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MOVIE INFO

Director:
David R. Ellis
Cast:
Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Joel David Moore, Donal Logue, Joshua Leonard
Writing Credits:
Will Hayes, Jesse Studenberg

Tagline:
Terror runs deep.

Synopsis:
A weekend at a lake house in the Louisiana Gulf turns into a nightmare for seven vacationers as they are subjected to shark attacks.

Box Office:
Budget
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.404 million on 2806 screens.
Domestic Gross
$18.872 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 1/3/2012

Bonus:
• “Shark Attack! Kill Machine!” Scene Search
• “Shark Knight’s Survival Guide”
• “Fake Sharks, Real Scares” Featurette
• “Ellis’ Island” Featurette
• Previews
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Shark Night [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 5, 2012)

Will another film in the “aquatic creature attack” field ever rival Jaws for genre supremacy? No. Not only did that film essentially create the category, but also it pretty much invented the concept of the “summer blockbuster” and earned terrific critical praise as well. Jaws got a nod for Best Picture - “popcorn flicks” rarely earn that honor, so the chances another effort in the same genre would do so seems virtually impossible.

Though I doubt they expect to rival the legendary status of Jaws, filmmakers still trot out their take on the concept on occasion, and 2011 brought another: a 3D extravaganza called Shark Night. Tulane student Sara Palski (Sara Paxton) invites a bunch of her pals to spend the weekend at her family’s lake house. For reasons that emerge along the way, a variety of sharks reside in the area, and they choose to chow on the chums.

Could I give a more detailed synopsis than that? Sure – I could get into a variety of character elements and subplots, but what would be the point? This isn’t Moby-Dick or something with rich personalities and themes; it’s just a cheap teen exploitation flick with some boobs ‘n’ blood. A more specific synopsis would be a waste of time.

That said, I must admit that the film manages a few twists, mostly connected to how the sharks ended up in the lake. These aren’t enough to add a lot to the movie, but at least they mean the plot is less random than usual for this sort of flick.

When you look at director Mark Ellis’ filmography, you find efforts like Snakes on a Plane and The Final Destination. With such flicks in his background, we have a good idea what to expect from Shark Night: a campy, comedic take on the horror genre.

Though not as over the top as one might anticipate from the guy who made Snakes, however. I won’t say that Shark Night plays things straight, but it’s definitely not as goofy and wacky as expected. There’s an odd sense of seriousness that bogs down the movie; I get the feeling it’d play better with a looser, sillier feel, but it stays strangely morose much of the time.

Perhaps it seems illogical to criticize a movie about death and mayhem for taking itself too seriously, but given genre expectations, I do think that Shark Night should’ve done more to embrace its own inherent idiocy. Rather than have fun with its take on the topic, it tends to bog itself down in plot notes and rarely lets loose.

This makes it a surprisingly dull affair. The attacks themselves feel nearly perfunctory, as if the movie doesn’t want to bother with them but feels it must. There’s little in the way of dramatic development toward them; the violent sequences often appear almost out of nowhere and don’t provide any excitement or scares.

Shark Night might be more fun if we’d not already gotten so many similar flicks in recent years. Perhaps it went with a more serious tone because the producers felt 2010’s Piranha already upped the campy ante so much that they couldn’t compete – especially when they opted for a “PG-13” instead of Piranha’s very hard “R”. (That film displayed some of the most graphic – and nauseating – violence I’ve ever seen in a mainstream release.)

Whatever the case may be, the decision to make Shark Attack so fun-free was a mistake. Even if it felt like a Piranha clone – or pigeonholed Snakes on a Plane’s Ellis as “Mr. Sharks In a Lake” – it might’ve led to a more entertaining experience. As it stands, Shark Night provides a slow-paced, dull excuse for an action flick.

Footnote: be sure to stay around until the completion of the end credits to see a bizarre – but fairly funny – music video.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

Shark Night appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Overall, the image looked great.

My only minor complaint related to shadow detail, as nighttime exteriors tended to be tough to discern. That was an artifact related to the filters used to create “day for night” material, though; they just left the picture too dark. Other low-light shots worked better, and blacks were pretty deep and tight.

Sharpness consistently remained excellent. At all times, the movie featured tight, accuracte delineation, and it didn’t show any signs of jaggies, shimmering or edge haloes. Colors tended toward a somewhat amber feel, though a few livelier tones occasionally emerged. These came across as full and appealing within the visual design. Only the thick low-light elements knocked down my grade to a “B+”, as everything else looked terrific.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked well. The soundfield didn’t have as much to do as one might expect from an action flick, but it came to life nicely during the various shark attack sequences. In particular, water shots immersed us in the deep and delivered a solid sense of environment. I’d be hard-pressed to find anything that qualifies as real demo material here, but the track melded together well.

Audio quality was always strong. Music sounded peppy and full, while speech appeared crisp and distinctive. Effects were also accurate and dynamic. This was a track that seemed worthy of a “B+”.

Only a smattering of extras show up here. Shark Attack! Kill Machine! delivers an alternate form of scene search. With it active, we get a five-minute, 43-second montage that shows all of the flick’s big chomp sequences. It might be a more enjoyable way to watch the movie; skip the lame attempts at character development and just get to the point!

During the four-minute, eight-second Shark Knight’s Survival Guide, we see a montage of movie shots accompanied by narration. The latter provides factoids about sharks and attacks. It’s not much of a “survival guide”, as it tells us of dangers but lacks helpful hints. The material could’ve been provided as one screen of text; it’s a waste to have to sit through four minutes of footage for the minor facts.

Fake Sharks, Real Scares goes for five minutes, 24 seconds and provides comments from animatronic effects supervisor Walt Conti, director David R. Ellis, visual effects supervisor Gregor Lakner, and actors Sara Paxton and Alyssa Diaz. We get notes about how the crew brought the movie’s sharks to life. It’s a short but informative overview.

We discuss the director in Ellis’ Island. It runs four minutes, 22 seconds and includes notes from Ellis, Paxton, Diaz, and actors Chris Carmack, Dustin Milligan, Donal Logue, Sinqua Walls, Chris Zylka, and Joel David Moore. We learn a little about Ellis’ methods as well as some production topics. Much of this devolves into general praise, but a few decent nuggets emerge along the way.

The disc opens with ads for Haywire, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Martha Marcy May Marlene. We also get the film’s trailer and Sneak Peeks for those flicks as well as There Be Dragons and In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds.

Finally, we get a second platter with a Digital Copy of Shark Night. As always, this allows you to transfer the movie to a computer or portable viewing gadget.

While I don’t expect modern “aquatic creature attack” movies to rival Jaws, I think the genre remains open to exploration and could give us something effective. Shark Night isn’t that something, as the film seems too slow and dull to deliver the desired water-based bite. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. Even fans of the genre probably won’t find much to enjoy from this tepid adventure.

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