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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Radioactive Evil Will Bite and Burn Your Ass! “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” review!


On the gorgeous and lively beaches of San Diego, an atomic level predator lurks underneath the clear, blue water, splitting the ocean surface with a large glowing red dorsal fin. Lifeguards, Gina and Kaplan, track a series of scorched dead fish washed ashore and determine that a catastrophic environmental event is afflicting the shoreline in the form of an atomic shark, a sunken Russian nuclear submarine byproduct roaming unstable through the ocean, ravenously devouring ablaze any boat or any person that it comes in contact with, and unwittingly ready to deploy a one megaton nuclear explosion if provoked with enough ammunition. Bogged down by incompetent supervisors and purposeful governmental misdirection, Gina and Kaplan turn to radical social media journalists, a perverted drone enthusiast, and a salty boat captain to form a ragtag team of shark hunters to save the West Coast from becoming a fallout wasteland for thousands of years.

Just when you thought it was safe to return to the genre, another made-for-TV cheesy killer shark movie breaches to the small screen surface, but this particular man-eater has bite. “Sharktopus” doesn’t have enough tentacle fortitude. Tornado sharks are just a bunch of wind bags minnows in comparison. And “Dinoshark,” well, that beast is just ancient history. All these other silky, grey predatory kings of the ocean are no match for this man-made mistake of a Godlike creature in the 2016 horror-comedy “Saltwater: Atomic Shark.” You’ll need a bigger boat or a bigger ocean or a bigger sense of humor as this nuclear fish bestows havoc and mayhem upon a usually quiet California coastline with a fiery belly. “Lake Placid vs. Anaconda” director A.B. Stone helms a script by Scott Foy, Jack Snyder (“Fatal Exam”), Griff Furst (“Ghost Shark”) that’s essentially Baywatch chummed with “Sharknado!”

Leading a group of amateur shark hunter is the novice environmental scientist and lifeguard Gina, played by Rachele Brooke Smith who has worked with writer-director Griff Furst previously on the 2016’s horror-mystery “Cold Moon.” Almost immediately, Rachele won the heart of this viewer as the amazonian built actress is tough as she is beautiful and all the while, never out of her lifeguard swimsuit. Her performance against a CGI monster shark is the best amongst her cast mates. She’s opposite Bobby Campo, as an injury sidelined lifeguard with a cavalier life persona. “The Final Destination” actor has the charm and the looks of a spring breaker, ready to drink tequila shots from between the cavernous cleavage of intoxicated co-ed, but Campo’s rides the fine line into as an attentive and cooperative friend to his leading lady costar. Bud Bundy, I mean David Faustino, reprises a similar role from his “Married with Children” days with Fletcher, a drone enthusiast with a penchant for videotaping babes on the beach. Second shark flick being released in the same year along with “Sharknado 4,” Faustino keeps the old comedy schtick well lubed for a slick chuckle or two in his scenes. “Atomic Shark’s” headliner, “The Lawnmower Man” Jeff Fahey, gears up as a stern boat captain hellbent on leaving himself out of trouble. Fahey provides his trademark soft blue eyes under a furrowed brow and a solid performance to earn him his payday as the most recognizable name on the credits. The remaining cast include Isaiah LaBorde (“Cold Moon”), Adam Ambruso, Mariah Bonner, Jake Chiassen (“Trailer Park Shark”), and Jessica Kemejuk, producer of “The Neighbor.”

While “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” can be appreciated for not taking itself too literal or too serious as it organically shouldn’t, the comedy portion teeters on a fine line between stalely outdated or casually tongue-and-cheek. For plot progression during one of the movie’s pivotal discoveries that lead the would-be heroes to the shark, A.B. Stone mocks up a yelp.com review graphic image for one of the story’s locales at a beachside restaurant named Tales from the Grillside that loses one star when characters are caught in the middle of restaurant patrons, and the catch of the day, start simultaneously exploding via radioactive instability. The spontaneous combustion of a snobby Guy Fieri type to kick off the magnificent event after eating the infected fish spells classical campiness in all it’s oddball allure, but when that yelp.com review comes up on screen and downgrades the grill’s three star review scale to two, the moment feels out of place, cheap, and unnecessary post bombastic detonations of fish guts and human entrails, splattering into the crevices every nook and cranny, are more than satisfying. Scenes containing comedic tension highlight some of the film’s best moments not involving the shark itself, especially when Mariah Bonner’s Felice, after losing her conspiracy theorist companion Troy to radiant jaws of the shark, takes all her angst out on Gina. Felice pins down Gina’s head while trying to spark a lighter to ignite a yacht full of dynamite and as the anxiety riddled score inches closer with Felice moving toward to lighting the explosives, the score abruptly cuts with each time Gina blows out the small flame. It’s a simple, yet well thought out moment with poised performances from both actresses to bring that flash of comedy to ahead.

ITN distribution and MVDVisual distribute the Curmudgeon Films’ “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” onto DVD home entertainment. Presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the imagery consists of numerous ariel shots, especially from the implemented drones. The overhead view of the water is immaculate, yet portions of the picture, mostly in wide and long shots, faintly go into pixeling state due to most likely the data transferring speed. It’s not as heinous as imagined as the pixeling is quite miniscule. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is a well-rounded machine that pickups up the generic, yet sometimes catchy score, conveys a clear dialogue, and produces ambient sounds like the beach, explosions, and drones inside the metrics of surround sound. If you want to see vengeful, eco-friendly lifeguard ride an outboard motor under the ocean surface to deliver bundled sticks of TNT to a giant, radioactive shark, then this shark frenzy flick, “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” is right for you!

Sink your TEETH in this “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” DVD!