It’s accidental Shark Month here on the collab, which delights me because God knows, at least you know where you are with a shark movie.
This week we’re exploring the first film in the Mega Shark franchise. You might remember we’ve previously reviewed number three in the series, the one with Mecha Shark – and let me tell you, it wasn’t even that bad. I’m not saying I’m going in with high hopes or anything but I am expecting fun. Please let this be fun.
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009)
The California coast is terrorized by two enormous prehistoric sea creatures as they battle each other for supremacy of the sea.
Plucky oceanographer Emma MacNeil (Debbie Gibson) steals a small submarine from her employer in order to study the migration patterns of a pod of whales off the coast of Alaska. While submerged, a military helicopter inexplicably releases a bunch of sonar transmitters that confuse the whales, causing them to swim into the side of an iceberg.
This is bad enough but in the kerfuffle, and unbeknownst to Emma and her crew, the ‘berg cracks and splits open, revealing a frozen prehistoric double whammy – you got it, Meg and his mate: Eight Legs. This can’t be a good thing but you have to admire how quickly both creatures bounce back from thousands of years on ice.
Separated, our titular pair fuck off in opposite directions. The giant octopus flees to Tokyo, while Meg heads to San Francisco. Both long for the quiet life, unencumbered by drama or any sort of violence. LOL JK. Obviously the order of the day for each of them is mass destruction: Octo takes out an oil rig, while Meg brings down a plane with little effort. Just after a passenger tells an air steward that he’s getting married in the morning, which tickled me.
Meanwhile, Emma is called on by her hyper aggressive employer Dick Richie (giggle) to investigate a mutilated whale’s body which has washed up on the beach. Convinced it’s been caught in a ship’s propeller, Dick dismisses Emma’s suggestion that the injuries look more organic. Perhaps he’s just pissed about the stolen submarine from before? Emma notices something key wedged in the whale’s rotting flesh but is fired before she can extract it.
Later, she returns to the scene to pull it out – and realises it looks rather like a shark’s tooth… Oooooh.
Officially unemployed, Em’s forced to call old pal and mentor, Professor Lamar Sanders (Sean Lawlor). Together they work out that it’s not just any shark’s tooth, it’s MEG’S TOOTH. Which is kind of a duh moment because surely at least one person witnessed Meg leaping out of the ocean to gobble the aeroplane?
Whatever, they’ve got their guy and at the same time, another oceanographer/scientist/hottie turns up in search of Lamar’s expertise – Seiji Shimada (Vic Chao), direct from Tokyo. He’s investigating the oil rig attack and trying to work out what kind of creature could have possibly orchestrated it.
There’s an instant attraction between Emma and Seiji which is cute but not much fun for Lamar the gooseberry. The trio enjoy a short research montage and after our love birds fit in a quick shag in a broom closet, Emma works out how they’re going to fix everything. Pheromones, yo.
(This is a mild spoiler for Mecha Shark but I’m quite sure this is the same luring tactic used for The Meg in that too).
Along the way our ragtag bunch are picked up by A1 Dickhead (and racist) Allen Baxter (Lorenzo Lamas), a military man who arrests them until they agree to help him capture the beasts. They insist rather than go with his plan to destroy them, both creatures will be captured for future study. Baxter reluctantly agrees. For now, though I’m sure he’s a man of his word and it’s nothing to worry about.
Alas, this brilliant plan – to capture each of our antagonists in their respective hunting ground by making them horny – fails spectacularly. Meg takes a bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge killing hundreds, while Octoboy simple eludes the Japanese in a huff. What the fuck now, guys?
Well, Emma’s not just a pretty face and she suggests a little something called Thrilla in Manila – a fight to the death between beasts. After all they were originally frozen in the middle of a massive fight – could this be the answer? Baxter wants to devastate the ocean and take out anything that gets in the way of destroying these bastards but agrees to one last crazy plan. Let them kill each other and call it a day.
But first, how to get our friends back to the North Pacific? More pheromones, I’m guessing (I switched off a little around here).
When our scientists meet again, they find themselves in the middle of an aggressive fight for ultimate dominance. The question is: who’s gonna take who? My money’s on the shark, always.
Will our sassy mermaid Emma live to fight another day? She flipping better ‘cos she’s the only one making any sense round here.
I mean, this isn’t Jaws but it’s also not the worst film I’ve ever seen. The effects are hammy as shit but they’re charming, in an underwater Harryhausen kind of way.
Sure the science is completely bogus but at least there’s a loose narrative and the main characters are likable enough. Emma is something of a maverick born to spend most of her time underwater and I buy her as a character.
Her easy chemistry with the Prof is pleasing and good old Seiji adds a wholesome dynamic to the crew. Baxter is a bad guy you’re permitted to really dislike, my only criticism with him – and I guess with the film – is that there’s not enough gobbling going on. Damage is done on a massive scale but I want personal kills – and Baxter in particular deserves his comeuppance.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test?
BTW, I want to start including this on all my film reviews, just for shits and gigs.
More details here.