Lionsgate // 2012 // 114 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 4th, 2012
In Shark Alley, courage runs deep.
I know what you're thinking: "This is just a cheap way to get Halle Berry into a bikini!" No. It's much worse than that.
All-star shark diver Kate Mathieson (Halle Berry, Die Another Day) is so good at her craft, she's earned the nickname "The Shark Whisperer." Unfortunately, for her reputation, one day's dive turns into a death swim, when her closest friend is mulched by a shark. Exiling herself from the business, Kate languishes as a tour guide, schlepping tourists to gaze at whales and seals. That is, until a voice from her past returns with an appealing offer: a millionaire wants to take his son shark swimming and is willing to pay handsomely for the opportunity. Kate is still gun-shy, but she can't resist the chance to spring herself from financial ruin.
What a total waste of time.
The shark attack thriller genre is over-saturated as it is, so for a completely unremarkable and tedious trek like Dark Tide to get greenlit is confounding. It's got Halle Berry, she appears sporadically in a bikini (don't believe the hype of the disc cover; the lovely Miss Berry is thoroughly clothed through most of the film), and some of the shark photography is moderately compelling. Unfortunately, I can't give you any other reason for this movie's existence.
For nearly ninety minutes, nothing happens. NINETY MINUTES!!! This is the depth of plot you're looking at for that interminable stretch: Kate's friend dies. She's sad. She takes a father and son out on the boat. The dad whines about swimming with sharks. Somehow that meager treatment was ballooned into an hour and a half and it feels every bit a slog as it sounds.
The only hint of drama comes with about 15 minutes remaining. I won't spoil anything, but trust me: what goes down at the end in no ways makes up for the nothingness that preceded it. Worse, this mayhem occurs in the dead of night, edited with such fervor it's almost impossible to track what's going on. And after the legitimately well-done underwater shark moments (in broad daylight) we had just seen, this indecipherable bombast is a massive disappointment. No matter. It will all be over soon, leading to a sudden appearance of the end credits, no doubt leaving you with the same feeling I had: That's it?!
Yep. That's it. A whole lot of zilch. Made worse by a clumsy script, derivative plotting, and a laughable effort from Halley Berry, who appears more interested in petting shark snouts than delivering believable line-reads. This was so bad, my wife -- who was sitting in the other room, blissfully unaware of what movie I was watching -- asked if the film was dubbed. Yeesh...
Even the Blu-ray (typically a Lionsgate strength) is an underperformer. The 2.35:1/1080p high definition transfer has its moments, specifically on the sun-blasted surface of the ocean, but the overall presentation appears washed-out. Colors don't pop and the resolution fails to salvage the finale's merciless dark sequences. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio pumps out the sound well enough, though there isn't much to do aside from generating dialogue and wave slapping. No extras.
The worst installment of Shark Week offers more thrills than this limp mess.
Guilty. Toss it out with the rest of the chum.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Official Site