Is America ready to get back into the movie water when sharks attack in Shark Night 3D? Jaws famously established the standard for the shark movie genre with Steven Spielberg crafting one of his best. Snakes on a Plane director David R. Ellis has taken the sharp-toothed underwater king of film terror tool and brought it into the 21st century, complete with the “all the rage” 3D format. The big question is: Does it have teeth?
Shark Night 3D has a good-looking cast ready for the folly of Ellis’ vision. The film is led by Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan as a group of college kids from Tulane. The pals head to Paxton’s character’s family home that lies on an island in a salt water lake and yes, shark attacks ensue pretty much immediately.
First they meet a pair of unsavory locals that ought to make Louisiana natives a little annoyed at the stereotypical archetype that Shark Night 3D not only employs, but places at the center of its scare. Having its “villains” (out of the water at least) be so transparent is only the first strike against Shark Night 3D.
Given the film’s title, all the action must inherently take place in one single evening of complete horror and mayhem. The timeline established causes us to call strike two on Shark Night 3D for its unbelievability. It simply makes no sense in any realm or reality — cinematic suspension of disbelief or not.
The movie is a killer shark film, but it also is an ensemble piece with a cast that shows signs of talent, yet is never able to fully flex its muscle due to the weak script, over-bloated action sequences and the same “ham” acting that led to the Ellis directed Snakes on a Plane laughability. Like Snakes on a Plane, Shark Night 3D has a good premise that in the right hands could have resulted in one terrifying and thrilling piece of kitsch filmmaking. And also like Snakes on a Plane, the cast and supporting players are up for a game that is never allowed to become what it could be.
From American Idol alum Katharine McPhee to Avatar star Joel David Moore, the signs of promise not only lie in the film’s premise, but also in its players’ ability to hit a home run. The only problem is Shark Night 3D gets a strike three for its inability to take all the promising pieces and assemble them in a manner that is equally thrilling as it is terrifying. Shark Night, you’re out on called strikes.
In the end all shark movies require the same question upon completion: Does the film have bite? Bite, in the most positive of ways one hopes, and unfortunately, Shark Night 3D bites in a bad way.