Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: Why Was I Not Informed of Halle Berry's Straight-to-DVD Shark Attack Movie?

It isn't often (well, not often enough) that a movie comes along that combines two of my favorite things. In the case of Dark Tide -- debuting On Demand March 8 and on DVD March 30 -- those things would be great white sharks and Halle Berry in a bikini. Why yes, there is a synopsis:

Kate (Halle 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 (Olivier 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.

The trailer clearly shows this isn't "Academy Award winner" Halle Berry they're promoting, but rather "swimsuit clad/frequently crammed into a wetsuit" Halle Berry. As a Serious Entertainment Journalist, I somehow have no problem with this.

Besides, Berry's presence is only one reason Dark Tide may just be the best bad shark movie since Deep Blue Sea.

Another reason? Sharks. After all, sharks are nature's Nazis, at least as far as movies go. Yes yes, I realize there are serious organizations making serious efforts in the real world to protect and study these animals, but this isn't real life. On the silver screen, sharks -- especially great whites -- are the perfect antagonists. Cold-blooded, ancient and literally bloodthirsty, these apex predators have been the source of theater scares since the 1920s, long before a certain Steven Spielberg movie freaked everybody out.

When done right (Jaws, Open Water, The Reef), shark movies can be almost cripplingly terrifying. When not (Jaws IV: The Revenge, Shark Night 3D), they're merely laughable. Still, though, they're fucking sharks. Right, Quint?

And then there's the director, John Stockwell. Before he started helming soggy actioners, Stockwell's acting roles included Cougar, the washout pilot from Top Gun, and Arnie's best friend from Christine. But what should be apparent from his directing CV is the fact the dude loves water. Whether he developed this obsession while growing up in Galveston or he had a traumatic baptism, history will tell, but if you've seen Blue Crush or Into the Blue, you've already figured out two things. One, the guy really favors the BIV end of the color spectrum. And two, he digs filming women in bikinis. Even Turistas, an otherwise odious Stockwell effort, contained a strangely out-of-place swimming sequence in an underwater cave system. In short, every female character in those movies spent 95% of their screen time in swimwear of some sort.

I bet Stockwell was a huge fan of Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep. This is not a bad thing.

And if the trailer is anything to go by, Dark Tide will try to offer...slightly better justification than previous shark movies for the great whites going all Golden Corral on everybody (for those too lazy to watch, their boat is capsized in a storm, dumping Kate, Jeff, et al into the drink like so many chicken tenders.)

There was an aggressive seal in there as well, in case you thought this movie would only be prejudiced against Chondrichthyes.

Count me in March 8. My own convoluted history with the beasts is well-documented, and I am pathologically incapable of not watching anything shark-related, having seen every Selachimorpha-themed movie on Netflix Streaming and spending every night of Shark Week huddled under blankets on my couch, shooting Nerf darts at the TV while my children shake their heads sadly in the doorway.

They'll thank me when the Sharktocalpyse begins.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar