Friday 18 May 2012

Shark Swarm (2008)

Two things surprised me as I watched Shark Swarm the other evening. The first was how long the damn thing was, it clocked in at just over two hours. The second was how good it was. Okay, maybe saying it was good is being a bit generous but it certainly wasn't the low grade schlock I was expecting. No sir-ee. This was more of an enjoyable soap opera style drama with occasional moments of, fairly well executed, shark action. Typical TV movie fare but certainly a step up from the many little films shown in recent years that have thrown a bunch of bad actors together with even worse CGI and given it a catchy name to entice people dumb enough to become intrigued (yes, people like me).

The folk onscreen here may not be at the top of their game but they aren't terrible actors and actresses. John Schneider, Daryl Hannah, Armand Assante, F. Murray Abraham (really? have the mighty fallen so far?) and even the likes of Mimi Michaels and Roark Critchlow do just fine with the melodrama.

The plot is a standard one for this type of film - a big businessman (Assante) is doing his best to buy up a small town and to help him on his way he messes up the local economy by affecting the fishing trade by polluting the surrounding waters. This makes a bunch of sharks act strangely and all different types start swarming together and munching on poor swimmers. One good man (Schneider) isn't won over by the businessman and he also notices the trouble in the water. With his wife (Hannah) and daughter (Michaels) by his side, he tries to right the wrongs that have been done. However, he doesn't realise the full situation until his professor brother (Critchlow) and professor colleague (Abraham) see the big picture.

Written by Matthew Chernov and David Rosiak, there's nothing here to get too excited over but it's perfectly acceptable stuff that can't avoid feeling like "Jaws-lite" in one or two moments. Things could easily have been condensed, or even removed altogether, to get the film down to a zippy ninety minute runtime but it was created as a longer schedule filler and that's how it has to be viewed.

The direction by James A. Contner is just fine. Of course, there's nothing majorly cinematic on display and no major flourishes or camera moves but the big draw, the shark footage, is reasonably well done and the film trots along nicely in between the moments of tension.

As well as the cast members already mentioned, we have John Enos III, Heather McComb, Alan Fudge, Gene Davis, Brent King, Jacleen Heber, Elisa Donovan, Darcy Rose Byrnes, Tiffany Hines and plenty of others giving acceptable performances in an acceptable time-waster of a TV movie.


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