Thursday, April 24, 2014

In short: Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark (2014)

Another megalodon (still pronounced “Megglo-don” by half of the cast) is thawed out and starts another rampage through the seven seas, brining intercontinental transportation to a grinding halt yet again. As the cameoing Debbie Gibson later explains, this megalodon even has a motivation: it’s looking for love (in all the wrong places).

This time, though, the US Navy is kinda-sorta prepared with a brilliant plan. No wait, actually, somebody involved in their planning – I suspect Admiral Whatsisname (Matt Langan) – must have been a big fan of kaiju eiga, so they decided to built a giant mecha shark instead to fight humanity’s by now traditional enemy.

That thing is to be piloted by Rosie (Elisabeth Röhm) and remotely engineered by her husband Jack (Christopher Judge) who will turn out to be our default heroes by virtue of being only half incompetent. Jack must be some kind of genius too, for he has invented a fully functional AI that is to be installed in the Mecha Shark because…why not. The new Megalodon turns up a bit early, unfortunately, so Mechs (as the film alas doesn’t call the Mecha) isn’t quite ready for prime time, leading to many an eaten sailor, as well as, in the film’s grand finale of silliness, an amphibious Mecha Shark mildly rampaging through the streets of Sydney.

Either I’m growing mild at my old age, dementia’s setting in, or The Asylum are actually turning out watchable movies now. Fact is, this is the third Asylum production in a row that did not drive me into convulsions of rage and annoyance; I’m even willing to say I quite enjoyed it.

Of course, if you’re not me – poor/lucky bastard or bastardess – and go into a movie called Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark produced by notorious peddlers of cheap crap expecting a deep exploration of shark culture and the people who make them explode, you’re like half of the reviewers of these things and quite out of luck. What you get is pretty much what the movie title suggests, though, unlike in certain other Asylum outings, with the money shot silliness sensibly distributed throughout the film’s running time, suggesting director Emile Edwin Smith and writer Jose Prendes have basic filmmaking skills and aren’t afraid to use them. Smith’s direction in particular is quite good, even, with visible effort put into making this thing not look as cheap as it probably is, and more than one scene I can’t help but read as homage to classic kaiju films. This also means that the film’s best – and therefore also its silliest – scenes come in the grand finale where they actually belong.

Tonally, MS vs MS mostly treats its very silly contents with the straightest of faces, in the (true) assumption that a film about a shark shaped piloted robot fighting a giant horny prehistoric shark doesn’t really need to go out of its way to point out how silly it is. It’s a particularly good decision because the film can spend the time it wins this way by showing a giant shark doing giant shark things, and a hideous looking shark shaped piloted robot doing shark shaped piloted robot things.

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