Written by: : Frances Doel and Guy Prevost
Directed by: Kevin OĎNeill
Starring: Eric Balfour, Iva Hasperger, and Roger Corman
Reviewed by: Brett G.
ďDinoshark season is officially open.Ē
At the end of my Sharktopus review, I said I would wade back into the waters with Roger Corman and SyFy as long as they kept cooking up new creature mash-ups that defy all logic or rational explanation. I underestimated their ability to consistently churn these suckers out though-- itís only been a month since the Sharktopusís reign of terror on my television ended, and already theyíve unleashed Dinoshark on an unsuspecting world (okay, thatís not true--everyone should be suspicious of Corman and SyFy by now). Well, I am a man of my word--though I know itís never safe to go back in the water with these guys around, I canít resist.
The titular Dinoshark has apparently been trapped by a glacier for millions of years; luckily for it (and unluckily for everyone else), the ice melts and it escapes. It then swims around for three years and takes some time to grow up (to the size of a whale shark, I guess) before resurfacing in Alaska, where it kills a researcher. Dinoshark must find this unsatisfying and looks for a change of scenery, so it swims down to sunny Mexico, where thereís plenty of grub. Trace McGraw (Eric Balfour) is also back in town, and he teams up with Carol, an environmental science student doubling as a water polo coach, to stop the beast.
If you check out the review for Sharktopus or (90% of the aquatic creature features weíve done) and just sub in the name Dinoshark, youíll arrive at the same conclusion. But Iím a nice guy and will save you the effort, so letís run down the laundry list of what youíll find here: poor acting with some ridiculous, over-the-top accents, cheap special effects, a threadbare plot that barely makes sense, gratuitous tourist-munching, an imitation of the Jaws theme music, and low budget, made-for-TV production values. And thatís just barely plunging below the surface. Rest assured, a schlocky good time awaits you if this is your sort of thing. Luckily for everyone involved, this does happen to be my sort of thing; whereas most would be appalled that this is basically a rip-off of previous Corman films (which are just cheap rip-offs themselves!), I just sort of laugh and pat it on its head for trying.
Sure, it doesnít try very hard, but with a title like Dinoshark, you kind of expect it to coast on the absurd premise. And it does--save for when our main characters pop in with some exposition that lets us know whatís going on (not that we particularly care to know why thereís a prehistoric shark roaming around). Otherwise, itís a straight-up monster-fest that finds the star of the show doing what it does best: eating random people (who have nothing to do with "the plot") in gruesome fashion. The creature itself isnít all that impressive, as itís basically a great white shark with scales (which I think makes it derivative of Crocosaurus--itís like Corman and company are incepting us with these layers of rip-offs within rip-offs). The effects that bring it to life are pretty cheap, but fare a bit better than his tentacled counterpart; I would say these are definitely Playstation 2-era graphics processing at work here, but they also seem to be supplemented by some practical effects as well. The gore itself is nice and gooey because Dinoshark seems to spit out body parts he doesnít like, so there are decapitated heads and severed extremities strewn throughout.
Dinoshark continues the grand SyFy tradition of saddling sort-of-decent and somewhat recognizable actors with an absurd script and terrible dialogue. The casualty this time is Eric Balfour, who genre fans will recognize from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre redux; I quite enjoyed his turn as Milo in 24, where he actually showed some decent chops. Suffice to say, he doesnít get to show them off here; however, he (along with the rest of the cast) knows to ham it up a bit. The characters donít do much besides provide exposition--for example, they play a vital role in assuring us that Mexico is indeed a long way from Alaska. They mostly talk about the prehistoric man-eater and (of course) no one believes them, and (of course) they have a brief discussion about whether or not they should kill it or capture it for science. The movie only pays lip service to these expected tropes though and decides instead to just move swiftly to the carnage-filled climax.
It doesnít have anything on Piranha 3D's climactic grue-fest, but itís kind of fun to watch Dinsoshark crash a water polo match before he has his awesome final showdown with a jet-ski-riding Balfour. Also, good news, Corman fans: the producer doesnít just settle for a cameo appearance and shows up as a marine biologist. The bad news is that heís probably the second best actor in this. You win some, you lose some. Anchor Bay has released the film on DVD and Blu-ray in an unrated cut that restores the gory bits that were missing from TV. The high-def offering isnít a spectacular presentation, but it is a solid one with a pristine widescreen transfer and a booming Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The disc tosses in the filmís trailer and a commentary with director OíNeill and Julie and Roger Corman. If youíve made it through the legendary producerís other, similar offerings, youíll find more of the same here. And, of course, you can expect more of the same on the horizon--these things should come with a message reassuring (or warning) us that ďRoger Corman and SyFy will returnĒ at this point. Rent it!
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