this disc up in the first place. Collision Course won't give you any new insight into the weird popularity of Steve and Terri Irwin. But it is a lot less painful way to see cute baby kangaroos than sitting through Kangaroo Jack.

Adam Jahnke
ajahnke@thedigitalbits.com




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