JUNE 20, 2009
The sad fate of Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus is that the trailer was seen by so many people who have never endured an Asylum film before. While it’s not directly ripping off any major blockbuster (as the trailers for upcoming Asylum films all are, including a Transmorphers sequel), the lack of action, horrible sets, and other blemishes are par for the course, so they will likely be disappointed that the film in no way lives up to its trailer.
And hell, it doesn’t even live up to their other crap-fests. At least Monster offered a reasonably decent pace (and camera-appropriate cinematography, which was actually an improvement over the too clean Cloverfield), but this is just a snoozefest, even during some of the shark/octopus scenes. I guess without a professional film to emulate, they are left to their own devices, forced to come up with their own character templates and plot points.
Some of those plot points include two scientists shacking up in a closet within minutes of their introduction to one another, and the fact that the shark and octopus were frozen in the middle of a fight, but upon being thawed, seemingly call it a truce and swim to opposite ends of the world, only to restart their battle thanks to a ruse involving pheremones. As for characters, we get Lorenzo Lamas playing the same generic “hard-ass” he always plays, and a guy that’s “getting married in two days” that is seemingly by himself on a plane (if you’ve seen the trailer, you know what plane I am referring to).
But this is a globe-trotting adventure! There are something like 30 countries represented in this movie, each with their own on-screen text explaining where they are. They go so overboard with this that even a goddamn helicopter flying around gets a setting card. However, while they do a decent job of matching the stock footage up with their stuff, all of the interiors look identical, so whether we are seeing the exterior of an oil rig in China or an army base on the California coast, it’s all the same goddamn control room in an abandoned warehouse somewhere in Chatsworth. It’s like watching a full length version of MacGruber.
The most puzzling aspect of the film, however, is director Ace Hannah’s (not a real name, thank Christ) insistence on removing the color for a second or two in the middle of a shot. Usually it’s to emphasize a lackluster action beat, like the Octopus wrapping its tentacle around a ship or whatever, but some of them come at random too. And it’s a terrible and annoying effect regardless of how properly he is using it. Knock it the fuck off.
But yeah, every awesome part is in the trailer, and when the film finally lives up to its title (10 minutes before it ends), all that happens is the octopus “hugs” the shark, who sort of writhes around for the most part (it does bite off part of a tentacle, an injury that disappears in subsequent shots). We see the same FX shot of this “struggle” three or four times, and then all of a sudden they just sort of sink down a bit and Lamas (or Debbie Gibson, I forget) announces that they are dead. I mean, Freddy Vs. Jason is just as bad until they get to the fight, but at least the fight delivered. This movie tops out twenty minutes in (the plane part) and never even gets close to "awesome" ever again (though it is kind of funny when a guy talks about “looking into the octopus’ eye” when the stock footage shows us a real, non giant octopus that appears to be sleeping).
To give the filmmakers credit though, this is seemingly the first DTV underwater monster movie in history where they chose quality over quantity when it comes to showing their monsters. The effects during the “above water” scenes suck, but when they are underwater “fighting” or just swimming around, they’re actually not too bad. So instead of a hundred bad shots, we have like ten OK ones (and they’re all reused two or three times).
Also, since the movie was just shot a few months ago (over the course of a week or so - I’m not lying), we have what I believe is the first released film to have that red/blue Obama “Hope” bumper sticker in it. So they got that going for them.
The DVD offers us a blooper reel which is mainly of one particular actor blowing his lines (and going all Ed Harris when he does so, so it has unintentional humor value). We also get to see the fairly impressive forced perspective technique they used for a shot of a dead whale on a beach. They are a little off with the scale (the whale seems to be about 200 feet long), but it’s a nice old-school approach that I respect. The Asylum also provides us with eight whole minutes of behind the scenes footage, like Lorenzo Lamas talking about his death scene, which is odd when you consider the fact that his character doesn’t die. The DP also offers his insight, which is the insight of a man who thinks he’s making high art, rambling about how the long takes allow the performances to come alive. Hilariously, he is more or less cut off by the end of the piece; a full frame graphic saying “THE MAKING OF MEGA SHARK VS GIANT OCTOPUS!!!”, as if to shame him into realizing what kind of movie he was talking about. The trailer is also included, but it’s buried in the “trailers” page instead of being showcased in the extras, and it’s not even the awesome one everyone watched on Youtube (neither Mega Shark nor Giant Octopus appear in the 30 second spot). Along with Transmorphers 2: Fall of Man, Asylum also promises us Dragonquest (an Eragon ripoff), Countdown: Jerusalem (appears to be a lift from 2012), and The Terminators (duh). There’s nothing for Star Trek, so I guess its success was just as much a surprise to them as the rest of us.
Oh, and keep the end credits rolling, as there’s a fake Evanescence song to enjoy. Asylum must be taking their unique brand of “how are they not getting sued?” entertainment into the music world!
What say you?