For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will once again be locked inside The Asylum, reviewing tons of releases by the famed studio. Every weekday throughout April you will get another Asylum review. April’s podcast will also be devoted to films from The Asylum.
One of my favorite things to do when it comes to films released from The Asylum is to read the back of the DVD or Blu-ray case. I do this because The Asylum almost always puts – in quotes, so it’s as if a critic is giving it praise – what two movies they feel best represent the release in your hand. It usually says something like, “Blockbuster A meets Blockbuster B”, and it gives the potential viewer a general idea of what they’re in for, but without any noticeable budget of any kind. For Shark Week, the quote on the back says, “Saw meets Jaws”. Because of this, I’ve wanted to see Shark Week for quite some time. I love both Saw and Jaws! What could possibly go wrong?
Turns out, a lot.
The problem with Shark Week’s promise of being a mix of Saw and Jaws is that it isn’t as cleverly crafted as Saw, nor as powerful as Jaws. Instead, we get a silly story with mediocre characters that goes virtually nowhere. It isn’t a terrible film by any stretch, but it sure isn’t good either.
In Shark Week, an insanely rich man named Tiburon (Patrick Bergen) gathers up eight seemingly unconnected strangers to go through his torture park, filled with sharks. Their goal is simply to be one of the last people standing when the game is finished. I’ll just let the cat out of the bag here (meaning there is a small spoiler incoming): the reason they’re on this deadly island is because they all played some part in getting Tiburon’s son killed by the police. This is his revenge.
So Shark Week is like Saw in that a group of people are taken to a place they aren’t familiar with and forced to try to escape with their lives while deadly traps try to kill them. I’ll give you one guess how it’s related to Jaws.
The biggest problem here, though, is that the traps Tiburon sets are not creative, puzzling, or interesting in the least. They amount to little more than “there is a shark in the water with you, how are you going to survive?”, and there is virtually no progression to them, aside from the size of the shark, but even that is questionable. Obviously these characters will die off one by one until there is a winner, but virtually no death is memorable, which is a shame because the premise allows room for some creativity.
Shark Week is competently acted, with Patrick Bergin playing a genuinely solid Tiburon. His female sidekick in evil is played by Yancy Butler, and she is fine, but her dialogue is cheesy as hell at points, which hurts the character overall. Even with good acting, though, the movie is just uninteresting. I never really give a shit why these people are on this island, who they are, or whether or not they’ll live. Without any of those elements, I cannot recommend Shark Week as anything more than a time killer. This is another example of a really cool premise that is wasted by a lack of creativity and poor storytelling.