Our mission to watch and review every single SyFy Channel original movie, long-dormant, returns! I saw a trailer for this, almost by accident, on Youtube one evening and decided to track it down, so delightful was it. Stephen “The Usual Suspects Was So Long Ago” Baldwin! Sharks! Bad Venice effects!
My first thought while watching was “I bet Venice’s waters aren’t that clean”, as we see a diving expedition beneath the city. Running things topside is a fellow who sort of looks like a cross between your typical Eurotrash and a caveman – in fact, let me see if I can find a picture of the fellow:
They’re after treasure left there by Marco Polo, I think? Anyway, everyone gets eaten by sharks, because of course, and if you’re wondering, there is an explanation as to why Venice has sharks. It is, however, so stupid and self-defeating that you’d rather wish there wasn’t; but before you’ve got time to enjoy the rather decent shark effects, we’re in academia and being introduced to Mr Baldwin, aka Professor David Franks. Baldwin wins the non-coveted “Brooke Hogan Award” for unconvincing scientists in movies – he looks vaguely miserable, like he realises this is as good as it’s ever going to get for him. One of the divers was his father, and for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the University offers to pay all his travelling expenses, as well as those of his assistant / fiancee Laura (Vanessa “sister of Scarlett” Johansson), so off we go to Europe!
While meeting the local cops and visiting the corpses in the local morgue (none of which are his father, a dropped plot thread like they were going to bring him back at the end and then just forgot to do so…or I wasn’t paying attention when they did), is when I began to wonder if this was a comedy, perhaps at the expense of its star. The line “then…this was a shark”, delivered with that sort of camera angle like Hercule Poirot fingering a murderer, was hilarious – it’s possible Baldwin was in on it, but I’m really not sure.
This satire continues when there’s a chase through the streets of Venice, and every thirty seconds or so it cuts from the stunt double (who’s taller, slimmer and has different hair to our star) to an extreme closeup of Baldwin’s face, trying to look heroic. He’s either posing like that or wearing diving equipment from the company “Aqua Lung” (who paid a pretty penny for all that product placement) for most of the movie…well, that or getting beaten in fights. He’s pretty pathetic all round, if truth be told, but hating on him is like hating on a lame dog.
So, there’s a cave full of treasure, sort of protected by the hordes of sharks and sub-sub-Indiana Jones traps; the Mafia guy who I mentioned above, who wants to pay Baldwin a big stack of cash in order to find it; the occasional scene where a pitifully dubbed foreign actor gets eaten; lots of awful fight scenes; lots of awful stock footage; and a weird subplot with the obviously suspicious as hell Italian cop. The only way to get much enjoyment out of this one is to pretend it’s making fun of Baldwin, that he’s shown to be a pompous ass with every inappropriate camera angle and fight he loses. It probably isn’t, because I’m not sure anyone involved in it gave enough of a damn.
Thoroughly underwhelming movie from Nu Image (I’m sure there’s a DVD somewhere which says “from the producers of The Expendables”); it seems director Danny Lerner had a thing for sharks, having also directed “Shark Zone” and “Raging Sharks” – great title, and it’s got Corin Nemec and Corbin Bernsen in it, so expect a review soon – and produced parts 2 and 3 of the “Shark Attack” franchise.
I think there’s too much entertaining garbage in the world to ever complete our SyFy mission, but we’ll keep trying to entertain you with our words even if we’re not entertained with the movies, as often as possible.
Rating: thumbs down