Sunday, July 16, 2006


This CGI killer-shark spectacular was released in 2004, directed/written/produced by Daniel Grodnik. Stars Dedee Pfeiffer, Randall Batinkoff, Danny Woodburn, Josh Hammond, and Jeff Fahey.

Featuring the SHARX BROTHERS -- Chico, Groucho, Harpo, Gummo, Zeppo, and Red Dog!

PLOT SUMMARY: Genetically-modified Great Whites -- faster and smarter than the standard issue, able to breathe in fresh as well as salt water, and microchipped like Stepford Wives to obey commands -- slip out thru a hole in the fence one day and make for the Golden Gate Bridge. One of them, the strongest and least biddable of the test sharks, happens to be carrying a disused Russian suitcase bomb. CAN THEY BE STOPPED IN TIME?

This is a rare film -- budget middling to low, premise ridiculous, dang fine starpower and direction, and above all, a conscious sense of humor that almost never falls flat.

>> You have to love Jeff Fahey as General Remora, chomping a big black cigar and barking orders like crazy, carelessly betraying his intention to make the test sharks -- designed to defend our shorelines from foreign invaders -- into a new stealth weapons system. I especially love the shameless Gilligan's Island way his subordinates capture him by pinning his arms in a life ring after he gets out of control.

>> DeDee Pfeiffer is very convincing as the research specialist --stalking around in French heels and a black Kelly Bundy skimp dress under her lab coat, with her hair always falling seductively over one eye. She's married to the only other scientist in the lab, played by the same guy who played Buffy's boyfriend in the original Buffy movie.

>> Get a load of the lab itself! The place is lined with tropical-fish Con-Tac paper, lobster-shaped Christmas lights, fishtanks full of real and robo-fish, sharks' jaws on the walls, and on and on. Fish effigies dangle from the ceilings at such frequent intervals that every close-up in the film shows someone with a wooden or paper fish jammed in a nostril. There is even a life-sized statue of a mermaid in the entryway. If I apply for a gummint grant, can I have a lab like THAT?

>> What you will NOT see in this lab: charts, graphs, petri dishes, droppers, tongs, Bunsen burners, sample trays, microscopes, Tesla coils, or any of the superfluous glassware associated with serious movie-science labs. All they have are a couple of computer terminals nestled in layers of fake fur and garlanded with toy fish. The only lab assistant is a surfer dude who wears a shark hat on the job.

>> The boss's office is pretty good, too. It's full of nekkid-water-nymph statuary. And the boss wears the grooviest pants EVER.

>> Oh, the deadly experiments? They are computer-generated of course, but really a cut above the transparent, stiffly-moving crap CGI you saw in Red Water. Fast moving, with great big teeth and a very incorrect champing motion as they swim. They are utterly goofy, but at the same time rather menacing and delightful. Not a fish you'd want to meet in a dark alley.

>> The menace disappears, oddly, when they're chasing swimmers. Their peculiar dorsal fins, shaped almost like capital "Ds", do not slice menacingly through the water the way one might expect. They sort of just...I don't know...sit there. There is a great scene where the fins not only stand still in the water -- a feat greater in my eyes than that of the shark in Deep Blue Sea who knew how to back up -- but one of them is heeled over lazily, revealing that -- oops -- there seems to be no shark attached to that fin.

>> One of the menaced swimmers is played by the same petulant girlchild we wanted to strangle in The Glass Trap. Apparently she is building a career on odious-child roles. Sigh.

>> I need to add that the scientist couple spends every inch of screen footage making marital threat displays at each other, while producing no evidence that they have any grasp of any known scientific principles. That does not stop them from using their cellphones and personal stereos, MacGuyver-fashion, to save the day.

This movie is ultra-light, but really a lot of fun if you think in that particular way. I take it as a sign of hope -- if this is how humans see us, we are going to be able to sneak up on them EVEN MORE EASILY THAN I THOUGHT.


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