Review of Dark Tide

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A 2012 action/adventure thriller directed by John Stockwell and based on a story by Amy Sorlie, Dark Tide centers on a diving instructor who decides to return to deep waters after a near-fatal encounter with a Great White shark. Halle Berry acts as main character Kate Mathieson, who now spends her days giving mundane wildlife tours following the tragic death of her mentor. That is until the surprise arrival of her old diving partner and boyfriend (played by Olivier Martinez), who convinces her to face her inner demons by getting back into the water.
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Movie Review: "Dark Tide"

--Rating: PG-13 (disturbing images, bloody shark attacks, language, sexual references)
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2012
Directed by: John Stockwell
Genre: Drama/Adventure/Thriller

Ever since the huge international success of "Jaws," Hollywood producers and directors have been working to find the right formula for another shark movie hit. With "Dark Tide," they try a combination of bloody attack scenes paired with a bikini-clad Halle Berry. The result is a mixed bag that is enjoyable overall as long as you are not squeamish about blood.

Director John Stockwell is returning to familiar territory here, having directed other ocean-themed films like "Into the Blue" and "Blue Crush." His love of the sea is very obvious, as he spends ample time showing off the beauty of the water. Though the film is only 93 minutes long, the amount of time spent exploring the depths does not seem to be too much. It actually enhances the audience's appreciation of the sea before its ugly side rears its head in the form of the sharks.

The film is set in an area appropriately called "Shark Alley." Even the most experienced of divers won't tread there for fear of not making it out of the water alive. The only person brave enough to try is Kate Mathieson (Halle Berry), who seems to have a connection with the sharks that allows her to swim among them unscathed.

Kate is involved in a horrific accident that leaves her mentally traumatized and in financial ruin. She is on the verge of having to declare bankruptcy. Her estranged husband Jeff (Olivier Martinez) is trying to make a documentary-style film about her interactions with sharks. He realizes that if she loses her boat and equipment due to her money struggles, he will never get the movie made. He devises a plan to get Kate some quick cash so that she can get back on her feet financially and he can get a big payday from making the movie. It seems like a win-win situation in theory, but in the movies nothing ever goes as planned.

The quick payday involves Kate taking rich and daring businessman Brady (Ralph Brown) and his son Nate (Luke Tyler) out to Shark Alley for a dive. Brady is an adrenaline junky who may also be borderline crazy. Nobody else will take him out to Shark Alley because it is too much of a liability. Because he has been rejected by other boaters, he is willing to pay Kate quite a bit extra if she will fulfill his wishes.

The script by Ronnie Christensen and Amy Sorlie makes the millionaire Brady seem like a complete jerk. He is bringing along his son to help him "become a man" by facing the danger of Shark Alley. Brady is a dying man and this is his last wish, so he knows that Nate won't say no. In fact, it isn't clear whether Nate is doing it to fulfill his father's dying wish or to make sure he doesn't lose out on his trust fund.

Kate reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Of course, things begin to go awry and suddenly the group is in real danger. The action out on the open ocean is expertly filmed and even stunning in some shots. The underwater footage is especially beautiful and used to great effect. There is even one sequence that is meant to look like an illusion underwater, which is done very well.

You might not expect an original score in a low-budget killer shark movie, but "Dark Tide" does have one. It is by composer Mark Sayfritz, who helps to ratchet up the action and attack scenes with his music. Any killer shark movie score will always be compared to "Jaws," the score to which is one of John Williams' masterpieces. Though it is unlikely that any future shark movie scores will ever compare to that of "Dark Tide," Sayfritz still gives an excellent musical take on the dangers lurking beneath the surface. It is one of the highlights of the film.

Fans of Berry will love this film, even if they don't pay any attention to the plot or other characters. She is in various states of undress throughout the entire film. There are some particularly blatant scenes that serve no purpose other than to showcase her well-toned body. Despite this, the real focus is the sharks and the impending attacks. The movie does a good job of inciting audience anticipation. The payoff is a series of frantic, bloody and well-filmed attacks that are the best part of the film.