sure everyone knows, the megaladon was a prehistoric shark around
sixty feet in length (bigger than your house). If you were out
swimming, you would know he ate you only if it suddenly got very
dark. He probably wouldn't even know he ate you, just go
swimming right on. He's been extinct for several million years, but
recently there's been a spate of movies dealing with his
reappearance. I can see how the idea would excite a writer...after
all, who knows if he's really gone? Anything could be living in the
depths of the sea, and most of the sea is unknown territory as far as
man is concerned. Remember the coelocanth? Thought extinct for
millions of years, until the 1930's. Why not megalodon, too? And of
course, there was that little movie a few years ago, a little number
called Jaws, that was kind of a hit and pretty influential on the
cinema as a whole. “I bet,” thinks our hypothetical
writer, warming to the project, “I could even have a shot where
this Great White Shark is menacing people, and suddenly Megalodon
shows up, and eats Great White in one gulp! People would go, Oh,
look, Jaws! But, Jaws is a mere toy to this new
behemoth! Mwu ha ha ha ha! Actually, I'd probably do that laugh at
the end, though.”
I have to say that I've always had an interest in sharks. They have a fascinating look, almost as if they were designed to be frightening. I know they'e not evil in any sense of the word, they're just natural creatures wanting to do no more than (in Matt Hooper's words) “swim, and eat, and make little sharks.” But you look at those grinning, toothy faces, and wonder what's going on in that ancient brain.
Well, anyway, we've got a movie to watch. I've been watching about 15 minutes so far, and this is actually not a bad movie, definitely B territory but up in the higher levels. The worst feature is the dubbing, which is completely obvious. In one case, an elderly white security guard has been dubbed with a black man's voice. It's startlingly inappropriate. The shark attacks themselves (two, so far) have been done with footage of real sharks, and are very quickly intercut, leaving the majority of the carnage to the imagination. (Well, except for the sliced-in-half marlin.)
Mind, this is based on the first 15 minutes of the movie. One special effect that fell down badly was the sign on a boat, obviously (painfully obviously) applied with paper mache—and moments before the camera rolled, if my eyes aren't deceiving me. And it gets a big close up! That takes chutzpah, I tell you. Another silly effect was when the hero took his digital camera and held the shark's tooth in front it it, to take a picture he could email. The image appeared on the computer screen with no hand, no background, and perfect lighting (and no cable to the PC I could see). I want a camera like that.
Say, remember how in “Return of the Living Dead” Frank joked about their being a “skeleton farm” in India? I wonder if there's a “screenplay farm” somewhere, where workers toil to wrest the last few nuggets from the cliché mines. I mean, these scripts don't grow on trees or in laboratories, do they? And they don't write themselves, either—or do they? Maybe they reproduce by fission! It would sure explain a lot.
For example, here in these first fifteen minutes we've met our hero, who has found a shark tooth and sends a picture to an email group. Somewhere else, in an underlit museum, a Babe Scientist gets the email. Already I can tell that these two are going to become an item. He's a crude worker type, she's a brilliantly intuitive scientist who will (no doubt) identify the tooth purely by sight. He'll turn her off by his common dunderheadedness, while she'll get on his nerves with her hifalutinness. Note: they haven't even met yet, but I stand by my prediction. If I'm wrong, you'll know about it.
Also, our hero has a Hispanic sidekick who's worried about his job. I would be too, because I bet his job is to be eaten by a giant shark. When the guy appears you know he should just save time and wear a suit made out of meat.
Now, on screen, hero's talking to his boss and another guy, who's having an underwater cable put through the area and who wants to hold a big party at the resort to celebrate. (Hero works at a resort as a water patrol guy.) Who wants to bet the party will have a smorgasbord—for the shark! Ha ha ha.
Anyway, back to the story. Hero says that he saw the cable, it was bitten by a shark (that's where he got the tooth) but probably just because the shark was curious. How nice to have someone not demonize the shark.
Cut to two lovers on the beach, who strip and head into the water. Well, we know where this is heading, and yeah, there's footage of the shark...the shark footage is top quality in this movie, by the way...and kazang! The shark attacks...some garbage or something. Honestly, it was a floating piece of dark material. Okay, I slowed it down, I think it was a seal pup. Anyway, guy and girl get away, and the shark...dies. Huh? Wha? Let that be a lesson to you—don't eat the seals, man, those things'll kill ya! Anyway, our hero tries to match the tooth he found with the dead shark on the beach, but no go. And our Heroine from the museum shows up, and meets Hero, wanting to know about the tooth. Nobodys' acting is going to win any prizes, but let's be honest: in a movie called Shark Attack: Megaladon, we want to see a 60 foot shark making shark attacks. Preferably not on seals, but hey. Oh, and I admit it, I was wrong about them not liking each other at first. They started making eyes at each other right away, before Hero's Doomed Amigo called him back to work. Wonder what else I'll be wrong about? I was wrong about the naked people being eaten, too. As far as I'm concerned, it's good when the movie doesn't do the predictable thing. (Well, depends of course...but that's a digression for another time.)
However, I will note one thing. The sharks we've seen so far, including the attack in the pre-credits sequence and the stock footage since, have been far too small to be Megaladon. I wanna see something big happen there! Don't give me, “It bit his leg right off, it must be prehistoric!”
Anyway, Heroine goes to a bar and calls someone at the museum, tells them to bring the video crew. She holds the tooth Hero found (he gave it to her) and a black, fossilized one. Aside from the color, they're (duh....DAH) identical. It looks like Heroine has a streak of evil in her (“I don't care what happens, I have to get this story”) but she'll probably reform when...someone who works for her, but she doesn't really like, and she was always dismissing him, and he liked her and thought she was hot, and she was all patronizing and stuff...well, when he gets et, she'll say something like “All I ever wanted was [something vague], and now [bad stuff happened and I'm partially to blame]!” And the Hero will say, “We all make mistakes [the only thing that matters is, do we learn from them, or repeat them]?” And yes, I'm making predictions again and I'll probably be wrong, but we all make mistakes, the only thing that matters is, do we learn from them, or repeat them? Don't answer that.
Anyway, we cut to a loud bar, where this great female band is playing. They even have a fire-eater! And then we leave the bar, to follow a drunk couple out onto the beach. They climb over a fence labelled “Closed” (in Spanish and English) and slip into a water-slide type ride. Which dumps them in...the ocean? What the hell? Was that a ride, or someone's creative way of getting rid of sewage, or what? I mean, most water-slide type rides are self-contained. Anyway, there's a shark there, and it eats them (I was GONNA say that but I was afraid of getting burned) and somewhere, a black woman removes her party mask. Uh, okay. Yeah. Um, was that symbolic?
And it's the next day, at Apex Communications, where a red light starts flashing and some guys mention how the underwater cable just went out. The boss (the cable guy from a few scenes ago—let's call him Cable Boss) tells them to get it working. When tech guy 1 hangs up, tech guy 2 asks if Cable Boss “isn't happy?” “A*holes are never happy,” says tech guy 1, and that quote goes into the Book of Great Quotes Book.
Back at the resort, two guys are gonna take a tiny sub to see the break in the cable. Yes, yes, yes, I THINK I know where this is going, but I've been embarassed several hundred times...oh, for this film? Twice...and I'll just let it...surprise me. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Anyway, at the same time, Heroine and her two stooges are out on a boat looking for shark evidence. Hero, out on his rounds, just happens to see them. Not that this leads to anything, but hey, it happened.
Anyway, much later, Heroine's boat is attacked by a big Great White (to judge by the stock footage). But it's OK, it just wanted to wake them up. They get some pictures, and tag it with some tracking device. And the shark bites the boat a bit, and leaves a tooth, and Heroine matches them up. And I feel gyped. I mean, this is NOT a Megalodon. It's a Great White. It's a fairly big Great White, true, but nowhere near sixty feet. No, I don't want to arm wrestle. Sixty feet. A sixty-foot shark would have just bitten the boat in half for a snack. This one bites the...the...okay, I don't know boat terms, but it's a little standing place at the back of the boat. Like a ledge. Stop laughing at me. Yes, I know you know the real term, but do you know what a marimba is? Ha, I thought not.
The thing is, these guys better not make a Great White movie, because they're not going to make a better one than Jaws. Well, they might but based on what I've seen so far, they're really going to work at it. And I'd rather they work on the Megalodon movie.
Anyway, we cut to the beach again, and we're going to get a replay of the dog scene from Jaws. You remember that scene? Surely you've seen Jaws! Oh, good heavens, go see Jaws. Right now. I'll wait.
....p a u s e....
Back? Good. You remember the dog scene? No? Perhaps because it was pretty subtle. There's a guy on the beach throwing a stick into the ocean, and his labrador retreiver brings the stick back. All this is background action. Then there's a shot of the guy calling his dog, and a shot of the stick floating on the water. Pretty subtle, eh? But you know what happened. Poor dog.
Anyway, we've got this guy on the beach playing with a frisbee and his dog. The guy, and I'm not kidding, looks and sounds almost exactly like Michael Rappaport in Deep Blue Sea. That can't be too good. He throws the frisbee into the ocean, and tells the dog, “Go get it!” and the dog...doesn't! Well, strike mumble for me! The guy wades into the water to get the frisbee, and gets et, and we see—you have seen Jaws now, right? Remember that shot where the severed leg sinks to the bottom, but you don't know it's a severed leg until it passes the camera? Well, we get that, except you know it's a severed leg right away. The severed bit floats past the camera, and then the foot. Well, I guess it is kind of creative. In a kind of post-modern, I've-seen-Jaws-and-I'll-overturn-your-expectations kind of way. Or maybe that's the shot they were able to get and they said, “We're losing money, cut and print!” It'll be a mystery for the ages. Uh...one of my cats is eating styrofoam, I have to stop this...hang on.
Okay, I'm back. What is it about styrofoam? Are we humans missing something? Well, in the movie, Hero calls on Heroine at her hotel, and mentions there's been a shark attack, the one we just witnessed (guy and dog). Will he accuse her of withholding information? Sorry, I've already been out on that limb. Let's watch together!
He sees she's a paleontologist, not a regular marine biologist. He asks what's going on, she says that there's a Megalodon off the coast here. She also mentions that the one doing the killings (the Great White footage) is a baby, only fifteen feet long. Well, that's a relief, because I thought this film was going to tell us that Megalodons were just kinda smaller than we all thought. And I'd rather get my science from scientists, not movies.
Of course, where there's a baby, there's a mom. So our thrills are not contained in a meagre imagination concocted from a misleading title. I'm guessing again.
Anyway (yes, this film should have been called “Shark Attack: Anyway”) Hero accuses Heroine of lying to protect her interests, when she should have told him what was out there. She says “You wouldn't have believed me.” Um, well, he DID find the tooth, after all. He mighta, you never know.
Heroine says, “Do you know what this discovery means? It's like finding a tyrannosaurus rex in your backyard.” And Hero says, “I don't see that as a good thing.” You know, guys, I have to agree with him here. A living T. Rex would be a tremendous discovery. But I don't think I'd want him in my yard. Same with a Megalodon. You found a living one? Great! It's in my swimming pool? Um, not so great!
The next morning, Hero and His Doomed Amigo are off to find and kill the shark. Heroine shows up and mentions her tracking device. So, they'll go on her boat.
And they're tracking it, and it's heading...right for he resort! Lots of slo-mo panic at the resort, but hey, they get everyone out of the water.
I forgot to mention, this shark growls and grunts a lot. Hero shoots at it, but Heroine steers the boat so he falls down. And the shark says, fine, whatever, I'll go back out to the open ocean (I'm paraphrasing). But it's heading toward another boat, with a balloon and rider attached. And honestly, it's how I predicted it, and you predicted it too, I just didn't want to say and be wrong again. It gets one boat guy and the other boat guy is knocked out. The shark grabs the balloon line and drags it under the water. Shark gets balloonist. All the time, Heroine is shouting “Oh my God!” in the same way you'd hear if someone was doing something really cool. But she did try to save the balloonist, and all she has now is balloonist's necklace. And her memories, of course. Which will last a lifetime. Sure, wrong about the small details....
Next scene, Hero confronts his boss, who (yawn) doesn't want to close the beaches. Hero wants to, of course. Blah blah, blah blah. You've seen Jaws (now). Boss says he'll handle the beaches, Hero is gonna kill the shark. Sounds good.
And we get the scene alluded to earlier, where Heroine regrets her actions. “I've studied fossils all my life, and I thought I was prepared for this.” “It's not your fault.” Etc.
So, they wonder why the shark is attracted to the cable. No one knows. But I'll answer that. You see, it's a fibre optic cable (they said so), so there's NOTHING to attract a shark. Only light beams go through a fibre optic cable, no power or radiation or etc other than light. But no one listens to me. And with my track record on this movie, you shouldn't either.
Anyway, they're talking about how the power from the cable attracted the baby Megalodon, and the whole system is due to go online shortly, and when it does it'll attract a whole bunch of...baby Megalodons. Sorry, everyone's avoiding the obvious here. Babies have moms, where is the mom?
“You know what?” Hero says, looking at the sunrise (or sunset). “I think we're going to need all the help we can get.” So he and Heroine go to a church and light devotional candles. No, I did not make that up. Really, it's kind of...interesting to see people in a movie put some credence in religious faith. I guess it has the air of “It couldn't hurt” but still, it's the sort of thing you don't see much in these kinds of movies.
And they go out on Heroine's boat (with her two man video crew) to kill the shark.
And remember the guys on the little sub? No, well, there were a couple of them, I thought they were goners, and they made it back to shore. And on of them, an old guy, was apparently there when the first (pre-credit) shark attack occurred (don't ask). He's back at the Apex offices fooling with a computer, and finds some secret files that reveal...and you'll never believe this! No, you won't believe it! He finds out that the company knew there was a problem with cable-shark attraction all the time! They just covered it up! Whaddayamean, you guessed that? You did not!
So, old guy goes to confront Cable Boss guy (who is named “Towelie”!), but Towelie has him escorted off site, and says “My lawyers will have a field day with you, THEY are the real sharks!” So, does anyone like lawyers, anywhere? I mean, that's kind of accurate, I mean HARSH, sorry, I mistyped. I meant harsh, honestly, no need for lawyers here. Besides, sharks swim a lot better. They do that.
Back to the boat, and a really weird shot. We have a lingering shot of Heroine's chest clothed in a t-shirt reading “[something] Boarding House.” She's also clutching a crucifix, but that's off to the side. I guess the director likes her chest, don't get me wrong, her chest is fine, but save it for the blooper reel please.
And we have Hero, Heroine and Heroine's stooges in one boat, and Hero's Doomed Amigo by himself in another boat. Hey, I'm not saying, I've been wrong a lot in my predictions for this movie. Notice I haven't changed his name, though. Anyway, Heroine's boat finds the shark, and the shark rams the boat a lot, and cracks the hull, so there's a lot of water below. And one of Heroine's stooges...what? Faints? Has a heart attack? I dunno, but Heroine goes below (where the boat is flooded) to get her shotgun. I think her shirt says “23 Boarding House”? Anyway, the shark bursts through the wall, manages to knock her gun away (smart shark!) so Hero goes after it with a baseball bat(!) shouting, “Die, dammit, die! Die!”(!) This goes on for a way long time, until Heroine gets her shotgun back and shoots the shark dead. And the music is all like, “It's over!” but the running time counter says it's been a little over an hour, so come on...we know it ain't over til the Megalodon sings.
And boy, does she! The boat's taking on water (what with a shark having punched a hole in the side and all) so Hero calls His Doomed Amigo to come rescue them. And then...
Well, the BIG shark makes its appearance, and it's pretty cool. This shark head the size of a house rears out of the water and eats Doomed Amigo's boat whole! It appears to be the boat composited into footage of a real shark breaching the water, but it's shot quick and edited fast and it looks pretty damn cool! Kudos, movie! Hey, I can complement with the best. Movie has out-guessed me several times (cough) and this effect was great!
Anyway, REAL Megalodon bumps the boat and everyone falls into the water. The boat capsizes. But, I mean, Hero and Heroine are on one side, and Heroine's stooges are on the other. I don't have to spell it out, do I? Fortunately, no, because Megalodon quickly rears up and eats both stooges. It looks like the same breach shot, a little cheesier here than it did with Doomed Amigo's boat, but the imagery is so powerfully primordial that I will cut the film some slack.
So, hero and heroine send off a flare and a passing helicopter comes to rescue them. Megalodon makes another attack (again, kudos to the film-makers, it looks great) but the two of them get away. And now it's off to stop the big party, right? Hero grabbed a loose tooth the size of a paperback book. And in the next scene, he slams it into Boss's desk. But we're back to “We can't close the beaches!” like in Jaws, but not with any kind of the finesse that Jaws displayed. Just, “The beaches will stay open! It says right here, in my copy of the script!”
So, Hero, Heroine and Old Guy will deal with everything themselves. Old Guy will set up the electrical attraction (the Megalodons like a lot of electricity, it draws them) and he has an old torpedo which should kill it. The only problem is, the torpedo was designed to sink ships, it needs something metallic or electric, which the Megalodon isn't. So they have to somehow plant a tracking device into it. Fortunately, Heroine's good with a crossbow. And they decide to adjorn for the night. Old Guy we know will go off by himself, but what of Hero and Heroine? Should I make a prediction that they (cough) won't get much sleeping done tonight, or should I resist becoming a fool again? Reader, you make the call! Operators are standing by.
Too late, they're in the shower together, languid sax music is playing, etc. Nothing you or I haven't seen before. And suddenly it's the next morning. Hero and Old Guy are in the mini sub, Heroine is in the air with a helicopter. And the Apex Communications party barge is gearing up for the big smorgasbord. At eight in the morning? Wow, party hardy and all that.
Anyway, somehow Hero and Heroine are “tracking” something, and heading toward the shark. There's a brief bit with the helicopter dealing with “turbulence, when you fly this low” and I'm guessing this is a plot point of some kind.
And on the party barge, the dubbing is really getting out of hand. That's all.
Hero and Old Guy blow up the cable! And the techs who were earlier chewed out by Towelie decide not to tell anyone, as they puff on their mari-ja-wha-na cigarettes. Towelie continues to talk about business on the party barge, I'm sure no one is paying any attention, just like me. Megalodon shows up, and I've really got to talk to the film-makers about sound effects. Megalodon sounds like she has really bad gas or something, all growly and stuff. (Hey, she ate Doomed Amigo—Bad Mexican food! Ha ha, Okay, I'm sorry, I apologize.)
And Towelie proposes a toast, to the future of Apex. Can you guess what happens next? Yes, you're right! I knew you'd do it. Lots of frantic camera work, folks putting on life-jackets (pigs in blankets? Sorry again). And stuff, and stuff. Heroine drops a box in the water, which makes buzzing noises (attracting Megalodon), but the damn turbulence pops up, and she misses the shot! So, Old Guy says he has a backup, he's going to go out and tag Megalodon himself! I know where this is leading, do you?
Well, first there's shots of passengers on the party barge falling overboard, and JUMPING overboard (you paid these extras too much, director!) and I'm sure we'll get...wait for it....um, any time, here...
Okay, I thought Megalogon would just snap up all the floaters, but she did something better! It wasn't important before so how do I explain this? Hm, throughout the film, Hero's Boss was always pawing this blond woman, and she liked it, and she was his date at the party. So, she puts on a life jacket and gets ready to jump, but Hero's Boss grabs the life jacket away from her, puts it on himself, and jumps overboard—right into the shark's mouth! I bet I could have predicted that. No, no, no, honestly, I do think I would have come to that conclusion. Really. I'm just gun-shy.
Anyway, Megalodon eats a lifeboat full of rich types. It's the same shot as used earlier, so the impact isn't the same, but hey, shark eating people. Shark eating people! Over here, folks, only a dollar!
And here we have Towelie, leaving the boat on a ski-doo! Okay, I'll go out on a limb here, and bet he gets eaten. If I lose, I write lots more of these kind of reviews. If I win, I write lots more of these kind of reviews. Hey, wait a minute! Judge, judge?
Well, he sailed right into Megalodon's open mouth, so I win! Right? Who taught him to drive a ski-doo? He should get a refund.
Nice shot of the little submarine below the huge shark. Very well done. Old guy hits the target, there's trouble, and it looks like the end for Old Guy, but Hero has an idea! “Just wish me luck!”
Old Guy surfaces next to one of the lifeboats full of rich party types, and says, “Boy, do I feel underdressed!” Well, it is kind of funny.
Anyway, Megalodon grabs the little sub and shakes it around! And this has to be CGI, but it's shot and edited well enough to get a passing grade. And Hero launches the torpedo, which as you'll recall, was keyed to electrical signals...like the sub itself! So Hero has 30 second to get out before the whole, um, shark blows up! Do you think he'll make it?
[Lots of cynical stuff deleted here.]
Nice shot (CGI, I'm guessing) of Hero swimming past the giant shark. Then, ka-boom, explosion, blah blah blah. After the explosion (and the real “Yes it's all over NOW” music) Heroine jumps in to save Hero, and he gets pulled into the “overdressed” lifeboat.
“Megalo-who?” quips Hero as he's revived. But we go below the water, and see another shark before we fade to black and cue credits. So, who's up for Shark Attack IV: In Space!
As I said at the beginning, this is a B film. And it retains that grade. No, it's not a classic, but it did fool me a lot, and despite the fact that I'm easy to fool, I have to give the film credit for not taking the easy road. Every one of my predictions could have been true, and honestly, I would not have blamed the film-makers for taking the easy way out. Well, yes, I would have, but then, I'm not a director who has to deliver a product. Overall, I would have to say this was a fun film. If you like movies where sharks attack people, well, there's one classic...and this one isn't going to worry it at all, but if you've seen Jaws a hundred times and want a bit of variety, give this one a rental. Wait a minute, if you've seen Jaws a hundred times you're some kind of obsessed person and you probably hate anything that isn't Jaws, so you probably wouldn't like this. Forget I said anything. For the rest of you, you might enjoy renting this.
Lots and lots of slavic names in the credits. Almost everyone's name ends with a “v”, as in Yordanov, Iliev, Vasilev, Krastanov, Minchev, Dichev, Manolov, Yonev, Stanishev and Chupetlovski. Okay, not that last one, but honestly, the others are Electricians and Grips as named in the credits, in order. (And for the record, Chupetlovski was followed by Asenov, Stepanov, Wienland (OK), Philipov, Bachvarov, Kadiiski (OK) and Videv. And more V-end names, and no, I'm not saying that's good, and I'm not saying that's bad. I'm just saying, that's all.
My recommendation? Well, it's no Jaws, but you could certainly do worse. I definitely give it a B. So see it...um, well, unless I've given it all away for you, in which case it would be just an academic exercice. Maybe I should edit this review, one for the folks who might want to see this, one for people who might care. Stay tuned, but as “fast” as I write these things, I wouldn't hold my breath.....