Blu-Ray Review: Shark Night (2011)

JANUARY 6, 2012


Folks were pretty divided on Shark Night when it was (briefly) in theaters this past September; some hated the idiotic “revenge” plot and cookie cutter characters, others (like me) had a good time with what was essentially a traditional slasher movie except the bad guy used sharks instead of a knife or a machete. Along with the 3D effect and the fact that we hadn’t had a big screen, wide release horror movie all summer (the last one was Priest, which was more of an action movie anyway), it sort of hit the spot, not unlike a bottle of Bud Light on a hot summer day – satisfying for folks who have better things to do than worry about keeping it classy. So how does it fare at home, in the middle of winter and lacking the extra dimension?

Unsurprisingly, not as well. It’s still enjoyable, and it still has Katharine McPhee running around in a bikini and Josh Leonard having a grand old time as a redneck named Red (!) with pointed shark teeth, but it’s not quite as charmingly ridiculous on the second view. See, now I don’t have the element of surprise helping me along (with regards to the bad guy’s plot, plus a few other moments I won’t spoil if you haven’t seen it yet – judging by the box office, you haven’t), leaving me just with a PG-13 killer shark movie. There’s still some stuff to admire – the sharks start attacking pretty quickly once they get to the lake, and I liked that there was a variety: hammerheads, great whites, “cookie cutters”, etc, but as they say, “the thrill is gone”. This is pretty much a “one time only” kind of flick; not crazy enough to warrant too many repeat viewings, and certainly not deep enough that a 2nd viewing will clue you in on things you didn’t notice the first time around (unless you left before the end credits had concluded – that part hasn’t diminished one iota in my mind). There’s nothing wrong with that – not every movie is designed for repeat viewings – but it’s still kind of a bummer, because the killer shark genre certainly lacks diversity. Even if it’s not that great, I’d rather see another Shark Night-esque take on the genre than the umpteenth Jaws wannabe (no “close the beaches” subplot here!) – but it’s kind of hard to convince folks we need more of these when there isn’t a hell of a lot to say about the one we already got.

And, again, there isn’t a 3D option, and not just because I lack the equipment (my loan has 11 payments left – the month after, I’m buying a new TV to celebrate). No, for whatever reason, FOX has opted not to put out a 3D Blu-ray of the disc at all in Region 1 (looks like the UK has one), so even if you do have one of those nice 3DTVs you’re still going to be sighing as shark guts and pieces of an exploded boat come toward the screen but never “out” of it. Luckily David Ellis was wise enough not to overload the movie with such moments, but it will just make you miss the (quite good) 3D when they do appear in their now flattened glory. Worse, it’s not a particularly great transfer – the scene where the black guy and the male model dude (names escape me) try to escape on a jet-ski has the murkiest, oddly colored presentation I have ever seen on a Blu-ray, and many of the interior scenes suffer from washed out coloring and crushed blacks. The clarity/detail is good - you can count the hairs on Sara Paxton’s head if you wish - but the image is remarkably flat. I should note that this may be true of the 2D theatrical version as well though – I only saw it in 3D (where judging such things is impossible due to the glasses and the brighter bulb trying to compensate for it).

Oh, and no unrated cut, either. Maybe they just never shot gorier material, but I guess we will never know. It’s a shame – certainly this is the type of movie that would best be viewed with a few alcoholic beverages, yet they don’t provide the stuff people that are old enough to consume them will enjoy. Teenagers - if your parents are lax on your alcoholism but strict about the MPAA ratings, Shark Night is the movie for you!

The bonus features are no help, sadly. No commentary (no alternate audio track of any sort, in fact – there’s an audio menu but only one option?), no deleted scenes, no in depth making of… just four 4-5 minute fluff pieces that were probably created for the website or something. The only one worth a look is the one that shows that not all of the sharks were CGI creations – models and such were implemented just as often, and we see a bit of their design and how experts were consulted to ensure they had the details right. Then there’s a montage of all of the movie’s deaths, which is the sort of thing that is only worth it when the kills are super ridiculous and/or gory (think a typical Friday the 13th entry), but here it’s mostly just a bunch of folks being pulled under the surface and/or shots of bloodied water. Equally silly is a segment with a bunch of shark facts – some hilariously inane like “90% of shark attacks are on men”, followed by “Only 10% are on women” for those folks in the crowd who could figure out that complicated math equation on their own. Then there’s a look at Ellis, which unsurprisingly features a bunch of the cast and crew talking about how great he is. The spoiler-filled trailer and a digital copy round things out.

So I dunno. If you’ve already seen it, the sub-par transfer and lousy extras aren’t worth the cost of an encore, and even virgins aren’t given enough here to warrant a purchase. If you haven’t seen it yet, rent away – otherwise just hold on to your pleasant memories of the big screen/3D viewing (if you hated it then you probably haven’t read this far anyway), and pop in Deep Blue Sea instead. That one holds up no matter what!

What say you?

Movie: 5/10 (7/10 on first viewing, for the record)
AV: 6/10
Extras: 4/10
Overall: 5/10


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