Malibu Shark Attack (2009)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Peta Wilson, Evert McQueen, Chelan Simmons, Sonya Salomaa, Remi Broadway, Mungo McKay
Directed by Davis Lister
I would say you could play a drinking game watching Malibu Shark Attack: Whenever you see the same f/x shot of a digital goblin shark’s jaws swimming towards the camera, go ahead and take a shot. I would, but then you’d never finish the movie, being passed out drunk after the first 20 minutes alone.
Goblin sharks are a rarely seen odd looking breed of deep sea shark readily identified by this strange appendage protruding from their heads. I believe this may be the first motion picture to ever use goblin sharks as the antagonist, though an argument could be made that the design of the giant space shark Zigra that once fought Gamera was based on that of the goblin shark.
Essentially Deep Blue Sea meets “Baywatch” (if ever a film cried out for an appearance by Hasselhoff…), Malibu Shark Attack is a fairly standard shark attack movie with unique looking sharks whose unique appearance ultimately means little, and the production didn’t appear to have the budget or the imagination to truly capitalize on the concept outside of a shark or two getting chainsawed. Director Russell Mulcahey has a new movie in the works in Australia that practically has the same exact premise of sharks terrorizing tsunami survivors trapped in flooded buildings, and something tells me that production will make more of it than this Syfy original did.
An underwater earthquake displaces goblin sharks with an insatiable appetite for movie extras and supporting characters from their deep ocean trench, and they immediately begin prowling the coastline of Malibu, California. You’d be amazed how much these sharks can gorge themselves on in a span of 15 minutes – total gluttons. That earthquake also triggers a massive tidal wave that thrashes the entire West Coast, although for budgetary purposes we only ever see what it did to Malibu, most of what it did is visualized in the form of stock news footage of real-life flooding, and everyone in Malibu except the main ten characters appear to have escaped or are trapped in a shark-free zone not worth filming.
A monster 100-foot tsunami can leave Malibu under 30 feet of water; yet, it still isn’t powerful enough to knock down the world’s most soundly constructed lifeguard tower or completely drown the people huddled within this small shack despite it only having shutters in place of windows. Like I’ve always told people, the best way to survive a massive tidal wave is to duck.
Potential shark bait includes the handsome young lifeguard that sits under the lifeguard shack waxing his pig-hunting rifle and gets super nervous whenever a pretty girl flirts with him, the vapid blonde in the bikini top doing community service who screams as if her leg has been severed after suffering a wound that is hardly serious, the lifeguard and her boyfriend that guarantee their demise by getting engaged in the opening minutes, and others not really worth mentioning due to their short life expectancy.
Peta Wilson of TV’s “La Femme Nikita” sort of stars as a lifeguard torn between her lifeguard ex and her current beach contractor boyfriend; I write “sort of stars” because she is billed as the top star but seemed to be hiding in her own movie. Other actors do all the work while Wilson just sits off to the side playing damsel-in-distress, never getting nearly as involved in the action as you would expect.
About a year ago I got an anonymous email after I did an article about this film – then known as Goblin Shark Attack – from someone claiming to have worked on the production. That vague email was nothing but a brief venting of frustration about how the egotistical lead actor was doing everything in his power to take over the production and make himself the real star of the movie. I never said anything publicly about it before because I had no way of verifying the validity of any of it. But I cannot help but wonder now after finding myself trying to figure out why the biggest name in the cast, the actress that has spent most of her career playing an action heroine, spends almost the entire film playing a do-nothing second-fiddle to an actor I have never seen or heard of before who does all the action and does so with a nerves-of-steel, alpha male, leading man swagger that sometimes borders on being comically ham-fisted.
A frumpy-looking Peta Wilson reduced to such an insignificant presence is not the biggest problem facing Malibu Shark Attack. Almost every shark attack suffers from a sense that it is completely random, without any suspenseful build-up, and the depictions of which quickly become visually repetitive. There appeared to be a finite number of goblin shark CGI visuals that kept getting looped over and over in accordance to the action of the scene. By the time the tsunami hit about a quarter of the way in, I was already bored by the goblin shark attacks.
Underwater earthquake. Goblins sharks attack at random. Tsunami hits. Characters are trapped in a lifeguard tower. Goblin sharks attack at random. Characters get in a motorboat. Sharks attack at random. Characters get trapped inside a flooded building under construction. Sharks attack at random. Even the abrupt ending feels random, as if the film just calls “time” and decides to make that moment the stopping point.
A day after a tsunami has swamped one of the wealthiest cities in all of California and still no sign of any first-responders or disaster relief agencies. Barack Obama doesn’t care about white people.
2 out of 5
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