Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus

My dear friend Christine has been harassing me regularly to cover this movie, which is absurd, since obviously I was going to. I mean, it’s called Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. I think that translates in Gaelic to “C-List Actors Save Us All.”

But, looking at this poster having now seen the movie, all I can feel is disappointed. The poster is like the box for sea monkeys. You think you're getting a totally sweet sea monkey kingdom, but in truth, they're just brine shrimp.

Maybe my expectations were set too high, or maybe they weren’t low enough. Regardless, it was just bad. Really, really bad. And boring. And nonsensical. But not even in the good way. In the lazy way, bad, boring way.

The movie stars serious actress Deborah Gibson. No, not singer Debbie Gibson. You must have confused the two, since their names are so very similar. But, if you’ll notice, there’s no way they can be the same person, since serious actresses spell their names with “-orah,” not “-bie.”

The government shoots a sonar missile thing into a glacier up in Alaska. The sonar breaks up the glacier (as so often happens), freeing the mega shark and the giant octopus from their icy prison. Debbieorah Gibson happens to be piloting a sub through those same waters, and she sees the shark and octopus break free to begin their reign of terror.

The first stop is the Kobayshi Subsea Drilling Platform, near Japan. Here’s all you need to know about that scene – it includes the following bit of dialogue, almost entirely without context. This makes it the best scene in the movie:

“Look, I understand, you’re upset. You’ve got a bunch of crazy palefaces pissing in your little pool. But here’s the thing: bigger things are going on here. Bigger than our own little problems. So I promise you, if we can just have a sense of humor about this – Look, the point is, as long as we have a sense of humor about this, everything’s going to work out. I promise.”

And then they’re eaten by a Giant Octopus.

Aboard a 747, an engaged couple is anxious because of turbulence. “We’re getting married in two days,” the man says. “It’ll be fine,” the stewardess responds. Way to doom the plane, guys. The pilot asks everyone to fasten their seatbelts. Engaged to be dead guy looks out the window and says “Holy shit!” as he sees a mega shark leaping toward them. The mega shark plucks it out of midair. Keep in mind, the mega shark is easily twice the size of the 747. I’m not sure how a prehistoric sea creature knows that airplanes are food, but I’ll just assume it’s that killer instinct.

Back at Point Dume, CA, Debbieorah Gibson is in trouble for stealing the sub, and is sent away from a beached whale by her boss. Before leaving, she notices something in one of the wounds, and disagrees with the diagnosis that the whale died from mechanical injuries – she thinks something organic attacked it. Later, she sneaks back to pull something spiky out of one of the wounds.

Debbieorah Gibson and her old professor analyze the shard she extracted from the whale wound, so we get a montage of their pouring brightly colored liquids from one test tube to another. They never explain how this helps them identify what the shard is, so let’s just call it Science! and be done with it. So, using the Brightly Colored Test Tubes of Science! they decide the shard is from a tooth that’s roughly 11 feet by 11 feet. The Irish Mentor’s theory is that it came from an old prehistoric shark, but his delivery is so nonchalant that it’s hard to be particularly concerned. I guess we’re supposed to care, though, because if it weren’t a threat, the movie would have ended here.

Instead, Japanese scientist Dr. Shimada shows up to talk about the attacks. He believes the attack on the drilling platform was not the work of a mega shark, but something else. They receive a DVD of the video from the minisub Debbieorah Gibson was piloting in the first scene. Dr. Shimada, Irish Mentor, and Debbieorah Gibson watch in horror as they see both the mega shark and the giant octopus frozen in the ice.

Now, lest you think this is just a movie about abnormally large sea creatures, the writers have a very important message they’re trying to convey. They do so with artful dialogue, such as when Debbieorah Gibson’s character says, “The polar ice caps are melting because of our thoughtlessness … maybe this is our comeuppance.”

I guess that’s supposed to be a bad thing, but personally, if all comeuppance can be meted out using mega sharks and giant octopi, that would be ideal, thank you.

A big US destroyer hunts the mega shark. After a showdown with the battleship, the shark stops screwing around and just takes a giant chunk out of it. Mega Shark has to be really hungry, given that he’s the size of two 747s and has been eating sardine cans of people.

So, at this point in the movie, here’s what we’ve seen of the mega shark: He’s eaten a 747 and a destroyer. As for the giant octopus, he’s taken down a drilling platform. They have yet to battle. They have yet to menace a coastal town.

I’m all for building suspense, but I’m just saying, if I’ve tuned in to watch a movie called Giant Shark vs. Mega Octopus, I expect to see some versus. Hell, I expect to see some Giant Octopus, and really, I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth of octopus.

Or, for that matter, my money’s worth of Lorenzo Lamas. Fortunately, they anticipated that I’d be hitting the Lorenzo-threshold (the point at which you stop watching because there’s no Lorenzo Lamas). Unfortunately, he’s playing a remarkably useless character.

Lorenzo Lamas has Dr. Shimada, Irish Mentor, and Debbieorah Gibson brought in to a government facility, at which point he basically says racist things and tells them to solve the problem. What kind of racist things? He gets charming lines like, “Don’t look so worried, you’re not going to Manzanar,” and “The limeys and the spics got that right. What? I’m an equal opportunity racist.” Yes, that’s the extent of his character. He’s a half-hearted racist. The man was designed by God himself to deliver cheesy science dialogue, but the best they can do is make him into this non-villain.

Debbieorah Gibson realizes that they can use pheromones to get the mega shark and giant octopus corralled into bays, then they can capture them. That’s right, capture. As Debbieorah Gibson puts it, “Yes, these creatures are a threat, but they also represent the most significant scientific discovery of our time. You can’t just annihilate that.”

Maybe it’s just me, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Mega Shark is double the size of a 747. Where the hell are they going to store it? How are they going to transport it? The damned thing eats aircraft carriers, I’m thinking it might be a little tricky to airlift it to Sea World.

And that’s the problem with this whole movie. I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to side with Debbieorah Gibson and her merry band of scientists, but they’re tree-hugging idiots. Have they never seen a monster movie before? The only time you save the menacing creature is if you’re only in the first act of the movie, so that it can break free and then you can kill it at the end. Saving the monster just means you’re going to kill it later.

Big shocker, their plan to lure the Mega Shark and Giant Octopus into San Francisco and Tokyo Bay (respectively) doesn’t work. We don’t get to see the destruction Giant Octopus wreaks, but Mega Shark inexplicably takes a giant bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge. Mega Shark has, at this point, eaten more metal and concrete than it has people, which makes me think he must have been very, very hungry 10 million years ago when there were no bridges and battleships to eat.

Debbieorah Gibson comes up with the genius plan to have Mega Shark and Giant Octopus battle each other. “Finally,” you would think, “they’ll fight and it will be sweet.”

It would be, if the movie hadn’t been made for roughly $30 and a sandwich platter for craft services. Instead, the fight consists of the octopus wrapping its tentacles around the shark, getting one of its tentacles bitten off due to poor placement, and then releasing the shark. The fight goes like that at least three times, but the octopus always seems to grow back its missing tentacles. I’m sorry, did I say “grow back?” No, I meant, “The budget was so small, they could only afford to CGI the one scene, so they had to reuse it three times.”

The fight ends with the two of them sinking down to the depths, presumably dead. How did they die? Well, unlike in nature, where most battles end with one animal killing and eating the other, in this world, animals just fight until they get really tired and decide to call it a draw, then die. Yes, that is how the much-hyped “Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus Thrilla in Manilla” ends. With the octopus and shark wrestling for three minutes and then dying. My dog and cat have more epic fights.

See? And at least here, only one of the two sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

And that, in sum, is why this movie sucks: all the things that should be awesome about it aren’t. There’s a mega shark! It has three big scenes. There’s a giant octopus! We don’t get to see it destroy Tokyo. Lorenzo Lamas stars! He shows up halfway through to play a sort of racist government official. Debbieorah Gibson stars! The only way she could sound less interested is if they hadn’t paid her. The mega shark and the giant octopus fight! For the last few minutes, and it’s super lame.

So, thanks, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, for being disappointing me beyond measure. You had your shot, and you blew it.

Arbitrary Points System:
Starring Lorenzo Lamas: +14
Wasting Lorenzo Lamas: -12
Starring a Mega Shark and a Giant Octopus: +25
Wasting a Mega Shark and a Giant Octopus: -20
Two awesome test tubes of Science! montages: +6
When they successfully create prehistoric shark pheromones, the liquid glows: +7
Yeah, they create prehistoric shark pheromones: +2
Debbieorah Gibson and Dr. Shimada’s lack of chemistry: -17
No, it’s really painful: -2
It wastes Dr. Shimada’s amazingly cheesy romantic dialogue: -4
Just like they wasted the Mega Shark and Giant Octopus: -5
Christine recommended it, and she’s one of my best friends: +25
The last scene, where Irish Mentor tells Debbieorah Gibson and Dr. Shimada that they’ve found more creatures frozen in a glacier: -2
No, seriously, how many are there?: -2
And since when are they experts?: -4
Oh god, are they really setting up for a sequel?: -8

Total: 3 out of 100

Best quotes:
Lorenzo Lamas: Now clearly we're dealing with a menace that no one has ever imagined, much less counted on.
Dr. Shimada: Like Hurricane Katrina.
Lorenzo Lamas: Very good. And funny.

But every scientist faces something like this sooner or later. - Irish Mentor

Debbieorah Gibson: I feel like we just started getting to know one another.
Dr. Shimada: I know. All this darkness, you were the one ray of light.
Debbieorah Gibson: I just hope that -
Dr. Shimada: If it’s fated, we’ll see each other again.

Guys, use that line. Because it will work every time.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus Trailer


  1. this movie will go down in history i suspect

  2. Every scientist faces something like this, you say?

    Then I best get preparing!

  3. Just saw this cinematic titanic two nights ago. I was surprised it was released in 2009: it should have been released into a pulp mill.

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