Last updated: May 22. 2014 4:56PM - 1342 Views
Tom Doty Times Columnist



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A ferocious robot reptile busts out of a zoo and embarks on a teenager-feeding frenzy in this “creature feature” from the hard-working folks at Origin Releasing.


Origin Releasing is quickly amassing a fine flock of genre flicks for the DVD, TV, and streaming markets. Like Asylum Studios, they specialize in putting familiar faces and genre-savvy filmmakers together to make edible brain candy for the masses. They are also generous with their catalogue. If you or buy their DVDs, you also get at least 30 minutes of trailers showcasing their entire product line.


This one starts off with a bang, as an unmanned rocket launch turns into an inferno of burning hot metal that rains down on a city. The ground control crew manages to eject the “payload” remotely. It lands in the pond at the crocodile exhibit at a zoo where Stella, the facility’s resident croc is awaiting breakfast. Turns out the load is a swarm of microscopic robots. Their mission: to convert the nearest lifeform into a killer cyborg. Don’t you love it when a movie skips the small talk and gets right to the action?


It’s feeding time at the zoo, but that takes on a new meaning when our agitated reptile decides to try to bite the hand that serves her. Luckily, the guy makes it to safety, but trouble is coming. The military shows up, takes over the park, and before you can say “conspiracy theory,” they immediately begin looking for Stella while ignoring the advice of the resident croc doc, Jim Duffy. You gotta love Duffy, as he rocks a blue collar vibe, used to host a nature show, and is played by the guy who starred on “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.”


The problem is soon clear. The croc is mutating fast, and if they don’t stop it soon, it will become nearly invulnerable (thanks to the efficiency of the tiny robots who work harder than scrubbing bubbles). Duffy has his work cut out for him. His challenges include a nearby water park (that gets “crocked”) and dealing with the project’s chief scientist, who wants the creature alive.


The movie now shifts gears, as Duffy hunts the robo-monster, while it chases a quintet of teens around the water park. Luckily, he has brought along a biologist (who looks more like a swimsuit model) and his old buddy and fellow croc hunter from his nature-show days. Things get complicated when Duff realizes that his son is in the group of teens and that the scientist who developed this problem is in touch with the croc and will do anything to keep it alive.


It all leads to a sewer showdown that pays homage to “Alligator” while wrapping up all plotlines in a tidy 75 minutes. Bravo — for once a CGI monster flick that doesn’t try to stretch out its running time to an hour and a half.


This is a fun timewaster. It also manages to generate a modicum of suspense by giving you a couple of characters who are engaging enough to waste an hour and a quarter with.


The main credit goes to Corin Nemec, as Duffy. He downplays the macho factor, typical of heroes in these types of movies, and manages to make the Duffster a likeable enough guy who happens to know a thing or two about crocks. Dee Wallace (“ET”) is also good as the smarmy scientist who has about as much scruples as a politician seeking reelection.


The action bits are okay and the CGI isn’t overdone, while gore is kept to a minimum.


Finally, a killer crock movie you can share with your loved ones — in the unlikely event that they are all in the mood for this sort of thing. Now go and enjoy that beach, lake, or water park vacation that marks the start of summer.


2013, unrated.


Best Lines

“A hobo guy crawled into the meerkat enclosure.”


“A robot crocodile? Like a transformer?”


“There’s not a pig’s chance in a piranha pond you are coming with me.”

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