This latest in the seemingly endless Maneater series that have been popping up on the Sci-Fi Channel and then going straight to DVD is the blandly titled Sea Beast which, like many of its sister films, throws a B-list actor into the lead role wherein he/she must square off against poorly rendered CGI monsters.
Said B-list actor is Corin Nemec who plays a fisherman named Will McKenna. When we first meet Will, he and his crew are at sea, battling a horrendous storm. Things turn from bad to worse when one of Will's crewmembers is snatched off of the deck by a seemingly transparent monster who drags him to the depths of the ocean never to be seen or heard from again. Will's bad luck continues when the guy who sold him his boat comes looking for his money but thankfully a surly old sea dog named Quint, I mean Ben (Brent Strait), saw the same monster years before. Unfortunately Ben's a raging drunk and no one believes him.
While Will is dealing with all of his problems, his only daughter, Carly (Miriam McKenna) and her boyfriend Danny (Daniel Wisler) who just happens to be a member of Will's crew are planning to sneak off with a couple of friends to the cottage that Will owns on a remote island just off the coast of the small town they all call home. Unfortunately for them, the titular sea beast chows down on one of the friends and then heads to the island where the rest of them are staying. Thankfully for them, Will has teamed up with a cute marine biologist who just so happens to be in town investigating some bizarre algae growing in the area and taking its toll on the local fish population. Will, Ben and marine biologist chick team up to stop the monsters that seem to be targeting the town but will they be able to get to Carly before the beasts make a meal out of her?
Take everything that was frightening about Jaws and everything that was awesome about Predator, mix it together... and then throw it out the window in and you've essentially got Sea Beast. This film blatantly rips off bits from both of those far, far, far better films but brings nothing new to the table to make up for that. You know how the monsters in Predator could do that cool camouflage thing where they blend into whatever is behind them? The monsters in this movie can do that too. You know how the surly sea dog in Jaws died trying to do the right thing? Well the surly sea dog in this movie does that too. This film is literally just a cut and paste from those two pictures painted over with some horrible CGI graphics work to give the admittedly kinda-cool looking monsters some semblance of life. That CGI, however, is terrible, it lacks any soul and stands out from the live action cast members and backgrounds like a sore thumb, not doing the movie any favors.
The performances are pretty wooden across the board, with no one really standing out in any way, and not really helping the picture at all. Sub plots that could have been interesting (at one point Danny gets bitten by one of the monsters and his hand shows signs on a nasty infection) go nowhere and are conveniently swept under the rug when they could have been reasonably exploited and the script moves along at a remarkably average pace. There's nothing here, save for a few seconds of inspired gore effects work, to make you want to watch this film. Yes, it's passable enough as entertainment, it won't make your eyes bleed or cause you to harm your loved ones, but by the time the end credits roll there's a very good chance you'll have forgotten the names of characters or what the movie was all about because it gives you no reason at all to care about it.
Sea Beast is presented in a pretty spiffy 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that features nice color reproduction and a fair bit of detail in the foreground and the background of the image at all times. There's a bit of edge enhancement and at times sharpness looks to have been artificially boosted just a little bit but there aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or heavy edge enhancement. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and overall the image is pretty decent on this DVD even if the CGI looks horrible.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 track is of fairly decent quality. The levels are well balanced and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to complain about. Dialogue comes through clearly at all times and the score and sound effects are mixed in with the appropriate amount of punch. Don't look for any subtitles, alternate language dubs or closed captioning options, however, as you'll be sorely disappointed.
There's a preview for other films in the Maneater series that plays before you get to the static menu screen but aside from that, all you get on this release is chapter selection. That said, if slipcases that feature cover art identical to that found on the keepcase is your thing, you'll be happy to know that this release features just that, and you get the added bonus of bumpy weird lantern fish on the case. As seems to be the norm with these releases, the monster fish things on the cover look much cooler than the ones in the movie.
A couple of dollops of splashy gooey gore are kind of fun but they can't save this lackluster picture from the ranks of mediocrity. There's nothing here you haven't seen before, and done much better at that. Despite some potential for a fun B-movie experience, Sea Beast winds up a predictable bore and unless you're a hardcore Corin Nemec fan, you can safely skip this one.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.