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Shark Night Blu-ray Review

Shark Night (2011) movie poster Shark Night

Theatrical Release: September 2, 2011 / Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Director: David R. Ellis / Writers: Will Hayes, Jesse Studenberg

Cast: Sara Paxton (Sara Palski), Dustin Milligan (Nick LaDuca), Chris Carmack (Dennis Crim), Katharine McPhee (Beth), Joel David Moore (Gordon), Donal Logue (Sheriff Sabin), Joshua Leonard (Red), Sinqua Walls (Malik), Alyssa Diaz (Maya), Chris Zylka (Blake Hammond), Jimmy Lee, Jr. (Carl), Damon Lipari (Keith), Christine Quinn (Jess), Kelly Sry (Wonsuk), Tyler Bryan (Kyle)

Buy Shark Night from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital Copy DVD Instant Video

Shark Night does not take place exclusively or even primarily over the course of one night. The title, however, is the least of the movie's problems.

As that appellation suggests, this is an aquatic thriller, joining the horror subgenre that began with and is still best represented by Jaws. In recent years, its ranks have grown with the likes of Piranha 3D and a variety of inane, Roger Corman-produced Syfy original TV movies.
Shark Night falls somewhere in between. That in theaters it was called Shark Night 3D and opened at the end of summer link it to the surprisingly well-reviewed 2010 Piranha. The PG-13 rating, though, gives us far less gore, profanity, and nudity, making it a natural fit for basic cable.

The film centers on a group of seven Tulane University college students who make spontaneous plans for a weekend of fun on Louisiana's fictional Lake Crosby, a destination far enough to elicit a first-person driving montage. After the obligatory, unrelated prologue kill, the characters are introduced and defined with a mix of fakeouts and exposition. That girl you think is a slut ("American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee) is really just fond of tattoos. That black scholarship athlete you first see as frightening (Sinqua Walls) is really just playing a joke. That video gamer nerd (Joel David Moore, testing the bounds of "college-aged") -- well, he really is a nerd. Also along are the athlete's Latina girlfriend (Alyssa Diaz) and a vain, butt-baring art class model (Chris Zylka).

Seven college kids party it up on the lake. What ever could go wrong in a movie called "Shark Night"?!

Of slightly more importance are the athlete's med school-bound tutor, Nick (Dustin Milligan), and the object of his affections, Sara Palski (Sara Paxton). They are given top billing and a hint of romantic potential, suggesting they might stick around longer than most.

Equipped with beer and enthusiasm but no cell phone signal or other present-day communication methods (a fact feebly explained), the seven youths show off their universally toned bodies in swimsuits. Their revelry is cut short when one jet skier loses his arm. What is first believed to be a boating accident is soon discovered to be the handiwork of a shark. A shark in a lake, you ask? Yes, a shark in a saltwater lake and more than one. That unusual predicament is chalked up to hurricane season flooding, but there are more sinister forces at work.

The group's only human company at any proximity are the friendly Sheriff Sabin (Donal Logue) and a pair of sketchy hillbillies (Into the Blue 2's Chris Carmack and, sporting fangs and many tattoos, The Blair Witch Project's Joshua Leonard), the very type Tucker and Dale vs. Evil sends up.

'80s-loving funnyman Donal Logue plays friendly, hair band-loving Sheriff Sabin, who pulls off his sunglasses without a biting one-liner. Chris Carmack and Joshua Leonard play Dennis and Red, a more tech-savvy version of the shady redneck archetypes on whom Tucker and Dale are based.

Shark Night is stupid without irony, awareness, or a sense of humor. There are no likable characters. This is not remotely scary, nor is it exciting, fun, or even funny. All the film's creativity is used up on villain motivation. There are some cheesy 3D effects lost in standard viewing, which still supplies one dimension beyond the debut film script by Will Hayes ("Best Week Ever", "Assy McGee") and Jesse Studenberg.

Stunt coordinator-turned-director David R. Ellis wasn't able to uncover much fun with Samuel L. Jackson and the premise of Snakes on a Plane; what chance has he got with the unproven cast and tired story here?
This is Ellis' third consecutive film to end up with an IMDb user rating south of 5.0. One wonders how long it is before course correction relegates him either to direct-to-video fare or back to second unit direction.

Shark Night can't even boast the profitability of Ellis' prior release, 2009's The Final Destination. Grossing just under $19 M domestically and barely matching that total overseas, the movie was one of several to lose money last year for young distributor Relativity Media, whose $25 M budget (identical to Piranha's) seems excessive but at least yields animatronics and CGI clearly better than the visual effects of Corman's shoestring Syfy productions. Still, with limited shark action and little else you can't find all over cable television, one can't help but think that $25 M would have been much better spent elsewhere. That conclusion is especially easy to reach after being subjected to the cast's embarrassing post-scroll rap music video that extends the end credits to an inordinate full ten minutes.

Four months after beginning its understandably short-lived theatrical run, Shark Night came to DVD and Blu-ray (but surprisingly not Blu-ray 3D) this week from Relativity Media's home video partner, 20th Century Fox.

Shark Night: Blu-ray + Digital Copy cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (1 BD-25 & 1 DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Foil Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($29.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Forget the movie's many failings and you'll find that Shark Night looks quite nice on Blu-ray. The 1.85:1 presentation is clean, sharp, and vibrant, displaying all those young abdomens in great detail. The picture does seem to occasionally be lacking in saturation, possibly the result of shooting day for night. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is strong and forceful. It's also loud, especially when it drops in pop songs to redirect your attention from creative deficiencies. English SDH and Spanish subtitles, but no dubs, are offered.

Maximum swimming speed is one of the shark facts shared in the Blu-ray's survival guide. Don't worry, that shark can't eat you. It's only an animatronic.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The all-HD bonus features begin with "Shark Attack! Kill Machine!", nothing more than 5 minutes and 43 seconds of the movie's kill scenes.
Though it could save 85 minutes of your life, but it's not like this is a highlights reel or anything worth seeing. I guess it interprets the film's open ending in what it does and doesn't show.

"Shark Night's Survival Guide" (4:07) plays movie clips with sarcastic commentary ("Looks like Plan B should have been Plan Beware") and a handful of shark facts ("90% of shark attacks happen to men"). The latter are mildly interesting.

"Fake Sharks, Real Scares" (5:24) covers the animatronic sharks and visual effects used on the production. Crew members describe them and actors describe working with them. It's as close to a making-of featurette as we get.

Stuntman-turned-director David R. Ellis is the focus of the featurette "Ellis' Island." The "Shark Night" theatrical trailer bills the group's outing as the ultimate summer vacation, so why is everyone in school?

"Ellis' Island" (4:22) has cast members lavish praise on director David R. Ellis, who also discusses his background and methods. I'm glad someone has nice things to say about his work, or at least his manner.

Extras conclude with Shark Night's distinctive theatrical trailer (1:59) and Fox's standard straight-faced digital copy how-to (3:35).

The latter is relevant because a second disc here is none other than a DVD-ROM holding Shark Night digital copies. This is better than that UltraViolet digital copy streaming business but not as good as the hybrid movie/digital copy DVD that Fox is starting to favor.

The digital copy, "Fake Sharks, Real Scares", and "Survival Guide" are all exclusive to this Blu-ray edition and left off the DVD sold separately.

The Blu-ray disc loads with trailers for Haywire, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Martha Marcy May Marlene. These are also individually and collectively accessible from a Sneak Peeks section that adds previews for There Be Dragons and In the Name of the King: Two Worlds.

The menu runs with a quickly-edited montage of action. Unlike in-house Fox Blu-rays, this one does not resume playback or support bookmarks.

The two discs claim opposite sides of an eco-friendly Blu-ray case, the digital copy disc covered by an activation code/directions insert. The case is topped by a too snug foil-faced cardboard slipcover which repeats the artwork below but at a slightly larger size.

Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan earn their top billing with romantic looks and tender hand-holding on the shore. Rather than exhibiting Soul Surfer-type perseverance, Malik (Sinqua Walls) foolishly vows vengeance against the shark that bit off his right arm.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Shark Night is quite possibly the dumbest movie given wide theatrical release last year. It feels like a smaller, much tamer, non-comedic version of last year's Piranha. That movie wasn't all that special, so you can imagine how flat this PG-13 version must be, without inspired casting and cameos, a sense of humor, cringeworthy carnage and gratuitous nudity to distract from its storytelling shortcomings. There aren't too many movies I feel comfortable advising all to avoid, but Shark Night is one of them.

The Blu-ray provides a solid feature presentation and an okay twenty minutes of extras, but not even the deleted scenes that you would expect. Blind devotion to horror is the only thing that will keep this from being one of the worst-selling discs of all time.

Buy Shark Night from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Shark Night Songs List: Top Johnny! - "Love You Like an Animal", King Fantastic - "All Black Ying Yang (The Party Song)", Cook Classic - "Bouncer", California Wildebeest - "Minute Men", "La Clemenzo di Tito - Parto ma tu ben mio", Asia Bryant - "Bad Girls", Chappo - "Come Home", California Wildebeest - "Lies", Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - "Back in the Saddle", Apex Manor - "Teenage Blood", DJ Dan feat. LP - "Come On & Get It", MD Urban - "Girls and Synths", "Wakeboard Snafu", Rat Attack - "Lay It Down", Rat Attack - "Round & Round", The Henry Clay People - "Something in the Water"; Dustin Milligan, Sara Paxton, Katharine McPhee, Sinqua Walls, Joel David Moore, Alyssa Diaz, Chris Carmack, and Chris Zylka - "Shark Bite"

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Reviewed January 6, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Rogue, Sierra Pictures, Incentive Filmed Entertainment, Next Films, Silverwood Films, Relativity Media
and 2012 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.