Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Eric Roberts, Kerem Bursin, Sara Malakul Lane, Ralph Garman, Shandi Finnessey, and Sharktopus
Directed by Declan O’Brien
Is it possible to actually get your expectations too high for a Syfy movie titled Sharktopus? I don’t know what exactly it was I was expecting from this Roger Corman produced Syfy creature feature, but I know between the ridiculous monster, the outrageous trailer, and the hilarious surf punk theme song, I was honestly expecting something a bit more irreverent. Sharktopus is more or less the exact same movie as Dinoshark from Syfy earlier this year (also produced by Corman) except with a more outlandish monster and a tongue planted more firmly in its cheek. I was just expecting, hoping for something more memorably absurdist along the lines of the imaginatively over-caffeinated Mega Piranha. I wanted to be left feeling gobsmacked. Sharktopus has its b-movie heart in the right place. Wish I could say it got my heart pumping more so than it did. Maybe the problem was that I made the mistake of watching Sharktopus sober?
The US military has hired an egotistical scientist (Eric Roberts) to breed a bulletproof, half-shark/half-octopus sea monster with spear-tipped tentacles that it can also use to walk on land. I’m sure our men in uniform can think up some practical applications for such a beast. Oops! The mind-control device that keeps the monster under man’s control gets damaged during a test, and it immediately makes a beeline for the tourist-filled waters of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to turn it into his chomping grounds.
Too much of the tired human dramedy centers on the sharktomance between Robert’s whiny scientist daughter and a shirtless shark hunter brought back to hunt down and capture the mutant. She’s a ninny and he appears to have been hired after the casting director dialed Rent-A-Soap-Stud. This movie needed more Eric Roberts being all Eric Roberts-y and much less of these two bores. A sassy female reporter more concerned with getting the sharktopus story than the safety of others and a disbelieving disc jockey round out the cast of character that have longer lifespans than the myriad of half-naked brunettes that comprise most of sharktopus’ chum.
The acting is what it is. Not that it matters much when the dialogue is this dopey, not all of which I am convinced was intended to be so; little of it gets the intended laugh, however. In particular, the disc jockey’s diatribes against the notion of a shark-octopus hybrid prowling the local waters lack bite. Probably why director Declan O’Brien wisely chooses to put the camera’s focus during most of his scenes on his blonde, bikini clad sidekick, Shandi Finnessey, and for this alone O’Brien should receive some sort of honorary Oscar at the Academy Awards this year.
For much of the movie the sharktopus is referred to by its test subject slave name, S11. This would seem to indicate there were 10 previous failed incarnations of this creature. I wanted to know more about that. In fact, I really, really, really wish that one of these days the makers of one of these movies about a monstrous military bioweapon would actually make the movie about the bioengineered abomination being used in warfare as it was intended rather than just turning it all into the umpteenth retread of Jaws or Predator. Be honest. Wouldn’t you rather watch a creature feature action flick about a sharktopus being put to use to fight back against Golan-Globus quality Somali pirates on the high seas more than you would yet another Jaws riff with a tentacled shark eating random tourists every nine minutes?
It certainly didn’t help that nearly all of the best kills were given away in the spectacular trailer. If you haven’t seen the trailer that gives away most of the money shots, then you’ll probably get quite the chuckle out of some of the shark bites. Thirty-five years ago Jaws used the tagline, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…” The tagline for Sharktopus should have been, “Just when you thought it was safe to dangle just above the water.”
The Syfy premiere of Sharktopus was hosted by Josh Gates of “Destination Truth”. These host segments contributed little other than to showcase some primo botchery on Syfy’s part. One of his first hosting segments has him referencing in the past tense an attack scene that won’t occur for another hour. Leave it to Syfy to run one of the segments out of order and do so with the one that is most time specific to a certain portion of the film.
For the record, contrary to what some have reported, Sharktopus is not the first movie based around a sharktopus, just the first to actually have the audacity to call itself Sharktopus. Lamberto Bava tried and failed miserably to bring the sharktopus concept to the screen way back in 1984 with Devilfish, a motion picture only best viewed in its “Mystery Science Theater 3000” form or under threat of gunpoint.
2 1/2 out of 5