Friday, May 4, 2012

Dark Tide Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Kate (Berry) is a shark expert whose business has been failing since a shark attack killed a fellow diver under her command. Once dubbed "the shark whisperer," Kate is haunted by the memory of the attack and unable to get back into the water. With bills piling up and the bank about to foreclose on Kate's boat, Kate's ex-boyfriend Jeff (Martinez) presents her with a lucrative opportunity: lead a thrill-seeking millionaire businessman on a dangerous shark dive...outside the cage. Battling her self-doubts and fear, Kate accepts the proposal - and sets a course for the world's deadliest feeding ground: Shark Alley.

Film (1/2 out of 5 stars)

Dark Tide stars Halle Berry as Kate, a woman that frequently dives the shark infested waters of South Africa without the protection of a cage.  Her husband Jeff (Olivier Martinez) is making a film about his wife’s passion for shark diving and he accompanies her into the water.   Her only real protection is supposed to be in the form of a lookout, a friend who dives with an oxygen tank (Kate is a free diver that must return to the surface for air) and spots the sharks for her. 

In the opening scene, it’s clear that the sharks are about to taste the other-other white meat (human flesh).  Furthermore, a blind man could see that Kate’s friend (who doesn’t want to go in the water and talks of retiring his diving career to be with his wife) is going to be that meal.  The friend becomes shark chow as predicted and they cut to a year later where Kate’s tours no longer involve sharks and her business is severely suffering.  The bank is about to take her boat and her and Jeff are separated.  Jeff pops up with a money making idea to save Kate’s boat – a shark dive tour for a rich Englishman and his son. Kate promises that their customer will see seals and maybe sharks from inside a cage for his $100,000 payment.   Jeff has other ideas, promising the man a dive without the cage so that he and his son can have a real adventure.

They do see seals and they have a shark dive where the shark doesn’t stick around to participate.  When they finally do have a shark interested the tourist decides to leave the safety of his cage.  Angry with him and Jeff for promising a cage free dive, Kate has a hissy fit on the boat and then decides to head for Shark Alley.  If it’s sharks they want, its sharks they’ll get and suddenly Kate is no longer concerned with safety.  In Shark Alley, the seas are treacherous and the sharks are both numerous and dangerous.  Kate made a very bad decision heading there and all on board will end up regretting the trip to Shark Alley.  Some will even lose their lives there.

Olivier Martinez is one of my least favorite actors so Dark Tide already had that strike against it.  Beyond choice of actors, the main problem with Dark Tide was the plot.  It didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be.  At first it seemed like it was going to be about the big scary sharks, but the shark action is minimal and predictable.  The film then turns into a melodrama about Kate who can’t move on after her friend’s death and her failing marriage.  At the end they try to ramp up the action with some life threatening situations.  Even though people do lose their lives, the action was exactly what I expected and there was never any genuine terror for the viewers of Dark Tide.

Few people have done a great shark movie, Jaws being the most notable exception.  There are a few bad shark movies that turned out to be really enjoyable.  Sharktopus is awesome because it’s about a Shark with spears on its tentacles that can walk out of the water to kill you.  Another of my favorites is Deep Blue Sea, a Samuel L. Jackson/L.L. Cool J flick with a terrible plot but great scary sharks. 

Dark Tide isn’t bad in a good way.  Halle Berry must have wanted a vacation in South Africa or is getting to be like Nicolas Cage (who I love and it pains me to say) – an actor that doesn’t turn any movie down.  For Halle Berry fans, especially fans of her body, she does wear a bikini a few times.  She is not always covered up by a wet suit.  For fans of her acting, you will be disappointed.

Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Dark Tide is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1 ratio.  The film is almost always outdoors and is an overall pleasing presentation in daylight, at night and underwater.  The sharks in the murky black water did appear to have a blue-black shadow around them which they could have blended better.  The location shots show the beauty of South Africa, and the video presentation as whole is better than I would have expected.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Dark Tide is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound.  The sound effects definitely enhance the shark sequences.  Dialogue is at a consistent level throughout.  The environmental sounds of the seals, waves and rain help immerse the listener in the story. 

Special Features (1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Even though there is a special features option on the menu, the only features available are a Dark Tide trailer and other movies also from Lionsgate.  In my opinion, that basically counts as no special features.  I never want to see the trailer for the movie I just watched and I skip through the previews for other movies – because they are never geared towards people who really liked the movie you just watched, it’s just other things from the same company.

Final Thoughts (2 out of 5 stars)

Dark Tide missed the mark for me.  It needed to focus on being a shark thriller.  There wasn’t enough backstory to Kate’s relationship with Jeff to make you care whether or not they got back together, yet that was the major focus of the film.  The sharks were nice to watch, but played a secondary role.  There was far too little shark action in this shark movie.  If they intended to make a drama about Kate and Jeff they shouldn’t have packaged it and marketed it as a shark thriller.  Dark Tide wasn’t one of those movies that leaves me thinking that’s two hours of my life I want back.  It’s definitely one of those movies where one viewing was enough – it is not going to be a new addition to the shark section of my Blu-ray shelf.

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