Evil’s Gonna Need a Bigger Boat! “Megalodon” review!


A covert Russian submarine is trying to drill into the Southern Pacific communications system to benefit from United States secrets, but when the gung-ho captain decides to push the drill team to maximum velocity, the submarine inadvertently release a pre-historic, though to be extinct Megalodon. A nearby U.S. military vessel intercepts the heavily damaged Russian sub with a submersible and saves three uncooperative, Kremlin patriotic survivors from Davy Jones locker while barely escaping jaws of the powerful Giant shark. The aging U.S. sea captain, Streeper, and accompanying admiral, King, rely heavily on Commander Lynch to maintain constant attention on the circling predator, while Streeper attempts extracting vital information from the Russian operatives to further establish the hostile tense and disruptive Russian-U.S. relations. When the shark turns its ravenous attention to the vessel, the crew must use their smarts and what’s on board to go head-to-head against a ferocious, battle ready Megalodon!

You really have to hate-to-love The Asylum for producing and capitalizing on highly lucrative films. This past summer’s “The Meg” was a major blockbuster success for not only director John Turteltaub but also for Warner Bros and as if the Carcharocles megalodon wasn’t exploited enough, The Asylum’s “Megalodon” aimed to reap from Jason Statham face-off with “The Meg.” Director James Thomas, who delivered another knock off with “Tomb Invader,” a cash in on last year’s “Tomb Raider” reboot adaptation to the popular video game, submerses himself into the SyFy movie. The SyFy channel is no stranger in shelling out monstrous shark movies; let’s just name a few to paint a picture of what’s being described here: “Sharktopus,” “2-Headed Shark Attack,” “Ghost Shark,” “Jersey Short Shark Attack,” “Malibu Shark Attack,” and let’s not forget to mention the channel’s most prolific and preposterously entertaining “Sharknado” franchise. Unfortunately, sharks an easy target for villainy that viewers can easily digest and be enthralled by their mysterious nature, but to buffoon them with genetic mutations unnatural superpowers stiffens not only their actual gentle prowess, but also attenuates legitimate shark films. That’s not to say that Thomas’ over-saturated titled “Megalodon,” penned by “6-Headed Shark Attack’s” Koichi Petetsky, is a mega hit, but at least the shark isn’t radioactive, isn’t a spliced abomination, and can’t dorsal slice through sand, ice, and earth. The back to simplicity for the man-eating shark is a breath a fresh air in my book.

“Reservoir Dogs’” star Michael Madsen headlines with his name splayed right about the titular creature about to swallow a submersible. Madness, sporting a military non-regulation curly hairstyle, portrays an naval officer, Admiral King, at the end of his lustrous career. King’s lame duck presence is a formulaic means to an end that will decide the fate of more prominent characters so Madsen, as an unconvincing and unconventional U.S. admiral, has screen time that’s limited mostly to the first and third acts and scarcely peppered in between the dynamics of Captain Streeper and Commander Lynch. While Streeper and Lynch essentially share the lead and neither have the star-studded power to be an influencing purchase-me-now headliner, the two onscreen officers are structured as a one-two punch against two opposing forces. “The Demonic Dead’s” Dominic Pace, as Captain Streeper, has promising capabilities as a military ship commander as Pace maintains his usual type casted tough guy role from prior credits while his counterpart, Caroline Harris, plays passively strong in Streeper’s shadow that’s supposed to display edge-bordering defiance but never comes to fruition. As Pace and Harris jockey for lead, Russian submariners, Captain Ivanov and Yana Popov, sheathed a more interestingly perspective on duty versus mortality. Ego Mikitas (“Nazi Overlord”) and “Fear Pharm’s” Amiee Stolte lined “Megalodon” with a sub-story, no pun intended on the sub, as bullheaded survivors aiming to complete their clandestine mission without lifting a finger to assist the opposition. To be fair, the James Thomas script didn’t exactly put the U.S. in good light, scribing Streeper, Lynch, and others as pushy information extractors and the Russian are stereotypical misers of information. If I was being intensely interrogated while a massive shark circled our boat, I would also question the intentions of my captors and not give them squat. Other shipmate actors include Scott Roe (“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”), Sebastien Charmant (“Halloween Hell”), Elizabeth Cron (“SuperHot Apocalypse”), Paulina Laurant (“Triassic World”), and Luke Fattorusso.

“Megalodon” provides a laugh track of production inadequacies and a cinematography from Paul Thomas could be said to be straight out of the Michael Bay school of filmmaking, but as far as SyFy premiered movies and The Asylum Home Entertainment films go, “Megalodon” is a Giant Shark sized leap of success. The CGI shark has surprised me being an object of crude, but of commending detail that exhibits an ancient beast marked with battle scars and also exhibiting realism with the donning of an acceptable gray-blue hue. Plus, the shark doesn’t have atomic level laser vision, can’t breathe fire underwater, and has the normal shark fins instead of octopus tentacles. Thank the shark Gods! While the megalodon passes plausibility of natural facts, it’s swimming motion and trajectory checks the box of clunky territory with a rudimentary, two-dimension view of the shark swimming at an unnatural diagonal angle away and toward the ship, like something out of the NES “Jaws the Revenge” video game. The CGI ship and submersible is more of an immediate concern than the CGI shark as Roger Rabbit has more realism. Suffering succotash! Actual location of the ship is a the USS Lane Victory, a defunct military vessel from WWII turned museum that’s docked off California and the museum aspects tactlessly are not veiled from view and, if a modern day military ship is supposed to go toe-to-toe with a megalodon, a ship with brass communication tubes. The obvious museum décor ships “Megalodon” into a strange and bewildering backwards alternate universe that causes confusing and complexities with a quarry full of questions.

MVDVisual and The Asylum Productions presents the SyFy original film, “Megalodon,” onto DVD home video. Original being the suspiciously key word here as original never really goes hand-in-hand with The Asylum produced films. Presented in the original widescreen format, “Megalodon,” for what it’s worth, has distinction despite the questionable special effects. No blotchy or aliasing detected and the coloring renders consistently. The 5.1 surround sound audio tracks has clear verbal dialogue, ample gunfire and explosion range and depth, and no distortions to note. The painfully generic stock score is an ear sore, but has balance and isn’t an overly commanding and obtrusive presence. The trailer is the only special feature available, but to broaden upon the lack of bonus material, the Asylum DVD releases always have kitschy graphic cover art and “Megalodon” is front and back gold standard that exaggerate the film’s action-packed appeal. Director James Thomas’ dual story batters the pre-history shark narrative to nearly null, but “Megalodon’s” unwavering action chums the water that begins with a large shark taking a bite out of a foreign reconnaissance submarine and ends with Michael Madsen extinguishing a cigar on the said shark’s large snout in pure Michael Madsen fashion.

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Evil Killers Don’t Always Lurk Below Water! “Shark Killer” review!

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Shark tracker Chase Hunter has been employed by his estranged brother-by-adoption Jake to hunt down a black-finned great white shark off the shores of South Africa. Jake, the head of a South African crime ring, has interest in the shark due to the very large and rather valuable diamond the shark swallowed after a botched meeting between rival gangs. Jake lends his brother his beautiful lawyer Jasmine as a guide who is familiar with the South African waters and has diving experience with sharks. Things become even more convoluted when Chase becomes involved with the ever dangerous and hard to kill Nix, a competing crime lord with a severe diamond obsession, and Nix uses every means of persuasion to motivate Chase in finding this priceless, shark-ingested diamond even if the persuasion is to kidnap Jasmine. Chase and Jake must put their differences aside and use their respectful talents to save Jasmine from a deranged killer that doesn’t lurk under the glassy South African waters.
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Sheldon Wilson was once a director I tried to keep my all seeing eye on over a decade ago after the release of one of his earlier films, a ghost film entitled “Shallow Ground,” which I reviewed (not for Its Bloggin’ Evil) very positively with haunting attributes and a hint of foreshadowing of horror integrity from an upcoming director. Eleven years later and after viewing his latest release “Shark Killer” which he co-wrote with “Prom Night IV” penner Richard Beattie, I’ve come to the conclusion that the foreshadowing I thought I saw within “Shallow Ground” and within a promising young director didn’t quite take and didn’t live up to the expectations of continuing a film legacy or even a cult following. “Shark Killer,” like most films involving the underwater apex predators, doesn’t make the cut of being a cinematic masterpiece, but turns out to be similar to other certain frenzy-feasting films, such as “Sharknado,” “Deep Blue Sea,” and “Shark Night,” and all of which contain charming entertainment qualities in their own right from whether being absolute ridiculous where sharks fly through the air and attack their prey, or where sharks viciously rip apart and devour famous celebrities, or where sharks swim and stalk in unsuspecting places like at an isolated lake resort.
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Here’s what little I liked about “Shark Killer:” I liked the film’s budget which allowed for some decent shark special effects which in any other Syfy channel case would be unbearable. The effects are great, but not great white great and are just barely digestible with a slightly bad after taste. Another positive aspect of “Shark Killer” is the scripted dialogue. A witty dynamic between estranged brothers Chase (Derek Theler) and Jake (Paul du Toit) made for some quaint comedic relief in the second and third acts where the two had to work their way through an army of henchmen to rescue Jasmine (Erica Cerra). Derek Theler has potential to be the next Chris Pratt with a dimwitted charm, a handsome face, and a tall and bulky build. Theler’s acting also flows finely and is well-timed, but he does need to expand his range as his character Chase becomes tiresome and predictable, especially for a character torn between a dwindling family relationship with his brother Jake and a new love interest in Jasmine.
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In hindsight, “Shark Killer” should have never been titled “Shark Killer.” Much of the film rarely involves Black Fin, the diamond eating great white shark, and, instead, “Shark Killer” comes off as more of an action thriller between shark hunter Chase and a criminal warlord over a diamond with such importance that is never actually explained from either of the battling criminals Jake and Nix with the exception that it’s a priceless gem. What’s also not explained is Jake and Chase’s past as we’re given only minute information such as their not actually brothers by blood, but for some reason Chase owes Jake for saving his life from presumably a instance with shark. Again, an important explanation should be provided to give us more reason to believe the Chase needs to do Jake this dangerous and pointless venture. Great white Black Fin swims silently in the background caught in the middle of this diamond war. What’s more interesting are some of Black Finn’s murderous scenes where Chase explains that the giant shark follows them to the harbor and leaves the hunters fatal calling cards; regardless of how mysterious this shark becomes from these scenes, they all become pointless when compared to the foreground story.
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Also, I was expecting a bloody good show from director Sheldon Wilson and a film called “Shark Killer.” What I witness was a tame and timid PG-13 action thriller with witty banter which makes “Jaws: The Revenge” look like a hardcore bloody snuff movie. All the shark kills are off screen and implied leaving everything to imagination, but where is the visual visceral nature of being an apex predator? There should be flesh shredding, vein puncturing, and blood squirting violence whenever sharks are supposedly the main focus. South African native and the film’s most recognizable actor, “Darkman” portrayer Arnold Vosloo had the most violent scene where he executes one of his bumbling henchmen with a bullet to the head. Chase Walker mainly just beats people up, Jake shoots a couple of guys, and a shark becomes stab multiple times, but you don’t really see that part and, instead, just get a a couple of close up scenes of a determined eye of the shark being stabbed to death.
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Overall, “Shark Killer” has classic PG-13 entertainment value, but doesn’t bring any new material to the deep trenches of a vast cinematic ocean. A disappointing creature-feature and action-adventure thriller entry from director/writer Sheldon Wilson who has taken a step in the wrong direction, away from the intense and jarring “Shallow Ground” that gave me hope for new blood in the water. “Shark Killer” incorporates too many variables and just chums the water with useless scenes where only a little simplicity and focus to a film could have been more beneficial for the Blue Ice Pictures production, who gave us “Fido” and “Alien Outpost,” and the RLJ Entertainment home entertainment release.