American travel journalist Pete (Michael Vartan) is stuck in Australia after losing his luggage at the airport. He's still only midway through the article he's working on, and needs the laptop that is in his missing suitcase to complete it.

Committed to completing his job in the meantime, he turns up at a remote village in the outback looking for "Ryan's River Boat Cruise". Having been pointed the way to the small tour boat by a toothless barman, Pete hops on board and almost instantly gets on the wrong side of cheery but suspicious guide Kate (Radha Mitchell).

As the boat's motor splutters into action, one female passenger emotes "Here we go! I hope we see lots of crocodiles!". Aw, pet ...

The tour through the river of the Kakadu National Park goes without incident until two local trouble causers turn up. Colin (Damien Richardson) and Neil (Sam Worthington) attempt to badger Kate in front of her customers but, with Pete's support, she shows them that she takes no shit and the tour continues with the two thugs petering away in their little motor boat to lick their verbal wounds.

Everything settles down for a short while until Kate receives a distress call from a part of the river that's not on her tour route. She explains to the tourists that she is obliged to travel to this unchartered territory to respond to it and, despite resistance from a couple of the group's older members, is given their blessing to heed the call.

They get so far into the swamp without finding any trace of their distress caller, at which point Pete advises Kate to turn the boat around before it starts to get dark. At that precise moment, the boat is hit by something rather large lurking in the muddy waters ...

Managing to get her boat to the shore of a very small island, Kate enlists Pete's help in attempting to pacify her panicking tourists as unhappy camper Everett (Robert Taylor) becomes the first victim of the rogue crocodile out looking for grub, and people inevitably begin to bicker over what the best course of action is.

It seems that the group are saved when a boat blasting heavy rock music comes near. Alas, it's only Neil and Colin coming to taunt Kate some more. This doesn't go well, and Neil ends up stuck on the island with Kate etc after watching his goofy pal sink into the water ...

ROGUE shouldn't have been any good. I mean ... a crocodile film from the director of WOLF CREEK? It would be a massive understatement to suggest I had my reservations about this.

But it's bloody good.

Like WOLF CREEK, the film looks simply gorgeous. McLean once again celebrates Australia's raw natural beauty with effortless style, rendering most of the film an aesthetic pleasure of the highest order. But whereas WOLF CREEK was beautiful but shallow, ROGUE goes several steps further by adding something new to the eye candy: real, palpable tension.

ROGUE is very tense, building deftly by way of a sassily simple script to some great action set-pieces that lead into a satisfyingly edge-of-the-seat finale. Editing is slick and taut, McLean's direction is spare in the greatest sense, and the pace is pretty much unrelenting. This is, long and short of it, an extremely proficient thriller.

Performances are nothing outstanding, admittedly, but there's little need for them to be. I reckon even McLean would concede that his script is generic in terms of getting things moving along: ROGUE isn't going to become known for it's intelligent reworking of the 'dangerous animals' horror sub-genre. It plays by the rules, which includes proffering two-dimensional characters who crack out clichéd dialogue, allowing the action instead to take centre-stage. And in doing so, ROGUE becomes perfect Saturday night entertainment (well, once 'X-Factor's finished ...).

The FX work is good throughout. Gore and prosthetics are well-executed, while it's pleasing to be able to say that even the digital FX are none too ropy. The film is definitely gory, despite it's 15 rating from the BBFC.

Take it for what it is - a monster movie - and you'll definitely not be disappointed.

ROGUE is presented uncut in a wonderfully bright and sharp anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer that does a great job of accentuating the lovely exterior photography and sumptuous locations witnessed throughout the film. Colours are accurate while flesh-tones and blacks are both natural. Images are clean and crisp, further lending ROGUE a transfer to die for.

English audio is provided in a sterling 5.1 mix, with good balance of channels and a great bass track that really comes through during the film's frequent shock moments. Audio and music are well equated throughout, meaning there's no need for the annoyance of having to play around with your TV volume during the film. Optional English subtitles are also provided.

An animated main menu leads to a static scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.

Extras begin with a hugely worthwhile audio commentary track from McLean. Chatty, warm and incredibly informative, McLean is a natural commentator and this is a great track. No stone is left unturned as the filmmaker enthuses over his cast, locations, editing techniques, the various methods of FX employed, production headaches - the entire process from old script that he'd sat on for years to eventual completed film, in fact.

Next up is the brilliant 44-minute documentary entitled, not surprisingly, "The Making Of Rogue". Helmed by McLean himself, this is a stylish and impressively comprehensive amalgamation of behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, and more breathtaking footage of the beautiful Australian countryside. McLean comes across as an intelligent and committed filmmaker, and his enthusiasm is infectious - especially when shedding light on the true story that inspired ROGUE (the archive interview footage with a crocodile attack survivor is a nice touch too).

"Welcome To The Territory" leads to a sub-menu offering three more self-explanatory featurettes: "The Effects", which allows a further 17 minutes devoted to dissecting the film's formidable blend of animatronics, prosthetics and CGI; "The Music" gives 14 minutes' insight into Frank Tetaz's orchestra recording the violin-heavy score; "Northern Territory" takes in more of the locations used for McLean's "very old-fashioned horror film" (his words) over the course of another 15 minutes.

Finally, "The Real Rogue" is a 2-and-a-half-minute featurette that finds McLean and the FX supervisors revealing how much research went into creating a realistic monster for the film. Including entertaining anecdotes and nice footage of real crocodiles in captivity, it's a more worthy addition than it's meagre running time may suggest.

The disc is defaulted to open with a trailer for Christopher Smith's forthcoming TRIANGLE.

I wasn't expecting much from ROGUE, but it's a very well made and - more importantly - entertaining film. In fact, it's one of the best animal-themed terror films in ages. The film comes highly recommended and the disc, with flawless picture presentation and tonnes of great extras, is it's perfect complement.

Also available on Blu-ray.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Icon Home Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review