COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 90 mins
PLOT: A group of complete strangers find themselves isolated by a wealthy madman on his island compound. They are forced into a horrifying gauntlet where they must survive a barrage of ever-deadlier species of shark.
REVIEW: Even though I've gone on multiple triads over the last year about how sick I am of shark movies, there's still been some really good ones that came out this year (2-Headed Shark Attack and Jersey Shore Shark Attack being chief among them). It was because of that, that I actually wasn't as hesitant about checking out and writing a review of Asylum's Shark Week (also called Shark Assault in parts of the world and on some TV channels) as I perhaps may have been if it had come out earlier in the year. Sadly, I probably would have been more on the money had I stuck to my guns. While it's certainly not the worst movie I've seen this year, it doesn't even come close to the greatness of those other two 2012 shark movies I mentioned.
Shark Week (or Shark Assault, whichever it is for you) is kind of a mix of the semi-recent theatrical Shark Night 3D and any number of the Saw movies or Saw-style ripoff movies. In this, the leader of a drug cartel and his wife (played by the always-entertaining Yancy Butler) kidnap a group of people that he has a personal vendetta against, that all played a part in the death of his son, and as revenge he brings them to his secret island which is rigged with multiple extensive and deadly shark-related traps, of which they have to survive, one after the other, for 7 days in order to escape. Well, the plot for the movie said 7 days, but if that was the case, than the movie has a really piss-poor way of showing the passage of time, as apart from a couple of the attacks most of them seemed to take place in the same day and I kind of just assumed that they did while I was watching. It's supposed to take place over 7 days, but the impression I got while watching was that it was more like two or three days, at most.
In the acting department, the main cast of victims were competently-acted but nothing outstanding; It was about on-par for what you would expect from a 2012 Asylum movie. Of course there are eight of them, so some do a bit better/worse then others, but overall it was pretty even. What did surprise me though, was the characterization each of them got. Despite being such a large group, none of them blended into the background at all and each one stood out for their own reasons and were unique from one another. Even 2-Headed Shark Attack, which I loved couldn't even pull that off at all and it was my chief complaint about it. But back to the acting itself; While the main heroes of the movie were ok, the main drug cartel leader was pretty terrible and cringe-worthy (and honestly, the actor appeared drunk during most of his scenes), and sadly Yancy Butler was below par for what I've come to expect from her after her stints in Rage of the Yeti and the Lake Placid sequels. She seemed just plain bored with her role here and not really showing any emotion or anything other then monotone. She was a pretty big waste here, and I'd rather see her better utilized if Asylum decides to use her again in another of their movies. They need to check out the above mentioned Rage of the Yeti or especially the latest two Lake Placid sequels to see just how much fun she can be, if used properly.
The special effects however, especially when it comes to the sharks themselves, are the big surprise here - they actually looked really well-done, with the sharks looking like actual real sharks most of the time and not like badly-integrated CGI sharks like in most of Asylum's killer shark movies, so kudos has to go to their effects team for that. It was also great to see such a diverse range of the types of shark, as opposed to just the one species. Along those lines, I also have to give them props for including a scene with Hammerhead sharks - they've always been my favorite, but very rarely get any movie love (Great Whites and Tiger Sharks seem to have the market covered), so it was great to get some Hammerhead action. Unfortunately, while the sharks themselves are amazing, their attack scenes leave a lot to be desired. They're filled with a lot of really annoying quick-cutting when someone is being killed by a shark, so the death scenes are pretty redundant and uninteresting due to that, and I'm not sure if that's an issue with the Effects team or with the Editor of the movie, but either way it was a pretty bad call, IMO, as death scenes are sometimes all these movies really have going for them, and in one with the effects as good as this it baffles my mind as to why they would fumble the ball with that.
Also getting in the way of really enjoying it as much as I would have liked, are some really puzzling script-related decisions. For example, in one scene they survive a school of baby sharks and their prize is a key. They move onto the next portion of the 'game' where they get to sleep on dry land for the night. They then (for unknown reasons that make no sense) wait until the next day and after they've already traveled a distance, before A) checking to make sure no one was badly hurt from the attack the night before and B) checking to see if the key they received unlocked their chains and handcuffs that they were bound by (spoiler, but not really - it does). Why the heck wouldn't they do those things the night before, the first chance they got? Why wait so long? There's also a scene with the characters running through a minefield and all these mines are exploding, yet none of the characters are anywhere even near the ones that are going off. Actually, now that I think about it, the whole mine field part doesn't make any sense as-is, since the movie's villain takes great joy in watching them go through the shark traps in a twisted game-kind of way, so why out of the blue try to kill off everyone at once in a mine field? The movie is filled with pretty ridiculous script choices like that, that left me trying to figure out 'Why' more-often then actually paying attention to the movie, and thus constantly taking me out.
But back to the positives for a bit to end this off on - it was a very beautiful movie to look at. I'm not sure what kind of camera they used to shoot it, but it looked great, and the background scenery of the island certainly didn't hurt it either. The excellent CGI of the sharks mixed with the beautiful cinematography definitely makes this movie really nice to look at (especially in HD), if nothing else.
All in all, I'd say Shark Week, aka Shark Assault is certainly nowhere near the Greats that Asylum has put out this year, but it's also certainly nowhere near their Worsts either - it's pretty smackdab in the middle, with maybe a slight lean towards the more positive side. If you're a fan of Asylum, I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it, but if the opportunity comes up that you can see it, I'd probably suggest giving it at least a one-time watch.
6/10 rooms in the Psych Ward