COMPANY: New Horizons
RUNTIME: 92 mins
PLOT: A baby Pliosaur, a long-extinct prehistoric species of shark, swims away when the chunk of Arctic glacier that it had been frozen in breaks away due to global warming. Three years later, this 'Dinoshark' is a ferocious predatory adult and has made its way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where it starts killing tourists and locals just offshore.
REVIEW: Over the course of this upcoming weekend (August 18th and 19th), the Space Channel here in Canada is airing some kind of Killer Shark Movie Marathon, where-in they will be airing such classics as Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus and its sequel Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, Sharktopus, Jersey Shore Shark Attack, Malibu Shark Attack, Dinocroc, Swamp Shark, and Dinoshark. Space was kind enough to send me a screener of Dinoshark for review, however I actually already owned that one on BluRay, so for the purpose of this review I'll actually be watching the BluRay copy in glorious HD! If you're interested in checking this one out for yourself, and you live in Canada, it will be airing at 6pm tomorrow night on August 18th on Space, but I highly recommend you tune in for the entire weekend of movies, because I've already seen each and every one of those and they all come pretty highly recommended by myself, even if I don't yet have reviews for all of them.
Now, the plot for this one is nothing special. In fact, it's a plot we've seen dozens of times over in dozens of almost-identical movies: Prehistoric shark gets thawed out from a glacier, makes its way to a beach-resort town and starts causing havoc (this time it's in Mexico though, as opposed to someplace within the United States, which was a welcomed change of locale). Of course our main ragtag group of friends are the first to discover what's going on but nobody believes them when they try to warn the town, and with a big water-based event approaching, the town officials refuse to let anything get in the way of that event taking place, which of course leads to said prehistoric shark creating a massive bloodbath. Chances are you can name at least ten other movies with almost that exact same plot right off the top of your head at this very moment. And yes, while the plot is very uninspired and bland, the majority of everything else in the movie makes up for it and you don't even realize just how generic the plot is until after it's over and done with and you're thinking back on it.
A large reason for that is the fact that almost every character in this movie, from the main guy (played by The O.C.'s Eric Balfour) who's back in town after spending a long time away and he's living on his boat trying to find work, to his childhood pal who's now with Harbor Patrol and is stuck between helping his friend out and doing his job, to the ex-girlfriend/now-bestfriend girl, to the asshole Harbor Patrol Captain that hates the main character and goes out of his way to make things difficult for him and to try to pin crimes on him, to every other speaking-part in the movie – everyone has something about them that makes them enjoyable to watch and you can really have fun with this cast of characters. Helping that along are of course the actors who play them, who all do a surprisingly above-average job for a B-movie of this kind. I was also surprised to see Roger Corman have a pretty decent-sized role here. He almost always cameos in his own movies lately, but very rarely does he give himself such a large part as he does in this one, which was the role of a marine-life expert that has all the knowledge on this creature and helps the main cast out.
Another surprising factor is that because you enjoy these characters so much, you actually don't want to see many of them, if any, get killed (which plenty do, and not always ones you would expect) – it's actually pretty nice having a killer animal movie once in awhile where you actually aren’t rooting for the animal to slaughter every person on-screen. Between caring for the characters as well as finding out pretty early-on that characters you wouldn't normally expect to die, sometimes does in this movie, also adds an unexpected level of tension to some of the action and stalking scenes, which is another aspect that many of these fun summer popcorn monster B-movies normally don't bother to aim for. Also along those same lines of things these movies don't tend to do often, this movie had a really nice structured build-up. It wasn't just random scene after random scene that really could have been placed in any mix-and-match order, like say Piranhaconda or Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, but instead there was a steady progression of intensity from scene-to-scene as the movie went on, and it gave a really nice natural flow to the movie that's not often seen in these.
As for the actual Dinoshark creature itself, overall both the CGI and practical effects looked really good and another above-average aspect of the movie, though the shark did tend to change size pretty constantly throughout the movie, depending on what the scene called for (in one scene it can almost eat a boat in one bite, while in another it's dragging a human carcass through the water in its jaws and the human body can hardly fit in its mouth), but after watching these movies on a fairly regular basis you tend to just get used to that sort of size-changing anomaly, to the point where I almost never even pick up on it anymore. It helps as well that you stay distracted from the size changes because unlike many B-movies, this one keeps your attention pretty well, leaving little to no time for your mind to wander to other things, such as the changing size of the creature - trust me, there are plenty of cheese-filled campy scenes with this beastie! Putting aside the opening scenes of it escaping the glacier and shortly afterward eating a diver, there's still many great gem scenes, such as the one where Eric Balfour drives toward it on a jet ski and launches himself into the air toward the creature while throwing a grenade at it, or where it propels itself out of the water and takes down a low-flying helicopter, or when it snacks down on the participants of an all-girls teen water polo match, and of course the bloody massacre that the entire movie leads up to.
I do have one slight issue, but it's not a mark against the movie itself but more-so with the BluRay. The video on the BluRay cut back and forth pretty regularly; When it was good, it was perfect and pristine and exactly the kind of thing HD was made for, but just as often it was also pretty bad with an overabundance of grain present, with no rhyme or reason as to why some scenes were great while others were beyond shitty like that.
Dinoshark may not have been as unique or memorable as movies like Sharktopus or the Mega Shark series, but I would say it's an overall better movie in almost every regard, and I find it's a great gateway movie to kind of introduce newcomers to the B-movie genre by including plenty of cheese but without letting it define the movie or overtake it, and both the acting and effects-work remained above-average throughout, so it shouldn't scare away newbies like many B-movies would with their horrible acting and effects.
All in all, this turned out to be an entertaining entry in the killer shark sub-genre, and one that I would recommend to both B-movie lovers as well as just casual people looking to check out their first B-movie.