The Asylum. Director: Jack Perez.
Creature Feature Bleacher Award: Greatest Number of Establishing Shots.
I’d like to begin this review by welcoming our special guests: the massive fan-base of early ’90s pop star Debbie Gibson! Still hot from her appearance on a single episode of “That 80s Show” in 2002, Ms. Gibson really brings the star power in “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus!” So, welcome fans; I know that like you, I’m eagerly awaiting the next bold move in Ms. Gibson’s stellar career.
With that out of the way, let me say that “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus” is an okay movie, but not one that I’d watch again. Frankly, it isn’t outrageous enough to earn a place among the sharksploitation classics. For an Asylum film, it should be much worse— much hilariously worse. Sadly, it’s more ‘mediocre’ than anything else. A good film to rent, but not to buy.
The destruction of an Alaskan glacier releases two ancient enemies: mega shark and giant octopus. As maritime disasters on both ends of the Pacific Ocean increase in frequency, the U.S. government arrests oceanographer Emma MacNeil (Debbie Gibson) and her old professor, Lamar Sanders (Sean Lawlor). Emma and the prof agree to help capture the monsters. Equally affected by the attacks, the Japanese government secretly sends Dr. Seiji Shimada (Vic Chao) to assist in the research. When conventional weapons fail to harm the beasts, Emma proposes pitting them against each other. The respective Japanese and American submarine teams lure the beasts back to the Alaskan glacier, where they have a really lame fight. The End.
If seeing “The Asylum” written on the DVD case wasn’t enough of a clue, “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus” quickly establishes the kind of film that it is. Those poor schmucks can’t even go 10 minutes without a continuity error. Take a look at Emma’s nails in this still from the first scene.
A moment later, they’re no longer painted.
But if “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus” leaves you adrift when it comes to painted nail continuity, the film strives extra-hard to give you a clear idea of where you are at all times. In addition to your standard exterior establishing shots, the 89-minute movie contains 17 titled establishing shots. That’s about one every five minutes! The worst part is that most of the shots look just like the one below. Literally. Not only is this same shot of Treasure Island US Naval Laboratories repeated, it’s sometimes repeated consecutively. That is to say, the film cuts from an establishing shot of Treasure Island to an interior scene at Treasure Island, back outside to another establishing shot of Treasure Island, then back inside again.
Such frustrations aside, however, this film holds a special place in my heart for its childish idea of what science looks like. In two protracted research sequences, seasoned scientists carefully perform highly sophisticated experiments using state-of-the-art technology and methodology. In other words, they pour colored liquids from one test tube to another. And, as anyone knows, the best result you can hope for is a glowing green substance.
The film also attempts some sort of political commentary, but in general Asylum fashion it’s rather half… hearted. In the long tradition of movie scientists who blame sci-fi disasters on humanity’s shortcomings, Emma suggests that Mega Shark and Giant Octopus are humanity’s comeuppance for global warming. Think about that next time you leave the hot water running, or drive to work instead of walking. If you don’t reduce your greenhouse emissions, a monstrously huge shark and a gigantic octopus will destroy the Golden Gate Bridge.
If anything makes this film bearable, it’s the gentle lilting of Sean Lawlor’s Irish accent (at least to typical Americans who find foreign accents unreasonably charming). I also enjoyed the throwback idea of prominently featuring a Japanese scientist, even if the actor is really a fellow native Chicagoan. At first the evil light in which the Japanese government is shown seems surprising, considering that the days of grousing about “Made in Japan” stickers are mostly over. But have no fear; the film makes the U.S. government look even more evil.
I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I’d like to take a moment and say that THIS IS THE MOST BORING FIGHT BETWEEN A MEGA SHARK AND A GIANT OCTOPUS THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but a movie named “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus” should have a pretty decent fight scene, right? No. Basically, the octopus grabs the shark, they wiggle for a little bit, and then the shark bites off a tentacle. And because this is the Asylum, that same exact scene is shown a second time. Come on, guys!
Wait, I take it back. I think the movie “Eagle Versus Shark” was an even bigger disappointment:
The trailer for “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus,” however, summarizes the film nicely:
“Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus” is available on Amazon.