REVIEW: Sharks in Venice
There are good ideas and then there are bad ideas. There are Baldwin brothers and then, well there's little Stevie Baldwin. One has to wonder what uber-liberal activist and older brother Alec must think about his younger and less talented brother's exploits (when he's not screaming at ex-wife Kim Bassinger or their daughter over the phone that is). Shit. Alec's no Michael Ironside but even he's had his moments like playing that fucked up surgeon in Malice or contributing an outstanding voiceover narration for The Royal Tannenbaums.
Forgive me for starting things off with a lengthy digression but I would be remiss not to take a few moments before getting into the meat of this review to discuss the antics of Stephen Baldwin and his fall from uh, semi-obscurity.
Times have been tough all around, so tough that apparently not even a stand-up fraud like Stephen has been able to make an um, honest living out of fleecing that most naive and impressionable of demographics: christian youth. Last year Stephen was forced to file for bankruptcy. Due to no fault of his own however. Those dastardly heathens in Hollywood have shut him out you see, "because of his convictions." That's right folks. The star of such classics as The Young Riders and Bio-Dome tossed out on his can like a filthy commoner.
But hark! There's a silver-lining here. No I'm not talking about that silly website set up for Stephen. By others. On his behalf. Asking people to give him money and citing the bible as an authority on why people should give their hard-earned money to the world's first self-proclaimed "Jesus-Psycho." I'm not talking about that website. Were it not for Stephen being ostracized from mainstream movies we wouldn't have gems such as the one I bring you now, Shark(s?) In Venice. And we need films like this. Those of you brave enough to call yourselves Bad Movie Knights know this to be true.
Sharks In Venice is a return to familiar territory for the man who gave us the greatest of all shark movies; that being Shark Attack 3: Megaladon. It would appear that Danny Lerner has a serious hard-on for sharks. This is the fifth shark-related film he's been involved with according to the internet movie database. No small feat indeed. Believe it or not it's not that easy to just keep churning out direct-to-dvd releases of horror movies about man-eating sharks. There's a certain art to it. It's not like the old days when you could just plop a giant shark into a resort community and have it go fin to toe with some grizzled old beach cop. No, you have to introduce new elements to the formula. And you need new blood... Bring on the Baldwin!
Let's begin shall we? Venice. Present day...(I guess?) After a rather beautiful establishing shot of the city we sink into the murky depths of the Venetian canals to find a couple of divers who, we will soon learn, are searching for the lost treasure of the Medici family. Now before I go on any further I'd like to point something out. I've been to Venice. I say this not to toot my own horn, but rather to bring up something of which I'm not sure everyone is aware. If you haven't heard by now there's no sewage system in Venice, at least not in the sense that we're used to. So where does all of that human waste go when it's been flushed? You guessed it. Walk over any bridge in Venice in the summer time and it's like taking a field trip to your local sewage plant. I say all this to say that those two divers in the opening (and later Stephen Baldwin and friends including that pesky great white shark) will be swimming in 100% poo-poo water. Fitting on so many levels.
Anyhow these two divers are soon ambushed and divoured by a hungry shark. Cut to David Franks played by Stephen Baldwin. Franks is a professor at the Oceanographic Institute in San Francisco (a very believable part for Stephen I think) and after some ominous foreshadowing during one of his lectures he learns that his father has apparently had a "boating accident" in Venice. Setting forth immediately with his loyal and moderately attractive girlfriend Laura (played by Vanessa Johansson. Yes Scarlett's sister and no, nowhere near as close in uh "acting ability") on a quest to find out what's become of his father, David will be plunged...not only into the poop soup, but also into the shady world of the Venetian mafia and the corrupt police department that enables it.
Now I'm not gonna run through the entire story or point out the many confusing plot elements or holes in said plot. That's punishing enough when you're actually watching the movie. Suffice it to say that the film cannibalizes a few sci-fi/action classics in a pitiful attempt to win over the audience. We get the usual cliches from just about every shark movie ever made. (The whole "don't mention that we may have a killer shark to the public" admonition given to Franks/Baldwin by the chief of police for instance) Also for some reason we get a weak attempt at a Raiders of the Lost Ark ripoff as Baldwin navigates a series of booby-traps to gain access to the Medici treasure and elude those filthy Italian gangsters. Simply put the movie uses the killer shark m.o. and just slaps it in a different setting with a Mafia element thrown in for good measure and a has-been (I guess Stephen Baldwin "was" at some point?) actor as the protagonist. If this weren't bad enough Lerner even goes so far as to use cuts from his previous shark films. There's one scene in particular where you can actually see the head of the baby megalodon from Shark Attack 3 plowing through the hull of the ship which was in itself a blatant plagiarism of the Jaws climax. And it occurs during a scene where THERE IS NO BOAT INVOLVED WHATSOEVER. Great editing there guys.
As for the acting we have a few mailed-in performance from Baldwin as well as Johansson, who I guess got a spot in the movie because the producers thought we'd be turned on by name-association? (Pity her tits aren't as big as Stephen's or this might actually work on some subconscious level) The movie comes to a merciful conclusion with an unspectacular shootout between the mobsters and cops and Stephin Baldwin in a fight with--yada yada who cares? Does it really matter? The important thing to remember is Stephen needs our help folks. And I for one am not gonna stand by and do nothing while a good man like him suffers!
Am I gonna send him money? Fuck no! But I will bestow upon him something money can't buy. An extra Hamlin. It's the least we can do for him.
Hamlin Grade: 7
Everything you ever loved will be sodomized by Michael Bay,