Dir: Declan O’Brien 89 min.
UK release: September 2010 (TV)
From the, er, genius behind ‘Wrong Turn 4 & 5’, and the brilliantly twisted mind of Roger Corman, comes everyone’s worst nightmare – the ‘Sharktopus’ which, in case it isn’t immediately obvious from the ridiculous name, is a hybrid of a shark and an octopus. If you’re worried about whether or not that makes biological sense, then this probably isn’t the film for you.
The hero of the piece, somewhat shockingly, is Eric Roberts, a fairly respected actor who recently starred as a slimy mob boss in ‘The Dark Knight’. He and his nerdy daughter (Sara Marakul Lane, completely unbelievable as a scientist) are the creators of the sharktopus, and they intend to use it as a weapon for the US military.
As the film opens, they are testing their creation, and everything runs smoothly until, thanks to the use of some rather embarrassing CGI, that is symptomatic of this type of B-movie, but is still hilariously charming in its own way, the sharktopus escapes and makes its way to Mexico, where it can happily feast on plenty of blissfully unaware holidaymakers.
Let’s face it, when a film is called ‘Sharktopus’, it’s a pretty fair assumption that the plot will be relegated to the background, in favour of some bizarrely implausible action sequences, featuring the titular creature. In this respect, ‘Sharktopus’ is a very clever film that knows its audience, and exploits its inherent stupidity to a fairly enjoyable degree.
Unfortunately, when it comes to creature features, the monster usually has to be the focus of the piece and, though ‘Jaws’ effectively utilised the “less is more” approach, when the shark was shown, it did look like a shark (the overly long chomping sequence, of poor Quint, notwithstanding).
The sharktopus, on the other hand, looks like a final semester project from a particularly lazy graphic design student. Not only does its size change throughout the film, but it walks on its tentacles, uses them to swim faster, and growls quite loudly underwater.
There are some decent close-ups, of what looks like a rather cool animatronic shark of some sort, which are interspersed here and there to make the creature feel more three-dimensional. But, for the most part, the sharktopus looks a bit shit and, aside from the fact that we see far too much of it, when the only credible actor is phoning it in to an embarrassingly obvious degree, it’s difficult to really care about those who are, apparently, in danger.
In fact, the biggest issue with the film isn’t the shitty SFX, or the wooden acting – it’s that the creature never really seems like much of a threat, even when it’s somehow crawling up the beach, or climbing structures like a Tesco value King Kong.
Even the hunter who’s after it – a beefcake who quite literally never closes his shirt – doesn’t seem particularly invested, and not once does someone scream after being thrown into the water with the beast (a classic element of this subgenre that never fails).
‘Sharktopus’ should be a lot more fun, but it is mildly diverting and stupidly funny enough to keep the audience’s attention for 90 minutes. It’s still much less boring than ‘Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus’ but that wouldn’t exactly be difficult. Good fun for a party – there has to be a drinking game in there somewhere – or a lazy Saturday afternoon, but otherwise, there are more fearsome sharks out there. And they actually look like sharks.