Shark Tale Review
Finding Nemo is a superb aquatic animated movie that shows just what can be done with imagination, subtlety, tension, excitement and access to a CGI rendering farm or twelve.
Shark Tale is not.
Oscar (Will Smith) is small fry in the larger world of oceanic wildlife, and he doesn't realise it. Living beyond his means, Oscar is trying to get rich quick in order to fulfil his place at the top of the reef. In the process he has racked up 5000 clams of debt owed to boss Sykes (Martin Scorsese) a sum difficult to come up with when your job is a whale cleaner. As this marginally interesting story unfolds, another vies for your attention: the story of the vegetarian Shark Lenny (Jack Black) who happens to be the son of the shark godfather Don Lino (Robert De Niro). Don Lino tries his best to teach his son the error of his ways, and asks elder brother Frankie (Michael Imperioli) to demonstrate. Both brothers go out alone into the ocean wily empty ocean and spot a tasty morsel - Oscar. After Lenny bottles out it is up to Frankie to show how it is done. Unfortunately, a wayward anchor drops on Frankie's head and kills him allowing Oscar to adopt the mantle of “Shark Killer” seeing as no-one else is the wiser apart from Lenny who doesn't care as long as he doesn't eat Oscar.
This will be my fourth attempt at a review, after trying to watch the movie at least seven times. Why? Because it is utter rubbish, that's why. I care for none of the characters, especially lead Oscar. After listening to Oscar's introduction you want to either stop watching (not an option for me) or, should the opportunity arise, smack Will Smith in the face with a shovel.
“Ah”, you say, “but it isn't aimed at my [28 year old] generation: It's for kids!” Utter and total tosh. That is the exact same excuse folk are using for the new series of Dr Who, and has been applied in the videogame industry for years as a euphemism for poor quality and average no-risk content. The fact something is for kids does not excuse content quality and that is precisely what is wrong, here. There are swathes of the story that just wouldn't work for kids, like the “What, whaat?” conversation between Sykes and Don Lino. In addition, there isn't a flow, a current that the younger audience can swim along with, if you'll excuse the analogy. First there is Oscar's overly long introduction, then you are listening to the sharks, then its off to the races for some high stake betting, then Oscar's love interest, then back to the sharks - it's just a big mess that can't decide who or what it's audience is. I can imagine, at the cinema, bored kids asking their parents if they can have some ice cream because anything is better than this ill advised picture. I am sure the parents would agree.
There are some things that aren't bad. Some of the design, especially the city centre scenes, will capture the imaginations of watchers, as will the quality of lighting which seems more natural than other animations. Humour can work too, like the Sushi Bar and the shark animation is at times wonderful to behold. Watch the naturalistic way DeNiro's character mimics the actor's style. Mostly, though, I really can't find anything to like about this movie. Maybe it's just me, but there is no reason why this movie should exist save to cash in on, or as a response to, Finding Nemo. No wonder it isn't too good.