Mee-Shee: The Water Giant

Mee-Shee: The Water Giant


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Mee-Shee The Water Giant is an Anglo-German coproduction set in Canada, filmed in New Zealand, and originally released in 2005. It's full of actors you'll have seen in other places, directed by John Henderson (who also helms BBC2's Hyperdrive), and is the scriptwriting debut of Barry Authors.

It is also unmitigated tripe. A saccharine mess, bereft of wit, originality or purpose, it endeavours to teach a lesson about family but ultimately demonstrates contempt for the audience. The script is a jumbled mess of environmental fooferaw and nonsensical corporate shenanigans, filtered through a kind of backwoodsy Canadiana that would be more convincing if it weren't both idiotic and delivered by Kiwis. It is cliched, derivative, predictable and obvious.

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Rather than take his son to Disney World to ride Thunder Mountain, Sean Cambell (Bruce Greenwood, also in Firehouse Dog) is ordered by his corporate masters at Alaskoil to go to Canada to recover a piece of equipment that's fallen into a lake. The 'titanium drillbit' for boring through 'tundra' is apparently too deep for divers to recover, and it's vital to a five billion dollar deal that will see an opportunity to despoil the wilderness fall to another company.

With huge sums of money at stake, then, Alaskoil dispatch their chief troubleshooter Cambell, his son (who can't stay with his mother because she is, of course, dead), his whiny technical assistant ("He's from New York"), and a yellow diving bell named SeaBug. They hire a cattle barge to operate it from, and are assisted by a local 'Indian' named Custer. "Custer's a heck of a name for an Indian," says Greenwood. "My father had a heck of a sense of humour," says half-Cree Tom Jackson. This is possibly the funniest exchange in the film.

Joel Tobeck and Charles Mesure, who each had regular gigs in Hercules and Xena (as Deimos and the Archangel Michael respectively) are the bad guys. They have been to the same bad guy shop as the villains of Die Hard 4.0, but have come away with a midget submarine with harpoon and torpedo launchers. They shoot the titular Mee-Shee to allow it to bond with our kid hero in a thorn in a lion's paw sort of way, and then to try to steal that elusive drill bit. At one point, when confronted by an environmental protection officer (and, obviously, love interest/replacement mother figure), having threatened said State and Provincial officer with a rock, and abandoning a truck, a midget submarine and high explosives on the shore, one cries, "You've got nothing on me!" and runs off. This is after they escape from a flat-bottomed barge in a submarine by driving it into the shallows, of course.

The odd geographical genesis seems an attempt to simultaneously tap as many funding bodies as possible while avoiding child labour laws. Though the script mentions Disney repeatedly there's no actual involvement from the Mouse, though Jim Henson's Creature Workshop provides the monster. It is wasted in this film. The script makes much of the fact that Mee-Shee has "big eyes", and while they are large on the monster they are subsumed within its elephantine face, concealed by narrow, seemingly vengeful eyelids. Any need for suspension of disbelief is lost because the rest of the film is so bad.

The bad guys say "crud" and "sugar", and die at the end when Mee-Shee's mother returns. Mee-Shee, of course, is a youth, and intervenes when its friends are threatened by its parents. The Cambells vow to move to the area, and there is a 'joke' about local property prices.

The two children in the cast are good. Jacinta Watawai (who was the terrifying feral child in Jackson's King Kong) has an infectious smile, and Daniel Magder (who has been in a David Cronenberg short) is both professional and charming as Cambell's justifiably aggrieved and adventuresome son.

They are not enough, however, to save the film. Nor, indeed, is the admittedly spectacular New Zealand countryside, not least because it isn't British Columbia. This film is possibly only worthwhile as a distraction for a toddler you aren't particularly fond of. It is pedestrian, nonsensical, and a waste of time, and has doubtless only been released two years late in an effort to claw some money from parents desperate to entertain their children during the summer holidays.

(Editor's note: Andrew wanted to give this film a lower rating, but this is as low as our system goes!)

Reviewed on: 01 Aug 2007
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Mee-Shee: The Water Giant packshot
An mysterious creature is threatened by oil workers looking for lost machinery in the remote lake where it lives.
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Director: John Henderson

Writer: Barry Authors

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Daniel Magder, Joel Tobeck, Rena Owen, Phyllida Law, Luanne Gordon, Tom Jackson, Joe Pingue, Jacinta Wawatai

Year: 2005

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK, Germany


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