Monday, February 09, 2009

Sharks in Venice

Welcome back Sporefans. Its a new year, and with it come new reviews. I've decided to start this year off right, by reviewing a movie that's all wrong. This week we'll be taking a look at Sharks in Venice, or Shark in Venice as it's referred to on IMDB.

Shark(s) in Venice stars Stephen Baldwin as David Franks, a man who's father was killed in Venice. By sharks.

Mafia sharks.

But don't pay attention to that, you're not supposed to know that they're mafia sharks until the end of the movie.

Which I just spoiled for you.

About that, you should probably avoid watching Sharks in Venice; but by telling you that I'm spoiling the end of the review too. But as Margaret Atwood said, "True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it's the hardest to do anything with." (from Margaret Atwood's Happy Endings, a cool story that you should read. I found it here, but I'm sure that she would prefer that you buy a hard copy of a book containing the story... as I understand it, authors prefer to be paid.)

So how did this movie about sharks in the canals of Venice get shoved down a Venetian crapper, subsequently winding up in the canals of Venice amidst the bodies of dead mafia sharks? I'm glad you asked, because I'm going to reveal that now.

It all starts when David's father attempts to find buried treasure in Venice... and by buried I mean in an underwater cave beneath the canals. David's old man is murdered... by mafia sharks. And by mafia sharks I mean shots of a man in scuba gear interspersed with stock footage of sharks feeding. And one shot that looks suspiciously like a killer whale. Alas, David's father never finds the buried treasure that he spent his entire life looking for. This brings David to Venice in search of his father, much like that movie with Harrison Ford where he went to Venice to search for Sean Connery who went missing while searching for buried treasure, but with a fraction of the budget.

And sharks.

If the treasure is buried under the "X" mark, all I have to do is find that mark and I'll find the treasure... Wait, what does an "X" look like again?

Mafia sharks. But remember, we're not supposed to know that yet.

Enter Stephen Baldwin, a man of very little emotion. Alas, in text I cannot give you an approximation of the acting talent of Mr. Stephen Baldwin, but I can provide you with an analogy that might help. If you were to infuse the intonation, but not the personality of Ben Stein into the wooden dummy from the Twilight Zone episode The Dummy (you remember Willie, don't you?) you would still not be close to the emoting ability of Stephen Baldwin. Only after covering the dummy in cement and freezing the cement with liquid nitrogen would you be able to reproduce anything remotely like the intonations from Baldwin's thespian repertoire.

You think you can fool me with you big Italian words, but I know a shark when I see one.

You're a shark, aren't you?

That being said, Baldwin's acting is only a small part of the reason that this movie wound up being reviewed by me. The plot is an obvious rip off of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as David and his girlfriend Laura (Vanessa Johnson) traipse and swim about Venice in search of the fabled Medici treasure. Of course, all of the Nazis have been replaced by mafia sharks, but the traps that Indy faces in his movies have been faithfully recreated out of foam rubber, and hidden in a cave beneath the canals of Venice. And, just like in Indiana Jones and the Crystal skull, one must assume that the Medici's possessed ancient scuba technology which they used to transport thousands of pounds of gold, skilled workers and equipment into a vault that can only be reached by swimming through an underwater cave; whereupon they constructed traps to keep out unwanted trespassers and thieves and mind-wiped all the workers with alien technology so that they would not remember where the gold was hidden. Or killed them, which is cheaper and more plausible. Come to think of it, that job kinda sucks.

If the plot to this movie sounds a little underdone, then I suggest that you pay attention to the scene where Baldwin is attacked by a shark after discovering the underwater cave. In this scene, the shark bites and mauls Baldwin, who lost his air tank on the way into the cave. Yet, somehow he wakes up in a hospital bed, seemingly uneaten. Perhaps the mafia shark expected to bite into the famous Italian "Spicy meat-a-ball" and found Baldwin's bland taste not to his liking. Perhaps it was all a dream. Perhaps Les Weldon was just too lazy to think of another way to progress the movie. I prefer the first idea, as nothing beats the notion of a sick mafia shark puking up little bits of Stephen Baldwin.

Man, it is wet under all this water. I sure hope that there are no sharks here; under the water... in Venice.

Perhaps it is time to mention the final, looming plot hole that exists virtually throughout Sharks in Venice. At the end of the movie it is revealed that a mafia boss has been introducing sharks into the Venetian canals and adapting them to fresh water so that they will keep people from finding the gold buried in the underwater cave. What the mafia boss probably didn't count on was that the canals of Venice are actually full of raw sewage.

I SPORE you not, Stephen Baldwin has been swimming through literal crap the entire movie. Literally swimming through it.

You may have me at a disadvantage Don Clemenza, but you are dealing with a man who swam through poop infested waters to find buried treasure. Oh, and there were sharks down there too.

I would extend a hand into the implausible and allow for fresh water sharks; this is a Sci-Fi movie after all. But sewage breathing sharks? No. I'm afraid that I can't believe in a world where a shark could live through inhaling the combined wastes of the 1.5 million people living in Venice. Actually, I picture how it should have gone to be something like this:

Don Clemenza: Vincenzo! Did you make'a-da sharks breatha da fresh water yet?

Vincenzo: No Don Clemenza! There wassa small problem wit da sharks. We put them into da water, and they die.
Don Clemenza: Whadda you mean, they die? I pay good money for those sharks. You make-a them adapt now! You hear me!

Vincenzo: Yes Don Clemenza!


Don Clemenza: Vincenzo! What's-a takin' you so long? You adapt those-a sharks yet?

Vincenzo: Well Don Clemenza, We had-da little problem.

Don Clemenza: Whaddya mean we had-da little problem, you terrible Italiano stereotype?

Vincenzo: Don, the shark... he adapt-a, but... he grows da lungs. He no swim underwater no more. He keepsa tryin' to get outta tha canal!

Don Clemenza: Ahhh... why we no just use guns like real mafia?

Perhaps it is because all of my guns are covered in gold.

Anyway, that's how I would have written Sharks in Venice. Perhaps some day when Sci-Fi can recognize real talent they'll make the mistake... I mean, the decision to let me make a movie on their dollar. Until then, get yourself a bigger boat and stay out of the canals in Venice, Sporefans. I hear that there are some pretty scary things lurking just beneath the surface of those not so still waters.

I've already posted the trailer for Sharks in Venice, so here's a little tidbit to tide you over until the next review.

Pun definitely intended.


esuarez said...

You know it does make me feel a little better to know that Baldwin was swimming through raw sewage through the course of this ordeal.

After being let down by the last crop of shark movies, I'll hold hope that Jaws V: Jaws in Space gets made.

Spored_to_Death said...

I won't be happy with Jaws V unless they resurrect Quint (Robert Shaw) via cleverly done CGI and look-a-likes.