Shark Night 3D (2011)
(15) Running time: 91 minutes
Director: David R. Ellis
Writers: Will Hayes, Jesse Studenberg
Starring: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katharine Mcphee, Chris Zylka
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
I have been looking forward to Shark Night for a long long time, all the clips, trailers and images had me very excited, but when word leaked that it wasn’t very good, and that press screenings had been cancelled, I started to get worried. See, I love Shark movies, and even the bad one’s still give me plenty of enjoyment (Deep Blue Sea excluded here), and so I decided to go into Shark Night with an open mind, I ignored other reviews and thought, “I don’t want to know any more about the film, and I will decide for myself” So, as the film starts and we meet the oh so cliche characters, I was actually starting to enjoy myself at the cinema. The characters, apart from one who we will get too in due course, were actually OK, dumb as shit, but OK. Sara Paxton looks stunning, especially in 3D as the camera closes in on her half naked body, and Katharine Mcphee is also rather stunning, in fact, I could have happily watched the pair in 3D for the whole film, but this is a shark film, so we need to discuss sharks, but first let’s enlighten you on the plot, or lack of it!
Seven college kids head off to Sara’s (Paxton)parents house on a beautiful lake in the Louisiana Gulf, they are celebrating Malik’s (Sinqua Walls) results. Sara hasn’t been back for three years, is a bit shy around boys these days and spends most of her free time with her pet dog (one of the best characters in the film). Arriving in the lakeside town, the students have a run in with two locals, and Malik does his manly thing and squares up to them. This is Malik’s start of a downward spiral to total unlike-ability, the locals get ready to fight and Sara comes out the shop and low and behold, she knows them! In fact, one of them is her ex boyfriend, a nasty piece of work with a scar on his face. The pair work on the river, the Sharks in the film should never live in salt water, and if you put two and two together, you pretty much have your plot! Add a dodgy, overly happy Sheriff who likes a drink into the mix and only an idiot would not figure out how the story will go. Saying that, apart from Malik, I am still enjoying the cast, and once they get to the lakehouse and the girls strip down to their bikini’s, the 3D finally becomes useful.
Saying all this, I forgot the opening scene which pretty much sums up the rest of the film, and you may well have seen the clip here on this website. A couple are in the lake making out, boyfriend removes girlfriends bikini top, throws away, she swims to get it after camera does close up of her butt bouncing in the water, boyfriend leaves lake, plays music, can’t hear girlfriend as a shark attacks her, we don’t see shark, only splashes and some blood. I am being a little sarcastic here as often the film feels like its aimed at babies with its simplicity. After the attack we move on to the opening credits which feature far more shark action than you will actually see in the film, and the credits are actually very cool, shame about the rest of the film. See, the problem starts when the Sharks first attack, because we don’t see anything apart from a fin. There is a great build up, and then nothing and the rest of the film plays out this way. There are numerous sharks, from Hammerheads to Bull’s to Great Whites to some small little bastards that eat a poor girl alive like piranha in one of the films highlights, but we rarely actually see a shark attack. We get a fin, some bubbles, and some blood (if you’re lucky) but never the full attack which, in this day of CGI , we should. Hell, there are many times when the actual Sharks look incredibly fake swimming through the water, attention to detail has been badly missed here. The plot is rubbish, with far too much emphasis on a silly revenge tale which pretty much ruins the whole film, and there was no need for it. It becomes ludicrous and pointless and actually started to test my patience.
The 3D pretty much ruins any scene worthy of talking about as it just suddenly becomes a blur. The only time the 3D actually enhances the film is a short underwater scene near the end involving a Shark cage, and any scene involving either Sara Paxton or Katharine McPhee in bikini’s. Sharks attack, but it is hard to make out what is happening and I found myself becoming frustrated. Although, there are two glorious scenes of Sharks jumping out of the water which do work in 3D. One involves a Bull Shark which would never actually happen, and the other involves a Great White which arrives totally unexpected and catches you off guard.
Now, if you have seen the trailer, you will know the black guy Malik has his arm bitten off, it’s the attack which starts it all. Anyway, he becomes the central character as they try to get help, but Christ his character grates and annoys like no other. I have to mention this because it will make me feel better getting this off my chest. He talks about living in the “401” early on, and then plays the tough guy from then on, but it becomes incredibly annoying once he decides to go and battle the sharks with a spear and one arm “an eye for an eye where I come from, you wouldn’t understand so go back in the house!” Man, and he gets worse later on as he comes round after being passed out and does one more heroic thing due to the loss of his woman (this will not spoil the film knowing this I can assure you). Malik pretty much sums up Shark Night, annoying and trying to be too clever or tough for it’s own good and never actually connecting with it’s audience.
Shark Night 3D is a mess, but somehow it is actually good fun and it easily passes 90 minutes, although you may feel a bit pissed off that you can’t get those 90 minutes back once this has finished. It’s not a bad movie, but then, it’s no way a great movie either. This is one of those films that is easily forgettable, but one you will no doubt buy on DVD or Bluray as a “comfort film”, one to just stick on on a rainy day when you’ve got nothing better to do.
[pt-filmtitle]Shark Night 3D[/pt-filmtitle]