And here we are, the last day of Shark Week and the second and final entry for this installment of Franchise Week. It’s been quite a week, and I never thought I’d say this about a Shark Week review, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about sharks. Of course, the reason for that is because I’ve already discussed sharks at great length throughout the week, and I’ve got a lot to say about crocodiles, so we’d best begin.
Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus is the second in The Asylum’s movie series about a gigantic shark fighting some other really big thing. This time, the megalodon’s opponent is none other than the crocosaurus, a gigantic prehistoric crocodile that for some reason was hibernating in a mountain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, only to be awakened by diamond miners. (Of course, we all already know the history of mega shark. And before you say anything, it was never confirmed killed! The giant octopus is gone, sure, because how could three giant baddies survive, but no shark body was ever found! Look over there!) Upon the release of the crocosaurus, the mining company hires Nigel Putnam (Gary Stretch, Savages; Alexander), an expert crocodile and monster hunter, to kill or capture it. He succeeds, but as he’s transporting it back to the US (for some entirely unexplained and presumably King Kong-esque moronic reason), his ship gets attacked by the mega shark, sinking the ship and setting the crocosaurus free. Meanwhile, after the sinking of his ship at the fins of the mega shark (and the death of his fiancée), Dr. Terry McCormick (Jaleel White, Dreamgirls; Family Matters), an acoustics expert researching the effects of different sound frequencies on sharks, gets commandeered by Agent Hutchinson (Sarah Lieving, Lakeview Terrace; The Beast of Bray Road) to help track down the megalodon. She also enlists Nigel’s help in finding and killing the crocosaurus, and together the three of them go off on a merry adventure, jaunting all around the world in search of killer monsters.
Top left – Nigel Putnam; top right – Jaleel White; middle left – Agent Hutchinson; middle right – Crocosaurus; bottom – hand-puppet Mega Shark
So you remember how I said that the CGI in Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus had some artistic style to it but seemed unfinished? Well, in Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus, I think they shifted the balance a bit too far the other way, ending up with effects that definitely looked more realistic, overall, but also looked decidedly CGI and cheesy. If only they could find a way to get the perfect mix… The acting was acceptable but not outstanding, as expected. The dialogue was boring but sufficient. But what was noticeably missing was a tight, well-planned plot. It was straightforward enough for the first half or so, but as the movie went on, it seemed like the writers had a bunch of ideas they wanted to include, so decided to put them all in rather than leave out those that just didn’t fit. That doesn’t really work so well, from what I’ve seen. So, for example, when it looks like the mega shark and the crocosaurus are going to kill each other, all of a sudden baby crocosauruses start hatching from eggs that had been laid; but rather than go on too much of their own warpath, the babies are drawn to their mother as she wrestles with the shark. Of course, when they find the battle, the shark promptly eats many of them, and so they end up serving very little purpose. Similar sorts of things happen throughout the whole movie, making it feel rough and erratic as they jump from one thing to the next.
“My babies will assist me! *Gulp* Curse you, Mega Shark!”
But really, none of that’s the point. The point is, how’d they do with the science?
“There was science?!?”
First of all, this movie suffers from what I always think of as “Anaconda syndrome”, wherein the monster, in this case the mega shark, seems to change size, sometimes drastically, as best suits the desired shot. So when the shark jumps over a battleship, for example, it looks to be not much longer than the ship; but in the next shot, the guns are pointed at a fin (just a fin, mind you) that towers over everything and looks to be attached to a shark that doubled in size, at minimum. Likewise, at one point, the crocosaurus is swimming away from the shark, which in turn is being followed by a submarine, and the relative sizes estimate the shark at about the length of the sub, maybe somewhat longer. Not too much after this moment, though, the shark turns around and swallows a (nuclear) submarine whole (causing Terry to exclaim that “it’s a nuclear bomb now!”). Which I suppose is perhaps plausible; but still indicates to me that the shark maintains an inconsistent size throughout the movie, always frustrating to a viewer.
Either that, or its fin is just huge
I said above that I don’t have a whole lot to say about sharks in today’s entry, but that’s not to say I have nothing. For a start, Terry’s research involves using different sound frequencies to attract or repel sharks, begging the question “how sensitive are sharks to sound?” As you can see here, the premise of his research is plausible, as sharks are known to be attracted to sound frequencies mimicking wounded prey. So, at least theoretically, a frequency could be found which would mimic, say, a danger to sharks that might help repel them.
“Danger? Ha! I eat danger!”
Next, great white sharks are known to regularly breach while hunting seals in some parts of the world (specifically off the coast of South Africa). However, this breaching behavior is entirely the result of striking their prey from below with such force that the sharks fling themselves out of the water in the process. At many times in the movie, the mega shark breaches, but never to attack from below; near the beginning of the movie, for example, it jumps over the battleship in order to whack it with its tail to help damage it. While this form of attack may seem (and in fact is) odd, it is also true that thresher sharks sometimes use their tail to stun prey. So I would say that breaching as a way of being able to attack something with the tail doesn’t make much sense for a megalodon; but attacking with the tail does fit in with some known shark behavior.
“I’m a whale!”
And now, on to crocodiles.
I’m no expert on cryptids, but it seems to me that the basis for the crocosaurus in this movie is a rumored crocodilian in the People’s Republic of the Congo known as the mahamba. Given that the best I can do for an actual basis is a generic crocodile, comparisons will jump around between several species or stick to crocodilians in general.
That looks real, right?
The crocosaurus in the movie lays several thousand eggs (explained by suggesting that she lays eggs faster when her offspring are in danger, as from, say, a mega shark) below the ocean’s surface. She then does her best to stop the mega shark (which, for some reason, is drawn to the chemical signature of the eggs) from eating the eggs or the babies (when the eggs hatch). It is also mentioned on multiple occasions just how intelligent crocodiles are. But what of all that is true?
“You callin’ me a liar?”
As it turns out, most of it. For a start, at least one species of crocodile is tolerant of saltwater, so an ocean-going crocodile, while perhaps unusual, is not impossible. More importantly, though, is that crocodilians are arguably among the smarter animals (also see here), and as the second link discusses have been known to collectively guard nests and young. So the idea that the crocosaurus goes out of her way to stop the mega shark from eating her eggs and offspring does seem to fit in with what has been observed in modern crocodiles. However, as far as we’ve seen (and as far as I can find), crocodiles are not known to lay their eggs under water, instead making burrows or nests on land and then covering the eggs to help protect them from predators.
Like the legendary rocket shark
And that’ll do it for Shark Week here at Jumping Sharks. It’s been a long week, but hopefully an enriching one. I know that I, for one, learned quite a bit about our aquatic friends. Stay tuned for a return to our regular updating schedule, beginning next week. Until then, take a breather, but keep an eye out for fins.
And as always, kill it with fire!