Review: James Thomas’ Megalodon

I know what you’re thinking because I thought it, too. A giant shark movie titled Megalodon debuting on SyFy just a few days after the #1 box office hit The Meg seems like, well, a rip off or a cash grab. The plots are somewhat similar and one scene in particular is an exact match, but I have a lot of respect for director James Thomas thanks to his 2014 horror thriller Run Like Hell, and I have to grade his new movie like The Meg doesn’t exist; especially because I’m positive he was hired for the job and didn’t seek it out. Written by Koichi Petetsky, Megalodon sees a Russian submarine drilling several thousand miles off the coast of Hawaii. When the vessel can’t handle the pressure and the drill breaks, a megalodon is unleashed into the ocean and it has a particular hunger for metal and flesh. Now, new recruits aboard an American navy vessel must work with the Russians to stop the massive sea beast before it sinks their ship and moves to shallower waters. Produced by David Michael Latt and co-produced by Paul Bales, Megalodon stars Dominic Pace, Caroline Harris, Ego Mikitas, Aimee Stolte, Scott C. Roe, Sebastien Charmant, Elizabeth J. Cron, Paulina Laurant and Michael Madsen (The Hateful Eight, Reservoir Dogs) as Admiral King.

Megalodon is timely yet a missed opportunity at the same time. Again, it certainly capitalizes on the nation’s infatuation with The Meg, enough so that it was the most watched original film on SyFy in years with over 1,060,000 viewers. Big sharks are in right now, but Megalodon won’t have legs – fins? – in the market because viewers are going to forget about it for the final Sharknado movie. This, however, could have been remedied by releasing James Thomas’ new movie during Labor Day Weekend; another special American holiday when patriotism is sky high. Megalodon would have fit in perfectly there because who doesn’t like seeing the Navy kick some ass and especially some Russian ass. Obviously the everyday Russian citizen isn’t an enemy of our country, but with the scandal going on now between the President and the foreign country – it’s timely. Oddly, Megalodon would have gotten some American pride flowing during the last big Summer holiday and it would have energized the audience. I guess I can sum this whole sentiment up as – no matter when this movie came out, it was going to be successful. Even the addition of a strong, black female lead character makes Megalodon a movie people would applaud. Yay America! Yay empowerment! Yay enormous sharks!

Megalodon also deviates away from typical creature-feature horror films that show on SyFy; going with a more action and adventure approach. Megalodon is light on giant shark and heavy on plot development, suspense, action and realistic portrayals from the cast. While seeing the sea monster take a bite out of subs was a cool visual, the story has a lot more to offer than other films in its category. Even if you removed the shark and added something else, like an oil spoil or nuclear device, I think this movie has every crucial element in place that would still make it succeed on its own merit. Normally, I’m not a fan of mixing the military with my creature-features, but this story just worked and is enjoyable on all angles, no matter what demographic you’re in or what you’re looking for in this title. And when it comes to the CGI, it’s actually some of the better work that’s been featured on SyFy. Showing the shark from far away definitely helped it looked more realistic, though the very last scene was cringe-worthy. And since Megalodon is high on action, low on shark, the small glimpses that are below the mark are easy to overlook.

The production value of Megalodon is also a step above the other entries in its catalog. The camera work was great and the quality was higher than most made-for-television movies. I’m positive the majority of the ship settings were aboard actual Navy vessels. The audio and editing were flawless. A high caliber production fronted by excellent actors and a giant CGI shark – you can’t go wrong here. Props to director James Thomas, cinematographer Dante Yore and editor Ana Florit for putting together a movie that’s one of the bigger fishes in the sea. Perfect for Shark Week, Sharknado Week, and every other Summer holiday on television. And, most importantly, the extra military elements subtracted parts of the silliness and hokiness; resulting in a feature film that has a giant shark and somehow manages to keep its integrity in tact. I don’t know if I’d ever watch it again, but it was worth spending part of my evening on the couch to show my support. Creature feature enthusiasts are going to love it, shark movie collectors should give it a go, and channel surfers of all kinds could find something enjoyable here, too. I, of course, fall in the first category – so please forgive my score!

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)