Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Bait 3D (2012) review
BAIT 3D 2012
Richard Brancatisano (Rory), Xavier Samuel (Josh), Chris Betts (Lockie), Sharni Vinson (Tina), Julian McMahon (Doyle), Dan Wyllie (Kirby), Alice Parkinson (Naomi), Phoebe Tonkin (Jaime), Damien Garvey (Collins), Lincoln Lewis (Kyle), Cariba Heine (Heather), Alex Russell (Ryan), Adrian Pang (Jessup), Qi Yuwu (Steven), Martin Sacks (Todd)
Directed by Kimble Rendall
The Short Version: This Aussie-Singapore co-production is a tightly woven, heavily melo-dramatic disaster-killer shark movie. It gets right to the action virtually from the start in this tale of people trapped in a flooded underground supermarket menaced by Great White sharks after a freak Tsunami hits a coastal community. Characterization is light till the clutch of potential heroes and villains are trapped together, then we're treated to the barest minimum of exposition. This is successful in some cases and not so much in others. As general entertainment, this surpasses every other cookie cutter shark flick that's flooded the marketplace these last few years. The live action effects work very well, while the CGI is what you'd expect, yet better than most. If you're a horror fan, take the BAIT for a fun night of escapism, Coke and popcorn munching.
Shortly after two criminals hold up an underground grocery store nestled within a thriving Australian coastal community, a freak Tsunami hits trapping and killing a diverse group of people in a supermarket and the parking garage below. What they don't realize at first is that two Great White sharks are trapped inside with them. As the water rises and the thought of rescue diminishes, some of the individuals attempt to make an escape to keep from becoming the sharks next meal.
Kimble Rendall is relatively new to the directors seat, but his AD and Second Unit Director credits on some major Hollywood productions serve him extremely well here in this Australian lensed co-production with Singapore that was in the works as far back as 2009. At that time, famed HIGHLANDER helmer, Russell Mulcahy was attached as director. It was reported some time in 2010 that he had stepped down as director, but stayed on as a writer and Executive Producer. The two plus years it took to make it to the screen (only a limited release here), the plot changed slightly.
Originally it was to be packs of Tiger Sharks menacing the cast. The go-to shark when it comes to rampaging man-eaters, the Great White, was substituted. Instead of a pack, we get two big ones. It was also reported in late 2009 that Paramount was attached as the North American distributor. Ultimately, it fell to Anchor Bay to handle what little theatrical dates they could followed by their DVD release this passed September.
Considering the glut of water logged monster movies of the last several years (not to mention the damage done by numerous, and atrocious SyFy Channel time-wasters), it's no surprise BAIT was essentially lost at sea.
Sadly, fans of this genre must wade through murky waters to find a conch amidst dozens of broken clam shells. BAIT gets by on some decent suspense, some occasionally funny moments, and regular intervals of comic book style heroism. The numerous attack sequences are also well done despite being telegraphed a lot of the time. There's a healthy amount of practical effects, blood and body parts spread around, and it's not all exclusive to the shark violence.
The script is fine, but what ends up onscreen is a standard action-horror-peril scenario that's also derivative of the Disaster films that found popularity in the 1970s, followed by their revival in the 90s. The action is divvied up between the large group of people trapped in the flooded supermarket and the few at the mercy of another White shark in the parking garage below. We have a varied bunch of people, many of whom we learn little to nothing about save for dialog that clues us in on how high up they are on the asshole meter.
The main character is Josh, and the first half of the film paints him as a tormented soul who feels guilt for watching his fiance's brother gobbled up by a shark at the beginning of the movie. It's not elaborated on, but his fiance, Tina, leaves for Singapore alone and returns with a new beau. Of course this provides for an interesting arc that never quite plays out as powerfully as it could have. This applies to most of the other myriad character types, and there's a lot of them; all vying to be the next snack for the sharks.
But this is more DEEP BLUE SEA than JAWS, which isn't a condemnation. The only true negatives one can levy at BAIT are some so-so CGI shark shots and the noticeable lack of fear in the face of being eaten alive by a big hungry fish. Virtually none of the cast show much in the way of a believable degree of fear in the possibility of ending up in a sharks stomach. Instead, the level of worry is akin to having to face the bully after school. This is the ARMAGEDDON of shark pictures. Just about everybody jumps at the chance to give their lives for some reason or other. It's actually quite overwhelming at times the breadth of bravery oozing from the cast.
One instance involves Tina's new Chinese boyfriend who decides HE will make the jaunt to shut the power off in an effort to avert damaged electrical lines contributing to an already dangerous situation. The group then build a make-shift "protective suit" fashioned from the shelf gratings and bent up shopping carts. It's actually pretty ingenious, if dubious in its effectiveness. When the character eventually meets the shark (no, he's not eaten, amazingly), there's nary a glimmer of terror on his face.
Some of the attack scenes are silly, such as the opening stunt where a shark sends a surfer airborne before itself goes flying up out of the water. It's not unheard of for a shark to leap entirely out of the water, but this fish catches a lot of air. A later scene in the film again shows off the sharks agility when one of them does a killer whale impression. With all the man-eater gymnastics, comic book characters and creative instances of peril, one waits for a helicopter to figure into the mix, or Chief Brody to make a belated appearance. The deaths of the sharks are also different from the usual 'blown to bits' fish finish.
While it's never actually scary, the suspense is palpable at times unlike some of the unbelievable actions of some of the characters. It's still a great deal of fun from start to finish and miles away better than more recent spoiled chum like SHARK NIGHT 3D (2011) and SHARKTOPUS (2010). If you have a 3D TV, you can watch the cast get eaten in three dimensions.
This review is representative of the Anchor Bay DVD/Blu-ray 3D combo release.