'Sharktopus' gets it right.
I doubt any of our readers expected those lines to open this, or any review on this site. Ever. Yet, here they are, a simple enough proclamation that a SyFy creature feature actually accomplishes what it set out to do, learning from past mistakes and experiences, to create a very balanced, interesting little flick. Behind the creative genius that is cult legend Roger Corman, who is also culpable for 'Dinoshark,' 'Dinocroc,' 'Supergator,' and even the legendary 'Scorpius Gigantus,' this flick abandons the idea that it's a SyFy movie, and makes its mark as the new king of the sub-sub-sub genre that is the SyFy original, for one simple reason:
'Sharktopus' doesn't pretend it's a movie with a plot. It knows what the viewers want to see. There is no true lead actor, no honest to goodness protagonist or team thereof. Instead, the majority of the film is spent focusing on the titular character, the genetically engineered and enhanced super beast that's half shark, half octopus, and all awesome.
S-11, the code name for ol' Sharktopus, wasn't meant to be a wild, aimless killer, though. Rather, much in the same vein as the cinematic version of Doctor Octopus in 'Spider-Man 2,' he's the result of science gone wrong, where the most advanced technology can be undone and the restrictions removed completely. The government thought they could control S-11, that they could use their new part-shark, part-octopus killing machine to their advantage. They, and everyone else, are about to learn otherwise.
So, if you were a genetically engineered freak of nature killing machine, set free from your leash for the first time ever, where would you go, and what would you do? Few riddles have been as thoroughly studied and pondered in the history of mankind, but 'Sharktopus' dares to answer this eternal question. Are you sure you want your world rocked by learning the answer to this eternal mystery???
Mexico (Puerto Vallarta, to be exact), Spring Break. See, even Sharktopii have that deep down urge to escape, to try to meet an attractive member of the opposite sex for a fling, to forget it all, if even just for a week, while soaking up plenty of sun and tequila. But, sadly, this journey of self discovery takes a dramatic turn when our hero, the tentacled wonder, discovers that, no matter how bronzed he gets, no matter how good he is at volleyball, or how much he can drink, he has no chances with the ladies, because there is no such thing as a female Sharktopus. Doesn't the carnage that will surely ensue suddenly make so much more sense?
In 'Sharktopus,' the documentary of this event, we get to see the people who lost their lives to this epic force be forever memorialized in a pool of blood, guts, and awesome. Our ink-shooting friend doesn't discriminate, as he's an equal opportunity eviscerater, as plenty of beach bunnies, jet skiers, boaters, reporters, and secret government operatives are about to find out. Bungee jumpers can't ruin his quiet, scenic vistas, as they're the perfect sport snack. Not even sharks have a chance. This ultimate predator doesn't share the same limitations as its genetic originators, as even above water and on land, he's an unstoppable murder machine, bred to kill, kill, kill. It's somewhat depressing, really, to think that even on vacation, ol' Sharktopus can't even take a day away from the work that he's so good at.
Of course, humans have to try to spoil the fun, and that's where the fun ends. Every actor involved is wooden and emotionless, acting with the same amount of finesse as one of those cardboard life sized stand-ups. They take away precious screen time from the being this film is about, under the premise that they'll further a plot of some sort. Who are they kidding? Thankfully, director Declan O'Brien was wise enough to not give us much more than a minute without some sort of image of the eponymous sea creature, even if he made the mistake of allowing the puny humans to have actual character names and dialogue.
Sadly, Sharky and us viewers alike can't bask in sheer unadulterated exploitation, as this TV film doesn't give way to any sort of titillation, despite the oft-revealing attire of the future chum/actors. Maybe that's another reason he's so pissed off, as these beautiful young ladies are just flaunting it, teasing the only creature more frightening than Dolph Lundgren. The violence has been censored, and de-sensationalized, due to the complaints of the families of the victims, so don't expect to see too many wonderful kill shots.
'Sharktopus' dares to stare convention in the face and eat it. If only more films were so brave. It doesn't quite register a perfect 5.0 on the pure win scale, but it most certainly obliterates the competition. The old codger voters for the Golden Globes failed to recognize the sheer genius on display here, but they were also so blind and senile that they gave 'Alice in Wonderland' a Best Film nomination! That says it all. Snub or no snub, though, we can all agree that there is nothing more terrifying than a creature equipped with eight tentacles, yes, eight blade-like appendages, spikes, razor sharp teeth, the ability to hunt on land and sea, and a lack or remorse matched only by Lloyd Blankfein.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Sharktopus' graciously allows Blu-ray to release its majesty on a BD25 Single Layer Disc, housed in a cut-out eco-case. There are a few pre-menu trailers ('The Walking Dead,' 'Dinocroc vs Supergator,' Roger Corman Cult Classics, and 'Cyclops'), but they're really not the kind of thing one should be skipping. Ever.
Color me unimpressed with the 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer afforded 'Sharktopus.'
While I enjoyed the moments of strong clarity, sharp detail, occasional depth, and bright, piercing colors, as well as all those shots of nicely bronzed beach going lasses, I can't see past a few glaring issues. Edge Enhancement is minor and sporadic, but annoying nonetheless. Establishing shots are hideous, sloppy, with more than a couple having a weird glaze slopped over them. Noise pops up here and there, as do murky, flat, uninteresting, uninviting shots. Grain levels are all over the place, as the film changes appearance on a dime at a moment's notice, going perfectly sharp and clean to rough and heavy and back again often times in less than a minute. Special effects integration is subpar, with some bizarre outlines and numerous lighting and clarity issues, but that isn't a disc problem. I can't say I was a fan of the banding found in CG underwater sequences, or the early artifacts and mosquito noise, and the fact that the bold colors occasionally turned neon is certainly worth mention.
"Cormanavision" at its finest.
Given a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, 'Sharktopus' fails to act like the sonic powerhouse that both you and I were fully aware was never going to happen.
Dialogue is mostly clean, front and center, but there are some off dynamics here and there, line readings that don't fit the scenes, hollow in exteriors. Segments with shouting are also off, coming in a bit harsh and unrealistic. Localization effects aren't used often, but they're a fun addition to the otherwise straight forward release. Bass levels hardly register, to the point where your subwoofer may take offense. I shouldn't have expected so much out of a SyFy film.
This track is passable, not quite good, but not quite bad. In other words... vintage Corman.
If you haven't been able to tell by now, the movie review for 'Sharktopus' featured above is a bit of a parody. I may not have named the creature involved, but damn did I want to. There's no point in being serious about a film that doesn't take itself seriously. Come on, it's a shark...topus, which sounds much cooler than octoshark. The high score for the movie is no joke, though. This is a great example of the shlock creature feature genre. Unfortunately, this release isn't a great example of Blu-ray, as there are few extras, troubled video, and average audio. The bottom line is this: 'Sharktopus' is the kind of film that demands to be seen, and will be a real treat for fans of this type of film. As such, it's definitely worth a look.