Sunday, 14 June 2015



Director John Stockwell clearly likes the water. Blue Crush is a surfing movie, Into The Blue is a scuba diving movie, Paradise Lost (Turistas) has the Brazilian beaches and bikinis, and even his TV work is all shot in Hawaii. And now he's made Dark Tide, which takes place almost entirely on and under the waters around Cape Town, South Africa. It's a slightly odd film in that it's come along in the bubbling wake of so many other shark movies: from formulaic monster epics like the Shark Attack series and the numerous DTV fish-based offerings such as Shark In Venice, Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus and Dinoshark through to slightly more serious and less exploitative films like The Reef and Open Water where the sharks are more of an actual threat and less of a CGI creation pasted into the image. Obviously nothing's going to come within harpooning distance of Jaws, and indeed this doesn't, but it's a definite step up from the usual sharky twaddle.

Kate (Halle Berry) is one of the few people to master the skill of swimming with sharks, but after a dive goes wrong and a man is killed she gives it up to run safe, though not profitable, marine tours. But just as the bank is about to shut her down, her frankly charmless ex Jeff (Olivier Martinez) throws her a lifeline: ignorant and obnoxious British businessman Brady (Ralph Brown) is willing to pay her to take him and his photographer son free diving with Great Whites. She's not interested, but she needs the money, even though it's the sharks' mating season and thus the most dangerous time of the year....

Dark Tide is actually pretty good, not least because the shark footage is fantastic, and that's because they're actually in the water with real Great White sharks. This makes the numerous extensive underwater sequences much more exciting than they usually are, and it's a pity the DVD has no featurettes or commentary detailing the filming of these scenes. Sadly, it's all less exciting above sea level, with Brown and Martinez' characters so fundamentally dislikeable that you end up wanting to see them get eaten as slowly and graphically as the 15 certificate will allow. In addition, "shark whisperer" Kate shows atrocious decision-making skills, suddenly electing to sail everyone straight into a storm so idiot Brady can finally swim with his precious sharks - a decision that can't end well for anyone.

Technically it's not bad, though it could have used a better music score to "big up" the menace of the sharks (although really the villains of the film aren't the sharks themselves, but human greed and stupidity), and at 109 minutes it could do with a trim. But generally it's fine and it's certainly better than you'd expect from yet another shark movie.


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