2015 – After it gobbles up a chunk of a UFO that crashed in the ocean, a great white shark transforms into a killing machine bent on destroying Seattle.
Several notes about this Netflix plot summary: 1.) it’s clearly an alien probe, not “a chunk of a UFO”; 2.) it doesn’t crash into the ocean, it intentionally flies into it to look around; and 3.) its motives are too murky to state that it’s “bent on destroying” anything.
Oh, boy. If the shark sub-genre isn’t dead, at the very least its mangled body is only being held together by the wreckage around it. Sort of like Mel Gibson’s wife in Signs. When someone fumbles a concept like “robot alien shark” this badly, maybe it’s time to take a break.
After the aforementioned shark swallows the aforementioned probe and becomes the aforementioned killing machine, it runs into a nuclear submarine. The crew is baffled as Roboshark unleashes its most potent attack: grabbing onto the propellers with its teeth and getting whipped around. “Come on, boys. Check your stats!” the sub commander shouts. Um… is “stats” the right word? Are these guys looking up batting averages and strikeout/walk ratios?
The destruction of the submarine catches the attention of the Navy’s Admiral Black (Nigel Barber – Firequake, Spectre), who is informed that the shark is now headed for Seattle. “Seattle… Starbucks, the Space Needle, hipsters, Microsoft, Nirvana,” the Admiral mutters. He’s a gruff, no-nonsense, arm-the-nukes, acceptable-casualties type, like the FBI guys from Die Hard. Odds are, the Admiral isn’t going to make it to the ending credits.
Meanwhile, weather woman Trish (Alexis Peterman – City Slacker) is griping to her husband Rick (Matt Rippy – Boogeyman 3, The Dark Knight) that she has to cover a snow storm (which is constantly referenced but never materializes). Their daughter Melody (Vanessa Grasse – Roboshark) is watching a viral video of the shark attacking an amphibious plane.
“That is everything that’s wrong with the news today, it’s like totally fake and ridiculous.” – Trish
Trish and her Wacky News Crew (they’re like the kooky tornado chasers from Twister) head out to cover the impending snow, but spot two tents and a few military guys on the way and decide that it’s “some serious firepower.” What can they do but investigate?
Sure enough, they see more guys in fatigues carrying unlabeled boxes around and conclude that something big is afoot. Trish’s boss insists they get back to covering the weather, but news crew guy Louie (Isaac Haig – Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda) encourages her to stick it to The Man and cover these probably-mutant-shark-related events instead. Watch out, viewers, it’s the WAAAAACKY NEWS CREW!
Roboshark starts swimming through the city’s jumbo-sized water system, drawing the ire of Rick and his team at the water… company? Rick is obsessed with calling a vague entity known as “dispatch.” “Dispatch. Dispatch, hello? Come on guys, dispatch!” “Dispatch! Get somebody out to T41.” Two seconds later: “Dispatch. Yeah, it’s Rick here. Get someone over to Junction T41 straightaway.” “Dispatch, talk to me!”
This is one of those movies where things seem to be happening, but they have no real direction. Even the characters aren’t convinced that anything important is transpiring. “This is starting to sound like one of those Syfy movies,” one of the news crew quips. “Mutant shark?” Rick demands. “Wasn’t that on Syfy last week?” Stop! This self-referential humor is killing me!
The shark attacks a Starbucks knockoff called “Coffee Time” and devours an obnoxious bicyclist (take that, bicycle enthusiasts!).
Then it heads to a sewer treatment plant where it causes “the poop tank” to explode, showering a minor character in feces. HA! Take that, blue-collar workers!
Bad news: we’re only halfway through the film. Good news: we’re about to meet the movie’s most delightful character, a glasses-wearing computer magnate named (get ready for it) “Bill GLATES.” HAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAW! I guess Bill Gates is the preferred tech industry target for parody since Steve Jobs is dead. In the plus column, one of Glates’s cadre of assistants is a red-head with a lip ring. I liked her.
“Oh my God, It just ate Bill Glates! It just ate Bill Glates!” – Trish
At this point, I was falling asleep in my chair and had to rally to make it through. Basically, our heroes learn to communicate with Roboshark by using emojis, and it isn’t so bad after all. Along the way the movie turns into a hype track for social media. Melody “searches for Tweets about water outages and maps them” to find the shark (because people are always live-Tweeting their water outages). Our heroes upload a shark video and get five MILLION views in about five minutes.
“Admiral, is that a bomber? You can’t bomb my family!” – Rick
Then again, the obnoxious cyclist gets devoured because he’s more concerned with uploading the footage from his GoPro than avoiding the shark. So maybe this is all some kind of subtle parody about how social media is blinding us to the reality of our situations. Everyone’s staring at their phones instead of fleeing the alien menace right in front of them. It’s a brilliant portrayal of our steady retreat from reality as we immerse ourselves in the ultimate delusion of a virtual world.
Or maybe it’s just dumb.