Written and Directed by Jack Perez
Run Time: 90 minutes
Yes! Get ready for the movie that went straight to video in 2009, the movie that will have you pulling your hair out, the movie that will have you spewing beer out of your mouth in laughter, the movie that features your favorite giant cephalopod battling the eeeeeeevil Mega Shark for dominion of the world’s seas! YES! It’s Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus!
After the opening title sequence, we hop to the Alaskan coast where a military helicopter is performing some sort of super-duper top-secret sonar testing. This can’t be good. Why not? Because it’s the military. Meanwhile a nearby oceanic research sub, piloted by our heroine Emma (Deborah Gibson…yes, that Debbie Gibson from the 80’s pop music scene.), is almost mashed by a gigantic chunk of ice that cracks off of a glacier.
"Half the continental shelf just fell off!" shouts navigator Vince.
"Hey, why so nervous?" asks Emma . (I’m guessing he’s nervous because half the continental shelf fell off 20-feet from the sub.)
(Cracking glaciers in a monster movie are never a good sign…)
The tension builds…
If that wasn’t enough excitement for you, we now watch a gigantic swarm of hammerhead sharks swim around the sub.
No, wait. Actually stock-footage of hammerhead sharks swarm the sub, since the Alaskan waters are way, way too cold for sharks. But whatever. More footage of warm-water sea life fills the screen (including coral reefs!) as Emma stares out the windows of the sub in awe of Nature’s beauty. (Again, wasn’t this supposed to be Alaska?!)
Emma finally spots what she’s been searching for: a whale. ("It’s enormous," Vince notes – Uh, yeah Vince, it’s a whale.) So….with a bunch of submarine mumbo-jumbo ("Down bubble 20!", etc. etc.), she sets the sub in motion and tails the pod of whales. Unbeknownst to Emma, the naval helicopter’s sonar device has spooked the sea creatures and screwed up their navigation abilities. (Bad, military! Bad!) The confused whales blindly crash into the aforementioned glacier causing a massive "ice quake". (Inexplicably, the helicopter pilot suddenly loses control and, with a half-hearted shout of "Holy crap!" smashes into the glacier and dies. How in the world could any of this have affected a helicopter?)
Struggling for control of the submarine, Emma stares in disbelief (me too) when the cracked ice reveals…Bum! Bum! Bum!…Mega Shark and Giant Octopus frozen together in solid ice. (How in the world did that happen? Talk about a cold snap.) Well, the ice shatters further and the titular monsters swim off to wreak havoc. Let the games begin.
Why, if I ever get out of here…oh! I’ll show you, I will!
First stop: a drilling platform off the coast of Japan where Giant Octopus immediately gets busy by plucking off a few hapless workers from the decks before tearing down the entire structure. (A cut scene shows Octopus blinking its eyes and balefully staring at the workers before consuming them. I didn’t think octopi had eyelids, but I’m too lazy to Google it and find out. I don’t think they do. I also didn’t think that octopi attacked oil rigs, and that one I’m not going to even bother checking out.)
Oil rig! nom nom nom!
Cut to a beach in California where Emma and Dick, her boss and head of the NorCal Oceanic Institute, are escorted by FBI agents (!) to a washed up whale carcass covered with suspicious wounds. (Mwu-ha-ha!!!!) After Dick chews her ass for "borrowing" the mini-sub without permission, Emma explains that she just had to take the sub and study the whales because they had been acting "nuts". (Oh, Emma, would you please stop using such arcane scientific jargon?) When Dick takes his leave to chat with the agents, Emma takes a quick peek at the carcass and spots what looks like a gigantic tooth in the wound. To everybody’s surprise (cue evil Government Cover-Up laughter), Dick orders a halt to the examination and unconvincingly declares that the wounds were caused by a oil tanker propeller. Case closed.
Damned boat propellers!
Later that evening, a frustrated Emma and Vince stand on the beach discussing the day’s freaky events while drinking beer from paper bags. (Classy, Emma, real classy! Ha!) Realizing that she’ll probably lose her job tomorrow after Dick’s hastily summoned review board (because she "stole" the mini-sub, blah blah blah), Emma decides to sneak back to the whale carcass that night and remove whatever it was she saw in the wound. Soooooo….yep, later that night, she talks her way past a most incompetent security guard and pulls out a gigantic tooth from the wound. A-ha! The plot thickens. Then again, since the title of the movie really doesn’t leave too much to the imagination, it’s hard to understand why the movie makers decided to waste time on a "mystery". (It reminds me a bit of the "mystery" in the beginning of The Giant Gila Monster…I mean, if the answer to the mystery is in the title of the movie, what’s the point?)
Bag O’ Beer
Meanwhile, back at the Tokyo Detention Center, the sole survivor from the doomed oil rig, some poor film extra named Takeo, sits under armed guard and is forced to recount what he saw while Dr. Shimada, the friendly scientist, takes notes. (For some completely unexplained reason, Takeo speaks with a heavy Australian accent. I can only hope that this was meant as a joke.) Takeo, still in shock, is given a piece of paper to sketch what he saw. Just as he begins…we cut to the next scene. Seriously, was this meant to be suspenseful? We know what he saw because we saw it too! So why bother with the build up?! Sheesh!
Like I said, just as we were about to see what Takeo sketches (let me guess, it was a giant octopus), we cut away to a passenger airplane flying high over the clouds. Do you see where this is going? Do you? In a truly hilarious shot, a shocked passenger shouts "HOLY SHIT!" when he sees Mega Shark leaping up from the sea to eat the plane!
Things that make you say “Holy Shit!”
Yes, Mega Shark managed to snatch a jet at cruising altitude out of mid air. It doesn’t get much better than this…"better" in the Monster Shack meaning of the word, of course. In fact, it’s so good, I’m going to let you watch it for yourself:
Special Monster Shack Extra: Check out the graphic at the end of this review for an in depth study of the physics involved behind this leap!
Sure enough, the next day Emma gets fired from the Institute as Dick gives her some pithy words of advice on the way out, "Don’t love the ocean too much…it doesn’t love you back." (And this guy runs an ocean research center?) With no job and still intrigued over the gigantic 2 foot tooth she pulled from the dead whale, Emma heads over to her old friend and mentor Professor Sanders (Sean Lawlor), who also Just Happens to be an ex-Naval Paleontologist. (How convenient. We later learn that Sanders was drummed out of the Navy for grounding a nuclear sub in order to avoid hitting a dolphin!)
After Emma explains to Sanders what has happened, they set up an ersatz lab at his house using equipment Emma stole from the Institute when she got canned. (Nice work ethic, Emma.) Following a long boring montage of "research" shots, i.e., fingers tapping keyboards, people staring into test tubes full of blue liquids, bunsen burners, etc., Sanders positively identifies the object that Emma found in the dead whale.
"A tooth!?" Emma gasps in amazement upon discovering that the long, sharp, white, bony relic found in a gaping bite wound was a tooth.
Without further ado, Sanders flips through a book and says that the tooth came from an ancient species of shark: Megalodon. (Hey! That sounds like a great name for a movie! Oh. Too late.) Just as the scene starts running out of steam (you can quote megalodon Wikipedia facts for only so long before the audience gets bored…trust me), the phone rings and Sanders is happy to hear that his Japanese college, Dr. Shimada. (Remember…he was interviewing the Australian-speaking Japanese survivor earlier in the film? Never mind.) will be arriving shortly in San Francisco to meet with him regarding the oil rig disaster.
After Sanders and Emma meet Shimada at the airport, brief introductions are made ("I heard about your wild diving-bell experiments," says Sanders as Shimada coyly smiles. No comment.) And yes, yes, sparks fly as Emma and Shimada shake hands. Blah blah blah. In case your wondering why Shimada has traveled to the States at all, well, he suspects his government is covering up the cause of the oil rig disaster so the only logical thing for him to do was meet up with Sanders and try to figure all this out. (Yes, I know, it makes no sense.)
Back at Sanders’s house, Shimada insists that what attacked the oil rig was definitelynot a megalodon while revealing Takeo’s sketches.
"This is is definitely not the eye of a shark," Sanders agrees. (It’s not the eye of an octopus either, but oh well.)
Um, an octopus has eyebrows?
At that moment the doorbell rings: it’s a special delivery for Emma. Inside the package is a boot-leg copy of the submarine’s camera footage from the beginning of the film. ("Vince must have dropped it off," Emma says in a throwaway line. Yeah. I guess he did, but didn’t bother to come in and talk to anybody? It doesn’t matter. His character is never seen again.) As the trio watch the grainy footage on the TV, they quickly realize what they’re up against. (And in case you haven’t figure out what that is, please review the title of this movie.)
Meanwhile, Mega Shark has definitely not been resting on his laurels after his recent attack. Cut to a US Naval vessel somewhere in the middle of the ocean scanning the depths for the beasts. "You give the President my personal word," snarls the ship’s Captain into the radio, "when we find the beast…we’ll send it to Hell!" Unfortunately , the Captain’s premature bravado is rudely interrupted as Mega Shark shows up out of nowhere and starts swimming like mad towards the destroyer.
"Execute Plan Delta! Execute Plan Delta!" shouts the Captain. (So, plan Delta is the Megalodon Defense Maneuver?)
Despite being bombarded by the ship’s main guns, Mega Shark manages to avoid major injury and smashes its head into the destroyer a few times before sending it to the bottom of the ocean. (I was greatly disappointed that there wasn’t a shot of the shark with the ship in its mouth…damn, that would have been funny! [NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: We get to see it eat another boat, so relax.])
Back at the Sanders’s residence, things get tense for our friends when the FBI (or somebody…they’re all generic black-suited goons) scoops them up and takes them to a secret Naval headquarters where a sleaze-bag government agent, Allan Baxter (played by the ubiquitous Lorenzo Lamas), tries to convince them to help the US of A in destroying the monsters since they threaten our national security. Of course, there’s the perennial conflict between Military and Science: Baxter wants the creatures destroyed, Emma wants them contained for study. (Just how they would ‘contain’ a shark capable of leaping into the stratosphere and eating airplanes is not explained.) Shimada suggests capturing them in shallow waters, such as, oh, San Francisco Bay and Tokyo Bay. "Think of it as a kind of corral," Sanders explains. (Sure.) Baxter agrees to give it a shot and charges the trio with finding a way to independently lure each of the monsters to the appropriate bay for capture.
After some more test-tube excitement and perfunctory flirting between Emma and Shimada (which leads to them having sex in a broom closet…yech), a solution is found: pheromones. Shimada heads back to Japan to set up the trap in Tokyo Bay while Sanders and Emma stay in San Fran to prepare their end of things. (Wouldn’t it be funny if each team accidentally took the wrong set of pheromones with them?)
Oh, I guess it’s time for some more excitement. A scout plane reports seeing "something" in the waters off San Francisco.
"Shark or octopus?" Baxter asks.
"Hard to say," says Sanders.
Hard to say?! Yeah, sure, I can see how you could confuse an octopus with a shark. They both look so much alike. There’s even a sonar image of a big "something" with 8 freakin’ arms!!! I hope you get eaten, you idiot. (Psssst: he does.)
“Shark or Octopus?”…You make the call!
Baxter orders the plane to descend to 100 feet so the pilot can get a better look. Bad idea. Giant Octopus, not to be outdone by all the attention Mega Shark has gotten recently, extends a monstrous tentacle into the air and swats the plane into the sea. (A fun scene to be sure, but still not nearly as funny as the shark eating the other airplane.) Anyway, the octopus swims away to eat again another day, while Emma and Sanders volunteer to pilot a sub into the murky waters of SF Bay to emplace the pheromone trap. (Again, how do they know which pheromone to spread in the water? Shark or octopus? Could they be mixed to ensure that at least one of them is trapped?)
Before beginning her Oh So Dangerous mission, Emma takes a few minutes to stare out over the ocean and reflect on the goofiness of this movie. Sanders breaks the silence and informs her that Shimada has called to tell them that the octopus is heading for Tokyo, while "our" shark is coming to San Francisco. (Just how in the hell Shimada determined this is beyond me.)
Always eager to state the obvious, Sanders somberly says, "We have to be very careful out there, lassie."
"I’ve always thought of myself as a scientist, not a soldier," says Emma.
"Every scientist faces something like this sooner or later," Sanders reminds her. (They do!?!?)
Emma, nodding in quiet agreement, continues, "I can’t help thinking of Einstein and Oppenheimer…" (WHAT?!…Einstein?)
Later that day, Emma and Sanders pilot the sub down into the bay and try to set out the shark pheromone lure…but the robotic arm gets stuck. (Face palm.)
Baxter warns them over the radio that Mega Shark has been spotted and is heading towards them at 500 knots. (!)
More Mega Shark tension!
Anyway, after getting the arm "unstuck" (by banging the sub against a rock..smart), the trap is set, so Emma skidaddles out of the area. For some reason, Baxter decides to renege on his deal to capture the monsters and orders a nearby ship to open fire Mega Shark with depth charges. When the shark disappears from the radar the ship’s Captain declares "target destroyed." (Uh oh…)
"Who wants sharkskin boots!" Baxter shouts in a (premature) fit of jubilation as the shark reappears (how does it avoid sonar at will?) and bites the destroyer in half!
To rub salt in the wound, Mega Shark shoots up San Francisco Bay and tears down the Golden Gate Bridge in gloriously cheesy CGI! Mega Shark, you’re awesome!
Damn he’s good!
With things not going exactly as planned, a crestfallen Sanders drops Shimada a line to discuss the latest events. An equally somber Shimada takes the line and says, "The military has only succeeded in angering it…like an cornered dog." (Strange analogy for a giant octopus, but whatever.) With all their plans shot to hell, Emma has a brain storm: "We’ll get them to kill each other!" (ho boy)
"What makes you so sure they’ll duke it out?" Baxter wonders.
"They’re natural enemies [they are?]…the fact that they were frozen in mid-combat confirms it." [It does?]
Emma then goes on to explain that during the last ice age all the animals "ran for their lives" while Mega Shark and Giant Octopus decided to stay and fight it out. (I’m not sure how an octopus, or shark for that matter, could "run" for its life even if it wanted to, but let’s not be overly pendantic.)
To make a long story short, Mega Shark and Giant Octopus are lured into the middle of the ocean where they can "duke it out" and hopefully destroy each other. (And hopefully end this movie.) A few false scares later, i.e.,
- oh gee, I wonder if Mega Shark will eat Emma’s sub or not…Hey! She got away, (but only after engaging the sub’s "emergency turbos", oh brother….)
- Hey! A "navigate the sub through a tight, twisty underwater canyon" scene..who would have thought?
- oh gee, the sub’s navigator cracks under the pressure and mutinies…will he kill Emma and the others?
our two antagonists finally meet in the aquatic squared circle and start pounding the crap out of each other.
C’mere you…why I outta…oh, you….
In the middle of the chaos, Mega Shark disappears from the radar and then reappears out of nowhere (how does he do that?) to grab Emma’s sub in its toothy maw. Instead of immediately crushing the sub, Mega Shark toys with it awhile giving Emma and Sanders time to escape in the mini-sub while the doomed sub’s commander sacrifices himself (and crew…maybe they could have at least voted on this?) by shooting missiles at point blank range. Although the missiles do no harm, the explosions stun Mega Shark and give Emma time to sneak away. But wait! Shimada’s sub gets grabbed by Giant Octopus while Emma watches in horror! (What the hell is going on here? This is really hard to follow. EVERYBODY is in a different freakin’ sub and all the subs use the same movie set…)
Submarines! nom nom nom!
OK, they fight some more (I couldn’t help but notice that Giant Octopus’s tentacles are all back in place now despite having 3 of them bitten off in the previous battle scene…oops!). I will admit that the filmmakers deserve credit for showing a lot of cool footage of them fighting, so kudos guys.
Anyhoo, after biting and squeezing each other for a while (what else can a shark and an octopus really do?), the 2 combatants presumably die and sink to the bottom of the ocean.
Dennis Grisbeck (July 2011)
PS: Shimada is magically OK after all. (I guess his sub survived being squished by a 2000 foot long octopus…go figure.) As you would expect, Shimada and Emma hit it off and decide to team up with Sanders to continue exploring the oceans and blah blah blah.
I’ll be fair and say that this was a pretty fun movie. They didn’t skimp on the monster effects and they were also delightfully goofy. Everybody seemed to be having a good time making the flick and hamming it up, so nobody appeared to have any delusions of grandeur. So what the heck? Turn off your brain and enjoy the show.
Kudos to Stephan Taubman for this awesome graphic!
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