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HTF REVIEW: "The Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course" (with screenshots)

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#1 of 20 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 28 2002 - 11:02 AM

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The Crocodile Hunter
Collision Course

Studio: MGM
Year: 2002
Rated: PG
Film Length: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish


I had only somewhat heard of the Discovery Channel
Show Crocodile Hunter where Steve Irwin
and his wife, Terri, risk their lives as they
encounter Australian wildlife. Why anyone would
want to mess with dangerous reptiles is beyond me,
but perhaps with the economy as bad as it is,
there's a job for everyone.

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What puzzles me is how anyone could have thought
that turning this TV show into a movie could be a
good thing. Fact of the matter is, it's not.
Collision Course is a foul waste of 90
minutes that lacks the very basics of coherent
filmmaking. In fact, the film is so awful, that
if I had not been reviewing it for the forum, I
would have turned it off before it was half over.

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Created as a showcase for Irwin's crocodile
wrestling talents, this is actually a TV show
within a film. As the film begins, A US satellite
seems to have gone critical and exploded just
above the earth’s atmosphere. A small top-secret
beacon is ejected. The beacon carries important
information from the US government and has crashed
down in Australia. A few seconds later, an angry
croc swallows the beacon right up.

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Cut to the TV show (shown in windowbox format)
where a hand held camera captures Steve Irwin
throwing himself around in an attempt to capture
a lizard. The film continues to bounce back and
forth from the "plot" with the real actors to
the Irwins, as it constantly changes aspect ratio.
Essentially, Irwin's nature show is intertwined
with a story about a burly redneck woman (Magda
Szubanski) who sets out to shoot a crocodile
living in a nearby river as the CIA moves in to
find the missing top-secret beacon.

Crikey! What crap!

How is the transfer?

It gets harder to think of ways to describe
transfers like this, so for once, permit me be
to be brief: This is a top-notch transfer. Most
of the film was shot in the bright sun, bringing
beautiful vivid clarity and detail to the scenic
Australian Outback. Images are sharp and colors
are accurate. Film grain is absolutely minimal.

Posted Image

Audio was a disappointment here. While the film's
entire 5.1 Dolby surround track is quite strong
across the front channels, the problem is, that's
all you get out of it. There's absolutely no rear
support that I could detect here. LFE response was
absolutely minimal, except for a few explosions.

Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image

It's obvious that MGM wasn't banking on this
DVD being popular amongst adults. So, what did
they do? They turned this DVD into family
entertainment by providing some really cool
supplements that nature-loving kids will no doubt
have a blast sifting through. In fact, the extras
on this disc are what make this DVD worth a purchase.

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An optional Croc Track provides pop-up
transparent windows that provide some insightful
information on just about every little item in the
film from the burrows the perentie lizard dig to
the decibel level of a shotgun to the duties of
Wildlife Rangers. These pop-ups come seconds
apart from each other, and by the time the film
is through, I guarantee you'll be smarter than
you were this morning.

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A Croc in Shot: The Making of Collison Course
started to get interesting until that annoying Amway
pitch man, Steve Irwin, referred to it as "the
greatest blockbuster ever made." At that point, I
just held my breath and hoped for the best. The
entire featurette is narrated by Irwin, who brings
the same sort of hyperactivity that he does to the
movie. We watch as actors get awfully close to
dangerous animals, and the safeguards that were put
in place. The star of this featurette is Australian
actress Magda Szubanski, who was an awfully good sport
with the stressful conditions she was placed under
while shooting outdoors in the wild. Indoors, we
watch the actors try to keep their cool while dressed
in heavy suits. There's a short segment that shows
how Irwin was taught to fight in a duel atop a moving
vehicle. Things really start to pick up when we
get a look at how stunts were pulled off in the
film's water finale. And how did we get those
tight closeups of a crocodile attack? It was none
other than Irwin himself controlling the dangerous
camera maneuvers. Believe it or not, I thought this
was a rather good featurette - far more entertaining
than the movie itself.
(length: approx. 23 minutes)

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Behind The Scenes takes us behind the camera
as we watch how 5 different segments from the movie
were filmed. Caffeine-induced Steve Irwin narrates
the first two segments as we watch how sets were built
and safeguards put in place to deal with the
dangerous crocodile scenes. One segment reveals that
Irwin dressed up as the female Brozzie, performing
the dangerous stunts himself. Other segments are
introduced by director John Stainton as we watch
a barn being rigged with explosions and later, blown
up. Finally, a river segment shows how a high-flying
stunt was performed with a Microlite craft.
(length: approx. 18 minutes)

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Lights! Cameras! Animals! takes us through
10 different rehearsal shots where cameras had
to be carefully placed and stunts had to be well
rehearsed before the film's most dangerous scenes
were lensed. Most of these shorts are narrated by
the Dexatrim-induced Steve Irwin. It's kind of
neat to watch how well Irwin knows these animals,
carefully planning out each of the stunts and
directing the camera crew on how to stay out of
harm's way when dealing with crocs and snakes.
If you have had enough of watching the dangerous
stuff, perhaps you'll enjoy watching how a mobile
nursery was set up for the baby kangaroos.
(length: approx. 36 minutes)

There are five deleted scenes which include:

* At C.I.A. headquarters, there's an interrogation
into why the satellite veered off course.

* This night King Brown snake capture was removed
because the darkness of the scene did not make the
situation seem as dangerous as it would have if
it were day.

* As Steve is being towed down the river by a
croc, an extra log is blocking his path.

* Why are the CIA agents suddenly in dinner suits?
Here is a removed scene that explains their dress

* The original ending of the film shows two CIA
agents meeting in an underground garage.

Each of these deleted scenes is introduced by
director John Stainton. The scenes add nothing
to the film, and it's funny listening to Stainton
talk about how complex he felt the film's story

The Music Video, Crocodile Rock
brings a nice Bahama flavor to the Elton John song,
now sung by Baha Men.

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Outback Interactive Games may have you
fooled at first. Yes, there's a rather large
selection of interactive games that kids can
play using the remote control, but there's some
educational tools here as well.

The games are pretty neat. Ultralight puts
you in a small plane as you dodge the crocs below.
Joeygotchi puts you in charge of caring for
a baby kangaroo. A health and happiness meter
regulates the way you feed and exercise your new
pet. Outback Adventure is probably the
best of all the games here, as you travel through
the Outback, encountering many animals along the
way. Each time you encounter wildlife, you are
faced with having to make a decision, and perhaps,
learn something in the process.

The rest of this area lets kids and parents read
about different kinds of dangerous and friendly
wildlife and how to best observe them from a
distance. You even learn how to protect yourself
in the hot weather. Finally, you can play a little
trivia or even read up a little about Steve and Terry.

A Photo Gallery lets you browse through
a few photos of behind-the-scenes publicity stills,
stills from the film, and some shots of the Irwin
family. If the photos of the crocodiles don't
scare you, the photos of Steve hamming it up for
the camera certainly will.

Finally, the film's original theatrical trailer
and teaser trailer is included here.

Final Thoughts

The DVD itself is only worth purchasing if either
you or your kids are fans of the Discovery Channel
show. The supplements are quite fun to browse
through and will certainly provide hours of
interactive play for pre-teens.

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Without a single engaging character to be found
nor any tolerably clever lines, Collision Course
is probably the worst movie that has surfaced in
the past few years. Perhaps a sequel is in order
where Irwin gets to hunt the filmmakers responsible
for making this tangled mess.

Release Date: December 17, 2002


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 20 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted October 28 2002 - 11:08 AM

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[quote] The DVD itself is only worth purchasing if either
you or your kids are fans of the Discovery Channel
show. [quote]
I don't know...that one shot is enough to give any kid nightmares for life. Posted Image

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Rain



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Posted October 28 2002 - 11:12 AM

[quote] Collision Course is a foul waste of 90 minutes that lacks the very basics of coherent filmmaking. [quote] Well, I can't say I'm surprised.

My sympathies, Ron. It's movies like this that make me glad I'm not a DVD reviewer. Posted Image

"Imagine all the people, living life in peace..." - Imagine by John Lennon

#4 of 20 OFFLINE   Scott Barnhart

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Posted October 28 2002 - 12:32 PM

Ouch, that's harsh! I think that if you are not a regular viewer and/or fan of the TV Series "The Crocodile Hunter", you can't even begin to enjoy this movie for what it is. Both my daughter and I really like his show, his personality, and we liked this movie. And of course, "worst movie of the past few years" is certainly subjective - I could name about 100 movies in the past few years that I liked a lot less than this one. So if you are a fan of the TV series, and you like good clean movies you can watch with your young children, I would say at least rent this one and give it a try - you might like it! I know I did... P.S. - Thanks for the review, Ron! I appreciate your hard work on these reviews, even if you did feel like this one was a waste of your time. Now that I know that the transfer looks good and there are some fun extras, I will definitely be picking this one up.
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#5 of 20 OFFLINE   FrankT


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Posted October 28 2002 - 12:44 PM

I have to disagree. While this is not a great movie it is fun if you like Steve. The thing I like about him the most is his genuine love for what he does. To me that has to be the greatest gift...a total love for life and his work. The movie is harmless fun for all and you learn a bit as you go. I recommend at least renting it.

#6 of 20 OFFLINE   James_Garner


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Posted October 28 2002 - 02:04 PM

I saw the film theatrically, & i was Stunned how much it seemed like a relic of cheesy 80's Filmaking. let's see, The whole thing feels like something made by Cannon or DEG; the "Twain shall never have scenes together" concept looks like it was taken from "Best Defense"; & even the "different aspect ratios" idea seems to have been lifted from the cult classic "Brainstorm". I'd thought i never say this, but I think the film should have used the "Jackass: The Movie" approach & throw away any pretense of a plot & let Steve do what he does in a documentary setting. I liked his shtick, considering I thought he would've get on my nerves real fast.

#7 of 20 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted October 28 2002 - 02:17 PM

[quote] I don't know...that one shot is enough to give any kid nightmares for life. [quote]

And Steve Irwin in drag is STILL more attractive than Magda Szubanski!
Colin Jacobson

#8 of 20 OFFLINE   Neil S. Bulk

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Posted October 28 2002 - 05:52 PM

It's nice to see that MGM got the various aspect ratios correct on this disc, having the 1.85:1 sections matted on all 4 edges. Didn't they screw up Brainstorm by having the 1.85 sections larger than the 2.35 sections? Neil

#9 of 20 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 28 2002 - 08:52 PM

I want to post an update here... Another reviewer contacted me and said that he was able to hear surround use in the rear channels, although I wasn't able to detect any. I did check my system to make sure I was in the proper mode before viewing the DVD. I want to point this out, because if there is any possibility that I am misrepresenting something in my reviews, I want it to be noted. I don't want to falsely represent the quality of a disc.


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#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Bjorn Olav Nyberg

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Posted October 28 2002 - 10:20 PM

[quote] Didn't they screw up Brainstorm by having the 1.85 sections larger than the 2.35 sections? [quote]
That is at least how they showed the movie when I saw it on TCM. Kinda works against the point on the small screen unless you remind yourself how it would have looked in a cinema.
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#11 of 20 OFFLINE   Chris Brunner

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Posted October 28 2002 - 10:47 PM

My son EATS UP The Croc Hunter. Steve Irwin + spiders & snakes + slapstick humor = one extremely happy 10 year old boy. Ron, if I remember correctly, you also claimed that the forthcoming Spiderman DVD had little or no surround info. Perhaps something is wrong???

#12 of 20 OFFLINE   Hank_P


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Posted October 28 2002 - 11:07 PM

I think the best thing of this movie is that ALL profits went to wildlife conservation. And yes, you have to be a good fan of the caffine-induced Steve to enjoy the enthusiasm he has of animals and the habitat they live in.

#13 of 20 OFFLINE   Jenna


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Posted October 28 2002 - 11:28 PM

I know I'm in the minority, but I think Steve Irwin is just hysterical, especially on caffeine, and I've ALWAYS enjoyed watching him. One of my favorite quotes from his Discovery Channel show: "Crikey! The audience LOVES it when I almost get killed!" He *IS* entertaining, to say the least...and in a most enviable position: loving what you do so much and making a "healthy" living at it too. Gotta love the guy!

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#14 of 20 OFFLINE   Tommy Ceez

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Posted October 29 2002 - 12:34 AM

[quote] Collision Course is probably the worst movie that has surfaced in the past few years. [quote]

I have to say the fact that the movie and DVD try to educate children on nature, the environment, and wildlife should exclude it from the ranks of Pootie Tang and Swept Away.
Ill take a lifetime of Crockadile Hunter releases over one Jackass movie.
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#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Mark Lehmkuhl

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Posted October 29 2002 - 02:52 AM

My kids are 'croc' fans and they enjoyed the movie. I think thats the audience the movie is geared towards. It is definitely worth renting if you are a croc fan. As far as owning,...

#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Sebastien David

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Posted October 29 2002 - 03:05 AM

that's the thing with Steve and his antics: unless you're a regular fan of the show, then you're just going to hate that movie... still, I must command Ron for still reviewing this title, so that we know what the transfer and extras look like. -Seb

#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Garrett Adams

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Posted October 29 2002 - 10:44 AM

What do Ebert and Roeper know, they loved it gave it two thumbs up.

#18 of 20 OFFLINE   KyleRoussel


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Posted October 29 2002 - 02:37 PM

I love Steve Irwin, and I watch his show daily, even if I've already seen it. I think his passion and enthusiasm is totally refreshing and its great to watch. Not to mention that he's totally hilarious. His wife is a bit of a drag, but she's tolerable. I didn't get to see Collision Course in theaters, but I won't even ask for this as a Christmas gift-- I'll have it the day it comes out.

#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

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Posted December 06 2002 - 11:50 PM

Hm. I really enjoyed this movie, as well. The Irwins' passion is contagious and hilarious, and I thought it transferred to the big screen about as well as could be expected. It was, in fact, better than I was anticipating, and I look forward to getting this DVD. Sounds like the extras are great.
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#20 of 20 OFFLINE   Juan C Toro

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Posted December 07 2002 - 03:56 AM

Just to balance things a bit, here is a positive review of the DVD, and the movie.

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I have a new hero, and his name is Steve Irwin! Steve is FAIR DINKUM!

Of course, I am already familiar with the famous Crocodile Hunter, thanks to his long time running show on the Discovery Channel. But after watching all the additional material in this excellent DVD, my respect for Irwin has increased ten fold. This movie is such a landmark in the history of MGM/UA, that for the first time in 75 years, they have altered the opening logo of the studio, and have replaced the roaring lion with a crocodile. (Sure, the lion has been played with many times, but never a croc!)

The movie is presented in two aspect ratios: the “documentary” ratio, at 1.85:1, when we see Steve doing his regular TV show stuff, and 2.35:1, when we see the balance of the movie. This means that when the action goes to Steve and Terri, the height of the screen remains constant, but we have additional black bars on the sides of the screen. So don’t worry about your DVD when you see this, as this is intentional.

Besides the wildly entertaining movie, this DVD is chocked full with special features. First, is the “Crock Track”. Watching the movie in this manner, you will get all kinds of trivia facts popping up on the screen (a la VH1 “Pop Up Videos”). They are relevant to the action on the screen, and go from space exploration history, to nature facts about the outback in Australia, to spy trivia about the CIA. This feature is cleverly designed, and can be activated from the special features menu, or via the subtitles menu during playback.

The five deleted scenes are introduced by the director. But the balance of the additional material is hosted by Steve Irwin, and he presents the material with the same enthusiasm we are used to from his show.

There is the “Making of” featurette, a half hour documentary on the making of the movie, plus two additional sections, “Behind the Scenes” and “Lights, Camera, Animals”. These last two are broken down into small shorts that vary between two and five minutes, but we are also given the option of a ‘play all’ feature.

The behind the scenes give us some insight into the special features of the movie, while “lights, camera, animals” deals with specific scenes involving animals. The most amazing thing is that the crocodiles are not animatronics. This is the real deal, and one false move and Steve’s arms or head could have been chopped by an eight foot crocodile. (I’d like to see the insurance papers that were drawn up on this film, Jackie Chan and Steve Irwin probably have something in common.) He was even handling the camera in the extreme close up shots of the crocs, as he is the only person familiar enough with these creatures to anticipate their moves. He did all his stunts (and we see the bruises and the blood to prove it), and even acted as a double doing the stunts for other actors.

The kids will have a great time going through the additional material in the form of games, and trivia notes about the fauna in Australia, and learning hints from Steve and Terri about First Aid, Dangerous Creatures and tools for surviving in the wild. Bottom line, the guy just worships all of nature, and chooses the least lovable creatures to prove it.

Juan Carlos Toro

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