Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009)
COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 89 mins
PLOT: When two prehistoric beasts – an ancient Megalodon shark and a giant Octopus are released from having been frozen in a glacier for eons, they continue their never-ending battle throughout the world's oceans, with the U.S. Military hot on their heels and trying to put a stop to them.
REVIEW: As far as I'm concerned, when I popped Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus into my BluRay player to watch and review, I was just looking for a quick cheesy and fun B-movie to help pass a couple hours of my time and unwind after coming home from a super-busy day at work (which is all I really expect from any Asylum-made movie), and while I did end up getting that, overall this one just fell a tad short of the hype that the title and advertising promised.
Right off the bat, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of overly-annoying and pointless flashcuts that make no sense as they happen in the middle of a scene for absolutely no discernible reason, instead of as a scene transition like they're supposed to be used for. In the span of the first 10 minutes I say we get a good 20-odd of those things, and they never do let up during the rest of the movie. And speaking of the first bit of the movie, we get about 5 minutes of nothing but sweeping landscape shots. Sure, the arctic glacier landscapes and the underwater ocean shots themselves all look really beautiful (especially in HD on BluRay), but there is no need for 5 minutes worth of showing these shots and just these shots. It's not a good sign when the movie starts off at such a slow rate. It made it quite tedious to sit through, even for me. There were a couple moments I found myself actually wanting to fast-forward a bit just to get through the first 5 minutes or so. And it got really annoying when they decided to combine those overly-long sweeping scenic shots with the pointlessly annoying flashcuts - again, for no reason whatsoever other then to try to be stylish when in actuality it just came off as annoying and hard to sit through.
With this being an Asylum movie, you can probably already assume, and you would be correct in assuming, that the actual script itself may not exactly be the best thing since sliced bread and the dialog can get quite atrocious at times, but neither of those things are really all that unexpected and anyone who did expect otherwise were clearly fooling themselves. Personally for me, the weirder the script and the worse the dialog, the better. I find it's part of the charm and is what makes these movies so much fun to watch while having a beer or two. Even the worst Asylum movies have that stuff going for them to make them entertaining, at least on some level.
Much like with another of their movies, Mega Piranha (which stared 80's pop sensation Tiffany), this movie also stars a washed-up 80's pop sensation by the name of Debbie Gibson who, IMO anyway, has aged far better and more gracefully then Tiffany has. Gibson could easily still pull off being in her late 20's and surprisingly, also unlike Tiffany, Gibson appears to be a decent actress. She may not win any Oscars, but as far as low budget Direct-to-Video movies go, she's excellent and never groan-worthy. Her actual role in the movie is that of a sealife expert that has teamed up with some colleagues to track the rampaging creatures down and figure out a way to stop them, and it's only a matter of time until they team up with the military, led by SyFy Channel alum Lorenzo Lamas (of such cinematic beauties as Raptor Island and 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea). He doesn't do anything spectacular here, but he's far from bad. He plays pretty much the exact same hardened military man that he plays in all of his movies, so by this stage of the game he can do the role in his sleep without much effort, especially in a movie like this where he doesn't really have a whole lot to do but stand around and threateningly bark orders at everyone. Other then those two, none of the other actors are really all that good at delivering the horrible dialog they're given, and the only other character of note is the Japanese scientist guy, and only because he's just so bad; easily the worst actor out of the entire group - it was literally painful to hear him talk. The other actors aren’t really worth mentioning and are pretty forgettable once the movie is over and all is said and done. The minor characters that are only in one or two scenes are also some of the worst I have ever seen in any movie, period. One only needs to watch the opening scene of the movie and bear witness to whoever's brother or friend they owed a favor to and gave them the helicopter pilot role, to understand. And for some reason, Asylum decided to throw in an out-of-nowhere sex scene between Debbie Gibson's character and the geeky Japanese scientist about half way through the movie, despite there not being even a hint of a romance between the two, and had no build-up, and then just completely drop the romance angle from the movie all together again after that, until the final scene where they throw in one throw-away line about being together.
But the part of the movie I really want to talk about, and the part that I got the most enjoyment out of, is not the boring cardboard human characters with bad acting and atrocious dialog, but instead the awesome title goliaths of the seas, the true stars of the movie - the Mega Shark and the Giant Octopus. Asylum's level of standards when it comes to their effects work can be a mixed bag - some movies have piss-poor special effects while others have excellent special effects. This movie leaves no stone unturned as they decided to incorporate both ends of that spectrum; The actual creatures themselves - the Megalodon shark and the Giant Octopus - looked great; some of the best effects work I've seen come out of this company yet. But then there are individual shots where the quality is noticeably lesser. For example, whenever we see the full Octopus – looks great, but whenever we see just the tentacles coming out of the water – looks horrible. Whenever we see the shark swimming around and attacking things on the surface of the water or under the water – looks great, but when it's leaping out of the water to attack things in the air – looks horrible. The difference in quality is most notable when both animals are on-screen at once, as it seems the quality in their effects work drop substantially, which is a shame since the movie is a 'Vs' movie after all so those scenes should be the most well-produced. Instead, the best looking scenes are the ones with the animals separate from each other.
Differing quality of effect shots aside, the actual action scenes involving one or the other of the creatures are mostly pretty fun. There are two or three of them that consist of a shot of the animal heading towards the camera, then a shot of the reactions of people on board whatever vessel is in the scene, and that's it. But luckily there's only a couple scenes like that and the rest actually do manage to show stuff happening. Yeah, ok, they may tread being annoyingly short with just about every single one clocking in at under 60 seconds, but what we do get to see are some pretty amazingly fun and cheesy stuff that just makes you fall in love with it so much that you don't even notice that it all happened in the amount of time it takes you to sneeze. Examples include, but are not limited to, the Mega Shark leaping so far out of the water that it takes down a passenger plane flying high in the sky overhead, or the Giant Octopus taking out a fleet of submarines in a split second as it crushes each one in a different tentacle at the same time, or the Shark taking out the Golden Gate Bridge while the Octopus takes down a huge ocean oil rig platform. Oh, and of course the fight scenes between the two colossal beasts as the movie hits it's exciting cheese-fueled adrenaline-pumped climax. There is plenty to love in this movie when it comes to the action scenes and IMO, the short runtime on them only means that we can get even more of them squeezed into the movie.
In the end, despite probably being their most well-known movie, it's definitely not Asylum's best movie and holds quite a few faults which prevents it from being as insanely enjoyable as it was advertised to be. However, it's still an all around fun movie and a great way to pass a rainy weekend night while having a beer or two with some friends.
6/10 rooms in the Psych Ward