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Shark-Topus: The Review

Director: Declan O’Brien

Cast: Eric Roberts, Kerem Bursin, Sara Malakul Lane, Liv Boughn

Plot: The military pay a group of scientists to build them a biological weapon, a half shark/ half octopus, which escapes its creators and goes on a rampage.

You have to give it to Roger Corman. He has turned making terrible movies into an art. There is no doubt that Sharktopus is a terrible, terrible movie. Made in 2010, but with production values and camera equipment that makes it look like a 90s flop, this is B Movie-making at its very finest. I could explain the plot, but we both knew every plot point, the moment we heard the title. A military branch of scientists build a (Insert monster that shares movie title here) and somehow it escapes. A stereotypical hero (whose shirt rarely stays on his body), teams up with a smart and attractive heroine and they chase the (insert monster that shares movie title here), as it kills every red shirt in its path. But at the very least, Sharktopus knows it is utter shite. It hires Eric Roberts as its lead, who has an unique talent for taking the worst dialogue and at least giving it some sense of worth, and spends most of its budget on fake blood. As the movie goes through the motions, you will find yourself liking it more than the usual effort simply for the small flashes of genius. An over-achieving extra screams ‘Not like this! Not like this!’ as CGI tentacles wrap around his body. Some of the deaths are imaginative enough to lift it above the usual B Movie creature feature. Look out for a bungee-jump gone horrifically wrong, ripped right out of a Tango advert. There is also some good comedy riffing between a pirate radio DJ and a peppy Shandi Finnessey. I appreciated the post-modernism tucked away in that little scene, as the pair of them wonder if the shark/octopus going around is a prop for a film crew, creating a brainless popcorn flick. Moments like that reinforce the idea that for every ‘oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-I-am-watching-this’ eye-roll, there are other moments where Roger Corman joins in on the laughing at his own movie. At the very least, enjoy the awfulness of the direction. Certain extras being killed off have no idea what the post-production CGI is going to do, so they are forced to guess how exactly they are going to die. Cue people writhing on the beach, totally out of time with the monster tearing them to pieces.

But I guess there is still no escaping that yes, this is a terrible movie. The small flickers of fun are soon extinguished by the monotony of it all. The deaths are a little more inventive than the competition, true, but the set-pieces are the same routine scenarios. The monster rocks up to a coast-line, rips some people to shreds and then the heroes arrive that moment too late. For a lot of the time, this movie feels like that one moment on an endless cycle. It is a poor replacement for character development or any form of interesting plot. The usual flaws are also there: porn star acting, random cut-aways to a group of red shirts and cheap tricks to get around the lack of budget for cool fight sequences. Sometimes, the movie just feels a little sleazy. As the director gets his establishing shots out of the way, it lingers that little bit too long on the all-but-naked female body. Before we even get to the meat of the scene, O’Brien spends two minutes just filming girls in bikinis playing around on the beach or coast. There is no nudity in this film, yet the direction feels almost as perverse, as if the glare of the lens is womanising in itself. It doesn’t help that, while Sara Malakul Lane works hard to escape the bimbo scientist role, the story doesn’t allow to quite escape the ‘male trophy’ stereotype. You leave Sharktopus feeling that the director had more fun making this movie than the audience will in watching it.

Final Verdict: B Movie fluff. It is a lot better than I expected in places, particularly the death scenes, but on the whole, it holds nothing new for viewers.

Two Stars