“Mako: The Jaws of Death” was assigned to me by Michele, and while she suggested in her e-mail that she’s not particularly good at picking terrible movies, in this case, she actually did a splendid job. Which, of course, was the general idea. However, my main problem with “Mako: The Jaws of Death” was not that it was pretty bad, but rather that, apart from one intriguingly crazy (and crazily intriguing) idea as well as the fact that it sooooo totally fails to deliver the message that it seemingly wanted to impart, it’s rather unremarkable.
After the huge success of “Jaws”, there were a lot of free riders who tried to earn some easy money in its wake. And the one thing that I have to hold in “Mako: The Jaws of Death”‘s favor is that, even though it’s definitely Cannon Films’ attempt to get their share of the shark-craze, it isn’t a simple imitation of Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece. They actually tried to do something new/different here, since the main bad guy isn’t the shark, but the human(s). Which, in itself, is genius, and a very welcome change of pace after “Jaws” (a movie that I absolutely adore) and so many other movies afterwards demonized them. However, there are two major problems with the end result: A) they totally failed in what they tried to do here, and B) the main idea of a mysterious mental connection between a man and “his” sharks, due to a mystical medallion, was just a tad too far-out for me to really get into the movie (now, granted, there’s the slight possibility that it’s all in his head, but I do believe that the ending with the medallion strongly suggests that he wasn’t crazy after all – well, at least not when it comes to that). I’m generally having a hard time with supernatural elements in movies (at least as long as they are set in the “real world”), and that simply was a little bit too much for me. Granted, it’s a new and somehow neat idea, and I’m sure it’s just crazy enough for some to work – but unfortunately it didn’t for me.
That alone wouldn’t be that much of a problem, though, even though it meant that “Mako: The Jaws of Death” and me were off to a rough start pretty much from the get-go. One of the main problems of the movie, however, lies in the way Sonny Stein is portrayed. He’s supposed to be the main protagonist, the guy we root for – and within the first three minutes, he has already killed three guys. Now, granted, they were bastards who tried to hunt sharks just for fun and/or profit, which definitely is not ok, but still, I don’t see how Sonny injuring them and throwing them into the water so that his shark friends can feast on them makes him any better than the despicable pricks he disposes of. However, in the way the movie progresses, how everyone’s talking about (and with) him (“You are a sickie!” is now my favorite insult), and how he’s screwed over by the people that he trusts with his sharks, it’s obvious that the movie tries to build him up as the hero of the piece – which simply didn’t work for me. Also: On multiple occasions, “Mako: The Jaws of Death” seems to decry the belief held back then by some (and arguably reinforced by “Jaws”) that sharks are dangerous, heinous, man-eating killing machines. Too bad, though, that the movie actually depicts them as – you guessed it – dangerous, heinous, man-eating killing machines, since they gladly devour every human morsel that Sonny throws to them [SPOILER] (and in the end, since he has disposed of his medallion that seemingly was treated with a variant of Batman’s shark repellent spray, even himself)[/SPOILER]. Rarely have I seen a movie with such a discrepancy between what it tries to say and what it actually says. It’s almost worth watching just for that. Mind you, I said “almost”.
I’m afraid I can’t really assess as to how well the movie was shot, since the version that I saw (you can actually find it for free on YouTube) seems to have been taped off from an old VHS-tape which already was in pretty bad shape. Thus, the whole movie had a terrible blue tint to it. There were also a couple of scenes where I had a hard time figuring out what was happening on-screen. It’s too bad that there’s not a reasonably priced opportunity to see it (and I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay fifty dollars for a used DVD for a movie like this, thankyouverymuch), but we make due with what we’ve got. However, because of that, I really have to reserve judgment when it comes to the look of the movie (in contrast to the music, which was absolutely terrible, no doubt about it). However, the version that I saw definitely was one of the worst copies of a film that I’ve ever seen, which probably didn’t help; on the other hand, though, I’m not sure if it really would have made that much of a difference if I would have held a pristine Blu-Ray in my hands, since the main problems lie with the content of the movie anyway. Now, granted, there were a couple of good scenes. I liked Sonny’s tale, since it seemed to hark back to Quint’s telling of the fate of the U.S.S. Indianapolis – only in this case, he was actually saved by sharks. That was a nice spin. Also, Richard Jaeckel really gave it his all. And the underwater shark scenes were quite nice (even though if you want to see something like that, I suggest you rather go ahead and put in a nature documentary). Ultimately, though, this shark was not working.