By MARK TURNER
I really wanted to hate this movie. All I could think when I saw the ads for it on TV were that it was a movie made solely to promote the new 3-D craze which I haven't been caught up in, a combination of that technology with a rip-off twist of JAWS.
While I was right in some ways, the movie offers more than I expected. It's a campy classic that will have you jumping at times while laughing at others. In short, this could make a great party film.
The story opens with a shark attack on a small lake in Louisiana that is nearly identical to the opening shark attack in JAWS except it takes place in daylight. The film then moves to a group of college students about to head to the lake for a weekend getaway at the home of affluent Sara.
They get to the lake fine and then discover that to get to her home they have to take a speedboat to her island. Along the way they're chased by the local sheriff for speeding but it turns out it's all in good fun since he and Sara have been having this race for years now.
Settling in they go out for some fun on the water only to confront tragedy. Football star Malik falls from a ski board but when they go back to find him they discover his arm missing. Med student Nick does his best to stop the blood flow while one of the others blames him for a boating accident. But to quote Richard Dreyfuss "this was no boating accident!" Instead we find a shark on the lake. A shark big enough to take off Malik's arm. When Nick dives back in to see if he can find him, he nearly runs into the same shark and has to abandon the arm.
Stuck on the island with no cell phone reception, the group tries to handle Malik as best they can. They try to get off the island using the boat but are attacked again, which results in the boat being blown up and one of them, Malik's girlfriend, being eaten. This results in one of those so over-the-top moments that make it hilarious as Malik, arm missing and stump tied off, gets out of bed and wades into the water with a spear hoping to take on the shark. He does get attacked and kills the shark, but they discover this isn't the same shark.
They begin firing flares into the sky in the hopes that someone will see them and come to the island. Hope arrives in the form of Sara's old boyfriend, a boy she accidentally scarred with a propeller blade years ago. But things aren't always what they seem.
I won't blow the surprise (which is extremely far-fetched) as to why the sharks are here but they are tremendous, a great combination of CGI and puppetry that work together to make a more or less believable bad guy. Some of the scenes that play for scares are frightening and funny at the same time. One of the kids is out on a jet ski heading for help with Malik tied to the back of the seat when a shark leaps out of the water in front of him to take him off the ski, a nice snack.
This movie obviously wasn't made to be taken seriously. It was made to showcase the 3-D effects and to have fun. While we have bikini-clad babes here, none of them appear nude, so that's stunning in a Hollywood movie in itself. It leaves us with a movie that while gory can be safely seen by most pre-teens.
The movie is fun, funny, frightening and a blast. At first it seems like a movie nothing more than an excuse to pad a soundtrack with driving and boating sequences that last too long. But once the sharks arrive it becomes a seriously fun intentional grade B horror fest. Maybe you won't want to own it, but it is definitely worth renting for a night.
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