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Solution

 

Bugs had been very careful about what he said, but he still made a slip.

He had said Shark Hunter was "a good movie." Remember?

Wrong!

Shark Hunter is not a good movie!

Certainly, it's not a completely terrible movie. There are a few positive things in it. Some of the special effects are quite good for what was a low I ask you: Is this the face of an action hero?budget. Take the CGI effects that depict much of the underwater action. Generally, the use of CGI in a movie is painfully obvious, often looking less convincing than models and puppets. But in this movie, the dark and watery environment makes the  computer graphics look much more convincing. The CGI artists even threw in some little details others may have overlooked, like thousands of tiny floating particles appearing when an underwater spotlight is turned on.

There's also a short sequence showing divers doing some underwater welding that wasn't actually shot underwater. It was shot on a stage, with the set darkened and stagehands above sprinkling down little particles of dust. It works surprisingly well, except in one embarrassing shot when too much light is used - then it's all too clear how they are doing it.

Matt Codd, the director, maintains a constant claustrophobic feeling, whether a scene is taking place in the dark waters or in the cramped submarine - which is very appropriate. Plus, instead of going down a route of familiarity, he manages to surprise by ending the movie in a way that most viewers will not be expecting.

But that's not enough to make a good movie. There are other, more numerous, things about Shark Hunter that make it a bad movie.

To begin with, take Antonio Sabato Jr. He is a poor choice for the lead. With his unshaven face, pale complexion, and stringy hair, he neither comes across as a tough hero or one who uses brains to overcome brawn. That's not even factoring in his actual performance, with his unchanging facial expression and lackluster tone of voice making him more forgettable than someone who was actually aggressively bad.

He's in good company. Most of the actors are foreign, primarily Bulgarian since the movie was filmed in that country. While they speak English in a way that suggests they know what they are saying instead of phonetically speaking their lines, their accents are sometimes so thick that it's hard to make out what they are saying. Sometimes they slip up even more, like when one actor says "Get the hell out there" instead of "Get the hell out of there" - yet Codd didn't bother to reshoot the scene.

Heather Marie Marsden, one of the only two other stateside actors in the production, can speak English, but manages to make her character very annoying in a teeth-gritting performance. Only Grand L. Bush as the mini-sub pilot gives a half decent performance. His character is just as thinly written as the others, but he puts energy and color to his dialogue and physical actions.

It's not just the characters that are poorly written in Shark Hunter. There are lapses in logic, like how the submarine is launched to do nothing but research and report, but happens to be carrying gigantic harpoons... torpedoes... and fifty-five gallon drums of blood.

There are questionable lines of dialogue, like when Spencer says about the shark, "I'm the only person who's lived through it to talk about it!" And there are elements that are directly plagiarized from Jaws, like when one character says "We're gonna need a bigger sub," or when Spencer looks at a montage of pictures of sharks and bite wounds.

There's even one scene that plagiarizes the big moment of Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea.

Then there is the fact that when bulkheads on this submarine are sealed, someone is able to crawl through the air vents from one section to another. Interestingly, the various rooms and passageways of this submarine look very much like those of the underwater station in Dark Descent, another UFO production.

That's not the only sign of cheapness in the movie. A number of scenes are never shown, like the launching of the submarine - the movie simply cuts from the characters on land to a point well underway on their voyage. The fact of the shark attacking a pod of killer whales is accomplished by one of the characters telling the others this after hearing it on the radio.

The shark, by the way, is a megalodon. A megalodon was an Though Grand L. Bush radioed in his performance, it was still the best one in the movieespecially large species of shark that disappeared about ten thousand years ago. However, the characters of the movie believe they became extinct several millions years earlier. It was about sixty feet long, a size that the character do confirm when they see it with their own eyes. Though it doesn't look quite that big when we get to see it for ourselves.

The megalodon was the most fierce sea predator of its time, more dangerous and deadly than even the great white. It's strange then that this particular megalodon doesn't come across as particularly dangerous. It's constantly seen swimming sluggishly through the water, and almost always keeps its mouth closed. It's a wonder that this shark is able to cause so much damage to the research submarine, even though its mass is several times that of the shark.

We never get to actually see the shark slamming into the submarine. It always happens when the camera is inside with the actors. In fact, we actually don't get to see that much of the shark itself. It takes a long time for it to appear in the first place, then after a few minutes it disappears for a long time before reappearing for a few more minutes near the end.

The movie has no feeling of tension, no feeling of danger as a result. There's no reason to care about what happens, who lives or dies. The only thing you keep wondering is when it's all going to end.

All of this makes Shark Hunter a bad movie.

What? What's that? You are complaining I didn't play fair? You are complaining that only those who had seen the movie in the first place could have a chance of solving the mystery?

Well, if you had bothered to read this mystery series to some extent, you would have realized that most of the mysteries require you to be as anal as Encyclopedia, and know beforehand a whole bunch of essentially useless facts.

Anyway, when Encyclopedia exposed Bugs' lie, he expected that Bugs would immediately confess and make restitution, as he always did before.

But instead, Bugs laughed out loud. He held up the book he was reading. The title of it was American Law.

"That doesn't prove anything," Bugs chortled. "Art is subjective! What you said would never hold up in court. In fact, anything else you try! You keep using hearsay evidence! What solid proof do you have that I sold that movie to that kid? Do you have a receipt?"

Encyclopedia learned that day that even the greatest detective can find himself helpless due to the intricacies of the American legal system.


UPDATE: "MegaLemur" sent this along:

"Far be if for me to defend the characters of Shark Hunter, but believing Carcharocles megalodon to have gone extinct several million years earlier than "about ten thousand years ago" is not at all out of the question and indeed in line with many fossil shark workers. The "ten-thousand year" estimate for megalodon extinction is based on a pair of teeth dredged by the British Challenger expedition as parts of manganese nodules. From the amount of manganese dioxide that had accumulated on the teeth, an estimated age of 11,333 years was obtained. However, most fossil shark biologists dispute this as being evidence of Pleistocene megatoothed sharks, arguing instead that these represent fossils that were eroded and redeposited on the ocean floor. The living megalodons, it is argued, died off in the Pliocene, between 1.67-3 million years ago. Forgive my anal retention, but Detective Brown would want nothing less. (Of course, I haven't seen Shark Hunter, and given the type of movie it is, your description of "several million years earlier" might well correspond to statements like "megalodon died a hundred million years ago, when the dinosaurs were still young!" or some such statement that seems to be omnipresent in giant, killer, prehistoric sea creature movies. If this is the case, again, my apologies.)"

My research did not reveal that the ten-thousand year claim was in dispute. So to give both sides of the issue fair play, it only seems fair to add this letter. If it eventually proves I was wrong, well, everyone has their off-days. Encyclopedia Brown author Donald J. Sobol screwed up the story about the egg-spinner when it was originally published. And Encyclopedia himself needed help from his pal Sally Kimball in that case involving the transvestites in the restaurant.

 

 And You Call Yourself A Scientist!  Creature & Deep Blue Sea
 The Bad Movie Report  Grizzly
 B-Notes  Shark Attack III
 Braineater.com  Tentacles
 Cold Fusion Video Reviews  Orca
 Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension  Jaws, Jaws II, Jaws III, Jaws IV
 Stomp Tokyo  Beneath Loch Ness
 Teleport City  The Shark Hunter (1979)

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Check Amazon for original Encyclopedia Brown stories

See also: Crocodile, Great White, King Cobra

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