It has a Baldwin! (AKA Shark in Venice)

1 Feb

I love how Shark in Venice starts with really classy, high-brow operatic intro music and lovely surroundings (Venice – you can’t get much nicer) but with really bad, cheap-looking titles slapped over the top. It sets the tone quite well.

This film is of a slightly higher calibre than some of the others I’ve reviewed so far – it has a Baldwin! (Not one of the uber-famous ones but the slightly puffier version – Stephen.) He has a permanent expression that is something akin to ‘confusion’.

You’d hope that all you need to know is in the title, but you’d be wrong. A sleazy-looking thief has hired some divers – lead by Baldwin’s father – to take a look through Venice’s canals for him. Unfortunately for the divers they’re not alone. Baldwin, of course, jets off to Venice to uncover what happened to his father. He meets the local police who are trying to convince people that the divers were killed by a motorboat to prevent public panic. During his dive he’s attacked by Jaws 2.0 and hides in umm…an abandoned treasure trove (as you do) filled with really rubbish booby-traps. Turns out everyone’s after the treasure (surprise!) and Baldwin needs to outwit Sleazy McThief and save the people of Venice from becoming shark-food. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!

It’s quite easy to rip this film to shreds. The emotional scenes in this film are hilarious – being asked “Is either of these men your father?” while the doctor whips the sheets off bloody, shark-eaten bodies like an overly-dramatic magician? Si! “Your father might be dead” greeted with blank looks and a hastily ushered-in wife crying, “I just heard!” – er…were you eavesdropping? (This scene reminded me of the intro-scenes in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace where the cat is visibly thrown in front of Liz in the corridor.)

The acting is umm…interesting. Puffy Baldwin seems to think that serious acting requires moving in slow motion and talking really slowly – with Shatner-style pauses. His ‘restless sleeping’ is nothing short of Oscar-worthy. I really don’t know why this man doesn’t land more gigs. It definitely serves to show that even if there’s acting ‘in the blood’, that doesn’t mean that all family members got the same blood – Scarlett Johansson’s sister (Vanessa) and well, this Baldwin have the combined acting prowess of a rubber band.

The film definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously (at one point they find a hidden suitcase and choir music starts playing when they open it) which is good – given the fact that with actors you’ve vaguely-heard-of that’s always a possible risk. Aside from the glaringly obvious, it’s wildly improbable – the divers manage to carry out whole conversations while wearing breathing apparatus (quite a skill!), people magically get their oxygen-tanks back after dropping them, slow-mo Baldwin displays lightning-quick reactions when his life is in danger but delivers lines like he’s been sedated, clothes dry amazingly fast…

There’s a particularly enjoyable scene where some bad guys riding motorbikes are attacking our Baldwin and the camera repeatedly cuts to scenes of Italian policemen running through crowds – on foot – accompanied by siren sounds! That’s practically one step away from Patsy the horseman in Holy Grail.

While the plot is a little weak (and there’s probably more tension in an episode of Power Rangers), it does have some amusing parts – I did enjoy the flashback of a scene that happened about 5 minutes prior (for the people who can’t follow such a complicated plot, obviously), and the police running with sirens. I’d say it’s worth a watch – I’m fairly certain you could make a drinking game out of it.

6 rubber sharks out of 10

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