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Published: Saturday, 9/3/2011

MOVIE REVIEW

‘Shark Night’ has no bite

‘Worst movie of the summer’ closes out the season

BY ROGER MOORE
ORLANDO SENTINEL
"Shark Night 3D" cast members, from left, Alyssa Diaz, Joel David Moore and Sara Paxton pose together before a screening of the film in Los Angeles. "Shark Night 3D" cast members, from left, Alyssa Diaz, Joel David Moore and Sara Paxton pose together before a screening of the film in Los Angeles.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Seven Tulane students plus two bayou rednecks plus scores of sharks plus 3-D add up to zero fun in Shark Night 3D, the worst movie of the summer, arriving on the last weekend of the summer.

Director David R. Ellis has delivered a heartless, suspense-free 90 minutes of sharks dining out on kids stuck on an island in a Louisiana lake. It’s one of those magical movie locations: There’s no cell reception, and while the power grid serves the island-mansion where the Tulane seven hang out, nobody thought to install a land line. With conditions like these, it’s no wonder Louisiana has to give away the store in incentives to get Hollywood to film there.

The island on Lake Crosby is the home of the lovely Sara (Sara Paxton), and she’s brought her friends — the fetching Maya (Alyssa Diaz) and the jock Malik (Sinqua Walls), nerdy pre-med Nick (Dustin Milligan), gameboy Gordon (Joel David Moore), tattoo-babe Beth (Katharine McPhee), and pretty boy Blake (Chris Zylka) to celebrate ... something.

But things instantly go wrong. Something takes a bite out of one. Then another. And since we’ve seen the opening credits, in which a random bikini bottom is snapped up by a shark, we know what that something is.

“Whatever you do, stay out of the water!”

SHARK NIGHT 3D
***** Outstanding; **** Very Good; *** Good; ** Fair; * Poor

Critic’s rating *

Directed by David R. Ellis. Written by Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg. A Relativity Media/Rogue Pictures release,

Playing at Rave Franklin Park, Fallen Timbers, and Levis Commons. Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, disturbing images, sexual references, partial nudity, language, and thematic material.

Running time: 91 minutes.

Stuntman-turned-director Ellis has journeyed from Snakes on a Plane to sharks on a lake. And without Samuel L. Jackson, we’re stuck with humorless one-liners, colorless performances, and perfunctory digital shark attacks. This situation demanded urgency in the editing and panic in the performances. He manages neither.

Other characters include the beer-swilling sheriff (Donal Logue) and a couple of redneck fishermen who insult the black guy and leer at the girls. Joshua Leonard from The Blair Witch Project wears filed down teeth and something like an accent to play one of them. He’s supposed to be a shark, I guess.

Yeah, stuff flies at the camera — viscera and jaws and boat parts. The best 3-D moment in Shark Night is a doozy of a boat wreck in the first act. The underwater photography is pretty, but even the dread that hangs over the movie’s every aquatic moment feels watered down. There’s one decent shock, but the movie lacks jolts, pathos, or glee when this deserving character, or that undeserving one becomes a shark snack.

It’s tempting to look at every 3-D bomb that’s rolled out this summer as evidence of a fad that’s faded. When good (and good-looking) 3-D films such as Fright Night fail, what hope does Shark Night, a picture with zero ambition and almost no entertainment value, have of tempting us to shell out the extra bucks for those magic glasses?



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