Megalodon Rising (2021) Review

Megalodon Rising sinks without a trace

Bad shark movies have given rise to several notable franchises, hardly a surprise given it’s a genre that really started with the granddaddy of all bad sequel-spawners, Jaws. We’ve had the increasing noggins of the 2-Headed Shark Attack follow-ups, Deeper Bluer Seas, and the escalating shit storm of the Sharknado movies. But still, nobody could have, or should have, predicted that the almost weaponisedly underwhelming Megalodon would get a follow-up, let alone one that looks and feels like it was filmed the following afternoon. Yet, here we are. Megalodon Rising follows on from the events of the first film with a story that basically rehashes the same events with as few changes as possible.

When a Chinese submarine testing a secret espionage device just off the US coast is attacked by a colossal megalodon, Dr. Lee (Freda Yifan Jing), the sole survivor, is swiftly picked up by the USS King, commanded by Captain Lynch (Wynter Eddins). The plot thickens—or rather, curdles—when a Chinese destroyer arrives on the scene demanding Dr. Lee’s return, or else they will declare war. And as if that wasn’t enough, a further two megalodons emerge to join in the “fun”.

Captain Lynch provides our connective tissue to the first movie, being the sister of Commander Lynch from Megalodon. Tom Sizemore takes over washed-up has-been duties from Michael Madsen, appearing as the notional authority in a phoned-in performance. While the technical and logical inaccuracies are too numerous to mention (a US Navy ship gunner wearing a World War II German helmet is a particular highlight), you’ll no doubt appreciate Megalodon Rising sticking to the franchise’s established house style—a style defined by tight shots and desperately weird angles to cover up the fact the film’s being made in cheap and barely credible locations.

The performances are uniformly terrible, but even then, there are performers who shame their castmates by not just hitting rock bottom but starting to dig, with O’Shay Neal being the standout in the scenery-chewing stakes, no mean feat in a film featuring three giant sharks.

Apart from the change from the Russians to the Chinese, this middle chapter of a threatened trilogy doesn’t really do anything different from the first one, but that’s the least of its sins. Giant prehistoric sharks that brush off fire from warships like it’s a minor inconvenience are thwarted by a couple of gravy seals with machine guns when the megalodons reach San Diego. Meanwhile, the (off-screen, naturally) obliteration of a naval base doesn’t seem to disturb the beachgoers even a little. It’s a film that wears its ineptitude on its sleeve and claims it’s a sign of military rank.

Sometimes you can get away with the enormous payload of stupidity and abject lack of filmmaking skill if you can keep things moving quickly enough and throw in some decent special effects, but Megalodon Rising does neither. The special effects would flatter themselves to claim mediocrity, and perhaps nothing sums up how bad this is more than the fact that the World War II naval documentary footage spliced in as a substitute for actual footage is the best thing this manages to put on screen.

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