Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Dark Tide: A Tense Psychological Thriller

I think I have a thing for movies that make use of an underwater environment. Maybe it's just because the ocean has always fascinated me, but I have a tendency to be drawn towards nautical films. I remember going to great lengths to try and find The Big Blue and even resorted to downloading once I finally realized it could not be obtained on DVD (didn't stop me from trying once in a while even afterwards, though). I've also stated that one of Walt Disney's greatest achievements was the 1954 classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (I'll have to discuss that masterpiece in more depth at some point).

So naturally when I stumbled across a still of Halle Berry in a diving suit filming Dark Tide I was quite excited. Sadly, I never got a chance to see it in the theater, and afterward the consensus was mostly that it was a terrible movie. It currently has a rating of 4.3 stars on IMDB, and the reviews that I have found mostly seemed to be very critical. It is a shame really, because having finally had a chance to see it I've found it really isn't all that bad a film. In fact barring a few flaws it is actually pretty good.

Halle Berry plays the role of Kate, a marine biologist who enjoys swimming with sharks, outside of the cage. Of course it is a very dangerous hobby but she is a professional and takes all the necessary precautions. Unfortunately, one dive still does not go quite as planned, one of her friends is killed by a shark and she just barely escapes. Shocked by the experience, Kate gives up diving for a year before she takes a job out of desperation to take a wealthy businessman out to swim with sharks.

Now I'm not going to lie here, the visuals are definitely the highlight of the movie. The underwater photography is incredible, but even on the surface the cinematography and mis-en-scene do a really good job. If I had to be really critical, there are a few scattered moments set at night when it gets dark and it becomes hard to see what is happening. Fortunately, most of the movie takes place in broad daylight so that isn't a huge problem.

They also take full advantage of the environment, offering us plenty of great shots of ocean life other than sharks, including seals, penguins (yes, you can actually find them in places other than Antarctica), and dolphins. Plenty of great images to enjoy if you like that kind of thing.

Of course, the visuals alone don't drive the film, but the rest of it was also very well-done. Halle Berry does a perfect job as Kate; yes, she's attractive and has several scenes where she is clad in a bikini, but she really captures the balance of passion and fear experienced by her character. Her interactions with the rest of the cast, especially her ex-husband and photographer Jeff (Olivier Martinez), and the businessman Brady (Ralph Brown). It really connects you with them and compels you to follow their journey.

I would definitely recommend taking a look at Dark Tide if you get the chance. It's a finely crafted piece of work with excellent visuals, a compelling story, great characters, and probably anything else that makes a movie great. Definitely a good story if you want an exciting nautical adventure.

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