Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shark Attack Reviewed By The DarkSider

The Plot: Our aquatic adventure begins one pleasant evening at sea off the coast of Africa. A diver surfaces and we follow him to his boat through a bunch of nauseating overhead camera angles. We get a long look at the name of his boat which undoubtedly will matter later on in the story. Well, its either that or the camera man got preoccupied. I didn't care either way really. Once on board, the diver submits an email to someone when all of a sudden a couple of baddies enter his boat. Said baddies, who we learn are "law and order" thanks to the stickers sloppily slapped on the side of their crappy motorboat, take the diver out to an undisclosed location and chuck him overboard with a cut arm. A shark arrives via presumable stock footage and takes him under with some Jaws camera angles to boot.

Cut to a fellow named Steve (Casper Van Dien) who is the apparently the intended recipient of the email sent by the diver (now introduced as Marc) from the beginning. Seeing we need something resembling a plot, Steve only receives part of Marc's report which is loaded with gruesome shark attack photos from Africa. Steve heads over to his professor named Jim and asks him if he can go to Africa. There is some major stuff going down shark attack wise and Steve aims to find it. It would also serve as his doctoral dissertation. Jim gives him the big old thumbs up with no apparent major issues.

Cut to the Amanzi Marine Research Centre where a shark is being dissected. We find out, thanks to the arm in it's tummy, it was the one that ate Marc at the beginning. (I'm assuming it was food poisoning that killed the poor shark.) The film jumps to Steve's arrival where he is greeted by a fellow named Lawrence who is played by Ernie Hudson sporting a fake sounding accent. I have to point out I really like Hudson as an actor. Where I could sigh about him appearing in this film, I'm just glad he got some sort of paycheck. Lawrence is the local hotel owner amongst other things. He informs Steve that the whole town is screwed due to the shark issue. He hands Steve off to a driver named Manny who proves to be the annoying comedic relief in the film. He informs Steve that many of the locals blame the science institute for the shark problems.

After a confrontation with a moody guard, Steve hooks up with his buddy Dr. Miles Craven. Steve gets the unfortunate news on his buddy Marc. He also gets the location of another buddy pal of his named Corrine who happens to be Marc's sister. She is down drowning her sorrows at the local waterin' hole. Steve and her have an uneasy conversation until a local fisherman comes over to confront them. After a bunch of Dr. Evazan-like dialog, Steve proceeds to beat the snot out of him.

The two leave the dive bar and head out to the dock to look at Marc's boat. They find a few clues into Marc's death and are able to pull up a map of a nearby lagoon Marc was studying. The two leave the ship only to be accosted by the fisherman again. Out of nowhere a boy nearby gets attacked. Steve and the fisherman use their and rescue the boy after a bunch of sloppy jump cuts of shark stock footage. I think this kind of "special shark effect" becomes par for the course here on out by the way.

Steve goes with Manny to the lagoon where they meet up with Corrine much to Steve's disappointment. Steve notes some near by pillars which Manny explains belongs to the local tribe. Apparently they are to ward off fishermen who are out to catch sharks. (Ah Christ...please don't go with the tribe controlling the sharks angle later in the film...please...please...please don't...) Steve and Corrine go down into the depths only to get attacked by a shark. They surface, after being netted, to come face to face with the local tribe who are PO'd but let them go. On the way back, Steve talks about something they heard underwater. None of which I heard as the viewer by the way. It apparently was a "bumper" to attract sharks to the area. Corrine asks the obvious question of "who and why" would do that.

"Take home an aquatic friend today!"

The two head back to the institute where they ask Miles about the lagoon. He explains that the beacon was put there by Marc in an attempt to coral the sharks. That and the local tribesmen are more than likely not responsible for Marc's death. Of course we already knew that as the viewer thanks to the beginning of the film. That evening Steve and company head out to try to capture a live shark. In a bit more embarrassing than Lugosi battling the giant octopus at the end of Bride Of The Monster, the group wrestle with a dead shark to make it look lifelike on film. Steve cuts it open to find...dun dun dahhhhh...the shark's brain is inflamed. We get a half assed explanation that encephalitis is the cause of the shark attacks. Hence, they just can't figure out when they aren't hungry. Just go with it. The plot begs you...hell, I beg you. Steve takes a blood sample just in time because the tribesmen arrive to shark-jack their catch.

The next day after a brief conversation with Lawrence, Steve heads back to his boat where he meets up with Corrine. She relays her findings on the shark sample. Apparently the shark has been tinkered with hormonally. It was more scientific sounding explanation but unlike the movie I have no reason the distract you. After witnessing a brief shark attack on a pleasure boater, they head up to Lawrence's house for dinner with Miles. After a moody confrontation, Miles explains to them what he's been up to. Apparently sharks are the cure for cancer. Oh we go with the Deep Blue Sea angle. Miles proves this by taking them to see a boy who he cured with his miracle shark drug. Steve pulls a nutty on Miles calling his practices unethical and calls it a night.

The next day, Steve, Corrine and Manny head out to set up bumpers for whatever reason along the beach. After the movie uses the same timed scared twice, the two find themselves trapped in their anti-shark cage thanks to the bad police. Steve uses his air tank to raise the cage (don't ask me to explain, to be honest it was hard to tell what was going on with the jump shots anyways) and when they surface we learn from Manny that he was attacked from behind.

So after a somewhat busy day Steve and Corrine head back into town. However, the bad cops are there to great them. They bop them over the head and proceed to take them out to the place where Marc was off'd in the beginning. The bad cops toss them over but Steve and Corrine make a mad swim for an air tank at the bottom of the river. Ok, wait a damn minute. I'll bend a bit when it comes to not knowing Steve left it there. I was zoning in and out of attention in this movie anyhow. However, I'm calling absolute bullsh*t that Steve magically knew where they were after getting knocked out. Not to mention know exactly where an air tank was in a huge river. Jesus H, most move on.

The two escape and decide its best they inform the cops. You got to be kidding me right? Of course they find out what we already knew when the movie began which is the cops are a bunch of meanies. They escape with the help of Manny in a chase scene involving cars that were overly explosive upon collision. The next 20 minutes or so serves as major time killing device. Basically in one sentence, Steve and Corrine uncover major evidence that Dr. Craven's miracle drug kills more than it cures.

"Alright its ready...I've got dibs on the liver..."

Steve proceeds to download incriminating evidence (I guess Dr. Craven was too busy to password protect it) from the institutes' computer onto a CD. Dr. Craven arrives with guard in tow to confront them. Steve manages to escape but as a true gentleman he leaves Corrine behind to fend for herself. Way to go hero. A boat chase scene gives way featuring Steve/Manny being chased by the bad cops. Steve makes a half assed Molotov cocktail using a flare and jug of fuel. For reasons escaping me, it blows up in the water taking out the boat behind them when Steve chucks it in the water. Of course another boat ends up on their tail but luckily ends up hitting a rock and explodes. I guess they just don't make boats as vehicles as strong as they used. Either that or this film is f*cking stupid. I'll opt for option number two personally.

Steven calls up Dr. Craven and agrees to trade the disc for Corrine that evening. However, him and Manny spot Lawrence's helicopter zooming towards the Institute. They immediately head over the Lawrence's place where they tear apart his office. They find secret plans regarding an offshore oil drilling project he is working on. Apparently bad guys in this film like leaving incriminating evidence around. Steve and Manny rally the fishermen with this new found knowledge.

Steve alone heads to the Institute and find Lawrence there. Turns out that Dr. Craven didn't know Lawrence's ultimate plan and that he was behind Marc's death. Lawrence does the standard villain monologue just long enough for the fishermen cavalry to arrive. In the epically bad continuity department, Manny's drives his boat (filled to the brim with explosive barrels) toward the institute. He bails and the boat literally clings against a pole virtually stopping it. One jump cut later, its shown zooming into the wall exploding. Way to go editing staff.

In a standard shootout scene (made boring by the fact they all use pistols) Dr. Craven somewhat redeems himself. However, he finds himself with a spear in his chest thanks to Lawrence. Lawrence takes off in his chopper but Steve jumps on board just in time. He chuck Lawrence out and follows him into shark infested waters. Meanwhile, the chopper ends up crashing...chalk up another several thousand spent on pyrotechnics. Lawrence and Steve jockey for position on a buoy. Lawrence ends up falling off and becomes a warm shark lunch. In another bit of sh*t editing, we see the shark that supposedly eats him jumping out of the water...with a presumable f*cking fishing line in his mouth. Did they really even care while making this film? Hell they didn't check out the stock footage they were using apparently. Well no matter, the film ends with Steve and Corrine sailing into the sunset with a presumable empty promise to local fisherman to clean up the shark problem.

This film tries hard at times but when it comes down to it, Shark Attack really has no soul. The killer shark franchise has many to choose from (as one can see with the films featured in this roundtable) and this one kind of falls into the bargain bin with many. In all fairness, although the plot holds attention but is hole ridden and for lack of a better term, "silly".

Surprisingly the film isn't badly acted. Granted its no Academy Award endeavor but Van Dien and company put their best foot forward...well mostly. Dr. Miles nearly put me into a bad acting conniption fit whenever he appeared. However it doesn't erase the biggest lag of all which comes in the "special effects" department. Or as I have call them in movie reviews just like this in the past, "special-ed effects". As mentioned throughout, they are sloppily done through the use of awfully selected shark footage. Hell, at times it looks like they dove into old episodes of "Shark Week" to get by.

In the tail end (bad pun) Shark Attack simply comes off as another mediocre made for television film. Before you swim away to non-review sites, make sure you check out several other site's reviews of shark films by clicking the image below.

(the A-Holes of the film get their moment)


He should have taken the Paris Hilton
approach to odd hotel ownership. Stop wasting
time with silly plans and do nothing. Its
guaranteed more money than oil rigs.

Dr. Craven

Trying to cure cancer through sharks has
it's side effects. Subjects are often found
humming ominous cello music when they
approach someone.

Law And Order

Aka the ghetto version of the term
"To Serve and Protect"


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