Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is, of course, a monster movie starring huge predators from the deep. Written and directed by Ace Hannah, it sounds a bit like the B-movies or exploitation films of the 1970’s, but is in fact a film from 2009. It is likely to draw interest not necessarily for its effects or plot but for its colorful casting choices.
The film stars Deborah Gibson (yes, Debbie Gibson, the 1980’s pop star) as an oceanographer named Emma who must help defeat the titular beasts. Lorenzo Lamas offers supporting star-power as a racist military man who is, somehow, still strangely sympathetic. We also have Vic Chao as Seiji, a charming Japanese scientist who also serves as Emma’s love interest.
In this film, the trouble, of course, starts with the military screwing things up. A military exercise suddenly wakes up and releases a giant prehistoric shark and octopus, which then proceed to wreak havoc. How much havoc? Well, the shark, despite being a water-bound creature, somehow manages to bring down an entire 747 right out of the air, while the octopus turns its tentacles towards oil rigs. Improbable, you say? Real prehistoric sharks were smaller than that, as well? But of course! The protagonists eventually come up with the brilliant plan that can be summed up in the phrase “divide and conquer.” The monsters will be goaded into fighting one another instead of destroying human lives and property, thus resorting in an epic Creature Feature showdown.
When one watches a movie like this, it is partly to take a look at some spectacular special effects. Actually, this movie’s “wow” factor was supposed to be augmented by 3D, but this was ultimately scrapped due to budget constraints. Audiences might actually consider this a blessing, since the special effects are not very good, and 3D might have made them look even worse. For example, the monsters look rather rubbery, and their depiction is inconsistent from shot to shot. If the octopus loses a tentacle, the injury does not show in the next shot.
The human protagonists in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus actually fare surprisingly well. Of course, Gibson is no great actress, but she still brings charm and presence to her role. It is also interesting to see geeky and/or nerdy characters front and center in an action movie, and with the men being sidekicks to a woman, no less. Emma and Seiji also have a charming, awkward courtship that culminates in (of course!) a love scene set in a laboratory.
Once again, Gibson does not display great acting abilities. In fact, she and all her co-stars can be rather stiff and affected, but somehow this makes their characters seem charming. The attention paid to the three main characters is quite refreshing, given that actors are often reduced to screaming stick figures in effects-driven monster movies.
If you are in the mood for some light, ridiculous fun, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is a great choice for a movie night.
Director: Ace Hannah
Cast: Lorenzo Lamaz,Deborah Gibson,Vic Chao,Jonathan Nation,Mark Hengst