Cyberlizard goes to the movies

Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course

Starring Steve and Terri Irwin, Jeremy Irons, Jean Reno, Hank Azaria

When I first saw this film advertised, I must admit I was dubious. Steve Irwin comes across as a very enthusiastic man about wildlife on TV but also sometimes (I hate to say this) as a bit of a buffoon, although I understand that in real life he is actually a very sharp guy. With several trailers on Saturday morning television all showing clips of Steve saying "Crikey!", I wondered if this was going to be a straight-to-video cringe-maker.

The film

Actually Crocodile Hunter is really not that bad, and even contrives to have a reasonably amusing plot. Basically it can be summed up as an Australian wildlife documentary with a humorous story thrown in. I won't give it away (there's not that much to give away anyway), but basically the US intelligence community loses the important part of a reconnaissance satelite which manages to fall to earth, only to be swallowed by a saltwater crocodile.

Steve and Terri Irwin play themselves straight (if Steve can be described as "straight" in the non-entendre sense of the word), giving commentary to the camera as if doing their normal shows on TV and acting little differently from how they normally would. In fact I think it was pretty sensible of them to realise their own limitations and leave the acting to the actors, a cast of little-known faces (at least in the UK, though I thought I recognised one of the main characters from Hercules) that nevertheless acquit themselves pretty well. Some of the humour reminded me of the first time I saw Crocodile Dundee, although it doesn't raise as many belly laughs and probably never intended to. An additional and pleasant surprise was that the film is really children-friendly - I didn't notice any real bad language or sexual innuendo.

At the end of the day, if you like wildlife and don't hate Steve Irwin, it's worth watching, even if you rent it out on video, although the larger reptiles look better on big screen. People who are really arachnophobic or just can't stand the sight of snakes might want to give it a miss.

MGM have an official website, but I found it very time-consuming to load.

Postscript, 2007

Sadly Steve Irwin died as a result of a chance encounter with a stingray in 2006. Any of the comments above should not be taken as a slur on Steve's memory. Although I sometimes was uneasy with his enthusiastic hands-on approach, there is no doubt that he genuinely cared about wildlife and raised the profile of such hitherto less-loved creatures such as crocodiles and snakes.

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