Review: Dark Tide

Dark Tide
3 10

PLOT: When "shark whisperer" Kate Mathieson's mentor is killed while filming great whites, she vows to never go in the water again… or something like that. Yet after years of running a shark sighting tour, she finds herself losing money with threats of her boat being repossessed. Luckily for her, some millionaire wants to swim with sharks with the help of Kate, the best of the best. Thanks to her persuasive ex she decides to do it. Bad stuff happens thanks to stupid decisions. Oh, look at the pretty shark! I hope he wins.

REVIEW: John Stockton’s latest feature DARK TIDE is a gorgeously shot film. In fact, there are moments that would be perfect for “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel. It helps that the film’s star Halle Berry is also quite easy on the eyes as she is often wearing a bikini top (and sometimes bottom). The South African landscape is beyond breathtaking, so gorgeous in fact one could mistake it for a video travelogue. Stockton creates such a picturesque feature that you almost forget how dull and vapid the story is. Aside from JAWS, there are very few shark flicks that even live up to that classic film’s inferior - albeit very entertaining - 1978 sequel. Sadly this TIDE is exactly what it looks like from its sloppily thrown together poster, a barely video worthy sort of fluff starring Academy Award winning Barry.

This oceanic adventure feels like a more serious older brother to what you would see on SyFy. Sure it is just as lame and boring, yet visually this is pretty solid. Thankfully, much of the film focuses on the scenic beauty of South Africa and the film's leading lady. It begins with a terrible accident involving a mentor to Kate Mathieson, a shark expert known as “the shark whisperer.” Famous for being able to swim outside the cage with great whites, she is unable to save Zukie (Thoko Ntshinga) when a white shark gets a little too aggressive, chomping the poor fellow to bits. After the accident, she resides herself to giving tours as she avoids facing her own demons. That is until a wealthy fellow named Brady (Ralph Brown) – with the help of Kate’s ex (Olivier Martinez) - convinces her to take him to swim with the sharks for a ton of money. Since her business is failing, she gives in and dives back into the water.

That’s the plot folks! There really isn’t much more to DARK TIDE than that and with a running time of just under two hours, the story flounders quite a bit in the first half or so. Including a useless bit of bloodshed that happens about forty minutes in to one moronic diver, the terror here is painfully dull. However Barry does an okay job as a woman facing her fears and dealing with the men around her, yet it would be hard to really bring much to this dialogue. In fact, it is hard to really feel much for anybody involved aside from her employee - and friend - Tommy (Mark Elderkin). The actor at least added a touch of humor to the all too serious drama going on around him. Not that he was done any favors either when it came to the script. Was it just me or were there a few homo-erotic winks between Tommy and Nate (Luke Tyler), Brady’s rebellious son eh? “Candlelight dinner…” with chum anyone?

What is really frustrating is that the final half hour or so is actually able to muster up some suspense. Sure they get into the situation because of bruised egos and pissing contests, but it feels like a case of could’ve been. When the gang is caught up in the middle of a storm, there is some actual excitement to be had. Even if the characters are so badly drawn, it is hard not to feel some compassion for them. If only the entire film could have been this watchable, without killing off useless fodder and offering viewers such a tired story about a woman having to find her strength, or a man facing his fear because of an uncertain future or whatever… blah, blah, blah. Needless to say… boring!

What about the shark attacks? Well at least DARK TIDE handled the bloodshed better than you’d expect. By using actual shark footage, these amazing creatures feel absolutely powerful and at times scary. I’ll never forget seeing someone swimming alongside a great white the first time courtesy of a shark documentary, it is awe-inspiring. And yes, thanks to Stockton and his incredible eye for nature and beauty, he is able to create some fantastic shots of human interaction with these amazing animals. It’s too damn bad that you really end up rooting for the sharks to put these idiots out of their misery. Pretty Halle Berry! Pretty water! Pretty pictures! Pretty freaking boring!



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