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Movie Review: ‘Shark Night 3D’

September 2, 2011

I’m such a sucker for a creature feature. Alligators, snakes, bears, piranhas and wild boars, I watch them all. But I have a soft spot for sharks. I’ll watch anything with a shark in it. Deep Blue Sea is a particular treat for me when I catch it on cable. I was really hoping Shark Night 3D would be in the vein of last summer’s insanely fun Piranha 3D, but it was not to be. Even I have a threshold for dopey stories, and this one tried my patience. It’s not particularly fun, and there isn’t enough gore to satisfy gore hounds (no doubt due to the PG-13 rating). A few mildly suspenseful moments arise during the short 85-minute running time, but that is not enough to warrant a hearty recommendation.

Shark Night 3D assembles all the requisite stereotypes that comprise a small group of Tulane college students headed to a lake in Louisiana for a weekend of frivolous fun. No need to learn the names, since there is not one bit of character development. There is the jock (Sinqua Walls), his Hispanic girlfriend (Alyssa Diaz), the douchebag (Chris Zylka), the premed student (Dustin Milligan), the skinny nerd (Joel David Moore), the slut (Katharine McPhee), and the rich girl haunted by some past event (Sara Paxton). Trust me, there is a reason that none of these actors are household names. There are a couple of redneck bayou locals (Joshua Leonard and Chris Carmack) and a goofy sheriff (a seriously slumming Donal Logue) thrown into the mix for good measure.

Shortly after arriving at the rich girl’s fabulous family lake house, a few of the kids go wakeboarding. The jock ends up with a missing limb, which is initially dismissed as a boating accident, but when the premed student goes swimming to look for the missing appendage, he sees a shark. Of course there is no cell phone coverage (a point helpfully made early in the movie) so the group tries to figure out a plan to get him medical help while the premed student tries to stabilize the man as best he can. Basically, the only way to get help is to transport the man across the lake to civilization. Chaos and multiple deaths ensue. The kills are boring, consisting of a shot of a shark approaching its prey, then cut to roiling red water. No action, save for a decent explosion.

The mystery of how and why this lake is inhabited with a plethora of shark species culminates in a brain numbing resolution of stupidity. How I wish I could get into spoilers and pick apart the story. Semi trucks could comfortably roll through the plot holes. It’s not silly enough to be campy, but you can’t take it seriously at all. I’m all for Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and the like, because those films are fun to watch. No such luck here. Just a quick cash grab to lure people like me into the theater.

Paxton is the one standout in the cast. She has become quite the little scream queen, having recently starred in The Innkeepers and The Last House on the Left. She is likable, sweet and has that girl next-door quality that makes her endearing. However, the ill-conceived story about her possible past with a local is just as absurd as the rest of the movie. She tries, but she can’t save this boring mess.

Director David R. Ellis has directed two of the Final Destination films, as well as Snakes on a Plane. I enjoyed those movies for what they were, but early on in this film he uses several sped up montages that are clunky and odd. They don’t fit in with the rest of the film, and they are completely unnecessary. This is not one of his best efforts. Still, the bulk of my issues come down to the story, pure and simple. It’s the first screenplay for writers Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg, and it’s painfully obvious. Even as a silly summer diversion, Shark Night 3D is subpar on every level.

*I did not see the film in 3D, but I really can’t imagine shelling more money for this crappy film.

Rating 2/5


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