Sharktopus (2010)

Syfy. Director: Declan O’Brien.

Creature Feature Bleachers Awards: Most Vignettes, Most Upper Thigh Shots

“Sharktopus” is a pretty run-of-the-mill sharksploitation film, notable mostly for its mildly innovative use of multiple points-of-view.  Like 2011’s “War Horse,” the film follows different people as they interact with the same animal.  The major difference between “War Horse” and “Sharktopus,” though, is that the horse convincingly shifts from farm labor to pet to war materiel, whereas Sharktopus is all killing machine, all the time.

The film contains a fair degree of violence (Sharktopus can stab as well as bite, after all), and is not for the faint of heart.  If, on the other hand, you’re worried about sexual content, you can probably still enjoy the film–as much as anyone can enjoy it, that is.  Other than some oddly sexy yoga and a peculiar focus on the female upper thigh, the film is not much more sexual than a visit to the beach.  Assuming, of course, that the beach you go to is populated by attractive young people, and not fat, hairy, beet-red men, as is my usual experience.

The DVD Cover

The plot of the film, such as it is, focuses on Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts, an actor who’s played a number of roles but is best known to me as “The Master” in 1996’s awful “Doctor Who” TV movie) and daughter Nicole (Sara Malakul Lane).  Together they run the Blue Water R & D firm, which has successfully engineered a shark-octopus hybrid that can be controlled by means of a transmitter.  The Navy is very interested in the possibilities, but when a Navy Commander pushes too hard during a demonstration, the transmitter is damaged, setting Sharktopus free!  Like many Americans, the creature heads directly to Mexico and begins wreaking havoc.  Sands must call in estranged business associate Andy Flynn (Kerem Bursin) to bring the creature back under control.  But as the death toll rises, a dark secret is revealed….  Well, honestly, a pretty stupid secret.

Along the way, father-daughter tension develops between Nicole and Sands, who has the amazing ability to switch between being drunk and being sober in a split second.  (You might think he’s just pretending to be drunk, but there is absolutely no reason for him to do so in the context of the film).  “Sharktopus” is at its artsiest during phone conversations between the two, when the screen splits to show multiple perspectives.

This clever arrangement allows the viewer to simultaneously see the facial expressions of Sands, Nicole, and the boat.

We also witness a completely unnecessary and illogical romance brew between the studious Nicole and the shirtless Andy.  All I can figure is that at some point during the film, Nicole thinks to herself, “I wouldn’t fall for him if he were the last man on the earth,” and then realizes that Sharktopus has indeed killed pretty much everyone else.

The secondary story line follows a local news crew trying to make it big by breaking the story of the century.  Reporter Stacy Everheart (Liv Boughn) is ice-cold and relentless in her pursuit of the answers, dragging along heavily-tattooed cameraman “Bones” (Héctor Jiménez).  Local pervert, er, fisherman, Pez (Blake Lindsey) joins them to grab Stacy’s bottom, er, get to the bottom of things.  Pez is, unfortunately, my favorite character in the film.  In addition to reading ladies underwear magazines in public and mucking through fish guts for a living, he utters one of the film’s mercifully few puns, “Bite me.”

Then there’s the two-person crew of a pirate radio station, whose only purpose seems to be to self-reference bad creature films and ridicule the people who watch them.

Captain Jack: “Yeah, I know you would [watch a movie about a Sharktopus], Stephanie.  That’s because you’re easily amused.  I’ve seen you mesmerized watching a frozen burrito rotate in a microwave oven.”

Stephanie: [giggles]

Stephanie was Miss USA in 2004, though, so I’m not complaining too loudly.

The rest of the film consists of humorous vignettes.  The writers obviously put more effort into these throwaway subplots than they did into the actual storyline.  The scenes are so short that a description would spoil them, but suffice it to say that the writers thought up some great set-ups for Sharktopus attacks.

Well, excluding the completely nonsensical opening scene, in which two girls lie on the beach, and one complains to the other, “You’re texting again?!”

Yeah Blonde #1, what are you thinking?!? You should put down that phone, lie there completely still, and refrain from conversation, like your friend was doing until just a moment ago. Sometimes I don’t think you even understand how tanning works! You dumbhead, don’t you know it’s physically impossible to tan while texting? Sheesh, you’re probably the only person on this entire beach using a phone! How embarrassing!

All told, “Sharktopus” is okay but not great.  If you’re into blood and bikinis, this is the movie for you.  If, like me, you’re looking for terrible acting, questionable science, and a loopy plot, “Sharktopus” is only average.  Give it a try, but don’t be disappointed if it leaves you wanting more.

Tip: Consider saving time by simply watching the lengthy, gory trailer:

“Sharktopus” is available for purchase on Amazon.

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