This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
You ever watch a film and then afterwards think to yourself: “Oof!” That’s basically this film in a nutshell. Alligator didn’t have great prospects right from the start to be honest because films about an evil animal rarely ever do well but even for that sub genre this one wasn’t very good at all. You have a whole subplot about a bunch of dogs dying and at that point I knew there was no hope for this film. It was just going to keep falling and falling as the movie went on and that’s exactly what happens here.
The movie starts with a girl getting a pet alligator of her own but unfortunately her father flushes it into the sewers. The alligator swears revenge and over the next 10+ years it begins to grow to monstrous size. It has been destroying all the animals in the sewers and even claims a few human lives. By the time it enters the surface it is quite powerful. Can officer David manage to stop this beast? He is quick on his feet but has a reputation for bumping off his partners which is hard to lose. Additionally everyone thinks he is crazy and don’t believe in an alligator. This town is about to be in a whole lot of trouble.
So the first big issue here is the subplot that I mentioned earlier. Basically there is a scientist running experiments on growth hormones and how to make animals extra big. To do this he is kidnapping a bunch of dogs around town and murdering them all. This ends up giving the alligator more fuel of course but it also adds a lot of animal violence that just wasn’t needed in the film. It makes you cringe every time you see these scenes and there are quite a lot of them. The heroes aren’t able to do much about this guy either because he is protected by someone who is rich enough to own the police. It’s a rather vicious cycle of corruption at the top and everyone is powerless to stop them.
The worst part is that the plot doesn’t add anything of value to the story. Just have the gator find some ooze in the tunnels or something which causes him to grow. Or have a syringe fall down there which makes him big but adding all of those dogs in was just a really bad idea. I haven’t seen a film go this far with the dog deaths in quite a while and of course all of the bodies are there in full display the whole time to make things get even more gruesome. The actual violence in the film isn’t particularly surprising as you are expecting the gator to be chomping people up right from the start anyway. So when it happens that is just par for the course although of course the film should have had a bit more restraint. you don’t need to quite be to excessive with that kind of content.
There’s even one scene where a small child is eaten which I thought was also a bit much. It’s certainly a very dark scene but one that you could have done without. By this point we already know what a monster this thing is so why add onto that any further? The Alligator isn’t super fast so you like your odds when going up against it but unfortunately fort he humans they tend to trip and freeze under pressure which makes them easy targets. If they had just kept on going then things could have gone differently for them. One of the only ones you can’t blame is the kid since he was pushed into the water.
As the main character David is very underwhelming. I like that he is always very eager to solve a case and that he doesn’t let the public get to him too much. Unfortunately at the same time it is easy for one of the reporters to rile him up the whole time and his romance with Marisa is pretty bad. He just gets mean at some points for no real reason and then barely even apologizes to her. He didn’t give her much of a chance at the beginning of the movie so the whole romance is really rushed and makes no sense. It just seems to happen rather suddenly and he looks really desperate.
Sure the romance isn’t great on Marisa’s end either but at least outside of that she is decent enough. I like how determined she is to say that Alligators can’t possibly grow as large as David was saying even though all the evidence points to it. Once she has a theory she will stay very resolved in sticking to it. Then you have Thomas who is the big reporter here. He has a really personal grudge against David for some reason and is always trying to put him on the spot. A little random perhaps but this guy is trying to sell issues and maybe he just knows that David is a much easier target than most others would be. So he’s just engaging in smart business decisions here. It doesn’t make him any less of an antagonist though and you know he’s doomed from the start.
Then you have David’s boss who is in the pocket of his bosses. He will do whatever they say no matter who and what he has to betray. This guy’s really petty and not loyal at all but he is fun. The guy may get off easy but in a way it’s because David isn’t taking him seriously. Whether he plays nice or not, the boss will be listening to his bosses the whole time so it almost doesn’t matter. Finally you have Brock who is a really big hunter who is supposed to be mega impressive. Unfortunately the guy doesn’t have a good attitude and feels out of his depth from the tart. You know that he has no shot but it’s still fun to watch him because of how arrogant he is. The guy holds nothing back and also knows how to manipulate people around him into going on missions. No matter what else you think of him, the guy absolutely knows how to talk his way out of a situation.
It’s hard to know on where to start if you were going to try and fix this movie. There’s just so many bad things about it but removing the dog subplot probably does need to be the first thing you do. Throw in some better main characters while you’re at it. I think either way you don’t want to make another large alligator film again but if you have to do one for some reason then make that the main focus and don’t worry about other stuff. At the end of the day you gotta approach this carefully.
Overall, There isn’t much to like about Alligator at all. When the characters are bad and the romance is rushed in addition to everything else then you may as well just take the L because there is no coming back from that. I highly advise staying far away from this film. There just isn’t any reason to watch it and the movie will certainly drag on for you. Perhaps the sequel will actually end up being better. I don’t doubt that it will surpass the first but that’s easy to do so will it actually be a good movie or not? I’m in no immediate rush to find this out though.