“Shark Attack 3: Megalodon”

shark-attack-3-posterShark Week may be over for this year, but there’s enough B-roll footage in “Shark Attack 3: Megalodon” to create at least one Discovery Channel special. Between these clips, actors talk at each other and sometimes take off their clothes when they’re not having their arms ripped off by shark puppets. This is one way to make a movie, I guess.

The movie stars John Barrowman as Ben, who is head of security for a Mexican resort on the ocean. A giant telecommunications company has stretched a fiber optic cable along the ocean bed, and one day Ben finds a shark tooth embedded in it. He can’t place the tooth, so he takes a picture of it and puts it on the Internet. A paleontologist named Cataline sees it and immediately heads south of the border. You see, the electrical impulses from the cable are stirring up the sharks in the water. One of those sharks is the prehistoric ancestor of the great white, megalodon.

As a kid, I was fascinated by the megalodon, in part because I was scared to death by “Jaws.” The idea of a shark that was even bigger than the one in the movie freaked me out so much I had to know as much as I could about it. One of the details that stuck with me was that its teeth were the size of an adult man’s hand. So needless to say, when Cataline tells Ben that the tiny little tooth he found is from a megalodon, I was ready to hit “stop” right then and there. And when the footage they use to suggest the shark attacking is of a normal-sized great white, I was starting to get legitimately mad at the movie. Because how in the blue hell do you have the balls to make a flick with “megalodon” in the title and then present a shark of average size? The audacity of these people!

Gentle reader, I must confess that I owe “Shark Attack 3: Megalodon” an apology.

After Cataline rams a shotgun into the baby shark’s mouth and splatters its brains all over her boat, its mommy shows up. And by “shows up,” I mean “is crudely pasted over scenes of people pretending to be eaten.” They use the same shot of a real shark bursting out of the water at least twice, then use iMovie to drop a clip of screaming wet people into its mouth.

Everything comes to a head as the executives of the evil Apex Communications Corporation board a yacht just as the mama megalodon gets nice and pissed off at the human race. Cataline and Ben take a helicopter to knock it out with tranquilizers. The shark rams the yacht and dozens of rich people are sent to their highly pixilated deaths. At long last, Ben and his buddy hop into a tiny submarine that’s supposed to be used for research but somehow has a torpedo tube on it. They tag the shark with a beacon for the torpedo and blow it to smithereens.

Now, if you’re familiar with this movie at all from the Internet, you’re probably sitting there saying, “When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?” Yes, this movie includes one of the most jaw-dropping lines of dialogue ever committed to film. The night before their kamikaze mission, Ben and Cataline share a tender moment. Harvey Keitel’s character in “Saturn 3” wishes he were this smooth.

The line was an ad-lib by Barrowman, who allegedly just wanted to try and get some kind of emotional reaction out of his co-star. It didn’t work, as Cataline just chuckles politely and they amble off-screen. The fact that it made it into the finished movie indicates that no one had any hope of making anything watchable. The apathy in this movie is so thick you could spread it on toast. For example, Ben’s message to the shark geeks on the Internet appears on screen as “MISTERY SHARK?” All the ADR dialogue sounds like, “Wow, Mexico! This is so great!”

That line also makes it clear that Barrowman was the only person in front of the camera who knew what he was doing and what kind of a movie this was. Of course, he’s gone on to become an actor of note among nerds for his roles in stuff like “Doctor Who” and “Arrow.” He plays “Shark Attack 3” like he knows the producers have Bruce Campbell on speed-dial, and it works okay. Here’s how the movie stacks up on the Schlock Index:

Blood – Director David Worth tries to go for gruesome, but the limitations of using mostly stock footage of sharks for the monster negates the attempt. Worth cuts back and forth a ton and keeps the camera lens pressed right up his actors’ foreheads, so we get the impression of something gory most of the time. The one exception is when you see the baby shark’s brains get blasted against the wall. They must have used three or four gallons of Manwich mix to get that just right. By the end of the movie, people are being swallowed whole like Tic-Tacs by the big shark. 2/5

Breasts – Way more nudity than you’d expect from a movie like this. There’s a couple that goes skinny dipping, a shower scene with Ben and Cataline, and a waterslide make-out session that couldn’t have been fun to film. 3/5

Beasts – As mentioned before, most of the time when you see a shark it’s stock footage from 1983. A great white is scary, sure, but not when it couldn’t be more obvious that it’s not even in the same ocean as your heroes. When the shark isn’t the deleted scenes from “Tintorera,” it’s either a big puppet or CGI. The stock footage is more frightening. 3/5

Shark movies already have a heck of a lot to live up to. But when a throw-away line about cunnilingus overshadows everything else about your giant shark movie, maybe it shouldn’t have been made in the first place.

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