by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
Sara Paxton as SARA PALSKI
Dustin Milligan as NICK
Chris Carmack as DENNIS CRIM
Katharine McPhee as BETH
Joel David Moore as GORDON
Donal Logue as SHERIFF GREG SABIN
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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Over the last five years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with David R. Ellis. On one hand, his R-rated silly monster movie “Snakes on a Plane” was a fantastically stupid romp through big-budget exploitation cinema. The man has a great sense of meta jokes and fun with horror elements.
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However, when he delivered his installment of “The Final Destination,” things got bad. Knowing he has a strong special effects and stunt background, I can understand what he tries to do with his more recent films. He’s going for over-the-top silliness and shock value. It’s more gory in “The Final Destination,” but he applies the same principle to his most recent thriller, “Shark Night.”
First, I’ll get the 3D element out of the way. Both “The Final Destination” and “Shark Night” do a great job with the 3D gimmick. Ellis doesn’t shy away from throwing things at the audience face or employing some of the more obvious and non-organic 3D shots. As a 3D director, he knows what he’s doing, and I appreciate the fact that he originates in 3D rather than going through a lame conversion process.
So it’s not the presentation or the placement of his tongue in his cheek that cobbles Ellis as a director as of late. It is, instead, his lack of commitment to his own joke. Where “Snakes on a Plane” reached a level of ridiculous from frame one, “Shark Night” felt like he was honestly trying to make a nail-biting thriller.
“Shark Night” follows a group of college students partying on a private island during the weekend. However, when they discover that man-eating sharks are loose in the surrounding lake, it turns into a nightmare... in 3D if you have the technology for it at home.
Yeah, Ellis makes jokes at the expense of his own industry and genre, but in 2011 we saw similar jokes in everything from “Creature” to “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.” Where this film falls apart is in the deliberately bad character development which never quite registers as a joke but rather as a weak attempt at actually developing the characters.
The only thing that really could have saved “Shark Night” on Blu-ray would have been an excessively gory unrated cut, but unfortunately we’re left with the ho-hum PG-13 cut that chewed through the theaters last year.
The Blu-ray includes a Digital Copy disc for portable viewing. It also has several featurettes, including “Fake Sharks, Real Scares” and a director spotlight called “Ellis’ Island.” There’s also a “Shark Attack! Kill Machine!” featurette that condenses the kills of the movie to less than 10 minutes. Finally, the “Shark Night’s Survival Guide” offers some common as well as lesser-known shark facts.