Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus DVD Review
Written by Robert Gold
DVD released by The Asylum
Written and Directed by Jack Perez (as Ace Hannah)
2009, Region 1 (NTSC), 88 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on May 26th, 2009
Deborah Gibson as Emma MacNeil
Lorenzo Lamas as Allan Baxter
Vic Chao as Seiji Shimada
Sean Lawler as Lamar Sanders
Emma MacNeil (Deborah Gibson) is an oceanographer studying how whales react to classical music. During her research a covert military sonar operation results in the melting of sea ice that releases two giant prehistoric beasts (they immediately re-animate without the pesky need for thawing). Soon both the United States and Japan are under attack, and neither government is able to stop the monsters. It is up to a trio of scientists to solve the problem under the pressure of an antagonistic government agent (Lorenzo Lamas).
Before proceeding with this review, I must give this disclaimer: I am in no way confusing the finer elements of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (MSvGO) with any part of Citizen Kane.
This flick has everything that an audience could ask for, yet it disappoints at every opportunity. Deborah Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas together at last — and fighting monsters?! Hell yes! But is the film entertaining? Well…conditionally, yes. The budget prevents this from being a true classic, not so much because it is low, but because the endless compromises hurt the end result. Had the script been adjusted to fit the available dollars, this would be a different and better experience. The film is strongest in the first 20 minutes, but never recovers once it subjects the audience to several science montages featuring exciting shots of colored water being poured from one container into another, complete with stylish editing flashes and audio 'whooshes' for dramatic effect.
The concept of MSvGO is so strong it markets itself. All of the images the title suggests are present if you don't blink. The film clunks along from one subplot to the next and reaches new levels of terrible along the way. Deborah Gibson acts as well as she sings, and spends the majority of the film offering a gamut of expressions that range from confusion to constipation. Lorenzo Lamas ("Renegade") pays his rent as a nameless government racist with some howlingly funny slurs, but never really does anything to advance either the plot or his character. Lamas fares better than Vic Chao, who starts off strong as a love interest, but as soon as he bangs Ms. Gibson in a broom closet, he is demoted to being a face on a fuzzy monitor for the remainder of the film. Sean Lawler (Braveheart) fills out the remaining cliché stereotypes as a "radical" professor.
The F/X shots provided by Tiny Juggernaut (sadly not a person, but a company) are serviceable when not constantly repeated. The monsters are a combination of CGI/Photoshop magic and in one brief sequence, practical rubber suits. Director Jack Perez (Monster Island) hides behind the alias Ace Hannah, and makes the most of his limited budget by throwing everything at the screen. Locations and sets are recycled more than the genre clichés and, to the director's credit, the material is taken seriously. Everyone seems on board with what they are making, and the results can be entertaining (provided that your home theatre is filled with friends and alcohol).
Video and Audio:
The DVD sports a solid 1:78 anamorphic transfer that brings out nice detail (warts and all) in the picture, with strong blacks and little digital noise. The sharp transfer does not do the limited budget production design any favors. Audio options include both a 2 channel stereo mix and a 5.1 surround option. Neither is particularly groundbreaking, but either choice gets the job done.
The Asylum provides a standard set of extras including a behind the scenes featurette that reveals a wealth of information in 8 minutes. Alexander Yellen (DP) provides exact information on the cameras used and refers to the director by name, rather than the alias that appears on the slate. During the Lorenzo Lamas interview, we learn his character's name and fate, neither of which is provided in the feature. My favorite segment comes when a grip decides he must make as much noise possible (rolling gels) during the Deborah Gibson interviews.
A two minute blooper reel is followed by a set of trailers for various Asylum titles. Although a trailer for MSvGO is offered, it is not the same as the internet sensation that features stunning F/X shots missing from the film. (Here is a link to the original web trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa7ck5mcd1o.)
The Asylum has latched onto a specific subgenre of film with the "mockbuster," a similar video titles that arrives on the heels of a Hollywood blockbuster. On rare occasion the company will slap together something "original" and the results are generally more entertaining than the rip off (pronounced "homage") pieces that fill their catalogue. A disclaimer found on their website provides a fantastic response to negative feedback, and encourages constructive criticism like "I hate you, please die in a fire."
Click cover to purchase.