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.

Cool Ass Cinema Gets Evil: 15 Years Surviving the Horror Part 4


RESIDENT EVIL 5 was announced in 2005, and while I'd begun to lose slight interest in video games once again, I just had to get it since part 4 had made such an impression on me. After seeing a TRAILER for the game online in 2007, it looked to be just as entrancing as RE4, but with an awful lot of daytime gameplay. The setting was moved to Africa after the deadly virus linked to the Umbrella Corporation had spread to the dark continent.

The plot concerns Chris Redfield (whom you'll remember from RESIDENT EVIL, RESIDENT EVIL CODE: VERONICA X and RESIDENT EVIL 6) being sent to the fictional Kijuju, Africa to find and arrest Ricardo Irving, who has stolen a deadly bio-organic weapon with plans to sell it to interested, and no doubt insidious parties. 

After the fourth game, I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning after seeing the trailer. Unfortunately, it would be some two years before we'd see the finished product due in no small part to one massive stumbling block that became bigger than the game itself. RESIDENT EVIL 5 came under serious fire akin to a mob zombie attack for alleged racism, which, judging by the rantings of detractors, was thick as molasses as found in a 2007 E3 trailer. In fact, as late as AUGUST OF 2010, a year and a half after it was released in the United States, folks were still going on and on about how racist it was and also about what Capcom was going to do to not make such a careless mistake again. Incredible.

Despite there being black protagonists in the game and black actors and actresses contributing their voices, the sight of the white Chris Redfield shooting down waves of infected black "zombies" (The Ganados in RE4 and Majini here) rubbed certain parties the wrong way; unnecessarily turning a popular game franchise into something political. I guess it's okay to gun down white zombies in the first few games (although there's blacks in some of those, too) and Hispanics in the fourth installment, but a setting populated by predominantly black citizens is off limits. Well, the game does take place in AFRICA. Personally I never saw the trailer as racist. In my view, it's these "better interest groups" who are displaying racial tendencies in cases like this. They're doing nothing to dispel racial tensions, but perpetuating them. That's the only way to keep such an inflammatory scenario alive is to create an issue where one never existed (or exacerbate those that do). In this case, the target is a fucking video game.

An example of this gaming as a political issue, a writer named Tolu Olorunda had this to say in an excerpt from 2008 -- "The Video Game industry is one which has profited immensely from the casualty of black on black hostility. Notable products of its faculty include, 50 CENT: BULLETPROOF, DEF JAM: ICON and GRAND THEFT AUTO This $10 billion market owes the majority of its inspiration to the tragic decisions of young black and brown teenagers..." -- Even when you have black protagonists as your lead characters in a video game (as some of these do) ya still can't win! Oddly enough, some of the actual websites proclaiming RE5 to be racially inclined have removed those posts, showing up as dead links instead.

With that political nonsense out of the way, the game itself is fun, but if you're expecting anything resembling RESIDENT EVIL, you might be disappointed. I have yet to finish it, but do plan to go back to it at some point. I felt more like I was playing a video game version of MAD MAX, but with monsters. Much of what I played took place in broad daylight. It was suitably intense and extremely gruesome and also integrated offline co-op play; which hadn't been seen in the series before. 

Still, it's more RAMBO than RESIDENT EVIL. Rife with gun action, thousands of bullets fired, car chases and explosions, it's all rather exciting, but much farther away from the familiar horror machinations than the series as yet seen. However, some could look at this as a natural progression for the franchise while maintaining the revolutionary approach integrated in the mechanics by series creator Mikami in the fourth entry.


This unique 2001 'Survival Horror' game took Japanese history and wove horror-fantasy elements around them. The plot has depth, yet it's simplistic in this tale of Samanosuke Akechi doing battle with an undead Nobunaga Oda to save Princess Yuki from armies of demonic creatures. There's lots of flashy fighting moves, magic, impressive sound effects and some spooky moments spread out. The game was a huge success which led to the even bigger ONIMUSHA 2: SAMURAI'S DESTINY. Yagyu Jubei is this games main character in addition to a band of other wildly diverse characters you play throughout the game. Occasionally convoluted and drawn out, it's still a fun, if overblown action-fantasy fest. ONIMUSHA 3: DEMON SIEGE from 2004 brought the pain and the scope. A simply amazing game. Samanosuke returns (as does famous Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro) in this bombastic third entry that introduces a time traveling plot device. Actor Jean Reno features in this game as an unlikely ally for Samanosuke against the enormity of the Genma hordes. I never played DAWN OF DREAMS released here in 2006. I would love to see this series get resurrected on the PS3.


In 1999, it was announced that Playstation's massive horror hit would become a live-action film under the direction of George Romero, the king of the Undead. Romero was already familiar with the RE series having directed a commercial for Japan's BIOHAZARD 2 (RE2). His version of the film would have followed the original game very closely. 

Sadly, the producers didn't like his script. Unfortunately, Paul W. S. Anderson ended up directing the picture from his screenplay. Incidentally, his film deviated a lot from what made the game great. Most of the characters are killed off in a single sequence leaving a few left alive to run and gun against zombies. For whatever reason, the Tyrant was decided against as the main menace. Instead, the Licker, the four legged version of the Hunter from RE2 was now the main monster. 

I saw the film twice in the theater because the first time, the sound was seriously screwed up so myself, and everyone else got a free pass for another showing. Needless to say, I disliked it immensely both times. RESIDENT EVIL (2002) was a success which led to more sequels, most of which I avoided.

I saw a portion of RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004) when it hit DVD. About the point where they made RE3's Nemesis look like a joke, being beaten up by series regular, Alice, I tuned out and didn't finish the movie. Since then, we've gotten RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION (2007), RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (2010), RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION (2012) and next year, we'll likely get RESIDENT EVIL: AD INFINITUM.


If ever 'Survival Horror' got a shot in the arm, it was by 2008s DEAD SPACE. Not since Playstation's original RE juggernaut from 1996 (not counting the later REmake on GameCube) had their been a game with this level of fear and intensity. In it, the essence of 'Survival Horror' returned in a big way. You play as Isaac Clarke, an engineer who finds unending horror aboard a mining ship in outer space. 

Essentially RESIDENT EVIL in outer space, DEAD SPACE distinguishes itself with some intriguing additions for the maximum in visceral thrills. There's no HUD (Head's Up Display). Instead info like your life bar is visualized via holographic imagery seen on your suit. The ability to target body parts is an ingenious method in dealing with hostile alien lifeforms. There's a distinct lack of high powered weaponry in the traditional sense, so Isaac must use mining tools as his weapons of creature destruction. It's simply a spectacular game all around. DEAD SPACE 2 was released in 2011.


RESIDENT EVIL 6 has just come out earlier this month (October 2nd, 2012) and after the lack of a true feeling of RESIDENT EVILness in the fifth chapter, I was hesitant to pick this up. The gaming bug had bit me again, and I had extra cash burning a hole in my pocket and figured why the hell not? Upon getting home with RE6 (and also the new TWISTED METAL and RESISTANCE 3), I went online to read up on it (something I should have done ahead of time) and found lots and lots of negative reviews. I'd never seen an RE game of the main story arc receive such a low rating before. So I put the game in fearing the worst.

While I've so far played only a small portion of it, it does put the evil back in RESIDENT EVIL and zombies are zombies again (although they do pick up weapons and throw them at you), there's a Fulci styled blood geyser of gaming additions that threatens to derail the whole enterprise instead of keeping it on track. 

From the very start, one gets the impression the makers were gunning for the closest to a movie-gaming crossover experience as possible. It's movies, movies, movies crammed with Qick Time Events that often give off the impression they would rather you WATCH RESIDENT EVIL 6 as opposed to actually PLAYING IT. The co-op play returns as does the dark ambiance of those early games. Collecting herbs has now been modified where you have to put them into these tablet things to use them. Fighting game style maneuvers have also been integrated to help out in hairier situations and bullets seem to be in less abundance compared with the last few games.

I've not played enough of it yet, but so far, I'm fairly disappointed with it. It seems to be the most sharply divided amongst fans and critics of the series thus far. Capcom seem genuine in their perseverance in taking the series in new directions to keep it fresh and viable. However, closing the door on the series at this point and starting over from scratch might also be worth thinking about. RESIDENT EVIL has strewn so far away from what made it "Survival Horror", that if it continues on this path, the name itself will need to evolve to keep up with the innumerable changes the various Umbrella Corporation contagions have inflicted on this once mighty franchise.


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