Bait 3D (2012)
By: Devon B. on September 26, 2012  | 
Director: Kimble Rendall
Starring:: Xavier Samuel, Julian McMahon, Sharni Vinson, Phoebe Tonkin, Lincoln Lewis
Screnplay: Russell Mulcahy, John Kim
Country: Australia
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I like shark movies. I like good ones like Jaws, and I like bad ones like Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus. I like ones that handle the sharks realistically like Open Water and I like ones where the shark has been engineered into a sharktopus. I like big budget spectacles like Deep Blue Sea and I like low budget atrocities like Shark Attack. I like having the sharks mostly hidden in the water like The Reef or highly visible like Jaws 2. I like to see sharks munch people up real good, but I don't mind if the sharks don't attack much. When it comes to shark movies, I'm just not very fussy, so when a new one is announced I go into excitement overdrive. Which brings me to Bait, or Bait 3D depending on how many dimensions one views it in.

I've been trying to keep my anticipation in check for months after hearing the ludicrous storyline for Bait. A young lifeguard has it all: a fiancée, a best friend and soon to be brother-in-law, and a wicked hangover. While nursing his head on dry land, a shark takes a swimmer right next to where his friend is setting a buoy. Our hero races to save his friend but because sharks are the pigs of the ocean it eats his friend even though it already ate the swimmer. A year later, and the ex-lifeguard has lost it all. He's now working at a supermarket, and is suffering through the awkwardness of bumping into his ex with her new man in tow. Luckily for him, some guys try to rob the supermarket, giving him a brief reprieve from the tense situation. Then a tsunami hits, flooding the supermarket and trapping the survivors inside. As one would expect the tsunami has also washed a white pointer into the supermarket, and it's naturally a bit hungry.

If I'd ended up in a tsunami flooded supermarket before seeing Bait I probably would've wanted to get out of the water ASAP. Not because, as I now realise, it's highly likely a white pointer would be perusing the aisles, but rather because it seems the power is still on and I'd be worried about electrocution. This seems of little concern most of the time, so maybe I'm just a big electricity baby.

Bait really sounds like a weird mash up of a few different stories; maybe originally it was going to be a tense robbery film, then it became a natural disaster survival story, and when that wasn't enough a shark was thrown into the mix. And thank God for that! It's kind of like a mix of Run Lola Run, Daylight and that bit with the sharks in the first Resident Evil game. If that's too many comparisons, it also seemed like a much higher quality Malibu Shark Attack.

Bait is the sort of fun nonsense I wanted Shark Night 3D to be. Bait has a jovial tone that makes it easy to overlook the film's flaws. The movie gets so playful that at times it goes beyond being a bit tongue-in-cheek to being an outright pastiche. Two different characters get "Nooooooooooo!" moments, there's an apparent homage to Robin's shark dispatching from Batman: The Movie, there's some gleefully corny dialogue and there's a plot "twist" so obvious I'm amazed the film didn't just reveal it right away. There're some outright gags, but most of Bait's humour comes from its over the top elements, the pinnacle of which is our lead's hilarious shark showdown. It's a shame that the soundtrack doesn't include The Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" because that would've been funny, but most other opportunities for a joke have been seized.

There seemed to be a lot of characters that were meant to be from North America, but I'm not sure about this because the accents got so muddled. One character even partially explains her shifting speech patterns by saying she'd spent time in the States. That might clarify for her, but I'm not sure why the other handful of characters suddenly swapped pronunciations. I wouldn't point out the accent issue except that it seems unnecessary to include so many North Americans, and even when the accents are working the delivery is pretty stilted. Whether this is just more bad acting in a film brimming with it or whether this is a result of accent masking is difficult to say, but it's not just relegated to those doing sporadic North American accents because one Australian character has effected his drawl so much he sounds just as unnatural as the would-be seppos.

More important than how the people talk, this movie has sharks. Most of the time the sharks are CG, and most of the time they surprisingly looked okay. There're certainly a few moments where the sharks look as cartoony as Jabberjaw, but for the most part the sharks were way better than I expected for CG creations. There're some other CG elements with varying levels of believability, but believable or not I did enjoy seeing the Gold Coast get washed away.

I saw Bait as Bait 3D, and for a nice change, the 3D was worthwhile. Things start off rocky, with characters in the foreground looking superimposed onto the background, but the image quickly improves. The supermarket is given some additional depth, but some things do come off the screen, which is what I go to 3D movies to see. While sharks don't really leap off the screen, there're at least a few scenes where the filmmakers tried to make that happen, and there're some nice ambient elements, usually floating in the water or the air, that improve the 3D experience. I'm tired of movies where all the 3D does is make it look like I'm watching the action through a window, and Bait 3D is the first movie I've seen in ages where I'd say the 3D was well used. The film will still play fine in 2D, but the experience is enhanced by the 3D.

Bait is a silly movie that knows not to take its ridiculous premises very seriously. It's not often I leave a shark movie screening as excited as I was when I walked in, but Bait's brazen outrageousness makes it difficult to focus on the film's problems, the main one being the acting is almost universally unconvincing. Once its various plot devices are set up it's a great popcorn flick that should appeal to those that like their action or tension with a smattering of cheese. I loved it, but then, I like shark movies.
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