When the world no longer makes sense, there’s only one thing on the Blog Collab we can still rely on: awful B-movie shark horror. And this week’s pick sees a return to a franchise that has become legendary on the Collab. That’s right: it all started here for the Mega Shark franchise, and for Debbie Gibson’s film career–honestly, is it possible for a star to burn brighter than when facing off with an ancient shark?
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
After an ancient shark and octopus are unfrozen and unleashed on our oceans, it’s up to a small team of oceanographers to stop the creatures.
For the US military, it’s all in a day’s work to fly a helicopter around the Arctic circle, dropping experimental sonar devices for kicks. In the spirit of truly great sci-fi films, our immediate concern is how this is going to affect the whales. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is unfavorably.
After the sonar drives them berserk, a pod of whales nearly takes out oceanographer Emma MacNeil’s submarine. Even more disturbing, the whales seem to have no regard for their own survival, as they blindly ram into a massive glacier. Worse, disturbing the glacier awakens the creatures trapped inside–one Megalodon (mega shark) and giant octopus.
Later, Emma examines the body of a beached whale that seems to have met the wrong end of a propeller. However, on closer inspection, she discovers the animal was killed by a living creature…one with absolutely massive teeth. Meanwhile, a drilling platform off the coast of Japan is attacked by something large and tentacly that vanishes as quickly as it appears.
After being fired for essentially taking a submarine for a joyride, Emma seeks advice from her former teacher and mentor, the delightfully Irish Lamar Sanders. Using only the most sound scientific logic, Sanders argues that the creature is a Megalodon. People have been seeing sea monsters since the beginning of time…therefore, giant prehistoric sharks live among us?
Meanwhile–and I shit you not–the mega shark jumps out of the fucking ocean to take down a plane mid-flight. However, bad movie fans know immediately not to get too attached to any of the passengers on this flight, as there’s that one guy who proudly announces his upcoming wedding in two days. Goddammit, dude.
After Megalodon takes out a huge US Navy battleship, the feds, who have been keeping an eye on the scientists for reasons, bust Sanders’ place. The feds/army/navy/I don’t really know which department coordinates responses to massive shark attacks essentially coerce the scientists to come up with a plan, along with Japanese scientist Dr. Shimada. The three agree to work together, despite the douchey dude asking for help making about 10,000 slurs against the Japanese. FFS, dude. Would you rather be racist or survive a giant shark attack??? Sometimes you have to choose, man. And by sometimes, I mean ALL THE TIME.
The initial plan is to somehow contain the two creatures, you know, FOR SCIENCE. You know what this means: we’re gonna need a science montage. Sanders ends up getting the raw end of the deal here, as he continues to vaguely contribute by pouring different liquids into beakers. However, Emma and Shimada, who bond over (surprise) their love of the ocean, secretly hook up. But don’t worry–it’s at least partially for science. After their night together, the two come up with the ingenious idea of luring the creatures with pheromones.
Predictably, the first plan fails miserably, managing only to piss off the already volatile creatures. Honestly, how the fuck do you contain prehistoric sea creatures anyway? Everyone knows the only way to defeat a Megalodon and a giant octopus with an ancient feud is to let them fight each other. What could possibly go wrong?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
I just can’t hate you, Mega Shark. Even though the films in the franchise have been a bit of a letdown in terms of the gory shark attacks we’ve come to expect from shark horror, there’s a sort of earnestness I can’t help but appreciate. For a film about a giant shark fighting a massive octopus, it’s quite sweet. The US government listening to science! Concern about climate change and its impact on our oceans! A belief in solutions to global problems that don’t involve blowing things up! Oh, 2009. I miss you.
I will concede that the special effects are not wonderful, and many of them seem to be the same animation but in reverse. There are also no real emotional stakes for the characters, which I would just expect narratively even as I admit having a planet to live on that hasn’t been taken over by prehistoric creatures is a reasonably strong motivation. I expected the film to raise the stakes with people and places the characters cared about falling victim to Megalodon, but (spoiler?) this didn’t really happen. I also really wanted some of the nastier characters here to meet up with our prehistoric shark friend, but we didn’t get any such catharsis.
However, I will give this film so much credit for the following moments that made my life infinitely better:
- Upon firing Emma, her boss leaving her with the line, “Don’t love the ocean too much; it doesn’t love you back.” Which is both hilariously cold and utterly strange for what I presume is an oceanographer to say?
- The moments when Megalodon leaps out of the ocean to mercilessly destroy, on separate occasions, an airplane and the Golden Gate Bridge. I honestly teared up a little because I loved these scenes so much.
- Any time there’s underwater turbulence, and the cabin shakes to a degree worthy of any number of Star Trek episodes.
- Shimada being an incredibly supportive boyfriend/one night stand when he refers to Emma’s plan–basically having a prehistoric shark fight a giant octopus–as “brilliant.”
- The US Navy having the unquestionably American backup plan of nuking the fuck out of the ocean if the first plan fails.
- The incredibly optimistic setup of a sequel…which clearly didn’t happen in the way anticipated yet starred Jaleel White, aka Urkel from Family Matters?!?!?!?!?