'Dark Tide' buckles under its own premise, seeing that it's so enamored with its main character's ability to free swim with great white sharks. "She's the only one in the world that does this," one character exclaims. I guess they forgot to watch 'Shark Week' where all sorts of scientists are jumping into the water with the supposed man-eaters. One person even tried tonic immobility on a great white, which is when a person uses their hand to disorient the shark by touching its nose and then turning them over onto their back causing them temporary paralysis. Anyway, we're supposed to believe Kate (Halle Berry) is the only one in the world who free dives with great whites, yeah, okay.
At the beginning Kate and her few friends are making a video about swimming with the killer beasts of the deep. Jeff (Oliver Martinez) is the cameraman and also Kate's significant other. There is also a safety spotter and a driver for the boat. The four of them laugh and joke as they get ready for another dive. One wonders about the sanity of people who will jump into the water with great white sharks after they've placed floating fish parts directly above themselves, but such is the life of a shark diver.
Director John Stockwell's instincts for building suspense seem dulled. The three of them swim around in the water watching sharks swim past much like in a scientific documentary. He doesn't cut to the chase, instead we meander around the scene as sharks pass them, music intensely crescendos and then subsides. Another pass, more intense music and then it subsides also. This movie should've been 80 – 90 minutes tops, but it clocks in at a laborious 114 minutes simply because Stockwell is unable to cut all this underwater footage that only serves to create soggy pacing through an already tired plot.
Soon a CGI shark turns and makes mincemeat of Kate's spotter ("nom, nom, nom"). Kate is scarred for life. She'll never get in the water with sharks again. Never! Now she runs a struggling tour boat business. She won't get in the water with the sharks so all the adventure-seeking tourists book tours with the other shark boats. Kate is tormented by the blood-spattered past, until Jeff comes back in the picture after being absent for quite a while. He's got an unbelievable proposition. There's this really rich guy who wants to swim with sharks and will pay handsomely for the chance.
Brady (Ralph Brown) is a wealthy businessman who may, or may not, be dying from cancer. For some reason it's brought up by his son, but it's never explored. No matter Brady and his son are looking for adventure. Brady is your standard rich, arrogant douche. Right from the outset Brady solidifies himself as the most annoying character on screen. Brown goes for the most outrageous, the most stereotypical portrayal of a rich d-bag as humanly possible. Brady orders Kate to get him to swim with sharks in a few days, the money is too good for her to say no.
I know what you're hoping for. As long as this movie has some cool shark attacks then everything is all right? Right? Well, that isn't the case either. Between the languishing scenes of shark stock footage and all the pointless attempts at piecing together any kind of remotely interesting storyline, the shark attacks are simply standard as far as the genre goes. It's also a little weird seeing countless shots of real great whites only to be bombarded with painfully obvious CG sharks when attacking time is at hand.
Since 'Jaws,' filmmakers have been trying to recreate the magic and terror of the shark attack movie and it hasn't worked. 'Dark Tide' is no different. It's an endless maze of meaningless dialogue, stiff characters and their uninteresting stories.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Dark Tide' is a Lionsgate release. It's been pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. The movie is packaged in a standard size keepcase, which also comes with a cardboard slip cover which shows the exact same art work as the case. It's a Region A release.
'Dark Tide' features a 1080p high-def picture that looks pretty great on Blu-ray. Despite the movie's idiocy, the Blu-ray appearance is quite good. It's detail is optimal especially; from Berry's perfect skin to the sleek bodies of the sharks under the water, everything seems to feature great detail.
The colors of South Africa are abundant. The water is a murky blue, the clouds a billowing white, the seals a grungy brownish-black. Crimson blood bubbles up from under the water and stains the picture with a visceral image. Shadows look great too. They are delineated quite nicely. There is some crushing going on though. There's one whole sequence in the middle of the film where poachers swim out to an island to grab some abalone. They swim out to the island under the cover of darkness and it's almost impossible to see anything going on. There are no figures just some sounds splashing in the water. It's a tough scene to watch since there's three minutes or so of relative blackness and nothing else.
Other than that sequence of crushing, the rest of the movie looks great. Yes, the CG sharks which attack the humans underwater look rather fake compared to the real ones you see. However, the underwater footage of some of the sharks is quite breathtaking. Like they lifted it straight from the Discovery Channel or something. Either way, the movie looks quite good.
This movie is mixed like all other shark attack movies. Its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix is keyed in on trying to scare you whenever a shark passes by. The music builds throughout the channels and then the bass kicks in suddenly when a shark lurches toward human prey. It's all created to make you gasp whenever it happens. It's pretty effective, but nothing new.
The surrounds of this mix did impress me. When Kate and her crew pass by the seal island you can hear the real sounds of barking seals in the rear speakers. Other ambiance includes rushing winds, breaking waves, and busy docks. LFE is impressively deep even though it's used in formulaic ways. Dialogue is always clear and intelligible. Underwater scenes feature a bubbly gurgling which surrounds you. Whether this was added in post-production or was recorded on site, I don't know. It does seem to engross you in the happenings on screen though. Overall, this is a very capable sound mix.
You've seen one shark attack movie you've seen them all. There's seemingly nothing new that can be done with the genre. Filmmakers should stop trying to recreate the feeling of 'Jaws' and just let it be. It doesn't help that 'Dark Tide' is interminably slow and overlong. If you must see it, then rent it. That's really the only thing this movie is good for.