Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark (2014)
Directed by Emilie Edwin Smith
If you’re going to make a motion picture called Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark, you might actually want to try including more of your title in the film. This should have been the Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla of Asylum movies. Godzilla has contended with different versions of MechaGodzilla many times over the decades; none of those films ended with the final Zilla vs. Zilla battle excised in lieu of having to rescue the female lead from the belly of the rampaging robotic doppelganger. The too-brief moments when the film does deliver on its promised jawsfrontations feel flat, lacking in inventiveness or excitement.
I thought the original Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus hit just the right b-movie notes. The non-stop ineptitude of its follow-up, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, was so pervasive it kept crossing the fine line between so-bad-it’s-good and mind-numbing awful; to this day I’m still not sure if I actually enjoyed it. This threequel is actually fairly competently written, directed, and acted considering the absolutely ridiculous premise, and the special effects are better than average for an Asylum flick. They want this to be their version of a big budget blockbuster spectacle along the lines of Transformers and Lord of the Rings (outright saying as much on the back of the DVD case); yet, the results warrant little more than a shrug of indifference – like so many modern soulless blockbuster spectacles.
Something’s amiss here. Maybe there’s only so much you can do when your antagonist is a Megalodon shark, even when it’s pitted against a mechanized shark submarine that looks like something C.O.B.R.A. should be threatening G.I. Joe with. Destroying oil rigs: seen it. Belly-flopping boats and aircraft carriers: been there, done that. A scene invoking the now infamous Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus mid-air passenger jet chomp that practically put The Asylum on the pop culture radar barely elicits a chuckle.
The very concept of the world coming together to build a Mecha Shark to kill the Mega Shark that has brought boating on the world’s oceans to a halt is never as fun as it sounds, in part because the sound we’re hearing is voices over-explaining every damn thing. Fake news reports about the Megalodon’s reign of terror set the stage for endless exposition loaded to the gills with technical jargon, military strategy, hypothesis, and Megalodon biology, so suffocating there’s little room for anyone to have any real fun with the material. I’d have killed for just a little of the hammy acting Lorenzo Lamas and giddy enthusiasm Debbie Gibson brought to the original.
Elizabeth Rohm (“Angel”, “Law & Order”) and Christopher Judge (“Stargate SG-1”) play everything respectably straight – perhaps too straight – as the husband and wife designer/pilots of the torpedo-spitting robotic shark sub. Deborah Gibson phones in her return to the franchise; literally phoned in, as relaying scientific mumbo jumbo over the phone is what she does in all but one of her brief scenes. The only interesting character is the robot shark’s operating system, and that’s only because of how uncannily its voice sounded like William Daniels’ “Knight Rider” voice if K.I.T.T. had a blown out speaker.
Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark never properly ups the ante like a sequel of this outlandish nature should until the last act when the Mecha Shark turns into Mecha Landshark and its malfunctioning programming sends it on a rampage through the city streets. I finally began to have fun, only to be left feeling a bit cheated when the movie fails to deliver anything special involving its own title for the climax.
It must be a testimony to the level of schlock The Asylum has been churning out over the years that I can watch a movie called Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark and come away underwhelmed due to a prevailing sense that it’s just going through the motions.
2 out of 5