Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sharktopus (2010), Declan O'Brien.

One idea and a .99 cent set.  As well as borrowing heavily from Jaws (now a 36-year old movie), it's surprising how many tropes from classic studio-era B's Sharktopus uses:  the monster, the wacky scientist father with a beautiful young daughter, the plucky girl reporter.  Too bad the whole production reeks of boredom, boredom with movies and boredom with storytelling.

Mad-scientist Eric Roberts is the creator of the S-11, a shark-octopus hybrid killing maching designed for the US Navy.  Roberts seemingly accidentally ambles onto the set, in jeans he's been wearing for the last 72 days.  Where's the villainous entrance with fanfare, organ playing and an allusion to an old grievance that has warped his moral sensibilities?  There is none!  He just walks onto this cheap set with the glowing green lights that symbolize high-tech computer savvy activities, or something, I guess.

Oh hi, I'm here.  Roberts carries on the noble tradition of being the disgraced actor with name-recognition who can sell a B. 

Local sea salt captain-for-hire.  You sir, are NO Robert Shaw.

So basically, our crappy-CGI Sharktopus shakes off his controlling helmet and makes his way down to Puerto Vallarta, picking off tourists as he goes.  Eric Robert's beautiful daughter and a guy with plasticized abs are forced to hunt the creature down.  Meanwhile some bozo reporter smells the story of a lifetime and her cameraman (Hector Jimenez, from Nacho Libre) trails behind.  There's a lot of ladies in bikinis frolicking in an all-inclusive.  Robert Corman has a cameo staring at a lady's bum.

The main purpose of watching Sharktopus is to watch Sharktopus eat people.  Sharktopus is pretty awful, almost as though there was a competition to design the most ridiculous, artificial-looking thing imaginable.  It was created by a company called Dilated Pixels.  The scale of Sharktopus varies immensely from scene to scene and its tentacles, often brightly lit, don't match the type of ambient light in the scene.  I'm mystified by its tentacles - it seems to walk on them, stab people with them, hug people to death.  Maybe it has boa constrictor or squid genes spliced into it as well?  Maybe it should have been Sharkstrictor?

Sharktopus somehow makes it ashore.  Couldn't they have at least taught the poor thing some manners?

Bwa ha ha.  Well, at least I got one laugh.

Later this month the Alamo Drafthouse is featuring an event called "CGI on Trial," where they explore "the biggest digital atrocities perpetuated upon cinema."  The trailer below shows a few samples.  The presenters, Tommy Swenson and Bryan Connolly, contend that over-reliance on CGI effects have robbed cinema of its magic.  "Big budget movies used to be packed with daredevil stunts, ambitious effects work and ingenuity," their site claims.  "Now we're treated to an aromatic buffet of Jar Jars, Shreks and even darker offenses.  No thrills, no chills... just the 64-bit machinations of overpaid, Dorito-addicted studio schlubturds."  Back in the day the playground of the cheap effect - the puppet, the model, the guy in the Godzilla suit, the Tingler - was the B-movie.   Is the Drafthouse right in expecting more from "big budget" films?  Is Sharktopus suited only to the cheap production? Should CGI stay out of better quality flicks?  Julie and Roger Corman have produced a bunch of other Shartopus (that was an typo, but it works, I'm leaving it in)-type movies:  Supergator, Dinoshark.  Are they right in recognizing CGI effects as a cheesy novelty most appropriate for cheapies?   When will Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) make it to my town?  

1 comment:

lesli said...

Wow, thanks for this post. I missed this movie back in the day & I think I may have to check it out. Also - if you enjoy Eric Roberts at all, I'd encourage you to check out his latest movie hitting theaters this month. Deadline is an amazing film that tells the story of murder, race, family & redemption. Check out the trailer at & put it on your must see list for 2012!