Directed by Christopher Ray
Screenplay by: Naomi Selfman
Tagline: Whoever wins…we lose!
Run Time: 88 minutes
A guest review by Sean Ledden
Our story begins in an African diamond mine where a white trash guard insists the impoverished black workers stay on the job even when a tremor threatens to bring down the roof. (Booo!) Then another tremor comes and we hear the growl of some great beast. Suddenly the white trash guard isn’t so scary, and the workers drop their tools and run. Most of them are able to flee to safety before a giant “Crocosaurus” lunges out of the mine, eating the guard (yea!) and stepping on a worker (pathos!) And we get a nice daytime look at the beast. Sure, it’s medium to low quality digital animation, but at least it’s big enough to swallow a car. (I don’t judge a monster to be “giant” unless it can eat and/or crush the celebrated products of our vaunted technology.)
Before we, or a surviving miner, have a chance to catch our breath, we’re whisked off to the mid-Atlantic where a World War II era battleship is on patrol! And why not, they still look neat. On the bridge an authentic looking captain (I. e. crabby, rumpled and donut-fed) starts yelling for “the shark guy.” (One Lt. McCormick, played by Jaleel White) Being an enthusiastic science geek, he’s down in the well equipped lab/fish tank he shares with a great white shark. And he hasn’t heard the captain yelling for him because he’s testing ways to repel sharks by using sound. (Ha ha!) It takes his ensign girlfriend to get his attention away from the shark, and him up onto the bridge. Once there the captain consults him on some strange heat signals coming from somewhere out in the water. Whales? No, McCormick knows they are too large. But our standard issue jerk of a captain insists that’s just what they are. So he screamed for his expert’s advise only to disregard it….probably the movie is being depressingly realistic on this point. By the way, what is McCormick’s field of expertise? Audio Oceanic Wildlife Profiler? Sounds cool! (Get it? Audio – sounds….oh, never mind.)
Back to the bridge, where McCormick tries to convince the captain the mysterious heat signals are coming from the giant Mega-Shark. Naturally, this enrages the grumpy captain even further. Because, that’s how standard issue jerk authority figures behave, darnit! Up on deck Ensign Girlfriend tries to calm down McCormick, whose steamed the captain won’t listen to him. “It will be OK.” She assures him. Yes Ensign Girlfriend, it will be OK. Because pretty soon a huge prehistoric shark and a huge prehistoric crocodile will start devastating the area! (For those of you who are starting to worry about me, let me assure you I am getting professional help….By watching movies like this…After all, it was made by professionals.)
Here I’d like to pull back a bit, and say that the next scene, though cheaply done, is well mounted. What happens? Well, let’s just say that it’s a good thing McCormick had time to put on his scuba suite.
Back to Africa, where a bargain-basement Indiana Jones (played by Gary Stretch ) hacks through the underbrush, gazes up at napping fruit bats, and beans a wild pig on the head. (?!?) Later he enters a native hut/neighborhood bar and tells the owner his pig will come to in 3 days. “Three days?” asks the bartender. Yes, three days. And things get even more surreal when we learn that this is apparently not the first time he‘s beaned the bartender‘s pig on the head. Does our hero have it out for the pig? Does he hate him – love him? We don’t find out. Because Indiana Jones (To avoid copyright infringement, I’ll call him Indiana James from now on.) has turned all bitter and cynical and is trying to get drunk. Until he’s accosted by a slightly goofy babe in a black cocktail dress and Clark Kent glasses.
Things are moving along nicely, but I can’t get that unprovoked pig attack out of my mind. Oh well, back to the main story. Our babe works for the mining company, and she wants to hire Indiana James to hunt down and kill whatever it is that popped out of the mine and scared all the workers away. She tells him it has already killed 34 men – impressive! But Indiana James isn’t interested – until she promises to pay triple if he captures the thing.
Cut to a helicopter racing over the jungle, and Ms. Clark Kent trying to pry some information out of Indiana James. She wants to know who long he’s been searching for ghosts and monsters, which I suppose means he’s a crypto zoologist. OK! Not that he tells her anything, because he doesn’t like the company she works for. So he’s a sleaze with a heart of gold.
Down on the jungle floor Indie James leads the way in his sweaty safari gear and Ms. Kent follows in her black cocktail dress, heels, a briefcase, and a cell phone. It’s something of a shock to meet up with successful intentional comedy in a movie like this, but there you go. But don’t get too complacent, because once Ms. Kent gets off her phone she gets the shock of her life, and you will too!, when Indie James points out she’s standing inside a giant footprint. (Bum-bum-bummmm!) Next we see the gory remains of an eaten man, and Ms. Kent skitters near to some marshy water. Then trips into the water (oh boy), and guess what happens. The crocosaurus appears! And what I didn’t see coming is that he eats Ms. Kent. Ouch! And nearly gets Indie James, who manages to inject some sort of tranquilizer into the monster’s mouth. Wasting no time on implausible and expensive plot mechanics, Indie James has the crocosaurus delivered to a slightly sleazy boat captain via diesel truck.
Special delivery! (This could almost be an ad for Fed Ex.)
Meanwhile, in an interrogation room somewhere in L.A., Lt. McCormick is in the grips of a major guilt trip as he stammers on about how he might have provoked the attack that killed everyone else on his ship. Then in strides a bad-ass babe (Sarah Lieving) who represents a corps of elite soldiers who are setting off on a shark hunt. Seeing the guilt wracked man before her she clinches her jaw and orders, “You’re no good to me if you are emotionally compromised. Go rest.” But our Lt. disobeys, because he needs to be part of the team that destroys the giant shark. …Annnnd then it’s back to our slightly sleazy captain, captured croc, and Angry African Guide (a.k.a Indiana James). They are now off the coast of Florida, and an unwashed Indie James is still in his stained safari gear. “Are you sure that thing isn’t going to wake up?” asks the slightly sleazy captain. Oh boy! And here we learn they also have a clutch of giant crocosaurus eggs. “That’s all she was doing,” muses an empathetic if soiled Indie, “protecting her eggs.” “From what?” retorts the captain. And right on cue a gigantic shark fin appears off the port bow and all hell breaks loose! Suffice it say nearly everyone, including the croc, ends up in the water.
But before we learn how things resolve, we cut to an aircraft carrier where another Grumpy Navy Officer is browbeating an underling. (It’s called “leadership!”) In comes Lt. McCormick, and we learn something I’ve wanted to know very much. McCormick is an “aqua-acoustical engineer” and sharks are his focus. (I think I came pretty close with audio oceanic wildlife profiler!) And by the way, Grump Number Two is an admiral and is played by Robert Picardo, who won our hearts as the holographic doctor in Star Trek Voyager.
“Did I make a mistake in taking this role?”
Well, we ping pong between a beached Indie-James (he survived!) and a guilt-ridden McCormick until the Power Babe brings the two together in a hunt for the giant croc eggs. The two guys seem to have history, and don’t like one another, which is kind of cute, only I don’t think it will lead to any romance. And indeed there is no time for that as very soon they are gazing in horror at a huge clutch of giant crocodile eggs. The power babe ignores Indie James’ protest and calls in a missile strike – which comes just after the shark arrives.
Ever heard of a movie or TV show “jumping the shark?” That‘s nothing compared to having the shark jump a navy destroyer!
You won’t be surprised to learn that both shark and croc survive the missile strike, and the movie revs up as an angry mama-croc heads up the coast towards Miami. General panic ensues and even a little destruction as the 1500 foot croc (according to Indie James, and remember, he should know, as he put it on a diesel truck and shipped it to the African coast!) hit’s the big city. Not to be outdone the shark, now off the coast, grabs hold of a live torpedo and disposes of it by executing one of his signature high jumps. (Readers of this review may already have heard of his legendary take down of a 747 in a previous movie.) Back on land McCormick comes up with a crazy idea to deal with the croc. A crazy idea that’s so crazy it just might work. And everyone scrambles to harness the power of a nearby nuclear power plant in order to create an “arc flash” to hit Orlando. (Ouch!) This is done, by the way, on the sole authority of a Navy admiral. No civilian authorities are consulted. (!) As we wait for the arch flash to commence we get a hilariously gratuitous bit of carnage as the giant croc interrupts a show at sea world and eats Shamu before the horrified eyes of the audience. (I suspect the disturbed individuals who made this movie were having a bit of fun here.) “Three, two, one.” and a sweaty engineer pushes a big red button – arc flash! Lighting flashes from the nuclear cooling towers, onto the power lines, and then, somehow, at the crocodile. Which angrily smashes a tank, and then lumbers back into the sea. Phew!
In a lab aboard the submarine Exeter, a babe-scientist is studying one of the surviving croc eggs when we hear some cracking sounds. But before the baby croc has a chance to hatch and eat the babe-scientist the mega-shark shows up and destroys the submarine – with another one of his signature aerial moves! “Dam the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” this movie seems to shout.
McCormick is also shouting, at Indie James, who has just come up with a crazy idea to deal with the croc. A crazy idea that’s so crazy it just might work! It is to use any surviving croc eggs to lure mama into a lock of the Panama Canal, and then boom! Faced with McCormick’s angry criticism that they have no croc eggs, The grumpy admiral gets off a truly great line, “Then I suggest you bring your hydro-sonic balls with you.” Because the hydro-sonic balls can give off sounds just like the eggs …The decision made, Grumpy observes he must now “tell the President we are about the blow up international waters.” … Dam the torpedoes, oh never mind.
Well, sorry McComick, but more croc eggs are found, and so he doesn’t get to use his hydro-balls after all. And it’s that kind of setback that can make a guy feel inadequate. (I’m such a sophisticated wit!) Anyways, once at the canal it’s only a matter of moments before both of our stars show up, and finally we get a Big Time Wrestling style smack down between the two. As they heroically chew on each other out at sea, our human heroes are horrified to find that hundreds of additional croc eggs are strewn all over the place. After providing some goofy justification for this impossible degree of fertility, a justification I really didn’t need, the eggs start to hatch and we get another great line.
“Sir, we’ve discovered reports that smaller crocodiles are attacking the Santa Monica pier!” Getting to say lines like that must be one reason a person would become an actor…right?
Alas, we never see this attack. But we do have an amusing underwater shot of the crocodile pursued by the shark pursued by a nuclear sub. Clearly, the movie-makers have seen some classic Warner Brothers cartoons. And the tension mounts as all three head towards a “seismically active” area into which the Navy cannot pursue them. (?) What to do? Putting on their best caveman thinking caps, the Navy decides to nuke’um, before they reach Hawaii!
OK, so the human race is back in the driver’s seat, but trust worrywart McCormick to bring everyone down by notifying the military that if a nuclear torpedo (?!?) misses the monsters it could hit an undersea volcano. Which would blow up Hawaii. Oops. That doesn’t happen, but the shark DOES swallow the submarine! Yes, it’s that big. And 5 minutes later the entire cast of characters are halfway across the Pacific in beautiful Hawaii where McComick comes up with a crazy idea that’s so crazy it just might work. He holds up one of his “hydro-sonic balls,” which is about a foot and half across, and declares he’ll set off one of the undersea volcanoes with it, creating an explosion big enough to kill shark, croc, and croc children. Yes, but wasn’t he just warning the military against setting a volcano off? Oh, never mind. So, off Indie James and McCormick race, in a small pontoon boat, braving shark and croc infested water, to set off a volcanic eruption with a battery-powered hydro-sonic ball.
Does it work? Would an exploding volcano providing a satisfying climax? Is the Pope German?
All it takes to defeat a mega-shark and a crocosaurus is one earnest scientist, one semi-sleazy game hunter, and a hydro-sonic ball.
Sean Ledden (May 2011)
Mega-shark vs. Crocosaurus is a cheerful satire of your classic monster movie, so it’s impossible to trash for being illogical and unrealistic. The movie-makers know it’s all impossible, so they throw caution to the wind and camp it up with over the top stereo types.
Grumpy military officer(s) – check
Military babe – check
Absent-minded scientist – check
Corporate babe – check
Roguish adventurer – check
Special Forces babe – check
The cast is variable, with Jaleel White playing it very straight, which I think works, and Gary Stretch happily haming it up. That works too. And Hannah Cowley as the corporate babe actually projects some character. I thought she was going to be Indie James’ love interest, and the fact that they bumped her off early in the movie was a surprise. Which is good. Robert Picardo, however, never seems comfortable with his role as the grumpy Admiral, and his bluster can’t hide a sense of embarrassment. Someone should give him a dose of the magnificent shamelessness that made John Carradine such a treat.
Speaking of surprises, there were a couple in some of the monster scenes, where clever editing got the jump on me. Bravo! And there’s always the WTF moment with the pig. Intentional, I’d wager, as it supports the sense of fun that’s evident in the rest of the movie. So, if you don’t mind hearing U.S. military personal speaking with Australian accents (guess where this movie was made?), or low-rent CGI monsters that change size dramatically depending on the shot, you could do worse than laugh along with the camp and carnage of Mega-Shark vs. Crocosaurus.
I watched today’s feature presentation on Netflix, via streaming video. They also have a program that attempts to read your mind and suggest similar movies you might also like. Useful as this is, it’s evident some bugs are still in the system. Here, for example, are two “similar titles” to Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus:
1) Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
“Gargantuan reptiles team up with 1980’s pop icons Tiffany and Debbie Gibson in this SyFy Channel original movie.”
So far, so good.
2) 14 Women
“Exploring the lives of the 14 female U.S. senators, this compelling documentary looks at the challenges they face.”
Are two of those 14 senators Tiffany and Debbie Gibson? Or is one of the senators a crocosaurus???
Special Monster Shack update: A new great graphic from Stephan Taubman! Clink on the picture below for a full-size view if you can’t read the text.