Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Starring - Deborah Gibson, Vic Chao, Lorenzo Lamas
Finally, the direct-to-video, extra low budget, painfully lame underwater deathmatch we've all been waiting for. And who better to mediate the bout than washed up 80's icons Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas, thus resulting in not one, but two check marks on my "Match Ups I Never Thought I Wanted To See" list. (Actually, if Gibson and Lamas rode the Shark and Octopus and chased me around a swimming pool, it would have made reality of a nightmare I had when I was 4.)
Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus, or MSVGO as us cinema hipsters refer to it, falls into the same category as it's two-bit predecessors in the Super Animal A vs. Super Animal B shit-genre, in that the best thing about any of these movies is always the title. Probing (unnecessarily?) deeper into these "Vs." oddities, one discovers that they follow the same basic plot structure, and this one sure isn't breaking any new ground; as per usual, Super Animal A is found in one part of the world, Super Animal B in another part of the world, scientists fail miserably in their efforts to destroy them separately, then come to the logical conclusion of pitting them against each other. I long for the fateful day when one of these companies asserts their creative superiority by implementing an A vs. B vs. C formula.
Opening with a couple of aesthetically pleasing stock footage shots of mountain tops and underwater reefs, the film disintegrates, literally within seconds, into a revolving parade of shitty CGI attacks, medium shots of people crammed into cardboard underwater vessels, and Gibson and Vic Chao swooning over each other amidst unfinished-basement command posts and Toys R Us laboratory sets while Lamas lurks around acting tough.
I can't help but assume that had the cast and crew not gone to the vending machine during their lunch break, they would have had twice the budget to work with. Anything and everything that can be done to pinch pennies is attempted, and seemingly without shame. All of the supposed "hi tech" background equipment has been replaced with Commodore monitors and Lite Brites, and are disinterestedly poked at by some key grip's nephew. Shots remain stationary, panning as little as possible and filling the frame with our heroes, avoiding the even further embarrassment of accidentally showing the limitations of the sets. Though I do appreciate the actors' collective efforts to stare intensely off-screen in order to cover up the lack of proximity between them and impending doom, be it in Shark-form or Octopus-form.
But who really gives a shit about all that stuff? When you sit down to watch a movie called Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus you really only care about two things, and they better be versusing the hell out of each other. Alas, much like it's "Vs." brethren, the animal chaos is kept to a minimum, and upon witnessing all of the CGI glory, these omissions may be regarded as a mercy skimping. The Shark and Octopus have four scenes in the film (granted, the Octopus does seem to take a noticeable back seat); an introduction which frees each from it's underwater trappings, (when will misguided humans learn to not tamper with the unforgiving environment?), an attack on innocents to illustrate their threat, them defeating their respective government assaults to punctuate their superiority, and their final, un-epic, fin on tentacle face off. All told, it combines to make up just about 10 whole minutes of screen time...and what screen time it is... One has to suspend a lot of disbelief in order to accept the notion that a Mega Shark has some sort of beef with a Giant Octopus, and I'm okay with that; I love suspending stuff, and my disbelief is usually the first thing blowing in the wind. But when the supposed menace looks like it was the product of a High School software assignment, one that may have received a generous C+, it's difficult to embrace the prehistoric terror. Most of the actual confrontation consists of healthy doses of teeth gnashing, ink squirting, and general squozen twisting; there's even a tentacle-bite that the filmmaker's were so enamored with, they mirrored the image and used it a second time. Not intense enough for you? Plenty of rapid editing and shaky camera work should provide the desired amount of squinting/head scratching.
The other hour of screen time, (hour-five max,) have Gibson and Lamas desperately trying to hold onto fame (slipping into infamy) as they go through the motions of "brainy-but-not-bad-looking scientist" and "impulsive, hardened military type", and much of the dialogue is either science-based or military-based mumbo jumbo blandly filling the feature length time quotient, with the odd nature sentiment thrown in by the benevolent Chao. At least the obligatory romance is fueled by firey passion, expressed in nearby utility closets and through kisses so steamy the participants don't even care that Lamas is hovering over them.
Everything about this movie is deserved of mockery. Everything. Which may very well make it the perfect flick to get drunk and laugh at. I laughed at it. A lot. Thus bringing about the question as to how many people behind the scenes were laughing, and how many had faith in their art. More pressing, how many people were laughing when the profits came in, as I imagine they did. Between the bad-movie lovers and the easily appeased suckers, the audience is always there. Personally, I reside somewhere in the middle; sure it's really just a mega-shit vs. a giant piece of crap, but I'll keep watching in hopes that one day a "Vs." will come along that isn't utterly and laughably pathetic. It is also now abundantly clear that no aircraft is safe without a can of bat-shark-repellant...