a critiQal film review Shark Night 3D (2011)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: A sexy summer weekend turns into a blood-soaked nightmare for a group of college students trapped on an island surrounded by voracious underwater predators.

558 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 47s)
  • For a popcorn-chompin' quick thrill, you could do a lot worse.

It seems like creatures of the deep have taken up the mantle that villains like Jason and Freddy have left vacant recently. Probably due to the surprise success of teen thriller Piranha 3D (2010), water predators have become the new freaky villain. Sure, they had a heyday back when Jaws hit theaters, but now – especially with the added chills and thrills 3D can exploit – they are back with a vengeance.

Not only is a sequel to Piranha 3D (2010) coming out (with the tongue-in-cheek title of Piranha 3DD (2012)), but another film, Shark Night 3D is now available on DVD, after a run in theaters last September.

Since we never actually got to check out Piranha 3D (2010) yet (frankly, it’s really not at the top of our list, either), watching Shark Night 3D wasn’t exactly a priority. But, when we came across it on NetFlix®, we figured we’d bite. Would it stack up to classics like Jaws? No, probably not – but it still might be some decent popcorn fun anyway.

The cast of characters is mostly unrecognizable, with only a few familiar faces among the cast. Joel David Moore (who plays the odd assistant that pops up from time to time on “Bones” (TV)) was the most easily recognizable – and the most fun, as his quirky character from “Bones” (TV), with only a few minor adjustments, turns out to work almost as well in Shark Night 3D – and provides most of the scant comic relief.

Donal Logue, who most may remember as a vampire from Blade (1998) (although he’s also starred in films like Max Payne (2008) and Ghost Rider (2007)) is here too, as is Sara Paxton (The Last House on the Left (2009)) and “American Idol” Katharine McPhee, although their characters aren’t nearly as interesting.

The acting won’t garner any awards, but the characters play their cookie-cutter roles decently enough that the viewer won’t be too distracted by the silly dialogue to care much one way or the other. Of course, this means the viewer doesn’t care much as the body count builds up either, but in a popcorn-chomper like this, that’s to be expected.

The plot starts out decent enough, but when they start explaining why the lake is shark-infested, it starts getting a little out of it’s depth. Shark Night 3D finally ends up with a semi-plausible explanation – at least on the surface – and viewers won’t try to figure out the logistics of the scenario until after the movie comes to an end…which suits this film just fine.

The special effects, of course, are all tied up in the shark attack sequences, and, while nothing can quite beat the shock of that giant shark swallowing up that seal in “Planet Earth” (after all, that was real), Shark Night 3D manages to do a good job of keeping the thrills and chills going with some decent effects – and, surprisingly, manages not to overdo the 3D gimmick by throwing a lot of things at the camera.

Ok, so Shark Night 3D isn’t this year’s Jaws. In fact, comparing the two almost seems unfair, since Shark Night 3D is more reminiscent of the Jaws theme ride at Universal – you know, kinda hokey, but still managed to provide a thrill or two, just as it was meant to.

So sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride.

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