IT’S ABSURD! IT’S VERY LAME! IT’S MEGA SHARK VERSUS GIANT OCTOPUS!

MEGA SHARK VERSUS GIANT OCTOPUS

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Pros: I chuckled a few times

Cons: Dumb-duh-dumb-dumb-DUMB! Zero creativity, obnoxious CGI effects, atrocious acting performances, asinine dialogue; the list goes on and on…

You ready for this dose of pure genius in storytelling?

As might be suggested by its oh-so-subtle titling, Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus revolves around a pair of absurdly gigantic sea creatures and humanity’s efforts to stop their reign of terror on the open seas. Following (DUH!) a secret government test involving sonar, the two titular creatures are released from a glacier after being trapped millions of years ago in the middle of a fight to the death. Now, after the octopus destroys a Japanese oil rig and the shark not only snatches a jet airliner out of midair (!), but also takes a bite out of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge (!!), it’s up to a trio of marine biologists who’ve been accosted by a bigoted, snake-like government agent to try and devise a way to kill the beasts before they cause even more destruction. Their solution seems to suggest they’ve seen a few of the old Godzilla movies since they attempt to lure the creatures back together so they can continue their epic battle and effectively wipe each other out.

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Yeah…about that…

Though this film garnered some attention (mainly due to its outrageous and completely preposterous storyline) and a reputation of being a film that’s “so bad, it’s good,” I’d have to seriously question the taste of anyone who actually enjoyed this piece of cinematic refuse. It’s yet one more example of modern film makers mistakenly believing that they can recreate the genuinely fun atmosphere in schlocky monster/sci-fi/horror movies of yesteryear. What today’s genre writers and directors don’t seem to comprehend is that purposely bad films seldom are as amusing or entertaining as straight-faced films that simply turned out badly. Typically, intentionally-made schlock turns out to be pathetic, suggestive of the fact that the people behind the camera knew they couldn’t possibly do anything interesting with the script and resources they were offered due simply to their own ineptitude, so they just went after creating the lowest form of entertainment they could. Obviously, the makers of Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus are simply trying to make an entertainment picture; they don’t have any grand aspirations. Still, one would have hoped the final product would actually be entertaining or at least watchable, and that simply isn’t the case here.

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It’s bad enough the special effects are awful, but then the visuals are muddy on top of it.

Any way one looks at it, Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus is a bottom-of-the-barrel effort. Loaded to the brim with terrible-looking, cheap Charlie computer graphics that are re-used throughout the picture thus making it look even more cheap, this film demonstrates that not one iota of imagination, creativity, or (God forbid) inspiration went into its production. It’s really not a good sign when writer/director Jack Perez (whose “highpoint” as a film maker may be Wild Things 2, an atrocious nearly scene-by-scene remake of the fairly decent original thriller) has his name removed from the credits in favor of a pseudonym. Everything here operates on a painfully cliched, “I’ve seen that five hundred times before” level, with stereotypical characters (portrayed by actors who can’t inject one smidgen of life into them) and a plot-line that will have a viewer yawning in seconds. If that’s not enough, the film is plain unexciting: Chris Ridenhour’s downright boring music score doesn’t help, but I’m not sure even Hans Zimmer could have done much with these lethargic, supposed action sequences. The climactic final battle of the titans amounts to nothing in the bigger scheme of the film – hell, the title creatures aren’t intimidating in the least.

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CLASH OF THE TITANS!

And then we have this cast: typical for a production of this nature (MSvGO was produced by The Asylum, a studio that specializes in frequently outrageous, low-budget “mockbuster” type films that attempt to capitalize on big-budget mainstream films; looking through their list of credits is enough to make one lose faith in the movie industry as a whole) the actors here are has-beens at best and never-shoulda-beens at worst. “Deborah” Gibson (yes, the ‘80s music sensation) stars as marine biologist Emma MacNiel and proceeds to turn in one of the most emotionless, cardboard performances I’ve seen in quite a while. Watch as she conducts a tremendously awkward romance with Japanese scientist Dr. Seiji Shimada (played by Vic Chao, who may turn in the best performance in the film), and attempts to convey distress during several “tense” scenes. Sean Lawlor appears as the stereotypically gruff Irishman who helps Shimada and MacNiel devise a plan to get rid of the creatures, while a slimy Lorenzo Lamas collects a paycheck sleepwalking through the role of an abrasive and racist government official in command of the operation.

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Perhaps the only decent special effect in the film, created through forced perspective.

Writer/director Perez’s script hands these characters the most soul-destroying lines of dialogue imaginable: I realize we’re dealing with a lousy, made-for-video monster flick here, but Perez really doesn’t have to treat the viewers like kindergarteners. Several instances of harsh profanity are thrown into the picture simply to achieve an R-rating – a notion that not only seems positively absurd considering that this film would be perfect for younger audiences rather than older ones, but also indicates the level of thought process that went into the script – i.e. it’s moronic. Exhausted all your options for continued story development? Why not drop a few F-bombs into the film – that’ll grab the viewer’s attention…or not. By far the most frustrating thing for me though was Perez’s use of flash-edits and black and white throwaway shots to end most scenes in the picture – a very awkward, incredibly ill-advised way to transition from one scene to the next. Honestly, this man never deserves to work in Hollywood again after his catastrophically bad handling of this project from top to bottom.

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’80s superstar Debbie Gibson gets her moment to shine…or something like that.

Though I’ve never been a fan of CGI effects in the first place, the visuals presented in MSvGO look horrendous. As rubbery, unrealistic, and ridiculous as Bruce the shark in Jaws looked, a viewer of that film can instantly tell that there was something there and the way the creature was handled (and hidden) by director Steven Spielberg made the beast not only believable, but downright threatening. Looking at wave after wave of unsubstantial digital artifacts being used to represent supposedly threatening creatures in Perez’s film rapidly grows tiresome: this film flaunts its goofy visuals in the viewers’ face and the overload of trash-level digital effects on display made me nauseous. Bear in mind this film was made in 2009 – digital effects had come a long way since the Tron era, but you wouldn’t know it judging from what we see here.  Mega Shark’s effects resemble 1990s-era computer-game graphics unceremoniously dumped into a feature film – they seem out of place and woefully unimpressive.  It’s kind of a wonder given that nearly every visual in MSvGO was created digitally that the entire picture wasn’t filmed in front of a green screen, but lo and behold, The Asylum actually constructs a few extremely lousy (we’re talking 1950s low-budget bad) submarine sets. The mind-bogglingly bad effects work is just the icing on the cake though in a film that’s a complete disaster through and through.

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Not a scene from the film, but it would be cool if it was…

I’ll admit it: I laughed a few times during this film at just how absurd the whole thing was getting. The acting alone would inspire a few guffaws, and instances where in-camera shaking and/or Debbie Gibson dry humping a table are used to create the illusion of a monster attack just about made my jaw hit the floor. Unfortunately, this film is nowhere near as clever, amusing, or enjoyable as it would have (or like) a viewer to believe. It winds up being a chore to get through this mess, and if the fact that this abomination of a movie led to a(n ongoing?) series of sequels (Mega Shark vs. CrocosaurusMega Shark vs. Mecha Shark) doesn’t speak to the level of creative bankruptcy that’s ruining the movie business, I simply don’t know what does. Do yourself a favor: avoid Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus anyway you can and save your braincells and time for something more important.

Original DVD release from The Asylum features an near-worthless 8-minute “making of” segment which is little more than dull interviews with the actors, and a three-minute blooper reel. A pretty lousy disc, and none of the other home video releases are any better.

3/10 : Some “creature violence,” but minimal onscreen gore or carnage. Honestly, this is more disaster movie than creature flick.

4/10 : Completely gratuitous profanity thrown in just to secure an R-rating; Debbie Gibson does drop an angry F-bomb.

1/10 : Out of the blue, Gibson has a brief sex scene with her Asian lover in a broom closet, but unfortunately, no nudity.

5/10 : Undoubtedly, there’s a crowd out there that would like this movie. I feel sincerely sorry for them and their utter lack of taste.

The movie in a nutshell: “Point is, if we have a sense of humor about this thing, everything’s going to work out – I promise.” Um, you sure bro?

4 Million Viewers Can’t Be Wrong, Right?…RIGHT?

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