Dark Tide

Oooh another new shark movie!

Haiku Review:

Storm afraid of sharks,

a failure to stay afloat,

Berry bad movie

Dark Tide (2012) – Rated PG-13

“”Shark whisperer” Kate has lost her magic after a shark attack kills a diver on her team. But when an ex-boyfriend offers her a chance to get her mojo back by leading a millionaire on a risky shark dive, she decides to go for it.”

Wow! Poor Halle Berry! Back at the turn of the century, she lands the plum role of Storm in The X-Men. She does a great job in it and the first sequel. Between those two she wins the Best Actress in a leading role Oscar for Monster’s Ball and becomes the latest Bond girl in Die Another Day. Everything was looking up for her.

In 2004, Halle Berry won both the Worst Actress Razzie and Worst Couple for Catwoman. In 2006, she finished her role as Storm in the last modern X-Men movie, X-Men III: The Last Stand. I would have loved to have seen more but the cast was too large and they all wanted good money so the next film was just about Wolverine and then they rebooted the actors with X-Men: First Class.

Halle Berry took a couple years off and now she is back with this direct-to-DVD drivel. I like to think that she took this job because she wanted to vacation in South Africa, just as Samuel L. Jackson takes some of his roles for the nearby golfing.

Director John Stockwell is quite familiar with the water having directed Into the Blue and Blue Crush. Sadly his work here is very dark and murky – so much so that I wondered what went on in a few key scenes. It didn’t help that the Netflix encoding appears to pixelate occasionally during underwater scenes. I also noticed this pixelation in Piranha.

I quite appreciated the way in which the sharks were portrayed in a very realistic manner (i.e. they are not unstoppable killing machines). Sadly the same cannot be said of the humans.

The film opens with Kate’s (Halle Berry) assistant that she dearly loves about to retire – after this one last dive of course. Okay, now that we have gotten our initial shark attack out of the way, we can focus on Kate’s newfound reluctance to swim with sharks and how her boat and gear are about to be repossessed. I wonder how she could possibly raise the money to *ahem* stay afloat?

Enter the handsome Jeff. Jeff is played by forty-six year old Olivier Martinez so at least he and Halle are comparable ages. That said, seeing such beautiful forty-somethings makes me feel a bit inadequate as I start bearing down on the big five-O.

They are joined by Ralph Brown as the, of course, super rich Brady. The answer to Kate’s money problems just wants to bring his son along and swim with the sharks before he dies of cancer. As in slasher movies, he is that overbearing character that you can’t wait to see killed off.

Kate is cajoled into going on this trip but is going to do this on her terms. When she is thwarted, she completely flips out. I won’t tell you what she does but it is definitely something she does solely because the script dictated it.

The subject matter and title Dark Tide make it seem like this is a horror movie but it comes off more as an adventure film minus the adventure or perhaps a character study of stock characters. Some of the African cinematography is nice but overall Shark Night is a more interesting film and that is saying a lot.

Christine – The King of Horror

This is the King of Horror week. That is right – all of the films this week will be based on works by noted horror author Stephen King. Christine is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Christine (1983) – Rated R for adult content, adult language, and violence.

“Geeky student Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) falls for Christine, a rusty 1958 Plymouth Fury, and becomes obsessed with restoring the classic automobile to her former glory. As the car changes, so does Arnie, whose newfound confidence turns to arrogance behind the wheel of his exotic beauty. Arnies girlfriend Leigh and best friend Dennis reach out to him, only to be met by a Fury like no other. Based on the chilling novel by Stephen King.”

“Let me tell you a little something about love, Dennis. It has a voracious appetite. It eats everything. Friendship. Family. It kills me how much it eats. But I will tell you something else. You feed it right, and it can be a beautiful thing, and thats what we have.”

John Carpenter begins the movie wonderfully as Christine rolls off the assembly line to the immortal strains of “Bad to the Bone”. This scene, one of the best in the movie, is not in the novel. The rest of the music choices in the film are quite inspired – Tarantino-esque before Tarantino.

This is a Stephen King love story. Make no mistake – this story may be about a murderous car but at heart, it is a love story of tragic proportions. As in Shakespeare, it is love at first sight.

While I did not notice any particular liberties taken with the book (other than cutting out several subplots), the focus is quite different. I remember the book being essentially a love story between friends Arnie and Dennis and what happens when Arnie buys the aforementioned car.

John Carpenter puts the focus more squarely on the relationship between Arnie and Christine. This is probably necessary to keep the film under two hours but at times it does seem a bit too streamlined.

The actors are serviceable. Strangely none of the regular actors that Carpenter uses make an appearance here.

Keith Gordon made a career out of playing the nerdy kid (Home Movies, Dressed to Kill) and as such plays Arnie, our lovable nerd who is transformed just as he transforms Christine.

John Stockwell (Cougar in Top Gun) plays Dennis, the jock friend to Arnie. Alexandra Paul plays Cabot, the human love interest they both share. William Ostrander plays the head bully, Buddy Repperton. Part of the problem is that the actors are all in their 20s and they look it as do many of the other high school “kids”.

The other part of the problem is Harry Dean Stanton. He has a brief role as Detective Junkins and he is so much better than the other actors that the rest seem somewhat dull in comparison.

The remaining “actor” of note is Christine herself. Carpenter makes Christine the star, her shade of red is gorgeous, and her headlights mesmerizing. The amount of damage done to her in various scenes is amazing. Every shot of Christine is lovingly framed or would be…

Annoyingly Netflix has presented this in a cropped for TV pan-and-scan format. This was actually the movie that convinced me decades ago that letterbox was preferable to full screen.

The first scene at the school lockers has Arnie in the background making fun of Roseanne while she flirts with Dennis. In the original pan-and-scan I saw on TV, Arnie is actually cut out of the frame – which completely ruins the scene.

This pan-and-scan version preserves a bit of the joke though it is cut badly. One of the strengths John Carpenter brings to the cinematic table are his lovely 2.35:1 shots. It is a real shame that this is shown “fool-screen”.

I still recommend this film from John Carpenter at the height of his career but I was tempted to rate this a pass because many of the beautiful shot compositions are ruined. This is neither the best of John Carpenter nor the best of Stephen King but is still enjoyable.

People Watch: Oh no it is the Scientology connection again. His wife Kelly Preston appears here as Roseanne.