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Thursday
May212009

Sharks In Venice: a.k.a. "Stephen Baldwin pretends he has a career"

This cover is awesome! I wish the movie were, too... This cover is awesome! I wish the movie were, too...


Once again the movie industry makes a movie where they can at least say, "We got a Baldwin...", and it is dear Stephen Baldwin. We've had a slide backwards in acting proficiency since The Harpy, and he once again displays one facial expression to encompass all ranges of emotional states, whether it is learning of his father's death, waking up in a hospital after being attacked by a shark, or realizing his wife has been kidnapped by the stereotypical bad guys. I think we're also experiencing a slide backwards in physical fitness, because the movie makers are careful to not make us see Stephen Baldwin shirtless, but they can't keep us from seeing things jiggle around under his shirt when he runs down a street.


The premise of this movie is promisingly ludicrous. People are seeking Marco Polo's treasure, which is supposed to be under the canals of Venice. Venice begins to have more and more "boat accidents" that result in floating body parts with teeth marks in them. Stephen Baldwin's character travels to Venice with his wife to identify his father's body, who is also classified as a "boating accident" despite the teeth marks. When the Italian police refuse to listen to the know-it-all, monotoned American, our hero decides to pick up where his father left off, especially once the bad guys approach him and offer him a schnike-load of cash to help them out in the search.


Turns out that there are lots of sharks in Venice, and they're big ones, all great whites. Supposedly they were dropped in as babies, and never found their way out to the ocean before they got too big to leave (or died because this isn't their environment, and the trauma should have killed them). So now Venice has hungry sharks in their canals snacking on divers, and then getting more aggressive and attacking gondolas and people passing on the street. That's right, people passing on the street. You heard me.


Along the way an Italian cop alternately helps and hinders them based on her own agenda. The bad guys proclaim they need Stephen Baldwin's character alive to help them, and then send in ninja assassins in the next scene to spray his hotel room with bullets. There are other fight scenes placed throughout, but there's just not enough shark action to satisfy me. We have to wait too long in between those moments, and then it's a lot of spliced Discovery Channel footage with some goofy, but fun, CGI, but instead of making it a nice, fluid sequence, they flash back and forth between sets in the movie. I guess they were trying to build suspense, but they just irritated me.


Basically, this is another movie with great potential for cheesy goodness, and it falls short. I don't know if Stephen Baldwin had a hand in how things played out, but it all ends too goody-goody-gumdrops, and it just doesn't fit the tone of the movie. I personally think he insists all scripts be rewritten to make him a hero, but also to make sure we have happy endings for all the characters who "come through" in the end. What surprised me in this movie was the violence and the blood, because lately Stephen seemed to steer a wide path clear of them, most likely for personal reasons.


Whatever the case for why Stephen Baldwin "landed" this role, once again he only provides painful comic relief. Maybe he thought acting with Scarlett Johansson's cute older sister, Vanessa Johansson, would lend him credibility, but he was wrong. I hope Vanessa didn't think that acting with a Baldwin would help her career out any, either.


For a better, more entertaining, shark movie, go for Deep Blue Sea, or even better, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. Watch Sharks In Venice once, get over your disappointment, and move on.



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