Log in

No account? Create an account
Shark Puppy, SLM

What's Chompy and Doesn't Like Fireworks?

The Guru and I found ourselves with nothing to do one day so we asked our good friend Netflix Streaming what was on that we might like. Sadly, there is no "B-Movie List Here" button on the iPad app so we searched for 'alligator' to see what would come up. If we didn't like any of the alligator options, the app has an inspirational row of "People who watched these movies also watched..." selections which is a decent "B-Movie List Here" button workaround. After a brief browse of the critters gone feral selection, we found Beneath Loch Ness. I enjoyed the previous two Loch Ness movies we had seen (Terror of and Horror of) so I had high expectations for this new story of the fabled cryptid.

Beneath Loch Ness starts like every other Loch Ness movie with a team of scientists scientifically looking for the Loch Ness Monster because blah blah plot-cakes. If it's not scientists driving the plot in a Nessie movie then it's the crazy Nessie True Believers coming up with hard proof. It doesn't matters either way because nobody is going to believe any Nessie findings until it's too late and Nessie has eaten half the cast. Anyway, in Beneath the scientists are doing their science thing until lo! That famously unstable region of the world barfs up a HUGE plate tectonic tremor which opens a fissure to the ocean and swallows beloved Professor Mentor Scientist.

Everyone is so sad because without Professor Mentor Scientist, they can't go on. But wait! The brass upstairs (who, for whatever reason are running a Discovery Channel like nature show that funds this scientific expedition) have decided to rework the documentary (?) into a "What ate renowned Professor Mentor Scientist: Tragic incident or something more sinister? Dun dun dun!" piece. The brass also decide to bring in Genius Unorthodox Archaeologist who Hates Diving and Split with the Group (and He's Also a Jerk) because...plot point. Fairly soon the team is back together and doing their "underwater" poking about when Strange Inexplicable Unless It's A Nessie Things Occur.

Or maybe it's not a Nessie. Tough to tell since this movie seems to abandon the whole Loch Ness mythos all together ("It's an ocean going denizen that popped through the newly formed fissure!") while simultaneously giving us a dead baby Nessie conveniently washed up on shore. Perhaps the Fissure Critter eats Nessies? Yeah...that's what this movie is about. Until they go to Curmudgeonly Scotsman Flashback wherein we learn that his son was eaten by a Loch Ness Something 17 years ago. Everyone blames Curmudgeonly Scotsman for the incident because he was Drunk But Not Yet Curmudgeonly Scotsman back then but he knows better. He saw the creature. So apparently whatever is beneath Loch Ness is a quantum toothy giant aquatic thing which has both newly arrived and eaten a kid 17 years ago. Or maybe there are two of them; that's never really explained.

Add to this a group of Nessie Hoaxers doing their hoax thing (some of whom get incidentally eaten by the Loch Ness Whatever), a bunch of New Age Druids who are celebrating New Age Druidy things (some of whom get predictably eaten by the Loch Ness Whatever), a surly bunch of native Lochers (most of whom get satisfactorily eaten by the Loch Ness Whatever) and the Big Brass's Second in command (who gets no part of her eaten by the Loch Ness Whatever but has a not so hidden past with Genius Unorthodox Archaeologist (who is a jerk)) and this becomes a very formulaic film. We are not surprised by the ending other than it took so long to get there.

Things this movie did well: I give them a thumbs up on their general competence of filmery. Solid passing grade on that, there were no stupid camera faux pas, they used the right stock for the lighting, the sound was decent (save the miking in the dive suits), and the acting was acceptable. They even got some second unit more or less Scottish-y looking establishing shots. I've not been to Loch Ness so I don't know if it actually was the right location, but it seemed reasonable.

Things this movie did poorly: Diving or lack thereof. When we were watching the first "underwater" scene it took me a few seconds to figure out why things didn't look right. The dive suit headlamps showed the swirling murk of the loch but at the same time the actors' faces were crystal clear behind their face plates. I'd say it was almost as if they filmed the actors in a dark smoky room walking slowly in dive suits but it was exactly like they did just that. This explains why nobody exploded from the bends when they yanked them up from supposedly 133 meters below the surface.

CGI. The Nessies or Fissure monsters (whichever you decide, the movie couldn't) were all done CGI and fairly decently so (although there was the standard sizing problem of CGI monsters in that the Fissure Nessie Monster seemed to fluctuate between bigger and even bigger) but the rendered dead baby Nessie was pretty poorly integrated with the rest of the beach it was flopped up on. There was also an incompetently rendered train platform which looked more like one of those science museum "Explore green screen technology!" exhibits than a professionally done movie. Why they couldn't have found an actual train platform somewhere to film on or have axed the scene altogether is a question that begs answering.

Science. Sigh. I mentioned the strangely non-exploding divers which prompted me to actually look up dive tables to see how deep one can go and be able to surface quickly without complications. It turns out, as best as I can figure, that you can go down to 130 feet for 5 minutes and pop back up like a ping pong ball with no ill effects. 130 feet is only 39 meters though and the divers had been busily doing science for quite some time at 133 meters. For as many times as they yoinked the divers to the surface there should have been a lot more explody diver scenes in this movie than there were. Unless they were the divers still underwater as the Scottish Navy chucked depth charges at the Loch Ness Whatever. This film didn't understand quite a lot about water physics.

There was also the matter of the Ocean Going Loch Ness Whatever theory which looks good right up to the point that you put a salt water critter into a freshwater environment. It usually doesn't go well for the critter. If it wasn't a Fissure Monster and instead a proper Nessie monster I wish they would have gotten the traditional Nessie body type right. The Loch Ness Whatever was more like a giant alligator-snake than it was the iconic long necked, bumpy, flippered dinosaur creature.

Memorable Smithee Moments: Late at night after pretty much everyone has managed to piss off the Loch Ness Whatever, our team spies a group of new aged druids preparing to celebrate their new aged druid-y-ness with fire and a dip in the loch. Our team frantically paddles over in a small boat hollering "Get out of the water, you are in danger!" when up pops the Loch Ness Whatever for a late night druid snack. Who didn't see that coming? We then tried to think of a movie where a group of new aged druids did not get eaten and we came up pretty empty handed. Perhaps Wickerman.

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Nessie Watchin' Ninja JQ