Shark Attack 3: Megalodon – 2002

Submitted by: Jameson Rafter


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After Jaws became one of the most successful movies of its time, Steven Spielberg had the good sense to walk away from it because he knew the premise could not sustain a continuation. After Hollywood proved him right by making the Jaws sequels, some idiot direct-to-DVD producer thought he’d take a whack at it. I’m not sure if other Shark Attack movies exist (and I don’t care to investigate that), but franchises rarely stay fresh by the time they reach their third outing. And that’ s true whether your toss-in a giant, prehistoric shark into your movie or not (Spoiler alert: They totally did in this movie.)

The movie begins at night in the Pacific Ocean. A wisecracking diver performs maintenance work on an underwater cable while being supervised by his wiseass captain and a wiseass radio officer aboard their ship. Suddenly, their radar picks up something rapidly approaching the diver’s position. Within seconds the diver is viciously attacked by what appears to be National Geographic footage of a great white shark attacking a seal– NOT a prehistoric megalodon like the movie would have you believe.

We cut to a few months later at a Mexican beach resort, one where bikini tops are conveniently optional. You know that unwritten law in cinema where a movie’s crapiness is directly proportional to how quickly it takes the director to throw in a superfluous shot of a topless woman to spice things up? Well, this is the second scene of a movie about a giant killer shark and already the director thinks he’s losing his audience.

Anyway, here we meet our story’s hero, Ben. Ben’s the head of security at the resort, and his job is to patrol the beaches and flirt with everyone he sees. It’s about noon when Ben finally shows up for work. His diligent and by-the-books partner, Esai, calls him out on being late, to which Ben responds by deciding now would be the perfect time to abandon their duties altogether and steal the patrol boat to go lobster fishing.

Ben dons his SCUBA gear and dives beneath the waves. While collecting his dinner, he discovers an underwater communications cable has a giant bite taken out of it. He finds a shark’s tooth embedded in the cable’s protective covering, but before he can investigate he is accosted by two corporate divers working on the cable and given the “You didn’t see nuthin” treatment.

That night, Ben ponders the tooth. Unable to find an exact match online, he scans the tooth and posts it to a Marine Biology geosites page asking if anyone knows what kind of shark it came from. In order to scan the tooth, Ben performs a feat of technical wizardry that would blow the mind of even the most neckbearded of science fiction writers. He uses a digital camera sitting next to his laptop to capture a quick image of the tooth. You know what turns up in the photograph? The tooth. You know what else gets captured in that photograph? Absolutely nothing. No hand holding the tooth, no Ben, no rest of his apartment, just a big, blown-up shot of that tooth against a white backdrop. Forget learning about the shark tooth, I want an explanation for how the hell that just happened.

The next day, Ben has been summoned to meet with the film’s two human villains: Ruiz, the resort manager who speaks with such a heavy Spanish accent that it’s almost impossible to understand him, and Tolley, the president of APEX Communications and most extreme case of bad movie voice dubbing I have ever witnessed. The gist of this scene is that APEX is hosting a private party at the resort to celebrate their new line of underwater cables (you know, the ones that are mangled and chewed-to-shit), and neither Ruiz nor Tolley want Ben and his outlandish theories about sharks to get in the way. At least that’s what I think is going on in this scene, while Tolley and Ben are talking we keep cutting to identical shots of Ruiz caressing the legs of his trophy girlfriend and I forgot to pay attention.

Our female lead arrives at the resort. Her name is Kat, and she’s a paleontologist who just so happened to see the shark’s tooth Ben posted. She doesn’t tell him she’s a paleontologist or that he may be in over his head but whatever, it’s not like knowing what he’s up against is going to help. Accompanying her on this trip are two typical “goof ball tech-expert characters who’ll likely windup dead.” Don’t worry, we don’t need to worry about the.

Kat and her team spend the afternoon trading perverted one-liners before successfully locating the shark and tagging it with a mini transponder. Despite a lack of professionalism and maturity, Kat and her cameramen have so far proven to be a lot more capable of going after the shark than Ben. But sadly, everyone sorta takes five after that and allow the shark to go on a modest killing spree for a few hours. Job well done, team.

Ben pays Kat a visit at the hotel to tell her about the recent shark attacks and she comes forward about being a paleontologist and that he’s dealing with a baby megalodon (Don’t get ahead of me). Ben decides he doesn’t trust her for some reason and insists on tagging along on their research expedition so he can kill the shark. It’s a win-win partnership for sure: Ben needs Kat because he’s too much of a pussy to confiscate her tracking device, and Kat needs Ben because she doesn’t quite know how big of a moron he is yet.

The next day, Ben, Kat and the techies who probably have names go after the shark. Naturally, it’s a complete disaster. They find the shark heading towards a crowded beach, and Ben’s big plan to thwart it consists entirely of him trying to shoot it with an ordinary handgun while atop a moving party boat. The poorly realized effort to head off the shark before it kills again results in two people getting eaten anyway, which results in Kat transforming from an interested paleontologist into an insane, shark hunting zealot.

Everyone regroups back on dry land and they all lay out an attack plan. Ben realizes that none of this shark business started until the APEX Corporation started putting shark-attracting fibre optic cables in the water, so he asks Chuck (a curmudgeony old man who worked on the project in some capacity that we’re just hearing about now) if there’s a connection. Another part of the plan seems to involve stopping by a local church and offering a quick prayer. The church scene is completely out of place with the rest of the movie, and I bet you it was thrown in because someone important to the film’s production was really religious and they asked there be a 13-second scene of worship.

So our heroes, now with God’s blessing, head out to sea again to kill the shark. Of course, during the battle the boat is rammed, takes on water, and Kat has to wade through the flooded area below decks when she goes after her shotgun. Naturally, the shark crashes through the bulkhead and Ben has to distract the it by hitting it with a baseball bat until Kat can retrieve her now water-logged firearm and finish it off. Basically, it’s a crash course in shark attack clichés.

Esai arrives in the rescue boat, ready to take everyone back to shore. The group is just getting started with the congratulatory back-slapping when suddenly the mama shark appears, and she is a real behemoth! How they portray the adult megalodon is the best part of the whole movie. When the mama shark swallows Esai’s boat, what the special effects guys did was take stock footage of a normal shark coming out of the water, probably to snap at a hunk of meat on a rope, and digitally crop-in the boat so that it fits in the mouth and can be swallowed in one gulp. That’s the best way I can describe it and it looks stupid as all hell. Anyway, Ben and Kat manage to escape when a rescue chopper shows up out of nowhere. The idiot cameramen nobody cares die and the movie is better for it.

Meanwhile, Chuck hacks into the APEX network from his home PowerBook and discovers that Tolley knew the underwater cables were attracting megalodons out of the Mariana Trench. Chuck confronts Tolley in his office with the proof but apparently Tolley has the law is on his side since Chuck had to hack into APEX’s database to find the truth and is in fact a disgraced military officer. He’s escorted out of Tolly’s office by two wimpy security guards. scene

Ben is having worse luck convincing Ruiz to close the beaches. Ruiz is mad that not only is there a shark swimming off his shore, but that it’s a big ‘un and that APEX’s launch party is coming up. I bet in his mind, he feels like company will be here any minute and the roast isn’t done yet. Ben quits because he can’t understand what his boss is saying half the time (I know I would) and meets up with Cat and Chuck to discuss their options.

After listing off dubious reasons why they can’t go to the military, coast guard or press with this information, our three heroes decide like idiots that it’s up to them alone to stop a gigantic, ferocious beast. Chuck suggests they use his mini submarine and a stolen Mark 44 torpedo to take it out, because Chuck is clearly a dangerous lunatic with limitless computer hacking skills and deadly arms at his disposal. So that’s the plan that the trio agree on, the only hiccup is that the torpedo can’t lock onto a living target, so Kat has to shoot the megalodon with a crossbow to attach a transponder the torpedo can home on to. Well gee, I can’t imagine that’ll be a problem.

Now, I’m not sure if Ben and Cat were ever supposed to have underlying feelings for each other, and if they were the movie did a really shitty job of convincing us they did. The only thing these two ever talk about is the shark, and they spent the whole movie surrounding themselves with death, terror and bloody gore. But on the night before the attack, these two star-crossed lovers decide to surrender to temptation in one of the most poignant and beautiful monologues ever filmed. For your viewing pleasure, I give you Ben’s line.

The next day is APEX’s party. The distinguished guests board Tolley’s fancy yacht and head out to sea. Tolley briefly converses with Ruiz about the shark situation and Ruiz assures him that if anything should go down, they’ll be ready for it. This is evident by a big bag of grenades he brings aboard. Sure enough, the megalodon attacks the luxury yacht and its every rich investor for themselves. Now, sinking a yacht obviously wasn’t in the film’s budget, so to portray a dinosaur shark ramming the ship, the camera shakes and everyone acts off balance in their own unique way until they all conveniently fall overboard.

Elsewhere, our heroes go after the shark. Ben and Chuck man the mini sub while Kat monitors from a chopper above. Getting the transponder attached to Mama Megalodon is a problem. First , Kat misses the enormous, bigger-than-a-bus shark with her crossbow. Then Chuck’s backup plan to implant his extra torpedo beacon onto the megalodon is ruined by Tolley tossing the whole sack of grenades into the water in a futile attempt to depth charge the shark to death.

At this point, Tolley has had enough and hops on the yacht’s emergency jetski and flees the scene. But because the megalodon is a jerk, it singles him out from all the full life rafts it could be eating. The timing for this couldn’t be more perfect, as Tolley ends-up driving the jet ski right down the shark’s throat.

During the rest of the shark’s rampage, Ben is doing everything he can think of to get the darn torpedo to lock onto the megalodon. Finally, Ben achieves the impossible by getting his mini sub stuck in the big Shark’s mouth, firing a torpedo, having it lock onto the submarine, and evacuating the sub before the torpedo can hit.

Needless to say, the stupid plan works and a shark’s head blows up for the second time in this movie. Ben and Chuck miraculously survive and float back to the surface, and everyone has a good hearty chuckle at their heroics and the many slaughtered victims. But just in case you thought there would be a happy ending, the scene fades to the obligatory epilogue shot where a giant shark can be seen swimming off in the distant… grunting ominously.

You can tell that absolutely no one involved in making this movie had any passion for this project or had any fun working on it, and with no visible or implied ties to past movies it doesn’t’ even seem like there was any obligation to make it either. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon just sort of came into existence, and the more I think about it the less I see any reason why this movie had to be made. The logic behind the way things happen never make sense, characters are reinvented scene-by-scene and the special effects are amazing for all the wrong reasons. A few of the most ridiculous clips from Shark Attack 3 can be found online, but they’re only pieces of the madness. When you stop and look at the whole of the movie, you find the quaint harmony that brings it all together and makes life worth living. Plus it has that awesome pickup line Ben used on Kat.

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