Shark Attack (1999)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Overall Rating 34%
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Ranked #6,247
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Connections: Shark Attack

A marine biologist heads for Port Amanzi in Africa after his friend, Mark DeSantis, is supposedly a victim of a fatal shark attack. DeSantis had been conducting research on a series of shark attacks in the area prior to his death and now his friend, along with DeSantis' sister, takes up the research and finds that the sharks may not be the only threat in Port Amanzi. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: March 17, 2010
I've been in the mood for killer shark movies lately, as if my reviews haven't been giving it away, and after sitting through three of them, I've become completely burnt out on them. Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus really whet my appetite for more of these movies, Shark Attack in the Mediterranean was sort of like finding a chunk of rat shit at the bottom of your cereal bowl, and then along came Shark Attack to make me simply give up on these movies altogether. Now, to be fair, today's film wasn't nearly as bad as that German piece of shit from a few days ago, but at the same time, it was far from being a "good" movie.

The story for this one takes place in an African fishing village, where we open the movie by seeing a marine biologist studying something in his boat out in the middle of the ocean. Suddenly, a pair of thugs muscle their way into the room, chop into his arm with a machete, and throw him into the ocean. The blood quickly draws the attention of a nearby shark, and the poor guy is devoured while the thugs point and laugh. What a way to go, and what a way to start the movie.

Back in the States, Steven McKray (Casper Van Dien) gets an email from his friend (the fellow who just had an unfortunate encounter with a shark) that tells him... something. The email somehow became corrupted while traveling from one computer to the next, and thus, Steven heads out to Africa to figure out what went wrong. He soon meets up with his old colleague, Dr. Miles Craven (Bentley Mitchum), who informs him that his buddy is dead and that the sharks have been attacking people more frequently as of late. Gee, I wonder why? With the help of Corinne Desantis (Jenny McShane), the sister of the deceased man, Steven sets out to solve this mystery. What they discover is that:

a) Craven is an unethical bastard who may have found the cure for cancer by injecting the sharks with some sort of super-gene, and he's testing this cure on the local African children with horrendous results.

b) The town mayor / owner / sheriff / rich guy (Ernie Hudson, who must have been hard up for work) has just discovered oil around these parts and is looking to cash in.

c) The local natives are fiercely protective of their sharks and would probably kill to protect them.

d) The village fishermen are pissed off at the Americans for screwing up their town with their scientific this and technology that.

It all ties together in the end, sort of like an episode of Scooby Doo with sharks. Sounds amazing, right? No, I didn't think so.

The movie does start out decently enough - I mean, seriously, hacking a man's arm with a machete and throwing him to the sharks? That's just cold-hearted, and it promised some dastardly villains for our heroes to contend with. Ernie Hudson? The man is always good for at least an acceptable performance and is capable of a great one if he wanted to put forth the effort. Even the storyline started to intrigue me when it first started to shape up, but sadly, it all went downhill from there.

For starters, let's talk about the sharks. There are actually a few shark attack scenes here that were spliced together rather nicely. Sure, it's stock footage of a shark swimming around mixed together with clips of the actors flailing about in an empty pool, but some of these segments were convincing. It was rather annoying how the editors tried to conceal this trick with rapid-fire split second clips, but I could live with that. Then we get to the "prop shark" that was used in the scenes where the actors had to actually be in the same shot as one of the beasts, and this... alright, I know it was a low-budget affair, but seriously? Did somebody truly put their stamp of approval on that abomination? How about the scene where our leads are supposedly in mortal danger of being eaten alive, but we can plainly see that they're safely tucked away in an underwater cage and that the sharks are casually circling it? I'm not referencing the scene where they're actually supposed to be in that cage, by the way, but they sure got their money's worth out of it.

How about that acting? Oh, who am I kidding: it's Casper Van Dien. The man's acting range is generally limited to "blank stare", "confused stare", and "angry stare", and his appearance here is no exception. He delivers his lines like he's reading them off of cue cards, while Jenny McShane is simply there to look good in a bikini. Ernie Hudson is decent enough, but he's in the movie for all of five minutes at the beginning and ten minutes at the end, so don't rely on him to save the day.

Look, I know the movie was made for television and that the filmmakers likely didn't have access to a billion dollars. I can put up with shoddy effects and substandard acting as long as there's a decent storyline to be found. Hell, I don't even need originality: "there's a shark, it's eating people, it continues to eat people for an hour until the heroes save the day" would have been fine in my eyes. They couldn't even get that right, so what we get is a movie that starts out as standard nature gone amok fare, segues over into science fiction, briefly dabbles in romance, hops over to Scooby Doo mystery, and ends in an action sequence straight out of a Schwarzenegger flick. If you couldn't guess by the genres involved, that leaves little room for the sharks in Shark Attack.

I'd be lying if I said that I hated this one as much as Shark Attack in the Mediterranean, but I have to admit that this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back: I'm done with shark movies for a good long while. It's not the worst that I've seen - hell, it's not the worst that I've seen in the last week - but that is far from a glowing recommendation. Skip ahead to the third movie in this series for "the line" and call it a day, or go one better and watch that ten second clip on YouTube. 3/10.
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