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Sea monsters will eat your plane: “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus”

May 25, 2009

200px-MegasharkvsgiantoctopusSo, Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. Well, can’t really go wrong with that combination, can you? And, to its credit, the movie does deliver. There is a mega shark. There is an octopus. The octopus is giant. And they fight (lest you think this is a movie about the 1988 Supreme Court decision M. Shark v. G. Octopus). On top of this we get attacks on ships, planes, submersibles, and even the Golden Gate Bridge. We get Lorenzo Llamas acting like a douchebag, and Debbie (sorry, Deborah) Gibson acting…well…bless her for trying. You know, I’m going to spend several paragraphs ragging on MSvGO, but what you cannot accuse it of is dishonesty.

MSvGO leaps in with both tentacles by establishing Debbie (sorry, Deborah) Gibson’s character of Emma McNeil, a risk-taking, hell-for-leather oceanographer who plays by her own rules. We meet Emma when she and a colleague are in a small submersible observing a pod of whales. Then the dumb ol’ Navy drops a low-frequency sonar buoy in the ocean and the whales all freak out and begin to ram into the nearby ice-shelves. This causes an ice cascade that nearly kills Emma and frees the titular monsters who’ve been frozen alive.

Well, this wouldn’t be so bad, except that the first thing giant octopus does is destroy a Japanese oil platform. And the first thing the mega shark does it leap hundreds of feet out of the water and chomp a 747. This seems to me like an odd thing for a shark to do, but this being a prehistoric shark, maybe their diet was different. Maybe the waters of the Paleozoic oceans simply boiled with sharks leaping out of the water to pluck unlucky pteronadons out of the sky. What do I know? Anyway, next time you’re on a commercial flight, demand that the captain tell you exactly what his anti-mega shark contingencies are. Ask loudly and repeatedly.Then let me know how long it takes the Air Marshals to hog-tie you.

It also attacks some whales, which wash up on the coast (which coast, you ask? The movie’s hazy on this point.) Emma inspects the dead whales and then consults her old professor Lamar Sanders (Sean Lawlor). Sanders is one of those jolly Irish stereotypes who’s always saying “M’dear!” or “Lassie” only Lawlor has apparently never actually heard an Irish brogue, so he just says those things in his American accent. It’s a little jarring. And while we’re at it, Gibson still has that teeny-bopper lisp. So  then we get a montage showing Professor Middle-Aged-Little-Girl-Voice and her colleague and mentor Professor Irish-Syntax-Without-the-Brogue while they discern what creature did this. Evidently, it entails lots of test tubes and running Windows Media Visualizer on a laptop, but they do finally figure out that the creature eating the whales and jumbo jets is a prehistoric Great White Shark, the Carcharodon Megalondon.

In the meantime, Japanese oceanographer Dr. Seiji Shimada (Vic Chao) is investigating the attack upon the oil platform and travels to wherever it is Emma and Sanders are. He thinks their attacks and his might be related, but their giant shark theory doesn’t square with his attack or the suspect sketch made by one of the oil platform survivors. They think about it real hard, then figure, “Hey! It might be a giant octopus!”  Everybody’s happy…until they’re kidnapped by Lorenzo Lamas.

Lamas plays Alex Baxter, some kind of government black ops dude who operates out of what appears to be metalworks factory that the screencaps insists is a naval base. He basically threatens to send them all to Gitmo if they don’t come up with a solution to the whole giant prehistoric beast problem. Baxter is kind of a dick. He has a lame ponytail and seems to exclusively wear black T-shirts and talks with a W-esque southern drawl and seems ready to nuke everything  as a first resort. He was probably a Bush appointee. He and Sanders, the old hippie, trade dull political barbs. Example: [Baxter] This is something we couldn’t have anticipated! [Sanders] Oh, you mean like Hurricane Katrina? (Wait, Hurricane Katrina was caused by a mega shark and/or giant octopus?)

So, our intrepid (?) heroes toil for a while and then Emma and Shimada hook up (hey, the Asian guy bagged the blonde white chick! Is that a movie first? It sure doesn’t happen very often) And this causes them a eureka! moment in which they realize that pheromones can be used to lure the creatures into a trap. So they whip some up (they glow, apparently) and proceed with their plan. And somehow they think the best places to do this is: Shark: San Francisco Bay; Octopus: Tokyo Bay.

Okay, so it pretty much goes how you’d expect it to go. Inexplicably, the mega shark can go invisible to sonar, which obviously complicates things. Then the giant octopus takes down a US F/A-18 fighter jet (despite the fact the octopus is supposed to be in Japan). And on a side note, how much you wanna bet the Pentagon will be using a clip of this in their Congressional Budget Hearings to justify the need for more F-22 Raptors? Okay, back to brass tacks. The naval flotilla is headed up by possibly the worst destroyer captain ever. He gets a bead on the mega shark, fires a couple shots at it and then simply concludes its dead without bothering to confirm. Seriously, this is the guy WW2 sub crews dreamed of running into. The shark, plenty pissed off at being shot (understandable, really) promptly attacks the destroyer and bites it in half. Then it leaps out of the water and destroys the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, that just seems excessive to me. I mean, what did the bridge ever do to it?

Well, it turns out things in Japan went about as poorly as they did in San Fran (though it all happens offscreen), and everybody’s pretty bummed that thousands of people have been killed. Baxter’s like, “Ah fuck it, let’s just nuke them.” But Emma has a brainstorm: “Thrilla in Manilla!” she says. (Really? You want Joe Frazier to beat them up? Well, okay…) No, she means to lure the animals safely out to sea (probably should have implemented that idea earlier, doc) and let them fight it out. Apparently there’s a blood feud between octopi and sharks I was unaware of.

Okay, so they do that. I don’t want to spoil for you who wins, so I’ll just leave it there. So, MSvGO certainly means well. I mean, check out what we have here: shark vs. octopus; shark vs. destroyer; shark vs. submarine; shark vs. jetliner; shark vs. bridge; octopus vs. oil platform; octopus vs. jet fighter; octopus vs. submarine. That’s pretty good. Of course in the CONS column we have the fact that the budget gives us CGI on par with a videogame cutscenes…from 1995, maybe. The acting is uniformly pretty awful. Lamas is atrocious. Gibson tries her best, but there’s the lisp thing, and also the disconcerting fact for those of us who remember her triumphant days of Electric Youth that she now sorta looks like Carmela Soprano.

The dialogue is completely brain-dead. When the submarine helmsman reports that the mega shark is gaining on them, the captain barks, “Increase speed!” Really? Is that what we should do? And when the comms officer reports their communication systems are down, the captain says, “We need to reach that ship. Try again.” Try again? That’s what they teach you in Captain school? What’s your fallback for that? Jiggle the antenna? And while Shimada is portrayed pretty well, his character has a tendency to say things like “The intersections of individual paths—whether random or calculated—is what creates or destroys. The Universe itself was created by such intersections. And the events of our daily lives are formed by same.” He talks like that a lot in place of having a personality. Because everyone knows that Asian people speak in profundities a good 60% of the time.

There are a few technical discrepancies as well. The submarine skippers use “torpedo” and “missile” interchangeably (they’re not—one has nuclear warheads in them…sorta want to be precise about that). They also do a lot of shooting from non-existent stern torpedo tubes. The giant octopus seems sort of ill-tempered for what are usually benign, playful creatures. And gosh, I hate to break this to monster-movie makers out there, but Megaladons, while huge, only got to be about 60 feet long. That’s not nearly big enough to eat a destroyer or, for Christ’s sake, the Golden Gate Bridge.

So there we go. Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. Giant prehistoric sea creatures may have caused Hurricane Katrina and the Navy screws everything thing up. Seriously, though, ask about the jet’s anti-mega shark measures. I dare ya.

3 comments

  1. Holy crap.


  2. Brilliant review mate ahahahahahahaha watchin it now so ridiculas, defo a drinking game type of movie!


  3. Hilarious write-up. Laughed through the whole thing. Movie is so bad that it is actually great! Deborah Gibson’s lisp makes me kinda hot! You catch the destroyer captain’s Moby Dick reference? “It rises” hahaha



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