Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus – Halloween Special Film Review

Yes, that title is correct, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, the first installment in what would later become a Mega Shark franchise, this is a review of a film about gigantic underwater monsters by The Asylum (Infamous independent film company known for making Sharknado and the like, what is the obsession with sharks these guys have?). The film is a direct-to-video low budget disaster film trying to be an American attempt to break into the kaiju monster movie genre – think Godzilla and Mothra and the like. If you’re unsure if you’d like such films, this would perhaps be your gateway into the genre as this clearly draws inspiration from them, presenting us with two different ridiculous monsters for our human heroes to try and overcome. Well at least it would be buuuuuuuuuuut…

I won’t spoil the plot too much, what little of it there is in amidst the jumbled nonsensical nauseating camera shots but basically Debbie Gibson, the 80s popstar and apparent star power of this film if the cover is anything to go by, plays a marine biologist off on a submarine joyride in the arctic when she witnesses the awakening of two dormant prehistoric beasts, a giant octopus and a megalodon shark. The monsters go their own ways and terrorise two different sides of the globe before the military intervene, calling in our protagonist, her former teacher and her brilliant scientist friend who she ends up romantically attached to. Essentially what we have is all the tropes of the disaster movie brought together in another shlock horror sci-fi parade of gimmicky effects – we have told-you-so scientists, military dingbats who can only resort to “FIRE ALL MISSILES!”, gratuitous death of panicky extras and occasional glimpses of a badly designed pair of monsters. The plot is nothing new and ground-breaking, it takes itself quite seriously though, the actors in a limbo state of “Is this for real?” and “No seriously, this is a joke right” but every line is delivered with sincerity, albeit in a wooden manner.

The film’s titular characters, Mega Shark and Giant Octopus, don’t get as much screen time as I’d like, this film certainly doesn’t hold up against Godzilla but then this is a low-budget goof made by the same people who made ‘Vampires vs. Zombies’ and ‘Snakes On A Train’ so I wasn’t expecting much. However, that said, Mega Shark’s bits are worth watching – especially when the shark leaps out of the ocean and catches a fucking commercial airline mid-flight with no effort. HOW? Planes fly at about 600mph, how is a shark that fast it can catch one? HOW FAST IS THAT SHARK? HOW HIGH CAN IT JUMP? The Giant Octopus’ scenes are lackluster, it seems to get bored as quickly as we do – it half-heartedly attacks a submarine for thirty seconds then drops it. Mega Shark though, Jesus, give me an hour of that shark chomping through boats and planes with that derpy expression it wears in every scene, that was the most redeeming factor of the film for me. Mega Shark, star of the show baby, no wonder you got three sequels (I shit you not, this film has THREE sequels, as does Sharknado, The Asylum really like shark themed movies)

The film is poor, poor by every standard – the CGI is atrocious, the plot incoherent and dull, the romance unbelievable and the characters as uninteresting as staring at my shoes for eighty minutes. I don’t know who gave the worst performance – Debbie Gibson looked like she was drawing letters in mid-air with her nose in every scene and was clearly burbling lines she did not understand the words behind, Lorenzo Lamas’ character is a quip-flinging asshole with no redeeming traits, which he plays well but looks bloody ridiculous doing so, Sean Lawlor can’t seem to maintain his accent throughout and Vic Chao speaks in one tone of voice for the entire film and expresses joy through a single fist-pump of victory… totally doesn’t look weird. Still, they’re hardly acting legends, what can you expect? The film outright addresses Debbie Gibson is a washed-up has-been looking for an easy gig (Her character is said to have a floundering career, much like Debbie who had short-lived musical fame and was irrelevant faster than a X Factor contestant). The film takes itself so seriously, as do the actors, that you wonder if they thought what they were working on was good or if they embraced the campiness of this romp and played along to try and salvage it.

The Asylum, the company behind this, are independent filmmakers of a particular creed – they jump on bandwagons and produce cheaper versions of current blockbusters to make easy money whilst people are still obsessed with a fad. Transformers movie? The Asylum made Transmorphers. Pirates of the Caribbean? The Asylum made Pirates of Treasure Island. Paranormal Activity? The Asylum made Paranormal Entity. Not subtle, not clever but they achieve a mixed bag, some of their films are lovable cheesy muck you find yourself enjoying and some are shallow shameless attempts to cash in quick. After all, this is the company that got told by a guy at a seminar that the best film in the world would be High School Musical but more Christian-friendly so they made Sunday School Musical… no joke, they just jumped on an idea some randomer said and did it, apparently trying to cash in on the strict-Christian themed films only market. So what does that make this film? My best comparison is, as I said, the disaster film tropes of things like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow combined with kaiju films and if this film were more interesting to watch, I’d recommend it as a way to introduce someone to giant monster movies but it’s not so I won’t.

So, is this so bad it’s good? Whilst the film has redeeming qualities (One of the few American films to feature a mixed race coupling and not make it a big “OH MY GOSH THEY ARE SO DIFFERENT YET IN LOVE” kinda thing with an Asian male and a Caucasian female) and is laughably cheap and shoddy, you’d be hard pressed to watch this with that mixture of cringing and grinning you’d have watching The Room. The film started out with a message about the impact of sonar equipment on the environment, which I thought it would run with to tell us how we are destroying marine life but it drops that pretty early on and instead focuses on “How cool would it be to watch two giant monsters fight?!” to which we as an audience respond “THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!” and in turn get like… two minutes of them fighting, the rest is underwater chase scenes between a sub and a shark whilst an octopus watches. I honestly just found this boring – the gaps between action are too long for a disaster movie and the script repeats itself (Several characters die in the same way of “Sir, if we do this thing, it’ll kill us all!” and boss says “Do the thing!” and they die ORRRRRR “Sir, we killed the monster!” and then boss says “Lower your guard boys, we won!” and they die) so this film feels flat, not lovably tried-and-failed flat, more took-the-first-draft-they-came-up-with-and-filmed it flat. I don’t do a point score system but the Rotten Tomatoes one is below 20%, I’m hard-pressed to disagree…

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