Primal (2019) Review

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Primal (2019): 5 out of 10. Loose monster on a boat, plane, spaceship meets Hannibal Lecter with Nicolas Cage thrown in. This should have been a hell of a lot more entertaining than it was.

The Good

The Good: Primal is well shot and in focus. Outside of the horrendous animal CGI, the film sort of looks good. It’s not the worst Nicolas Cage movie I have ever seen. I am grasping here… Oh; I know Kevin Durand.

For one thing, Kevin seems to be the only one who realises that an assault rifle is better than a compound bow.

Kevin Durand plays a Hannibal Lecter style prisoner being transported on a slow-moving cargo ship to Puerto Rico because he has inner ear problems or something. (The US Marshals are extremely accommodating in this case) He has the usual was one of the best before he became an insane killer backstories and is locked in the full Hannibal Lecter gear as well as being inside a cage.

Durand writing the script. Then they come in the cage without first calling for back-up.

The two Marshals guarding him have clearly never seen Silence of the Lambs, or they certainly would not have gotten in the cage with him after his “seizure”. Durand escapes and then exhibits the most unusual behaviour for a character in a B movie. He is smart. He takes headshots when he can, he ambushes, he puts up distractions, he disables key parts of the ship. He is a well written, intelligent character. He sticks out like a sore thumb in this movie.

I like a villain who enjoys his work.

Durand plays him with original expressions and actions, making the character his own. There is never a sense that Durand is aping Lecter or the Joker or one of a dozen similar psychopaths. This is a unique charter that deserves a much better movie.

Um, guys changing frequencies really doesn’t work when you are the only one using radios.

The Bad

The Bad: You may have noticed I describe above an entire plot of Primal and never once mention neither Nicolas Cage nor animals gone wild. That is because you could have easily made the entire movie without either. Would it have been a better movie? Well, yes.

No comment needed.

Nicolas Cage plays a fat drunk animal poacher that has somehow acquired a rare white jaguar, which he is transporting on the same boat as Hannibal Lecter up there. Does the jaguar get loose and eat most of the crew? Well, no, not really. This is not really an animal attack movie. The jaguar is more of a deus ex machina. There are some horrible CGI monkeys out of Jumanji that kill a chef, and there are a few venomous snakes that bite people, giving them only the rest of the running time of the movie to live.

Wow. I am thinking Playstation 2 graphics but I will go as high as a Dreamcast.

Nicolas Cage is supposed to have a redemption arc that is tacked on and a love interest with US Marshal and neurosurgeon Famke Janssen. There is not a word in the English language to describe the lack of chemistry between Nicolas Cage and Famke Janssen. Perhaps the Germans have a word.

Love, exciting and new 

Also, who makes a movie with a Hannibal Lecter style character; hires Nicolas Cage; and doesn’t hire Nicolas Cage to play the Hannibal Lecter style character? Probably the same people who make a movie call it Persona Non Grata and when distributor Lionsgate objects to the title they change it to Primal. You have a movie about animals (Of various types) escaping their cages and it is starring Nicolas Cage, how can you not call it Uncaged??

So there I was, an Oscar-winning actor.

The Ugly: Famke Janssen looks like she is wearing blackface in some of the opening scenes. Well, not exactly blackface more like the make-up Mr. Carlson wears in his televised debate in the WKRP in Cincinnati episode “Carlson For President”, which strangely makes Mr. Carlson look just like President Trump. And down the rabbit hole I go.

Orange face is older than I thought.

What the hell happened to Famke? (I know she turned fifty, had plastic surgery that went sideways and is now forced into Nicolas Cage’s love interest roles. To make matters worse, Nicholas is in his fat Elvis phase.)

Famke just looks off in some scenes.

Oh look, they got Michael Imperioli from the Sopranos to play the Burke from Aliens role. Does Primal in any way need or support a Burke from Aliens style character? No, no, it doesn’t.

I am glad to see Michael get work. What I learned from his performance in this film? He seems really short.

In addition, Primal would have gotten at least one extra star if the kid was killed. (I don’t care how, jaguar, monkey, venomous snake, Hannibal Lecter, drunken Cage, Coronavirus. I am generally not in favor of killing the kid in these movies. But when I am, it is for a good reason.

I guess there were no train tracks nearby.

The screen shots can tell the entire CGI story better than my words. Guess where the movie’s budget didn’t go?

You know I might owe Jumanji an apology. Come on guys, it is 2019.

In Conclusion: Primal needed a few more over the top scenes. Cage’s character was all over the place and the redemption arc, romance arc and the end all fall flat. The ingredients are there for a decent movie, but too much was added to the stew.

You are on a ship filled with guns. What are you doing?
Our Great White Hunter ladies and gentleman.
Do U.S. Marshalls wear dog tags? Furthermore, why isn’t she wearing a bulletproof vest?
See, the guy on the left has a vest.
Now this is the Cage we came for.
Famke Janssen is still a very attractive woman. Her make-up in this movie does her no favors.
Cage not showing us proper gun control.
Come for animal attacks, stay for the bondage.
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[…] The film also commits some cinematic sins. First, if you purposely hide the identity of Mr. Big till the end, he better be a character we have already met or a Frank Sinatra cameo. Second, if you already have an R rating, why are the dancers in the strip joint fully clothed. And last, there is nothing cheaper than the ethnic character that idolizes Elvis. I hate that crap. Especially when the soundtrack is filled with twanging like we were in the 1950’s Arizona not 1990s L.A… If I wanted to see a bad Nicolas Cage film I would… Read more »