Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus (2009)
By: Mr Intolerance on November 9, 2009  | 
DVD
Metrodome (UK). Region 2, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 85 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Debbie Gibson, Vic Chao, Lorenzo Lamas
Starring: Ace Hannah
Screenplay: Ace Hannah
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Look at that name. Just look at it. When you're faced with a film called Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, it's hard to walk on by. I mean, when you see that it was produced by the evil geniuses at The Asylum, you probably know that the title is going to be the best thing about it (after all, this is the company that has given us mockbusters – when the big leagues offered us Transformers, The Asylum were pretty quick to respond with Transmorphers, and when audiences were being un-wowed by the recent remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, the Asylum totally underwhelmed us with The Day The Earth Stopped), and a quick perusal of the cast list seeing washed up has been 80s action star Lorenzo Lamas (a bit of a Asylum staple), and even more washed up 80s pop star Debbie Gibson (yes, she of Electric Youth "fame") involved, well there are two things that are certain – firstly, the only way to approach this film is with a keen sense of the ridiculous, and secondly, that very, very bad CGI is in your immediate future. But will it be entertaining? That remains to be seen.

When I was a kid, I used to think any film with the word "versus" in the title was a winner (think about all of those awesome Godzilla flicks, or even the craptacular Billy the Kid Vs Dracula, or Jesse James Vs Frankenstein), but after watching the train-wreck that was Alien Vs Predator in my early thirties, I soon worked out that maybe Hollywood had lied to me. Maybe monster beat 'em ups weren't as good as I had remembered. I can't say that Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus has totally brought me back to the fold, but by the same token, it did make me want to see more of these flicks (a genre I hadn't really delved into for a while) and maybe re-evaluate my position.

Virally advertised via the internet, Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus garnered an extraordinary amount of interest from people who wouldn't normally watch giant monster flicks, even MTV got on board, much to the embarrassment of those involved – maybe it was the reverse cool of the stars involved, maybe the outrageous title of the film (which is effectively its premise as well), maybe it was the image of a shark so big it could take a bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge. I mean, let's face facts – that one single image hooked me in to begin with. As an advertising campaign, it was a complete success. As a film, well...

So anyway, rogue marine biologist Emma has stolen a submersible from the government folks she works for and gone for a bit of a joy-ride with her navigator Vince somewhere very far North. Basically, they just want to hang out with the whales (she says she's playing Mozart at them, but the credits will confirm, it's Bach; also, in one of those wonderful goofs you only ever get in films like this, in long shots, Emma isn't wearing nail polish, in close ups, she's wearing black nail polish – hooray for continuity) , but things get a bit more complicated than that, as the military are experimenting with crazy sonar-fucking devices and the whales end up head-butting themselves to death against a great big fuck-off glacier which just happens to contain two frozen prehistoric monsters, a giant octopus and a megalodon – that's a giant shark to you. The two of them are locked in mortal combat and when they're released...ooooh, fuck, you don't want to be around. And guess what – given the impact of the whales against the glacier, guess who gets freed to continue their millions of years old conflict in the modern day?

Not that anyone knows what's going on to begin with, oh no – in the best tradition of giant monster films, you've got to keep the big bad guys under wraps for the first reel, regardless of whether or not their name is in the title of the film. Keep that audience waiting, godammit! Build up that tension! The pay off has to be worthwhile!

The shark heads towards the States where it chows down (off screen) on some sharks and whales, whereas the octopus is making some severe waves in Japan having ripped an oil rig to pieces in a rather spectacular (albeit brief) fashion. At the same time, the film appears to be making some rather feeble grasps at verisimilitude by subtitling every second shot with a location – you know, I reckon even the meanest intellect has realised that this isn't a documentary by now.

Now, by this stage, I reckon that the audience is either rooting for one of these giant critters or the other – for me, it's the Mega Shark. I mean, yeah, the Giant Octopus bum-rushes the oil-rig and pretty much announces "License to ill!", but I just dig those crazy sharks, y'know? Probably one of those reasons why Shark Attack3: Megalodon is a favourite film around these parts...

And so, we have two different "crime" scenes, one in LA, where a sperm whale's carcass has been washed up along the beach, and Emma extracts a tooth about as long as my forearm from a wound, and in Japan, the only surviving member of the crew of the destroyed oil rig (with a distressingly bogan Australian accent) is being questioned by scientist Shimada (Chao – a rather unlikely male romantic lead, to say the least – more power to nerd-boy!). This is about the time when I started to be annoyed by the MTV-style editing. Mind you, this is also the point where we get treated to the sight of a Mega Shark leaping about a mile out of the water to take a jumbo jet in flight down in its jaws to the watery depths. This isn't a sight you regularly see in films. This was also a point of the film where I stomped my foot and punched the air, crying out, "Whoop, whoop, whoop!" Outrageously stupid and nonsensical – you'd better believe it. This shit is hysterically funny. Giant flying prehistoric sharks? Oooh yeah.

Emma visits her guru from back in her old days at Uni, Professor Sanders, having been fired from her day job, but still trying to figure out what the fuck took a chunk out of the washed-up whale, what owned the tooth she pried out of the wound. She's not too credulous about the tooth belonging to a megalodon, being that they've been extinct for millions of years, but Sanders (played as a bit of an Irish cliché) seems to think differently. Once Shimada turns up on the scene with his tales of something that isn't a shark that trashed the hell out of the rig, and then Emma gets a video from the sub from when the megalodon and the octopus were released from the glacier, and seeing the truth for herself, well, credulity seems a little bit more easy to come by all of a sudden.

Meanwhile, a US Naval destroyer off the coast of the States is bearing down on our finny, fanged friend, but they seem to think he's going to be a lot easier to bring down than is actually the case. Certainly they reckon without his defensive capabilities, let alone his offensive ones. Shark:1, Destroyer:0.

Following this military cluster-fuck, the soldier boys decide to kidnap Emma, Shimada and Sanders and put them to work in finding some way to destroy these creatures, just like in all those giant monster films from the 50s. And who becomes their boss? That's right – Lorenzo Lamas (he of Renegade fame) as Allan, an obnoxious racist military-type with a kill-it-at-all-costs mentality, and all the human decency of Attila the Hun – I'd say he plays the role in a one-note range, but one note might be exceeding his abilities. I did find it funny at one point when he addresses Emma and tells her, "You got a lotta mouth for someone whose career's all washed up." Oh, the dramtic irony of Lorenzo Lamas telling that to Debbie Gibson. It's probably also worth mentioning that a mate of mine after watching this said he thought that in this film, with his gaunt face and ponytail, Lorenzo looked kind of like Steven Seagal with AIDS. It's not a bad likeness. Anyway, it turns out that our two aquatic homeboys have been up to all kinds of mischief, and now it's time for the eggheads to work out a solution – entrap and contain the bad boys in San Francisco Bay (the shark), and Tokyo Bay (the octopus). But how to lure them there?

Cue one of those wonderful science fiction moments – beleagured scientists in lab coats pouring multi-coloured liquids into various test-tubes and beakers, and then looking disappointed at the reaction. Like I've never seen that before in a giant monster film. I guess I alluded to the fact beforehand that this is very much a love letter to that genre, well, they put their own particular spin on the whole thing mixing the experiment with the love interest between the scientists, another staple of the genre. Emma and Shimada seem to have a lot in common, and head off to the nearest utility cupboard to do something about it. Something terrible. Something awful. Nerd-sex. I know, I feel dirty too. Locked in a romantic post-coital embrace among the cleaning products, they work out from their respective smells that the creatures can be lured by pheromone (obviously Emma and Shimada's levels of personal hygiene are not above reproach) to their respective entrapments. The best laid plans of marine biologists getting laid, huh?

Shimada heads back to Tokyo to oversee things there with baiting the octopus, Emma and Sanders stay in the States to fool Jabber-jaws into thinking he's about to be doing the hippity-dippity with fraulein shark. But, as we haven't seen any carnage for a while, it's time to kill off some cannon-fodder, with some poor schmoe in a fighter jet getting slam-dunked into the next life by Squiddly-Diddly. Sanders and Emma get back into the submersible and go to plant the final pheromone canister – getting into the water that close to a shark with a bite radius capable of snapping a naval destroyer in half, let alone one that swims at faster than 500 knots doesn't seem all that inviting to me. The resultant scene with its bridge chomping, destroyer destroying pay-off builds pretty neatly in tension – it's surprisingly genuinely edge of the seat material.

Unfortunately, the Japanese have had no more success with the octopus than the Americans have with the shark, and even more sadly all the octopus action takes place off-screen. Given that news, Allan wants to use nukes (yet another 50s staple, neatly side-stepping the fact in films set back in the day, it was those very same nukes which caused the problem in the first place), but Emma has a better idea – lure the two beasts together and let them duke it out, hopefully killing each other in the process. The pheromone lures are set and the shark and the octopus are drawn north, away from civilised folks, for the final act, to be drawn together in violence one last time.

Mind you, it's not quite as easy as all that, with our heroes in the kind of submarines either bad guy could use for a tooth-pick, unable to outrun either shark or octopus, or even inflict any damage upon them, and with a crew who aren't all exactly keen on following orders to become human sushi, and two great big fuck-off bad guys who aren't following anyone's orders – it's a cliched climax from here in some ways, but man, it's some fun.

I've found, while researching this film, that there are two approaches most reviewers have taken to analysing Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus. The first is to simply cane the shit out of it and make fun of its low budget effects, bad acting, poor dialogue (not to mention repeated shots of soldiers on duty or the shark and the octopus struggling together) and simply ignore the entertaining elements and general silliness of the film, while lambasting the hype surrounding it. The other approach is equally stupid – to laud it unbelievably with garlands of praise and try to valorise it into being the new champion of the B-grade. It's neither. This is a ridiculous film, if an entertaining one, and I don't really think it sets out to be anything other than such. Its flaws are legion (but the only one I really gripe about is the lack of footage of the shark and the octopus doing their thing – there should have been much more of this), but I'm glad it was never made in 3-D, which was the original plan; thankfully the budget ran out before then. Look, when you see a title like that, you pretty much know what you're getting, and if you're happy to turn off your brain and have a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun, this should really pay off for you. I hope the sequel comes to pass!
Video
Well, it's rather obviously shot on Hi-Def, and while I don't have any real problem with that, it does tend to make the movie look a little cheaply made. The CG ain't the best, either – but by the same token, I have definitely seen a lot worse.
Audio
Adequate to the task at hand, but a giant monster/disaster flick in this day and age in 2.0? Puh-leeze, that's so 1980s... I really do think the film needs a much bigger soundtrack – 5.1 would be nice, a real wall-shaker.
Extra Features
Not the greatest of packages, bearing only the trailer (which does give you many of the film's finest moments), a blooper reel that doesn't really cut it, and "The Making of Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus", which is all too brief, and sees the actors taking things all a bit too seriously (also sees one character filming a death scene that doesn't make it to the final cut of the film). Still, as ever, you're down for the film, not the Extras. Also, once you put the film in your player, you get unstoppable trailers for 50 Dead Men Walking and North Face. I hate that – if I wanted to watch a trailer I would presumably ask.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Now, if you think about all of those 1950s giant monster flicks you watched in your youth, whether they were they were the US "nuclear testing in the desert that fucked up the local critters" films, or the Japanese kaiju eiga, Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus taps into those veins, whether it's through the scientists wanting to capture rather than kill the beasts so that they can study them, the hard-headed military who just want to kill anything in sight larger than a bagel, the scenes of people pouring things in and out of beakers to varying degrees of success, or just simply the scenes of improbable devastation wrought by the unfeasibly large monsters, you've pretty much got it all here in the one film. My advice to you is this: rent or buy a copy of Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, get your mates over, get the beers in, order some kick-arse pizzas and laugh your damn fool heads off for 85 minutes, If you can involve some kind of drinking game in the proceedings, then even better. This is a very silly film, playful and well aware of its own shortcomings, and should be approached as such.

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