Hey, remember when that trailer for Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus was all over the internet? Remember how awesome that trailer was?
Well, hang on to that memory because the Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus trailer is ten times more interesting than the movie itself. Quelle surprise.
Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus (or MSVGO as I’m going to call it) opens as nefarious government and/or scientific types (it’s not really made clear and to be honest it doesn’t really matter) are doing illegal sonar experiments. Witnessing this are ocean-y scientific gal Emma (Deborah Gibson, a long way from singing “Shake Your Love”), who’s watching stock footage of whales as she unconvincingly steers a submersible craft. The sonar makes the whales go nuts (as with much of this movie’s plot, you have to take this on faith) and they bust open a glacier wherein are frozen our titular beasties, who apparently were too preoccupied with mortal combat to notice that it was getting a mite chilly. The thawed, cranky beasties swim off in search of mayhem to wreak.
And do they ever! Remember that scene from the trailer with the shark leaping out of the water to attack the plane? Well, you see that. And you see the octopus swat a plane from the sky (why these underwater creatures would have such a grudge against aircraft is not explained). You don’t see much else, though, so you have to take it on faith that the creatures’ path of destruction has cost thousands of lives.
Soon Emma teams up with her old teacher, Paternal Irish Guy (Sean Lawlor), and with a Japanese Scientist (Vic Chao) who’s investigating the octopus’s wrecking of an oil derrick. Their “what to do?” session is interrupted by Lorenzo Lamas and his Steven Seagal ponytail. Lamas is a terminally douchey government honcho who puts Emma, Paternal Irish Guy, and Japanese Scientist into a Heavily Guarded Secret LabTM to figure out how to stop the shark and the octopus. An impromptu frolic in a broom closet gives Emma and Japanese Scientist the idea to use pheromones to attract the presumably horny creatures to a place where they can be easily caught and killed. That plan will go smoothly, I’m sure.
MSVGO is the sort of movie where you don’t have to pause it while you get some popcorn or go to the bathroom, because you can nearly always tell that it’s going to be 20 minutes or so before the shark or the octopus make an appearance. The rest of the time is, shall we say, padded with lots of establishing shots of the ocean, seabirds in flight, people staring pensively out to sea, and so on. The film-makers have tried to make these shots ominous by doing little jump-cuts and flashing lights, but that just made me wonder if my medication needed adjusting.
So, yes, MSVGO is not half, or even a third (heck, a quarter) as awesome as its trailer, but that’s to be expected. 90% of the movie’s awesomeness is in the trailer. The rest of the movie is composed of stock footage, padding, recycling the sets, and so on. Yet the whole thing is so honest about its awfulness that it’s impossible to get mad at the movie. Plus, it at least tries to break with clichés: it was nice to see the nerdy Asian guy get lucky, and I thought for sure we were going to have one character perish in a scene of noble self-sacrifice. I’m particularly glad we were spared that last, since that also spared us having to watch Deborah Gibson try to do a “NOOOOOOO!” scene.
Speaking of the acting, it’s not as bad as you’d expect. Everyone except Gibson seems to be aware of what a ridiculous thing they’re doing and maintains good humor throughout. Lamas is quite fun in his unapologetic assholishness (he insults the entire cast in his first five minutes onscreen). Gibson, on the other hand, seems to think a collection of smiles, frowns, and facial twitches constitutes “acting”. Plus she reminds me of this annoying college roommate I had who acted all judgmental about the books and movies I liked and also used to borrow things and take AGES to return them. Yes, I do like to hold on to grudges, why do you ask?
You could watch MSVGO if it happens to show up on cable, and you probably won’t regret it all that much. Or you could just watch the trailer again, see most of the awesome bits, and be done with it in much less time.
Extras are a bunch of trailers from Asylum, all of which have the same typeface in the credits and use the same narrator – ah, low-budget film-making! – and a making-of featurette.