Finally, on screen together for the first time, two iconic titans duke it out for ocean supremacy and there’s not a Martha in sight to bring the throw down to a halt.
When the deployment of a low-frequency sonar array causes a pod of whales to go berserk and start head-butting a glacier and somehow also causes a helicopter to crash, the resulting explosion cracks open the massive iceberg, releasing a badly CGI’d megalodon and kraken-like octopus from cryogenic suspension. As the monsters wreak havoc in the Pacific, it down to oceanographer Emma MacNeil and Japanese Scientist Dr Seiji Shimada (Vic Chao) to work out how to stop them before shady Government operative Allan Baxter (Lorenzo Lamas) authorises the use of nuclear weapons.
Given the movie opens with Debbie Gibson in a cheap minisub set exploring stock footage of marine life (none of which are native to or likely to be found in the Alaskan waters she’s meant to be exploring), it’s not immediately apparent why there’s such a prideful opening credit informing you that the VFX are provided by ‘Tiny Juggernaught’. It becomes clear enough though when the film delivers its improbable, ridiculous but undeniably awesome shot of the megalodon leaping up from the ocean some 35,000 feet to pluck a commercial airliner from the air.
It’s one of the many elements of biology, physics and common sense this movie has no time to bother with. Many of the battles take place in the murky ocean depths – all the better to disguise the CGI shortcomings – and when the action does come to the surface, the results never fail to underwhelm. If the inability to keep the size of the monsters consistent from scene to scene doesn’t jar you out of your suspension of disbelief, then the deeply unconvincing ‘romance’ and resulting softest of softcore sex scenes between Gibson’s character and her Japanese counterpart (no doubt crowbarred into the script to pad out the running time) will do the job.
As Ken Watanabe said in “Godzilla”: ‘Let them fight’ and, well, wouldn’t you know it, that turns out to be the scientists’ solution for this problem too, albeit with added submarines for good measure. There’s plenty of intercutting between the American and Japanese subs although it’s often hard to tell which is which because they’re all filmed in the same small box room with slightly different dressing and in the end the two monsters continue to duke it out as they sink into the depths.
The film ends on a tease for a potential follow-up relating to strange sightings in the North Sea (Nessie?) which the sequel, released one year later, completely ignores.