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MOVIE REVIEW

Even in 3-D, shark scare lacks bite

By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / September 3, 2011

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Here’s the thing about a shark movie in 3-D, even one whose 3-D is as cheap and inconsequential as the 3-D in “Shark Night 3D.’’ Whenever, say, a clearly computer-generated hammerhead lunges at the camera, it’s clearly trying to take a bite out of us. And, I suppose, after we’ve paid $14, for the hassle, color us bit. The waters here are full of human chum, most of it a “Real World’’-load of nice kids from Tulane who make the mistake of visiting a lake house for the weekend. But as the illogic of it all begins to test your patience (a crew of rednecks have hatched a plot for cable-TV fame), you wonder whether the filmmakers and the studio wouldn’t mind tossing us in the lake, too.

It’s not as if anyone’s given a thought to diversionary suspense, New Orleans aquaculture, or basic human behavior. One of the lake housers is an athlete named Malik (Sinqua Walls). He’s from “the 4-1-0’’ (although Walls sounds like he’s from Baltimore, Calif.). After the sharks have taken his woman and his arm, he decides to go after one, citing urban rules. There’s mild, schlocky enjoyment in the sight of a fit, one-armed black guy punching a fake shark. It’s also a funny turn of events when a movie’s most likely male survivor - a pretty good Dustin Milligan - has more impressive cleavage than his female counterpart (Sarah Paxton, who isn’t bad, either, in a bland Reese Witherspoon-Alexis Bleidel sort of way).

The director, David R. Ellis, is a former Hollywood stunt coordinator, and having made “Snakes on a Plane’’ as well as two installments of “Final Destination,’’ he’s orchestrated the absurd deaths of many people. This movie doesn’t require him to demonstrate any care for either the predators or the prey. Heartlessness, stupidity, cynicism, and greed are a demoralizing combination for movie-going. We pay to see a movie that doesn’t respect us for being there at all. A second round is out of the question. Unless, of course, they called it “Gladys Knight 3D.’’ Then all is forgiven.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com or followed on Twitter: @wesley_morris.

SHARK NIGHT 3D

Directed by: David R. Ellis

Written by: Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg

Starring: Dustin Milligan, Sarah Paxton, Sinqua Walls, and Donal Logue

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 93 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (violence and terror, disturbing images, sexual references, partial nudity, language, and thematic material)

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