Sony // 2010 // 96 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // October 19th, 2010
Don't Forget You're Lunch!
I have fond memories of Lake Placid. It premiered the same weekend as Kubrick Eyes Wide Shut, and as a budding (not to mention underage) cinema enthusiast I wanted to see the master's final film. Luckily for me, the theater was too busy checking IDs on those going to Lake Placid rather than the few of us lined up for Eyes Wide Shut. So, while I've never seen the film, I have a certain fondness for it. When the first sequel arrived I was skeptical, as I am of most DTV sequels, and everything I've read suggested I didn't miss much in skipping Lake Placid 2. Lake Placid 3, however, landed unavoidably at my front door. In a perfect world you would know better than to read a review of a direct-to-video monster movie sequel, and in a perfect world I could have skipped out on viewing it. Sadly, in this world Lake Placid 3 is a bad, but not too bad, piece of monster-movie filmmaking that manages nothing more than to be utterly forgettable.
So, there's a lake, Lake Placid, known for its giant-sized crocodiles. They're gigantic because kind-but-foul-mouthed grannies have been feeding the suckers for years. Well, with Lake Placid 3 the grannies are gone. Instead a couple move into their deceased relative's cabin, and it's their lonely son who feeds the little critters. Naturally, people start coming under attack and the local inhabitants must work together to defeat the reptilian menace.
I don't mean any offense to the people responsible for making Lake Placid 3. They're all competent craftsmen and craftswomen. Shots are in focus, lines delivered in a semblance of realism, and even the cheap digital effects aren't that bad. Really, though, they're all redundant. If you, the audience, have any notions at all what Lake Placid is about you can certainly dream up a better film. I'm not one of those people who worries too much that TV is destroying the imagination of our children, but Lake Placid 3 makes me wonder. There is literally not a single surprising moment in the entire film. It proceeds exactly how you would imagine a direct-to-video monster movie would go, from the first bare-breasted kill to the final battle.
Lake Placid 3 doesn't even have the distinction of being that bad. Sure, the crocs look like digital finger-puppets most of the time, but I've certainly seen worse. The acting isn't Oscar-worthy, but they managed to snag (and then waste) the dependable Michael Ironside, not to mention Eureka's Colin Ferguson. Even the plot's not that outlandish. Rather than the mundane "kid feeds crocs" plot they could have gone for another retread of the foul-mouthed granny trick, or dumped alligators from outer space on us. Something, anything that isn't bland and predictable. But no, Lake Placid isn't even good at being bad.
But it gets a great Special Edition DVD release, right? With loads of croc-cam footage, and an insightful commentary from a famous film critic dissecting the influence of John Ford and Orson Welles on the use of deep focus in the film's boating scenes. Not quite. Instead, we get a barebones (unless you count the numerous trailers for other releases) DVD with so-so audio and video. The transfer looks okay, and even sports some nice color rendition in outdoor scenes. However, Lake Placid 3 was not shot with home theater enthusiasts in mind, so it has a pretty cheap feel to it. The 5.1 surround audio does fine as well, but there aren't that many opportunities to be aggressive with surrounds. As I said before, there are no extras aside from a bunch of trailers, but to make up for it we get four alternate audio tracks in different languages (including Thai!), and eight different subtitle tracks.
Maybe I'm being too harsh. Lake Placid 3 really isn't that bad, and since no one really expects it to be good, perhaps there's a creature-feature audience out there for it. I'm suspicious, and would probably recommend just putting the original Lake Placid in the player instead, but there are probably a few viewers out there who will succumb to this film's charms.
If you've read this far, Lake Placid 3 will be exactly what you expect: a low-budget creature-feature with wasted acting talent and a boatload of suspicious CGI. This DVD might be worth a rental to fans of the franchise, but for most viewers it is probably best to avoid.
Lake Placid 3 is guilty of failing to scare up much of anything.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated