Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Declan O’Brien
Starring Eric Roberts, Sara Malakul Lane, Kerem Bursin, Ralph Garman
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
The Syfy Channel and legendary director/producer Roger Corman’s mission to create the most idiotically outlandish B monster movies continues with the presentation of their latest creature: the admittedly rather cool Sharktopus.
The product of Government-funded scientists, the titular sea-beast is, quite simply, a vicious (and apparently metal-skinned) shark whose bottom half is composed of massive, spear-tipped octopus tentacles. When a bout of field testing along the coast of Mexico sees the electronic collar that keeps the creature in check irreparably damaged, it sets off to chow down on every human being unlucky enough to be in, above, or even anywhere near the water. Lead scientist Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts) and his daughter Nicole (Sara Malakul Lane) are thus forced to enlist the help of cocky, hard-drinking, hard-bodied (and perpetually shirtless) ex-colleague Andy Flynn (Bursin) to track down and capture the monster before innocent lives are lost.
Even through a brief read of the above plot rundown, you can tell exactly where Sharktopus will go during its running time. An absolutely by-the-numbers Syfy creature flick, any surprises are few and far between, yet it isn’t a total loss due to the firmly tongue-in-cheek approach to the material. Performances across the board are merely competent, but with such a cookie-cutter script it would have been hard for them to be anything more. The two leads are stereotypical “buff hero wildly waving a machine gun and screaming” and “scared young woman” types, while Eric Roberts spends most of his scenes grinning like a man absolutely delighted to be getting paid to sit on a yacht simply because he’s Eric Roberts. The introduction of a pirate radio DJ (Garman) tries, and mostly fails, to provide a running source of humour as he reports on sightings of the Sharktopus, but at least we get some searingly hot eye candy in the form of Shandi Finnessey during these scenes, so they’re not a total loss.
The creature itself is brought to life 95% of the time via CGI effects of the embarrassingly low standard we’ve now come to expect of Syfy’s movies, yet the design itself is, as mentioned, surprisingly cool as it spears people left, right, and center. Even climbing out of the ocean to wreak havoc at a waterside bar and bite a few heads off isn’t outside of this predator’s abilities. With a creature design so ludicrously endearing, it’s also a good thing that the kill scenes are delivered with a hefty dose of good humour and knowing nods – a necessity considering they’re close to the only thing anyone will really be interested in watching Sharktopus for. When one of the early victims begins weeping as tentacles curl around his body, then cries out “NO! NOT LIKE THIS!” before being dragged to the depths, you can’t help but be a little taken in by the absurdity of it all.
Nobody could ever honestly accuse Sharktopus of being anything even approaching a legitimately good movie, because it really isn’t, but director O’Brien imbues it with just enough irreverence to make it work. Stupid people do stupid things and end up dead, and nothing really makes any sense, but for the love of all things holy it’s a film about a half shark, half octopus military killing machine on the loose in Mexico. It’s never dull, and the characters are never particularly annoying — something which usually proves the downfall of most other CGI-monster Syfy productions that play it completely straight. Sharktopus doesn’t reach the giddy heights of sheer inexplicability that the likes of Mega Piranha revelled in, but it doesn’t need to. Get a few beers in you, get your brain in the correct gear, and just have a little fun. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Anchor Bay’s DVD presentation of Sharktopus displays a decent level of quality in both the audio and visual departments, with a perfectly suitable transfer and clean, punchy sound. Digital noise is occasionally apparent in the image, however, which causes some softening and may be distracting depending on how well your setup copes with it. The menu screen is nicely presented, which makes it more of a surprise that the only special feature on offer is a trailer. Still, at the asking price for this release, not much more could be expected.
2 1/2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5