The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (PG)

Review by Jack Foley

FOR anyone who doesn’t know, Australian crocodile hunter Steve Irwin is a natural history film-maker who has become world-renowned for his crazy antics with some of the planet’s most dangerous creatures.

He is the flip-side of Sir David Attenborough, a wildly charismatic performer with an obvious passion for his job, who constantly tip-toes along the line between genius and insanity. Anyone who has seen him wrestling a crocodile, or making friends with a snake, will know what I mean.

But whatever people think (and the jury is most definitely out on this one!), his antics have provided a terrific formula for success, so much so that Irwin has now landed his own movie - a sort of Crocodile Dundee played for a younger generation.

Needless to say, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is a very mixed-bag of a movie; one which certainly entertains the kids more than the adults but one which, more often that not, begs the question, why?

Director John Stainton seems to have trouble identifying a genre, inter-cutting footage of Irwin doing what he does for a living, with scenes involving rogue CIA agents attempting to retrieve a top-secret satellite beacon from the belly of a croc. As the title suggests, the two stories collide for an explosive finale, but it is the only time Irwin is called upon to act in the slightest.

As the star has candidly confessed to any journalist who asks, the so-called stunts on-screen are everyday practices for him - he has had more than his fair share of close scrapes with the jaws of his co-stars or with the wrath of snakes or spiders.

Thus, watching Stainton’s movie is rather like watching an extended episode of The Discovery Channel, albeit with a tacked on, and ludicrous, sub-plot involving the CIA and a mad Bush woman who packs a shotgun. And once the novelty of seeing Irwin tackle the wildlife has worn off, all that is left is a very shabby affair which comes across as a poorly conceived way of cashing in on the TV presenter’s undoubted celebrity.

So while children will probably be enthralled by the creepy crawlies on show (Irwin’s encounter with one of the deadliest spiders in Australia is sure to get the skin crawling), the adults will probably get bored very quickly, especially as proceedings become repetitive.

Irwin may have bags of personality, but his ‘strewth’-laden acts of bravura are more suited to the small screen, while the rest of his cast are outshone by their scaly co-stars. If it’s children’s entertainment involving some animal magic you are seeking this summer, then you’re better off sticking to a mouse called Stuart and his Little family - the rewards are far taller!