Primal
R2 - United Kingdom - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (19th May 2020).
The Film

When Frank Walsh (Nicolas Cage), a hunter and collector of rare and exotic animals, bags a priceless white jaguar for a zoo, he figures it'll be smooth sailing to a big payday. But the ship bearing Frank's precious cargo has two predators caged in its hold: the cat, and a political assassin being extradited to the U.S. After the assassin breaks free - and then frees the jaguar - Frank feverishly stalks the ship's cramped corridors in hot pursuit of his prey, right up until the thrilling, unpredictable climax.

Video

Snakes, jaguars, monkeys ... on a boat!

Big game wrangler Walsh (Nicholas Cage and his intense best) has caught an ultra rare white jaguar in Brazil amongst a host of other creatures. He books passage on a Mexican ship but unfortunately the US government has been forced via circumstances to transport a nutty villain Lofler (Kevin Durand chewing the scenery with aplomb) with his escort: a military doctor (Famke Janssen) and the security team tasked with keeping him caged.

Cage has cornered the market along with others like Liam Neeson and Jason Statham in these low grade likeable action flicks that usually truck out every cliche in the book very entertainingly. This one is no exception and provides plenty of reliably entertaining action, suspense, laughs. It owes a fair amount to Die Hard 2 (1990) with it's cheesy human villain full of wisecracks being escorted back to justice.

It's all very obvious and predictable but amusing and is the kind of fare that played well on the big screen.

Shot digitally in 8K using the Red Epic camera and finished in the now ubiquitous 2.4:1 aspect ratio. Primal favours a naturalistic if occasionally muted colour palette that thankfully does allow for some rich, warm colours at times which are always pleasing to these old eyes. Black levels are handled well; deep with no unintended crush and a reasonable amount of detail given the fog of standard definition that we have to contend with here. What could've been an A+ on a UHD BD or BD presentation is merely worthy of B+ here.

Contrast is very lowkey but supportive and there is no grain, which ain't a surprise. Encoding is adequate and detail ditto, i saw no signs if major compression issues or other artefacts.

PAL / MPEG-2 / 2.4:1 / 92:55

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: None

A robust, modern 5.1 track with plenty of depth and range but hampered by being compressed into a lossy Dolby Digital presentation. It uses the surrounds very well and dialogue is keep front and centre. Music moves around satisfyingly and never interferes with the narrative. Ambience is very active but sadly, all of these positives are hampered by the fact that (as with other Signature Entertainment DVDs I've covered) I had to have the volume at double normal to compensate for compression and for very low volume in the mastering.

Alas, no subtitles for hearing impaired are provided which is an old story for this label; some have them, most don't.

Extras

Startup Trailers:
- A Score to Settle (1:49)
- John Wick: Chapter 3 (1:55)
- Galaxy Chocolate Advert (0:22)
- Angel Has Fallen (2:12)


The usual; trailers for other titles released by Signature Entertainment. A shame.

Packaging

Standard, black DVD keepcase.

Overall

Basic, barebones release of a fun action-adventure-horror flick that frankly should've had a Blu-ray release. The image is about as good as can be for a standard definition presentation of a digitally shot film captured at 8K. Once upon a time not all that long ago, cheesy action films like this (Especially with Nicholas Cage and Famke Jansson) played on the big screen, especially when finished in the Scope aspect ratio. Sound is decent and uses the 5.1 sound field fairly actively. Extras are none existent; but it's cheap as chips even on day of release so I can't quibble with that. If you like old fashioned action fare then this will help scratch that itch if you're so inclined but I miss the days of seeing this kind of thing projected big. Signature Entertainment should be releasing all of their fare on Blu-ray and definately with subtitles.

The Film: B- Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: E Overall: C+

 


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