If I could watch a shark movie every week then I’d be a happy man. Because I love shark movies. Unfortunately, for every release like The Shallows you can end up with something like Shark Exorcist. Or, to a slightly lesser extent, Shark Lake. Advertised in trailers, and even on the packaging, as “Dolph Vs. Shark”, I knew this was one that I had to see.
Dolph, and I’ll say Lundgren for those who happen to know more than one action cinema superstar named Dolph, plays a man who is just released from a five year stint in prison. All he wants to do is get on with his life and have a chance to spend some time with his young daughter (Lily Brooks O’Briant). But her mother (Sara Lane) doesn’t want that, and her mother is also a police officer, which means that she can easily make things difficult for Dolph. There’s also a local gangster giving our “hero” a hard time. And there are a few sharks in a lake.
You see, that right there is the biggest problem with Shark Lake. Not enough shark time. Yes, the special effects are decidely ropey, and the main premise is more than a bit silly, but if the makers of the film had just decided to go right along with the silliness of it all then this would have been a hell of a lot more entertaining. Instead, we get some domestic drama, some moments with Dolph being tough, and too few fin sightings.
Director Jerry Dugan doesn’t do anything special in his feature debut, which wouldn’t be so bad if the rest felt at least competent. Sadly, while this is far from the worst movie I have ever seen, it’s one of those films that feels completely flat throughout, in both the audio and visual departments. This might not have seemed like such a problem if the script, by Gabe Burnstein and David Anderson, had been more fun, but it isn’t.
Dolph himself is fairly wasted, with even the inevitable face off against a shark being an entirely underwhelming experience, but Sara Lane and Michael Aaron Milligan (playing an oceanographer who just happens to be in the area) do well enough in their main roles, and Miles Doleac is a lot of fun as a vain, fame-hungry, BBC TV celebrity who is hired to catch the shark.
If you have a high tolerance for nonsense then this will be tolerable for an hour and a half. If you’ve watched any similar material in movies from The Asylum or SyFy Channel then this won’t be the endurance test for you that it will be for others. It’s also just not half as much fun as it should have been.
Shark Lake is out now on DVD.
DIRECTOR: JERRY DUGAN
WRITER: GABE BURNSTEIN, DAVID ANDERSON
STARS: DOLPH LUNDGREN, SARA LANE, MICHAEL AARON MILLIGAN, LILY BROOKS O’BRIANT, JAMES CHALKE,
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX
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