Friday, June 07, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Dark Tide (2012) *½

PG-13, 114 min.
Director: John Stockwell
Writers: Ronnie Christensen, Amy Sorlie
Starring: Halle Barry, Oliver Martinez, Ralph Brown, Mark Elderkin, Luke Tyler

“Dark Tide” is a shark diving horror film that tries to make up for its gratuitous use of the shark as a symbol of terror by posting claims of shark protection advocacy and programs where you can learn more about the benevolence of sharks at the end of the credits. The truth is, the sharks in this movie aren’t inaccurately depicted as the species of animal they are in their natural habitat; it’s just that the script surrounds them with humans that make stupid choices placing them in situations where they become natural prey for the ancestrally ancient fish.

Halle Barry plays a free diver who is a “shark whisperer” of sorts. I’m not sure the movie clearly depicts this aspect of her; she just doesn’t happen to make the stupid mistakes that other people do, so she has “a gift.” Uh-huh. Anyway, after an accident when one of her friends is killed on a dive, she gets out of the shark business. However, her Cape Town guided tour business isn’t exactly cutting the mustard without sharks as her main attraction. Then a man who is determined to swim with a great white offers to save her business if she takes him out. Without promising him a chance to get out of a shark cage, she takes the job. Shark mayhem ensues.

The biggest problem with this movie isn’t the stupid choices the people make, however. That’s probably a pretty accurate portrayal of how people are generally killed by sharks. Why someone who essentially knows nothing about sharks would want to get in the water with the deadliest of them is beyond me, but then I like my limbs attached to my body. No, the biggest problems are the stupid decisions made by the filmmakers. There are some wonderful underwater shots of the sharks, maybe they should’ve just made a documentary and dropped any pretense of drama.

The pacing of the film is dreadfully slow, especially considering the simplicity of the story. The film could’ve used with about 30 minutes of trimmed fat. There are too many shots of the characters staring out at the sea. The sea surrounds them. They have nothing else to stare out at. You’d think they’d get used to the power and the grandeur of it. We certainly get sick of seeing them admire it. Then there’s the sequence where the ship’s rudder stops working and they have to steer manually. This is the perfect example of a false crisis, which has no bearing on anything else in the plot and should’ve been cut from the final edit.

After spending most of its running time as a dreadfully boring drama, the film redeems itself a little in its final moments with some truly tense moments of the crew in the water with the sharks at night. There was potential for a good sea thriller here, but it seems director John Stockwell, who has made better (but not great) sea-based thrillers like “Blue Crush” and “Into the Blue”, was just too in love with some of his photography and ideas to see the sea for the sharks. 

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