Judge Patrick Naugle sleeps with the fishes, but only the sexy ones.
Clean up on Aisle 7.
When a sudden tsunami roars across the Australian coast, a group of rag tag survivors (are there any other kind?) is stranded in a flooded grocery store, huddling on top of food shelves, while the water rushes in around them. And that's the good news. The bad news: Lurking just beneath the surface of the water are razor toothed great white sharks hungry for anything…especially plump, meaty humans. Among the terrified survivors are the just fired Ryan (Alex Russell, Chronicle), his kleptomaniac girlfriend Jamie (Phoebe Tonkin, Tomorrow When The War Began 2), a previously engaged couple who were torn apart by tragedy (Shami Vinson, Blue Crush 2; Xavier Samuel, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), and a would-be bank robber (Julian McMahon, Nip/Tuck). United by a common predator, these survivors must act fast before they drop a few notches on the food chain.
I blame Shark Week. Every year, television gets itself into—pardon the pun—a feeding frenzy over Great White Sharks. Yes, that's all capitol letters because those sharks are That Important. Entire channels become devoted to watching vicious sharks swim, hunt, and devour everything in their path. DVD collections have been released and, more disturbingly, there have been dozens upon dozens of cheapo shark movies produced with titles like Jersey Shore Shark Attack, Sharktopus, Mega Shark vs. Mega Octopus, and 2-Headed Shark Attack, all with a collective budget of about a buck seventy five. You can't turn around without running into some pale imitation of Steven Spielberg's Jaws.
Now here comes Bait 3D, the latest in a long line of movies dealing with a) sharks, b) eating, c) people. The idea here is about as fresh as two month old beef jerky. How many direct-to-DVD killer fish can one person digest? According to Hollywood's brain trust, that number is infinite. Not that I'm complaining. I admit to absolutely loving these kinds of movies. Seriously, have you seen director Renny Harlin's amazingly awesome Deep Blue Sea? That might be the mother of all cheesy giant shark movies. Super smart sharks? Please and thank you. Mock if you must, but one man's coffee is another man's cup of chum.
Bait 3D doesn't add anything new to the killer shark genre. The twist this time is a bunch of characters being caught inside a supermarket while man-eating super fish troll the aisles looking for a snack. The filmmakers probably thought they were coming up with a unique approach, but a variation on this exact same theme was used to great effect in the cult classic Tremors over twenty years ago. So we spend a lot of time watching characters sitting on store shelves watching the sharks circle, breaking every once in a while for someone to trip and make the water a nice dark red color.
I hope you're not disappointed to learn that Bait 3D—like all disaster movies—gets to the death and destruction special effects as soon as possible, while characterization is kept to a bare minimum. A few folks are introduced, but their back stories are quickly jettisoned so the sharks can start playing hide and seek. Most of the script calls for characters to either be heroes ("I'll save you!"), villains ("Don't move or I'll shoot!"), or stock fish food ("Aarrrgghhh!"). Do me a favor: if you feel like you aren't getting enough characterization and too much shark action, turn off your Blu-ray player and go read a book.
Happily, the special effects are leaps and bounds beyond anything produced by the Syfy, who finances most of Roger Corman's shoddy mega shark-piranha-octopus duds. Nicholas McCallum's production design—sort of a cross between The Day After Tomorrow, Daylight, and The Poseidon Adventure—is impressively detailed. While not up to Roland Emmerich's standards, the effects work on the tsunami especially is quite nice. Those coming into the film hoping for carnage on a grand scale will find it plentiful and then some. Torsos are chomped in half. Sharks ram through submerged car windows. A spinning motor lodges itself in the face of one of the store customers. Bait is entertaining enough to pass an hour and a half of your time, which I'm guessing is all most people are looking for anyway.
Bait is presented in both 3D and 2D 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen, both of which are visually sharp and impressive. The movie begins awash in color (deep blues and golden sands), then quickly becomes darker and less showy (much of it dulled down inside the grocery store). The TrueHD 7.1 Surround track is pretty spectacular; there are many moments when water rushes in or people thrash around, the panic engulfed in both the front and rear speakers. Viewers with a nice home theater setup will delight to this bombastic mix. Also included are English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The only bonus features are a storyboard gallery and a standard def DVD copy.
Still wondering if you should dive into Bait? Here's easy way test…
1. Do you think Jaws 3 and Orca are passable pieces of entertainment?
2. Do you choose movies based on how many teeth are on the box cover?
3. Do you own copious amounts of alcohol and recreational drugs?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, Bait is definitely for you.
Not Guilty. A slightly above average "man vs. nature" thriller that makes for a fun waste of an hour and a half.
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