|Copyright 2001 UFO
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 16 February 2004
- Spencer - This guy could not act his way out of a paper bag, let alone a shark's stomach. (Hint, hint.)
- Will - Head of some department at the college. Spared the drama of an inquiry into whether he was banging a grad student (he was) by an explosion.
- Harrington - The mandatory big, confrontational, black man with a good taste in cordless drills. Turned to mush.
- Cheryl - Her idea of acting is clenching her teeth and then breathing through them. Blown to bits.
- Tchenko - The helmsman, chief mechanic, gunnery officer, and corpse (busy guy).
- French and Peters - Crew who are killed. (Seeing a trend here?)
- The Megalodon - A prehistoric shark that everyone believed was extinct (well, except Spencer). Not that the revenge-driven scientist is assisting conservation efforts; he blows the monster's head off.
- Death - Seems to be the real winner here, doesn't he?
|The movie's opening scenes are intended to be reminiscent of an old 8mm family movie. They are also intended to impress upon the viewer that Spencer's father and mother were good people who he cared for very much. However, it did a pretty poor job of conveying the intended message, because I failed to care what happened to the family. When the Megalodon appeared and ate the boat, I was relieved that something, no matter how poorly edited, had happened.
So, the boat is gone, mom is gone, dad is gone, and the shark is gone. That leaves poor little Spencer alone in the water, with only the great expanse of the Milky Way to keep him company. Too bad that the brat did not decide to become an astronomer instead of whatever he did end up studying (Marine Engineering, Naval Architecture, etc. - they never tell us). On the other hand, "Contact" was disappointing enough with competent actors; I would rather not see this group try the same thing.
Spencer Northcut grows up to be a haunted and withdrawn man. The emotional deviance might not be the shark's fault, because I thought the kid was creepy in the first place. In pursuing his lifelong dream of killing the Megalodon, he designed and built a huge research submarine (apparently all by himself). The Argus, best that I can guess, is probably about two hundred and fifty feet long and displaces four thousand tons when submerged. If Spencer built the submarine all by himself I am suitably impressed. Who needs Focused savants when a little shark feeding frenzy could easily provide dozens of obsessed workers?
One laughable bit of scientific hokum arose when Will boasts about the most advanced manned submersible only being capable of diving three thousand, five hundred feet. Trieste made a dive over ten times that "record" in 1960. I will probably not stop poking fun at the "science" anytime soon, so please bear with me.
A major reason for Spencer's current bout of moodiness is that he is not allowed to use the submarine he designed and built. It was constructed for a private company and they have better things to do with an expensive research vessel. One of those things is investigating the destruction of an undersea facility (guess what did that). Lucky for Spencer that the suits want him along for his experience. Eh? With the sub or with the shark? They never quite explain that...
Spencer finds a single enormous tooth amidst the wreckage of the destroyed research station. He brings it back aboard and immediately begins ranting about the Megalodon. It is not extinct, it ate his family, they are pure evil, and all that jazz. I should have mentioned before that the social atmosphere aboard the Argus is positively hostile. Angst walks through the passageways like a jilted lover drunk on tequila. Harrington does not trust Spencer, Cheryl is rude to Spencer, and Tchenko seems uninterested in social interaction with anybody. Harrington's deranged emotions are passed off as him not trusting Spencer (hard to blame the guy), while Cheryl resents him thinking that she is boffing her professor to earn favors. Do not get me wrong, I think that Will is conducting a nightly tag and release program, but Cheryl wants to haggle over the "why."
In the middle of all of this I have forgotten to mention the drysuit that Spencer wears while investigating the ruined underwater facility. The other divers we saw were wearing heavy duty suits, but the main character traipses through the rubble in a drysuit with a silly little mask. He does not spend any time in decompression either. Add all this to the pile, along with scenery (including one watertight hatch) made from lumber.
Following a heated discussion, the group finally decides to attempt to locate and capture the Megalodon. Cheryl is almost the perfect woman for Spencer, because she believes in the prehistoric shark. Unfortunately, she has the one fatal flaw common in many scientists: the desire to carefully study something that would better be avoided or killed.
Hey, do you know what I just realized? The Argus does not have a Captain, which flies in the face of hundreds of years of established doctrine. You need someone in charge of the boat!
Along with torpedoes and a harpoon launcher (for injecting tranquilizers), the Argus is equipped with a hydrogen-powered, titanium shell minisub. The proposed strategy is to bait the Megalodon with the minisub and get it to give chase. The nimble craft will lure the shark across the Argus' bow, allowing Tchenko to nail it with several tranquilizer harpoons. They will then tow the incapacitated beast to a suitable holding facility. The big fish is not down with this plan; it batters the heck out of the Argus and seriously cripples the vessel. The scientists and Harrington have a second working group meeting and adjourn with a consensus that the shark must be destroyed.
Okay, the sets suck, the writing is brainless, and the acting is downright awful. There is a tiny glimmer of light: the shark. The CGI Megalodon is quite convincingly a big, old shark. On screen it looks ancient and evil, along with moving ponderously through the dark water. I am glad that I watched this movie, just to have seen the shark. The people responsible for "Jaws 3" and "Deep Blue Sea" should take notice. (Though the makers of "Shark Hunter" definitely borrowed a few ideas from "Deep Blue Sea.")
Curses! I forgot to mention the counter that appears on random computer screens throughout the movie. For no apparent reason a number of the computers display a running counter. It does not appear to serve any purpose, other than attracting the wayward viewer's eye (because this movie is just so riveting).
We have now reached the tense and frightening section of the plot. Who would find it tense, let alone frightening, is beyond my ken. The shark's attack seriously damaged the Argus. The ship's systems are failing and it is unable to surface. A desperate plan is hatched to kill the shark. Spencer, the least qualified person available, will pilot the minisub and tag the Megalodon with a special transmitter. Then the Argus can fire a homing torpedo at the beast. At least that was what was supposed to happen. What does happen is that the torpedo launch tube sustains damage, resulting in a big boom. No more Argus. The shark and Spencer are the only survivors. The vengeance driven human is determined to grapple with his enemy, even onto death. He guns the engines, overloading the fuel cells, and rams his little submersible directly into the Megalodon's gaping mouth. Boom! Roll end credits.
I am proud to say that the moment the script mentioned the minisub's hydrogen fuel cells I knew exactly how the shark was going to be defeated.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Beware any woman who can bite the end off of a large French bread.
- Smoking is allowed in deep research stations.
- Being exposed to crushing pressure will turn your skin gray, but will not affect your eyes in any way.
- Volcanic vents are the leading cause of ocean warming.
- A forty ton Megaldon shark can tow a four thousand ton submarine, despite the ship's best efforts.
- When picking a vendor to provide shirts for your crew, choose one who uses silk screening.
- Hydrogen fuel cells are capable of creating a fusion explosion.
- Submarines have ventilation systems that bypass watertight hatches.
- 3 mins - I was tired of these credits 4 minutes ago. As in before they started.
- 14 mins - He did not notice the shark eating his companion? The water turbulence alone should have knocked that guy over.
- 22 mins - Wait, is this the inside of the Argus or the Nostromo?
- 38 mins - Okay, let us entertain the idea that a research submarine is carrying torpedoes. Someone still has to explain why that hatch was left unsecured.
- 40 mins - Whoa, that sound caused severe "Doom II" deja vu.
- 47 mins - The Argus' design is kinda freaky, like "The Hunt for Red October" meets "Dune."
- 48 mins - Add "Dragonslayer" to the submarine's design credits.
- 53 mins - I knew that line was coming.
- 64 mins - So, change the bow planes and slowly head toward the surface. Idiots.
- 80 mins - Ouch, right in the eye!
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Spencer: "We're talking about sixty to seventy foot shark. Thirty to thirty-five tons at least. Everything checks out!" |
Will: "Except the fact that Megs disappeared sometime around the early Pliocene period. That's over forty million years ago."
(I think he says "Pliocene." Either way, he is still wrong.)
||Spencer: "Did you tell Barton about the Meg tooth?" |
Will: "I said I am analyzing some biological evidence. I'm not ready to tell them that we are looking for an extinct, prehistoric shark."
||Harrington: "It's a god damn train with teeth!"
||Spencer and Cheryl talk about conservation and revenge.
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Spencer is in the minisub, trying to goad the shark into chasing him. He will lead it in front of the Argus, which will fire a torpedo. |
Funny, I thought the shark would have reacted more violently to having an eye harpooned.
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