Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Blood in the Water, or: Texas Chain-law Massacre

It seems to be our misfortune this Shark Month to have very few shark appearances in films ostensibly about sharks. Instead what we get is a series of shady characters with questionable motives. Is it so much to ask–is it really? To reflect the anarchy of our world in a bunch of senselessly violent CGI shark attacks?

Apparently so. If you’re looking for bloody shark murder content, this week’s film ain’t it–despite promising gore in the title.

The Film:

Blood in the Water

Director:

Dominic Nutter

The Premise:

Waking up chained next to a shark-infested pool, a group of strangers must rely on each other to escape death…or not.

The Ramble:

After waking up chained by the ankle next to a pool, a man pleads for his life to an unseen voice over a speaker. The man is Henry, a lawyer with sketchy dealings, and those seem finally about to catch up with him. Escalating things extremely quickly with an escape attempt involving jumping into the pool and cutting his own foot off…turns out to be unwise. An unknown creature in the pool attacks and kills Henry. And, of course, that creature is a shark.

Unfortunately for a group of seemingly unconnected strangers, Henry is not the last victim of the voice/pool shark. Troubled young woman Hannah is abducted, finding herself chained by the ankle along with 5 others. It’s not long before the group realizes they are all linked by Henry, who had been secretly recording many of his clients.

Of course, Henry is not the only connection the strangers share, and the voice is fixated on getting all of the victims to confess their sins before time us up and the shark is unleashed. Uncaged? In a fairly uninspired Agatha Christie knock-off plot, all of the victims’ crimes are related. To be honest, though, the only mystery that held my attention at all was how every single character managed to be so boring, whether engaging in illegal activities or dying by pool shark.

The Rating:

1/5 Pink Panther Heads

This is a rather incoherent mess, all told, and I’m not feeling particularly forgiving. I got bored, so the only thing I can do is be overly critical about unimportant plot details. A few questions that will doubtless keep you up at night:

  • What is the setting for this film? The accents are a confusing range of American, British, and somewhere in between? They somehow all sound fake.
  • People call Henry a lawyer (American), but…
  • the Brooklyn(?!) cop pulls over a guy whose steering wheel is on the right side of the car (defo not legal in the US). Pretty sure, anyway. I can’t be bothered to rewind and confirm.
  • Is the pool full of salt water? That feels difficult to maintain long-term, though admittedly this is a rather short-term murder plot.
  • I expected some kind of explanation for the choice to go to so much trouble to murder people by shark. I remain dissatisfied.
  • Above all, why so little shark action?!?!?

Would my blog wife fess up to her sketchy criminal past or sacrifice this one to the sharks? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Shark Killer, or: Team Shark

Is it possible this month is the best of our recurring themes on the Collab? I know–I say that virtually every month. However, it’s time for not only Shark Week, but Shark Month, so I don’t say this lightly. Just when it seems we’ve run out of B movie shark nonsense, we manage to dig up another feature in a failed franchise. This week with diamonds, drug deals, and a shark bounty hunter.

The Film:

Shark Killer

Director:

Sheldon Wilson

The Premise:

To help his estranged brother, a shark killer must track down a shark that has swallowed a priceless diamond. For real.

The Ramble:

Poor Chase seems to be the only one not having fun on a newly reopened beach just declared 100% safe and without a doubt entirely shark-free. As it turns out, he’s a shark killer for hire, and has repeatedly insisted to the mayor that the dangerous shark is still lurking, alive and hungry. Inevitably, a resigned-looking Chase must wade into the ocean, which he very much loathes, and save the day just in time.

Chase is basking in his success the following morning after somewhat shadily hooking up with a woman he saved from the shark. Unfortunately, he’s interrupted by Jasmine, a lawyer who insists Chase be ready to leave in 10 minutes. Presumably because of horniness, Chase asks zero questions, to the point of getting on a plane and into a car with Jasmine even though he has no clue where they’re going.

As it turns out, their destination is an ultra modern McMansion in Capetown, now owned by Chase’s brother Jake. With something of a chip on his shoulder as the family black sheep, Jake has finally made a name for himself through criminal activities. His latest scheme gone awry involves a diamond that was eaten by a shark for honestly forgettable reasons. Though the brothers haven’t spoken in years, Chase agrees to help Jake…as long as Jasmine joins him.

Clearly no one in the family ever had a much-needed conversation about consent with the boys, as neither cares that Jasmine has no interest in going along. But then she does so anyway because it’s a necessary plot point. Chase is making progress in tracking down the shark when not doing his sort of knock-off Chris Pratt routine with Jasmine. Unfortunately, Jake hasn’t been entirely truthful, and someone else is after the diamond in a shark carrying case: Nix, a drug lord running quite an extensive operation.

Now facing an aggravated shark, a violent drug smuggler, and his morally questionable brother, will Chase manage to retrieve the diamond and finally impress Jasmine with his heroics?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Admittedly it’s quite a low bar, but this is not the worst film we’ve ever watched on the Collab. The beginning and the end are the high points of the movie, and surprisingly fun with the Jaws parody opening our film and silly plot twist after twist keeping things interesting at the end. Every scene with villain Nix (Arnold Vosloo) is extremely watchable, largely because he puts so much more energy into the role than strictly necessary.

I will say leading man Chase does grow on me, especially when he and Jake are forced to make up and work together. It helps that Jake definitely takes on the bad cop role in the duo, and when Chase isn’t constantly hitting on Jasmine, he actually comes across as a reasonably likeable hero. The sibling rivalry is honestly one of the more believable elements of the film, and I completely buy that the impulse to argue would win out over the need to sneak past armed guards (which it does). Willing to overlook that Jake’s accent changed completely about 2/3 of the way through the film.

However, the parts of the film I did enjoy lasted for about 20 minutes total, and the rest of the film was kind of meandering and boring. Jasmine is annoyingly one-dimensional and has almost no personality traits besides being a lawyer. Biggest complaint is that this is more of a comedy adventure than a shark movie, despite having the word shark IN the title. Feels a bit of a sneaky marketing tactic capitalizing on Sharknado, as there are about 2 minutes of CGI shark action total.

Props for the silly tagline, though: blood is thicker in water.

Would my blog wife knife a shark for this one or use it to chum the waters? Find out in her review!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Ouija Shark, or: Exit, Pursued by Ghost Shark

So bad it’s good or so bad it’s…bad? It’s a fine line to walk in B-movie land, and an extremely subjective one.

Except when it’s not. No spoilers (yet), but this week’s film is called Ouija Shark. And I’m guessing there aren’t a whole lot of people in the world who consider it a masterpiece of modern filmmaking.

The Film:

Ouija Shark

The Premise:

After summoning the angry spirit of a shark, a group of teens struggle to stay alive long enough to defeat the creature.

The Ramble:

Young Jill is looking forward to a weekend chilling at the pool with seemingly her only friend, Kim. At least, I think it’s Kim. The character names I remember from this film are as follows: 1. Jill.

However, due to her friend’s horrible directions, Jill ends up at a secluded beach. Rather than imagine she may have ended up at the wrong location, Jill jumps into the water for a splash…and emerges with a mysterious Ouija board floating beside her. Obviously she takes the board with her. Obviously.

3 young women sit in a circle on a grassy lawn. A Ouija board is in the center between them.

When Jill finally meets up with Kim and a group of friends housesitting, it seems Jill is something of the odd one out. It doesn’t take long for shared interests to unite the group: daydrinking and lounging around the backyard pool. In a subplot that has little (i.e. zero) relevance, one of the girls takes an interest in the neighbor washing his car and disappears for most of the film’s proceedings.

Meanwhile, the other girls have found it necessary to pace themselves on the daydrinking, shifting gears a bit to bring out the Ouija board. Though most of the group is skeptical, it takes only a few questions about the spirit’s intentions for the girls to be properly creeped out.

Jill later realizes she may have taken things a step too far with the summoning spirits thing when she has a shark-themed nightmare. After calling her dad, he solemnly vows to look into the shark dream and let her know if it’s connected to the Ouija board spirit. To his credit, he actually does do research on this ranging from internet searches to tarot readings, and even consults a medium about it. And, I mean, I’m sure mediums have gotten some odd requests, but communing with the spirit of a shark must be one of the more extreme.

A man sits at a table in the kitchen, looking intently at a laptop screen as he researches. A stack of articles related to sharks and the occult sits next to the computer.

Things escalate pretty quickly from here, with people falling victim to the ghost shark left and right. As the girls fail to make proper use of the buddy system, the shark…eats them? De-materializes them? There’s a lot of murder but very little blood is all I’m saying.

A young woman sitting at the edge of an outdoor swimming pool looks in surprise at the ghostly figure of an oversized Great White Shark.

As the police get involved with the disappearances, Jill’s father offers the sage(?) advice that she must stop denying her family’s history with the occult(?) and find the original owner of the Ouija board(???). You know that, whatever happens, Jill means business as she gets a black leather wardrobe change and acquires a shotgun. But, even when dressed in significantly more badass attire, does she stand a chance against a rather poorly defined spirit shark?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

That’s being generous, honestly. This film is extremely low budget, and it shows in everything from the script, pacing, sound/picture quality, acting, to the special effects. A nonsense plot only becomes more absurd as the film goes on. Mercifully, this film’s runtime is just over an hour.

I can’t really say this is so bad it’s good, but I will give the film some credit. I appreciate when people do make truly small budget indie films, especially given that the landscape for anyone not making a blockbuster looks so tough at the moment. The setup here is not the worst, and could have actually been reasonably interesting with better characterization and exposition. It’s nice to see something unpolished, including a cast that appears to all be wearing whatever they already had in their wardrobe.

While none of the cast here are getting award nominations, I have a special place in my heart for the performance of Jill’s dad onscreen. I get the impression that he’s the parent of one of the filmmakers and only appeared as a favor to his child. Legitimately, I did enjoy some elements of his scenes with the medium and the ghost shark.

One thing I overanalyzed: if you got eaten/dematerialized by a ghost shark, would you ever be declared legally dead or just missing forever? Would people keep looking for you? And would shitty insurance companies use the absence of a dead body as a reason not to pay out any kind of accidental death payment to your loved ones?

Chilling, right?

Finally, because I collect bad movie dialogue, here are some highlights:

  • “Dreams can be a doorway to the unconscious mind; I’ve told you that before.”
  • “Is that a shark or a ghost?”
  • “Thank god [the shark]’s going after him first.”
  • “Why would anyone want to summon a shark?”
  • “It’s unnaturally cold.”
  • “Oh no, I’m dead!”
  • “I’ve got to use my occult training. Mystic shield!”

Would my blog wife summon this one with a Ouija board or track it down, armed with a shotgun she casually keeps in her car (at all times apparently)? Read her review to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Shark Lake, or: Who’s Ever Heard of a Shark in a Lake?

Current world events have created the paradox in which I’m ready for this month to be over while hoping it never ends–primarily because it’s shark month on the blog. If anything can distract you from a global pandemic, it’s the familiar sight of a fin cutting through the water and the inevitable bloody thrashing. RIP, all of those who overacted in minor roles as shark attack victims. It’s the last film of Shark Month, so let’s enjoy those committed performances while we can.

The Film:

Shark Lake

The Premise:

A small town sheriff attempts to save unsuspecting locals from a shark living in Lake Tahoe.

The Ramble:

In a small town on the edge of Lake Tahoe, there are shady dealings aplenty. Included is some kind of exotic animal smuggling operation that petty criminal Clint Gray (played by Dolph Lundgren who couldn’t be bothered to read the script, probably) has gotten mixed up in. When his place is busted by the law, Clint gets caught up in a high-speed chase, which ends with his van in the lake. Does the van also happen to contain a bull shark that was meant for a local mobster? I mean, duh.

On the night Clint is arrested by sheriff Meredith Hernandez, his young daughter will presumably become a ward of the state. However, feeling a connection with the little girl, Meredith somehow manages to adopt her or become her legal guardian or something along those lines? Look, I won’t claim to understand the adoption process on any level, but this feels doomed to fail if this kind of thing is typically allowed.

Two police officers in uniform look out across a lake.

Five years later, Clint is released from prison, which has Meredith freaking out. Though Clint is determined to leave his old life behind, it’s going to take more than a low thrill fight scene to keep the mob off his back. Concerned about Clint’s criminal record, Meredith has every intention of keeping him as far away from his daughter, Carly, as possible.

If that weren’t enough to keep Meredith busy, there seems to be a bear on the loose that has attacked and killed a man at the lake. Or could it be…something else?

Clearly it’s a shark causing trouble at the lake–if this film’s title weren’t enough to clue you in, the “well, actually…” guy at the bar puts on his oddly specific bear facts face and dazzles Meredith with his brilliance. He has a PhD, just so you know. And the kind of person who brags about having a PhD about 8 seconds after you meet them is obviously a winner. However, Dr. It’s Not a Bear does manage to help Meredith reach the conclusion that, against all odds, the culprit behind the attacks is a bull shark. How is this possible? Apparently bull sharks are the rare species that can adapt to the level of salinity in their surroundings.

A man in glasses sits at a bar, turning to speak with a woman sitting at a nearby table.

Unfortunately, this conclusion arrives too late for an unlucky couple of parasailers, who suffer a shark attack just as Meredith arrives with the instructions for everyone to clear out of the lake.

Meanwhile, a smarmy British shark expert arrives, proposing to solve the town’s shark problem as long as he can turn the results into his own personal reality show. This ends approximately as well as you’d imagine, though the film recorded does reveal there are not one, but three sharks living in the lake; the bull shark released 5 years ago was pregnant with 2 pups.

The drama really ramps up when Meredith’s mother nearly becomes a victim of the shark after the family’s dog makes a dash for the lake. So, yeah, this does prove that a dog really can help make you more active, but at what cost? Carly is kind of an idiot and uses this as an opportunity to find her father and enjoy some quality bonding time.

A man stands in a wooded area, clutching his bleeding shoulder.

It doesn’t take much for the cops to leap to the assumption that Clint has kidnapped his daughter and intends to flee to Canada with her (even though Mexico would be significantly closer). Clint takes off on his boat to bring Carly home, with Meredith in pursuit in a dinky little speedboat. What could possibly go wrong? And will the situation call for Clint to actually haul off and punch a shark in the nose?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

I would like a written apology from the marketing team for this film, which features Dolph Lundgren prominently in all of the posters, trailers, and credits. Honestly, Dolph gets very little screen time, and his character feels almost tacked on to the main plot of the film.

And let’s talk about the “main plot” while we’re at it–god, is it a mess. This film isn’t really a shark film so much as a police procedural; an incredibly stupid police procedural. Not only are the writing and the plot really stupid, but the police themselves are so stupid that you could reasonably expect them to rush into the lake, commanding the sharks to freeze in their eagerness to make an arrest. The cops spend a significant amount of the film assuming they’re looking for a bear (and congratulating themselves for catching it) based on absolutely no evidence. And Meredith legitimately has a conversation in which she accuses the shark of being evil. Like…I honestly don’t know what to say? Hopefully she’s a vegetarian or Meredith is going to have a serious reckoning with herself about the nature of evil when she thinks about all of the cows she’s killed.

Things I still don’t understand after giving this film a reasonable amount of attention while viewing:

  • how/why Meredith had custody of Carly in the first place
  • what the mafia actually does in this town besides bitch about never receiving the shipments of live sharks they were promised
  • what the fuck the mafia is going to do with live sharks (and if the answer is feed snitches to them, why did we not get to see this???)
  • why Clint didn’t tell the police about the whole sharks in the lake thing earlier; surely there’s some sort of anonymous hotline he could’ve used?
  • why the sharks haven’t been chomping on human legs for the entirety of the past 5 years
  • what Clint’s relationship with the mafia is/was
  • whether Clint has any interest in actually seeing his daughter because of all the toxic masculinity/macho bullshit his character is made of

However, I will give this film credit for giving us a rather satisfying fight scene between Dolph Lundgren and a shark. You do have to wait for it, though. And suffer through the line “We cleaned up the lake and the street.”

Would my blog wife set this one loose to swim freely or punch it swiftly in the snout? Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Last Shark, or: For Legal Reasons, I Have Never Seen the Spielberg Film from 1975

It’s been a difficult month for so many of us around the world. My contribution in all of this? Weekly reviews of terrible shark films because, of course, when things are tough, we can always rely on a shark to remind us of what’s really important. Staying inside, away from others, while the professionals get the job done. With only the occasional clueless politician thrown in for a touch of realism.

The Film:

The Last Shark

The Premise:

A writer and shark hunter team up to stop a shark terrorizing a small beach town in spite of its oblivious mayor. But the events in this film were no way inspired by Jaws. Not even a little bit.

The Ramble:

Though released in 1981, there’s no denying the groovy ’70s vibe featuring prominently here. No one embodies this more than our very daring, festively dressed windsurfer dude, the favorite to win big at this year’s local regatta. The event of the season for this small beachside town (unspecified), surely nothing can stand in the way of local tradition. Can it???

A windsurfer leans back precariously, crouching low on his board

After golden boy of the windsurf kingdom goes missing, local writer Peter becomes concerned something is amiss. Stereotypical crusty Scottish sea captain Hammer (for real), locating one distinctly chomped surfboard, teams up with Peter to track down a shark of unusual size and avoid tragedy.

Unfortunately, like the mayor in that most classic of all shark films, Mayor Wells is determined to avoid the disruption of the regatta at all costs. Up for reelection and eager to score some points by defending a beloved tradition, Wells decides it will be good enough to put up some sharkproof netting and have a few people on the lookout.

A man in a suit with 1970s hair swept back uses a white pointer to gesture to boats on a map of a small bay.

Naturally, the regatta becomes a bloodbath as the shark picks off the windsurfers one by one. While the mayor is under pressure to locate the shark, Wells has no interest in doing so. And, honestly, this does seem to fall outside of the scope of mayoral duties? However, his son, along with buddies that include Peter’s daughter, decides to take it upon himself to heroically save the day. Armed with shotguns, their plan is to lure the shark with a hunk of janky old meat.

Meanwhile, Peter and Hammer’s scuba diving quest to hunt the shark ends less than successfully. Worse, Peter’s daughter Jenny encounters the shark, suffering serious injury. I guess this is the point where Peter mentally puts on sunglasses and says to himself, “Now it’s personal.”

A man sits next to a young woman lying in a hospital bed, holding her hand.

At the same time, the mayor decides to take some personal responsibility and end the shark’s reign of terror. Taking his chopper out for a spin, Wells gets more than he bargained for. Sadly, so does the pilot when the shark takes down the entire fucking helicopter.

A man clings to the landing skid of a helicopter, screaming as a large shark with open jaws approaches behind him.

Throughout this whole ordeal, it should be noted, a TV crew is determined to capture all of the blood and guts on film. They even go so far as to hire a cowboy to take down the shark while the film is rolling. This, of course, backfires horribly when a bunch of youths, along with Peter’s wife, are standing on a boardwalk that the shark manages to detach. Can Peter save the day before the shark claims another victim?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

A subtle tribute to Jaws this is not. It more closely resembles a hammy ripoff that falls painfully short of its source material. Most of the shark attacks just made me giggle rather than shake in terror; the regatta is perhaps the most unintentionally hilarious of this film’s moments of suspense. The theme song itself feels like such a ripoff too, to the extent that it’s merely distracting instead of tense.

There’s some catharsis in seeing the idiots die when Jaws didn’t grant us this joy. Especially since Mayor Vaughn has been making the rounds in meme form lately, it feels so soothing to see a recklessly stupid politician actually face consequences. Too bad there’s so little justice in our reality.

Unfortunately, everyone who isn’t a sleazebag is completely forgettable, so it’s difficult to root for our heroes here. In fact, the shark has a smart, vindictive streak that part of me very much admires. And one of our beachgoers at the regatta is casually waving a Confederate flag at one point??!?! Forgive me if this particular human elicits no sympathy from me. Also aggravating: the number of times a woman screams shrilly. Peter’s wife in particular is painfully helpless, and I was sort of hoping for her death at times.

Would my blog wife toss this one a life preserver or knock it overboard? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, or: Lightning/Megalodon Strikes Twice

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?

The Film:

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

The Premise:

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.

The Ramble:

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.

A group of three scientists in white coats observe an off-camera whale, while three men in suits in the background look sternly on.

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.

From the perspective of an airplane window, a shark flies through the air, leaping from the ocean.

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.

3 people look out towards the ocean: an elderly man with graying hair, a blonde woman with hair in a messy bun, and an Asian man wearing glasses.

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.

3 scientists crouch in front of a table in a lab, smiling at a glowing substance in a beaker

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?

The Rating:

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?!?!?!?!?

Did my blog wife sit front row center with popcorn in hand for this epic showdown or launch the nuclear missiles immediately to put us all out of our misery? Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

47 Meters Down: Uncaged, or: Nothing But the Tooth

It’s April 2020, yet it feels like the end of the world half the time. In the Covid 19 edition of the Blog Collab, all we’ve got are films bonkers enough to distract us from our current reality. This week, we’re going back to our roots. That’s right–for our purposes, this week is Shark Week.

The Film:

47 Meters Down: Uncaged

The Premise:

Feuding siblings end up with much more family bonding than anticipated when a cave diving adventure yields dangerous encounters with sharks.

The Ramble:

Mia is having a rough time adjusting to her new high school, where she has been immediately branded a loser. Meanwhile, her sister Sasha is already set with a girl gang, avoiding publicly recognizing her social misfit sibling at all costs.

Determined to facilitate sisterly bonding opportunities, father Grant books a weekend shark tour on a glass-bottomed boat. Busy with an exciting new find as an archaeologist/excavator/diver/I don’t really know what this man’s job is, Grant will have to skip the tour in favor of exploring a series of underwater tunnels that are part of an ancient city. He doesn’t seem too broken up about it, to be honest. Though he’s ditching all of the family togetherness, Grant does give Mia an ancient shark’s tooth he’s uncovered, which may come in handy later (it definitely does).

Despite cancelling her plans with her posse, Sasha’s friends Alexa and Nicole show up to save her from what can only be a torturous tourist trap. Feeling at least some amount of loyalty to her sister, Sasha invites Mia to tag along for their adventure at a secret swimming spot (naturally).

Finding a small stockpile of scuba gear from their father’s dive, the girls plan to explore part of the underwater city, including a temple supposedly marking the entrance to Xibalba, the Mayan city of the dead. Always a stellar plan, ladies.

Admittedly, the underwater temple looks pretty flipping cool. However, it doesn’t take long for trouble to arise when Nicole is startled by a Mexican cave fish, which is blind and eerily colorless. After knocking down a significant part of the temple, the girls draw the attention of Grant’s assistant, Ben. He seems eager to help them out with the guide line he’s been using to retrace his steps (strokes?)…but, sadly, it’s not long before Ben becomes shark bait. And, like our Mexican cave fish friend, this is a special species that has evolved sightless–all the better to sense prey based on sound and movement.

With oxygen running low and determined sharks on their trail, the girls regroup to find Grant’s crew working nearby. Will this plan save them or is a more harrowing turn of events in the cards? Prepare to be astonished.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

You know, I didn’t hate this. Were the characters (more than) a bit underdeveloped? Was the weird high school bullying theme entirely unnecessary? Did I laugh out loud at some of the shark attack deaths? Clearly, yes.

However, I found this film genuinely suspenseful at times and creative in its approach to some of the shark scenarios. Since our protagonists were in the unusual situation of diving underwater for most of the shark attacks, the additional dangers of low oxygen, strong currents, and surfacing near steep cliffs with no way to climb up added interesting complications to the story. I also legitimately felt my stomach drop when two of our protagonists finally surface near a boat only to realize its crew are chumming the waters. Mia has some rather badass scenes as well that, while highly unrealistic, are pretty damn entertaining.

And, honestly, I can’t help but respect a diving crew that chooses the Carpenters as the soundtrack for their excavation.

Would my blog wife go along for a deep dive with this one or stay sensibly planted on solid ground? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Open Water 3, or: A Very Long En-cage-ment

We’re starting 2018 off with a bang…or is it a whimper?  Either way, there are sharks.

The Film:

Open Water 3: Cage Dive

The Premise:

A found footage shark movie about 3 annoying fucking assholes friends on a cage diving trip.

The Ramble:

After news that a cage diving trip has ended with a capsized boat and missing tourists, an experienced diver finds an underwater camera tucked away in a reef.  With the SD card intact, he discovers footage of 3 friends who embarked on the cage diving trip.  This is their story.

A graphic simulation depicts a boat capsizing as it is hit by a large wave.
I’m glad to see the Australian news circuit has also mastered the art of pointless graphics.

Jeff, Megan, and Josh are a close-knit group of friends with an adventurous spirit.  After deciding to audition for a reality competition that seems to be in the vein of The Amazing Race, the friends plan the perfect trip to demonstrate their willingness to make poor decisions on camera:  cage diving in Australia.

Look, I’ll be honest with you–these 3 characters are the most insufferable assholes I can think of in our recent viewing experiences.  Jeff and Josh are supposedly bros for life, though Megan is in a serious relationship with Jeff but also having a fling with Josh.  The two best bros are so interchangeable that I’m more annoyed Megan didn’t have an affair with someone more interesting than that the affair is breaking up the band.

Two men and a woman pose at an amusement park with stuffed animal prizes they have won.
Seriously, have you ever seen a set of faces you’ve wanted to punch more?

Megan and Josh are stupid enough to continue their affair even with the knowledge they are being recorded constantly.  To be fair, they’d probably be pretty good contenders for reality television.  This leads to several awkward interactions as the two try to hide the evidence from Jeff, who obliviously plans to propose if the group makes it onto the show.

As planned, the 3 meet up with Jeff’s cousin, then go off to do some cage diving.  If I had trouble relating to these characters before, they lose all semblance of humanity to me by voluntarily cage diving in the open ocean.  Of course, things go horribly wrong when a sudden tidal wave capsizes the boat, leaving several passengers dead and our main 3 stranded.

A tour guide on a boat addresses a group, telling them "The trip down to Cape Catastrophe should be pretty smooth."
Yeah, Cape Catastrophe sounds like a great place for a vacation.

It’s incredibly irritating to watch them squander every opportunity they have to save themselves and eventually turn on each other when Jeff learns the truth about Megan and Josh.  Because, you know, when faced with the prospect of being stranded in shark-infested waters versus relationship drama, which one would be your top priority?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Oh my GOD, I hated our 3 protagonists and felt an amount of joy at their (spoiler/not really a spoiler) deaths that set off distant alarm bells in the back of my brain.  What hath the Open Water franchise wrought???

I will admit the concept of being lost at sea taps into something deeply primal in my lizard brain, so there are legitimately horrifying moments in this film.  Splashes, the shaky camera shots, and the seemingly endless water do make this unsettling to watch.  At the same time, if it had been virtually anyone else in the water, I might have taken less sadistic glee in watching these fucking dickbags finally get torn into little pieces.

Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark this is not.

Would Christa keep this one afloat or leave it to sleep with the fishes?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Planet of the Sharks, or: Damn Dirty Waves

The shame consumes me as, at least for the purposes for the blog collab, we forgot about the most important summer holiday:  Shark Week.  Better late than never?

The Film:

Planet of the Sharks

Where to Watch:

Amazon Prime

The Uncondensed Version:

This one is a SyFy original giving the all-important shark genre a dystopian setting and topical global warming commentary, so you know it’s going to be good.

In the future, humanity has fucked up…to the utter astonishment of no one.  Predictably, people waited until the entire surface of the Earth was underwater before coming up with constructive ways to combat global warming.  As a result, people live in giant floating cities primarily constructed from recycled debris.  Not an ideal situation to begin with…but it’s about to get better when we throw swarms of sharks controlled by electromagnetic pulses into the mix.  Seriously.

A shark jumps over an offshore platform, sinking its teeth into a human as it dives back into the ocean.
Never volunteer for look-out duty in a shark-infested dystopian planet.

For whatever reason, we follow the sole survivor of a shark attack that wipes out her, er, city(?) when the double whammy of sharks + random explosions strikes.  I think we’re supposed to feel at least some sympathy for this girl, but it’s difficult to even remember her name (which I don’t) when she has something like 2 lines of dialogue in the entire movie.

After this girl is saved when the closest floating city sees a distress flare, scientists try to determine what is happening and how it could impact their current project.  So you’re aware–their current project involves launching a rocket into the atmosphere to destroy the C02 that has led to global warming.  One rocket is supposed to reverse decades of C02 emissions and pollution that has flooded the entire goddamn planet…?  Rather irritatingly, there’s quiet a lot of science-splaining that pretends to be smart but is really just spewing a bunch of nonsense.

Two women glistening with sweat stand in a workshop.
Obviously the main thing lady scientists do is stand around looking sweaty.

So anyway…the lead shark glows for some reason and is able to control the rest of the sharks for human destroying purposes.  This has the power to doom humanity completely as any chance of launching a miracle C02 blasting rocket could be in jeopardy due to shark attacks.

The scientists try to recruit the help of the largest floating city around, Salvation, to defeat the sharks and launch the rockets.  Unfortunately, their leader is too much of a badass to believe her city could be taken down by sharks.  Her indeterminate but vaguely Creole accent is distracting, but her one-liners more than make up for it.  Even though I don’t condone the killing of sharks, she’s a bit of a hero, uttering with complete confidence lines like, “I find it hard to believe an entire flotilla could be taken down by sharks,” and “We got some…sha-waks to keel…”

A woman yells as she impales a shark on her spear, with other people scrambling to escape behind her.
Shark-kabobbed.

Since it’s been only about 20-30 minutes at this point, I think you can guess whether sharks or humans win this round.  However, the scientists, the girl, guy who looks a bit like a pirate, and cringey comic relief dude have a chance to regroup and restrategize.  Their brilliant plan?  Lure the sharks to an underwater volcano and then make it erupt.  For real.  Goodbye, humanity.

Color me surprised when this rock-solid plan suffers some unexpected complications.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

It’s no Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark, but there are definitely some moments I really enjoyed here.  The characters are largely forgettable, but some of the women demonstrate moments of badassery and pretty entertaining one-liners.  I probably should have given them more attention, but I seriously cannot remember any of their names.

The last half of the film is way slower and decidedly less shark-centric.  There is SO MUCH discussion of the damn rocket, and all of the pseudo-science drove me insane.  While I acknowledge the point of this movie was to fill time and sell ads on SyFy, it still irritated me that global warming was a plot device explained with nonsense that probably does more harm than good.  What hath SyFy wrought?  Will we grow up with a generation that sincerely believes launching a single rocket can solve global warming???

Overall, I was hoping for a more deliberate Planet of the Apes parody (I would KILL to see talking land sharks enslave humanity) rather than just a catchy title that has little to do with the way the film unfolds.  However, this film checked off some major boxes:  sharks, women with spears, volcanoes, and inexplicable explosions.  I can live with that.

Would Christa rule the planet of the sharks or let it all go under?  Find out in her review here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Ghost Shark, or: Goin’ Fishin’

It’s the last week of Shark Month on the blog, and I’m both sad and relieved.  No one is meant to endure as many consecutive shark movies as Christa and I have this month.

The Film:

Ghost Shark

Where to Watch:

This one is actually somewhat difficult to find!  I can’t find evidence of it ever getting a US release on DVD.

The Premise:

The titular ghost shark materializes along the beach of a coastal town.  It’s a good thing sharks are confined to the ocean…right?

The Uncondensed Version:

You know how you can plan a trip down to the last detail, but at a certain point you are inevitably going to get tired of your playlist/audiobook/video selections?  And from there you will just go off in a completely different direction that won’t be fun no matter how hard you try?

Yes.  This movie.

Like almost every other shark movie this month, we can thank an incredibly insensitive fishing crew for unleashing the shark’s wrath upon humanity.

Two crew members, angry at having lost a contest, use guns, crossbows, and finally a grenade to kill a great white shark.  Just because they’re angry?!!?!  These people have to be rage addicts because that is not a reasonable reaction to being angry.  Definitely on the shark’s side in all of this.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand who are the shark’s next victims?  Teens partying on the beach, of course.  And the old voyeuristic lighthouse keeper who watches them.

One of the first people to go is the girl playing the role of stereotypical teen bitch, aka the one floating on an inflatable pool raft in the OCEAN.  Is that a thing people do???  Ghost shark seems to favor jumping out of nowhere and biting people in half.

a woman in a bikini lounges on an inflatable raft alone in the ocean
Surely there are safety concerns, regardless of whether a ghost shark is haunting the waters.

Don’t worry—the police are on this, trying to explain the translucent shark as being a trick of sunlight reflecting on it(?).  As the crazy old lighthouse keeper warns, the shark has been sent to make everyone pay for their sins.

Priorities, though:  one of our main teens is nervous that now no one will come to his pool party.  Inevitably, this is not the case, and the pool is so full of teenagers that you know (even before learning some of the screwy rules of being a ghost shark) that a certain trick of the light phantom with many teeth will crash the party.

This actually looks rather well thought-out for being a teen pool party.

Other highly improbable victims of the ghost shark:  a plumber working on the pipes under a kitchen sink, a child on a shark slip ‘n slide, and a teen girl at a car wash.  Yeah.

The teens decide to team up with the old lighthouse keeper for reasons that make increasingly less sense until…

Halfway through this movie it’s revealed that there’s all of this mythology surrounding the shark.  Like basically Roanoke happened but with a ghost shark.  And of course exorcising the shark requires some kind of dark magic-type book which has conveniently disappeared.

The law also gets involved, uttering classics like “Get your gear.  Goin’ fishin’,” and “I don’t want revenge; I want justice.”  FROM A FUCKING GHOST SHARK.  What does it even mean to get justice where a shark is concerned???  That’s a concept a shark just isn’t going to get.

Honorary Emmy for overacting goes to the lighthouse keeper, who just really commits to repeatedly losing his shit throughout the course of this film.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

In contrast to the previous shark month selection, this is pretty bloody.  Which is perhaps the only shark movie box this one manages to check.

I got bored with this because the plot was so choppy, I didn’t care about any of the characters, and there was absolutely no logic to the existence or attacks of the ghost shark.  The shark was a ghost but required water to materialize?  But not a large body of water since even setting off sprinklers could allow it to begin a murderous rampage…  And what even created the ghost shark—nature’s thirst for vengeance?

I have so many questions that are destined to remain unanswered.

On a side note, the way this movie was shot makes it seem like it’s going to become a porno at any moment.  Just me?

Bonus:  Check out this Vulture article, which also features much higher quality screen caps than this post.  What can I say, the copy I found wasn’t the greatest quality ever.

You already know where to find another great review of this Shark Month feature.  Would Christa exorcise this one or take it to the car wash?  Read her review here to find out!