Rating: 1 out of 5
The stars: Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Julian McMahon, Phoebe Tonkin, Adrian Pang, Qi Yuwu
The story: Set in Gold Coast, Queensland, a supermarket hold-up is foiled by a tsunami and the motley crew of survivors must battle a pair of monstrous white sharks as they plot their escape from the submerged remains.
The buzz: Touted to be the first Australian-Singaporean joint production, this sharksploitation flick was a surprise screening choice in this year’s Venice Film Festival.
Insing.com says: Having previously helmed the disastrous schlock fest ‘Cut’ in 2000, Aussie director Kimble Rendall replicates his penchant for box-office bombs with ‘Bait 3D’.
Co-scripted by a pool of six writers which included the former gore fest specialist Russell Mulchany (‘Razorback’ & ‘Highlander’) who was rumored to have been fired from directorial duties, the silliness inherent in this B-movie feature(for heaven’s sake, it’s just killer sharks in a dilapidated supermarket) should have been better exploited, instead we were fed with lukewarm melodramatic debris, tired one-liners and snooze worthy caricatures as survivors clambering through redemption, love, sacrifice and survival.
Created out of dodgy SyFy production styled CGI effects, the sharks in ‘Bait’ inadvertently create more suspense while treacherously lurking as shadows in the waters. Right from the first close-up of the finny menace popping out and chomping its’ victim, most audience members could not stop laughing hysterically at the barely convincing pixilated wannabes.
Mr. Great White looking for some fresh meat at the local supermarket
With the barometer for all killer shark movies set high with the original ‘Jaws’ released in 1975, this particular genre has since developed into two different strains; namely thriller based scare fests and all-out campy mayhem.
The biggest flaw with ‘Bait’ is that it doesn’t fit in either of the two categories. Instead, we are flooded with nauseously pointless dramatic plot devices, which are used to unveil the boring characters and their corny “Chicken Soup for Tortured Souls” life philosophies.
If that wasn’t a royal shafting, we wonder what is, when all we wanted was popcorn-munching mayhem filled with absurdity, chaos and carnage. For example, the relationship arc between lifeguard turned guilt-ridden supermarket employee Josh (Xavier Samuel) and Tina (Sharni Vinson), his ex-fiancé was simply unbearable for even the most hardcore mushy romance fan.
Utilizing the familiar narrative strategy of fleshing out the characters in the calm before the storm (if you don’t consider an attempted hold-up as particularly stormy), we are introduced to a line-up of stereotypes like Jessup (Adrian Pang), the uptight Asian supermarket manager, Steven, Tina’s reticent new beau (Qi Yuwu), Jaime (Phoebe Tonkin), the shoplifting teen, Todd (Martin Sacks), her cop dad, Ryan (Alex Russell), her boyfriend who just got the sack from his supermarket gig, Doyle (Julian McMahon) and Kirby(Daniel Wyllie), a pair of robbers, Naomi(Alice Parkinson), a supermarket clerk, Heather(Cariba Heine) and Kyle(Lincoln Lewis), a pair of blonde teen lovers who enjoy making out in vacant carparks with pet Chihuahua in tow.
Despite an ensemble cast with a decent CV, we had to cringe at the leaden performances primarily due to a badly conceived script that suffered from horrendously developed characters and lack of any genuinely suspenseful scenes in the plot. Although, it was fun to watch one of the survivors die as bait, the movie suffered from a lack of such engagingly gory scenes.
While accidental humor dished out in the movie was high, the scenes serving comedic relief were appalling. Why would any self-respecting audience laugh at yet another Paris Hilton inspired blonde bimbo is something that both the director and writers have failed to think about?
Why on earth is this low-budget (compared to Hollywood funding) a 3D caper? It’s an astounding mystery. 3D effects are supposed to transport the audience into the heart of the action, but in this flick, it simply transforms the dreadful CGI effects into a bigger joke, especially when the prosthetic sharks looked more terrifying and realistic.
We are certain that the sharks wouldn’t have gotten more than the derisory chuckles if not for their hammy CGI avatars. But having said that, some of us were hoping that the sharks had a higher body count despite the anti-climatic nature of all the deaths in the flick (no surprise that none of the Asians survive and we can sense Jaime going “If it wasn’t for the shark’s fin, they would be alive”).
For heavens sake, the 3-D effects doesn’t even make sneaking a peek on anorexic Tina’s posterior remotely fun and if you do belong to the lascivious crew, you would be much better off with the putrid “Piranha 3DD” for your t*ts and a**es fix.
The only redeeming quality in the flick is the impeccable set-design where most of the drudgery ensues. Oceania Supermarket was literally built from prefab packaged supermarkets that are exported to Pakistan. There was a great eye for detail as the crumbling supermarket with floating debris outshone the sodden actors and icy screenplay.
If you don’t mind watching Razzie level acting performances and lame CGI sharks, or have strange hobbies like guessing accents, this 90-minute sinker is right up your alley.