There seem to be enough no-budget sea monster movies floating around at the moment to constitute a subgenre all of its own, complete with conventions and hopelessly devoted fans. Fortunately, I only have to contend with the films, and even then only one of them.
Mega Shark Of The Malibu (aka: Malibu Shark Attack) is that film, in the same vein as previous films Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and Mega Piranha. It opens, rather predictably, with shots of a surfing beach, against a soundtrack of surf music, before a poor hapless extra meets their bloody demise at the hands – or rather teeth – of a CGI shark.
I’m not sure the premise needs much explanation, but in the interest of justifying my calling myself a reviewer, I’ll give you a quick overview. A tsunami hits the Californian coastline, bringing with it a host of rather unfriendly ‘goblin sharks’ (surprisingly, they are a real thing). Whilst most of Malibu deals with a sudden excess of water, the film follows a group of BayWatch rejects and a construction crew as they deal with being trapped and surrounded by said sharks.
Thrilling stuff, right..? Well, when I described the lifeguards as BayWatch rejects, I think I summed up this film. It’s what would have happened if BayWatch had been attacked by sharks, and had no budget. Everyone is unfeasibly attractive, even the construction crew, and were clearly selected on how attractive they were and how little they would work for, rather than any hint of acting ability.
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But, to be fair to it, it didn’t do too bad a job. Shark movies are difficult to pull off. Or put it this way, there are very few I’ve seen that turn out any good. The much deified Jaws is, probably, the only one that I would say was good, and even that looks a bit naff under modern scrutiny. The rest range from a cavalcade of mediocrity, like the Jaws sequels, or just plain barking mad like Deep Blue Sea, which had the scientific understanding of Moses.
Mega Shark Of The Malibu doesn’t try to mess with science at least. A tsunami brings up rare sharks from the depths of the ocean, where they usually hang out, so there’s nothing obviously implausible about that. Said sharks then set about eating everyone they can find. Not exactly normal behaviour for sharks, but given the kind of film we can probably excuse that.
One thing that does let it down, however, are the contextual inaccuracies. If you’ve established that the sharks have very sensitive hearing, and find their way by that, then it seems a bit odd when characters screaming at the damn things don’t seem to be noticed at all.
But if there’s a major flaw then it’s the acting. All of the actors have that nervous hesitancy that singles them out as uncertain, and not one of them can pull of upset, at any of the various deaths (and it won’t be a spoiler to say there are more than a few). Instead, they screw up their faces and sort of grunt, which might be indicative of internal haemorrhaging, but didn’t seem like they were particularly put out by the dramatic demise of their fellow shark-bait.
Overall, I’m still mixed on Mega Shark Of The Malibu. On the one hand, it is utter rubbish. But on the other, if you like these sorts of films, and for some reason must watch them, it is one of the better ones. It doesn’t have the self-depreciating strain of madness that gave Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus a brief sparkle, but it’s nothing like as bad as pace-confused nightmare Mega Piranha. It’s another fairly unimpressive sea monster movie, in a long line of fairly unimpressive sea monster movies.