Shark Night Review

You can’t blame Fox for Shark Night. After the unexpected success of Piranha and a burgeoning home video shark market (Shark Zone, Shark Attack, Shark Hunter, Two-Headed Shark, Shark This, Shark That), there’s a market for schlock like this.

Some of Shark Night understands. If you’re shocked that the movie’s final shot comes at the 80-minute mark with 10-minutes left for credits, don’t be. Once the cast and crew get their due, there’s a goofy music video with the cast rapping about sharks. Why they didn’t just slap that into the center of this clumsy clunker is anyone’s guess.

It would have killed more time, certainly something Shark Night excels at. There’s a two minute montage of streets rolling by, a four minute boat chase without a purpose, lingering views of bikini-clad backsides, and plenty of backwater locals to exploit. You know, for character.

Snakes on a Plane director David R. Ellis (who wanted to title this one Untitled 3D Shark Thriller) is stuck with a script lacking an ounce of wit or any real energy. Self-aware is clearly too complex a style for this exploitative little creature feature, sort of a Saw meets Jaws combination.

Somehow this one slips in under a PG-13, bloody water the norm and stripteases all the rage, just enough to force titillation without offending puritan values or something. It sot of defeats the point entirely, as if the straight-laced attitude didn’t already. Shark Night’s greatest sin isn’t being forgettable (even if it totally is), but never taking a wink at the camera, breaking the fourth wall, or just admitting how wonderfully ludicrous it is.

If you’re making a shark movie, especially one that opens -surprise!- on a college kid being munched on because the genre said so, how could you possibly expect an audience to soak this up? It’s clear from the get go that this illogical, implausible mish-mash of shark species being fed to the internet is clearly playing with familiar concept, so why not throw a surprise in there or two? Or maybe Samuel L. Jackson dropping a F-bomb about these sharks in these !F-bomb! waters?

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Screw art when there’s a buck to made of simmering fish movies, so going for the gusto with digital 3D is no stunner here. Nothing involved with Shark Night takes any back roads apparently. Transferred to Blu-ray, the Sony CineAlta collapses under its pale, miserable black levels. Even in broad daylight Shark Night never finds itself amongst its dimensional peers, keen to remain mediocre to match its actual movie quality.

Colors are the only bright spot, pleasing saturation leaving flesh tones as they are and colorful Louisiana locales shining bright. As the sun beats down on the uninterested cast, they’re surrounded by superior definition in the grass, trees, and other landscaping delights. Muddy water isn’t exactly a precious commodity, but the surrounding aspects still hammer the point home.

What’s truly missing here is a sense of true high definition, the disc languishing in the mid-range and suffering from a distinct lack of close-ups. It’s clearly more important to showcase the bodies. Texture is imprecise or flattened entirely, this aside from some rather crisp views of trees or other foliage. High-fidelity detail never strikes a chord, as if it’s ever really trying.

It could be those initial impressions, the flick opening on an underwater view rife with banding that sets the tone. Interiors at night are drenched in noise (further obscuring that lost detail), or in other words, all of the problems you can directly associate with a quickie digital effort. Shark Night isn’t trying, so why should the HD community?

Video ★★★☆☆ 

Somebody had fun during post-production, namely the sound designer who tries to infuse this thing with any life it can. The opening shark munching is a direct riff on Jaws with the girl being swung around side-to-side, water tracking to the stereos along with the screams. For a bit of a dramatic low, the subwoofer packs a little bit of a wallop just because. It’s not like it has anything else to do.

The rest of this DTS-HD affair will follow a similar path, bouncing around the channels for a bit of fun as boats float by or water rushes past. The surrounds are rarely without liquid passing through, especially underwater. Sharks always seem to be bumping into things even if nothing is around, or maybe it’s their jaws locking into place that causes the low-end to balloon up. Whatever the case, it works whether or not it’s practical.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Fox must hate this movie. The only extra is a slate of trailers.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆