A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 156 – Megalodon

Megalodon – August 3rd, 2010

Last night’s movie was so magical, so full of amazing cinematic cheese and fake shark ‘special’ effects, there is no way anything can compare. Still, it is Shark Week, and so we persevere with yet another bad shark movie, this aiming for The Abyss more than Jaws. It sort of comes off as if SyFy had attempted The Abyss but done away with the aliens and tossed a shark in instead. Which I could totally see them doing.

Anyhow, like I said, this takes a couple of cues from The Abyss, what with a deep sea oil rig and all. What’s interesting (though I use that word loosely here) is that what one character says in the beginning is true: There are no bad guys. Misguided guys, sure. Annoying guys, oh yes. But bad guys? Nope. Nary a one. The rig’s crew and chief are decent folks who just happen to drill for oil off the coast of Greenland for a living. One, Peter (the guy in charge) has a deep voice and a British accent, usually sure signs of villainy, but no, he’s okay! He’s even played by Robin Sachs, who played Ethan Rayne in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, so really, you’d expect some evil there, right? Nope. There’s another Whedon alum in there too. Mark Sheppard, better known as Badger from Firefly (or Romo Lampkin if you’re more of a BSG fan). He’s not a bad guy either. In fact, he’s the one who gets the line about there being no bad guys.

The lack of tension within the crew isn’t a choice I’ll argue with too much, given the length of the movie. It’s only an hour and a half long and we certainly don’t get much of a chance to get to know most of the characters. I can’t even remember most of their names. I know Christen is a reporter who’s gone to the rig to get a story on the project and I know she had a cameraman but I can’t remember his name. I know Peter (Robin Sachs) is the guy in charge who would be evil in a movie that wanted to give us human tension. I know Ross is the badass diver who got stung by a jellyfish. I know Maz is the hotshot sub pilot who might be involved with Ross? I don’t know. It’s implied that she is but then it’s implied that she was close to Mitchell (Mark Sheppard), the medic on the rig, as well. Maybe she was involved with both. Who cares. It’s not really important to the plot and like I said, we barely get to know any of these people. The rest of the crew? Um. There’s another sub pilot who wears headphones all the time, an engineer who cracks unfunny jokes, I think there were other people? Maybe? Some of them die, I’ll tell you that.

We spend an hour getting the plot down. Big oil rig, underwater drill, submarines: Check. Of course the rig is having some problems just as Christen arrives, but the crew all assure her it’s nothing to worry about. Until a hose clogs and they find what should be an extinct species of fish inside – yes, it bites someone. That plot goes nowhere, by the way. Then they hit an air pocket and a whole swarm of the nasty little not!extinct fish swim out. This paves the way for the titular megalodon, but we don’t really see it for a little while longer. The movie is too busy not really getting to know the characters and not really advancing the plot. People chat over coffee, Maz and Ross go down into a big cavern they’ve opened up and look at jellyfish, then there’s more chatting over coffee and a little bit of talk about the environment. Oh yeah, Ross cares about the environment and how humans have fucked up the planet. That, um. I guess that matters later. Not much though. It’s sort of like the environmentalism theme was tacked on after the fact.

So an hour goes by and no sharks. There’s a shadow, but I don’t count that. It does nothing. But once we pass an hour the movie makes up for the lack of shark-related deaths in a big way. People drop like flies. We lose a sub pilot, a couple of crew members, then a couple more. The shark bangs up a lot of equipment and seems to be mad at electricity. But then I guess it gets sick of trying to bust up generators and goes to get a snack by bursting up through an ice floe. This all happens in about 15-20 minutes. There’s a lot of buildup to a very quick climax. We don’t even get much of a payoff. There’s a big explosion and then we’re on a sailboat with one of the main characters narrating a letter to another main character, talking about some environmental foundation they started in the memory of the people who died in the last twenty minutes. There’s a teaser for a potential sequel and then. Nothing. That’s it.

I get that the movie was probably made on a shoestring budget. I get that they likely sunk a good portion of said budget into the effects and getting a couple of actors people who watch cult tv shows might recognize. And really, it was nice to see some semi-familiar faces and the effects, while very noticeable, weren’t nearly as laughable as the ones in Sharks in Venice. But it’s so damn short. There are bits and pieces that just sort of happen and then go nowhere. Were they meant to play into the big plot? Was I supposed to care? What happened to the dude with the fish bite? Was the wonky sonar that big a deal? What about Maz and Ross and that little worry stone Mitchell had? Did that mean something? I have no idea. It’s messy, and not in a cheesefest way.

Honestly, if I’d watched this before Sharks in Venice I might have been more taken with it. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t bad in an unwatchable way. I’d stop on it if I surfed past it on television because it was fun enough for what it was. But it almost succeeded too much. It was never going to be a great movie, but it didn’t embrace its nature enough. It tried too hard and managed just enough to be decent without being good.

August 3, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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