After Susan Boyle’s TV debut and the piano-playing cat, the biggest Internet video sensation this spring had to be the trailer for a sci-fi/action movie named Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. Looking like the ‘roided-up love child of Jaws and It Came from Beneath the Sea, and boasting late 20th-century celebrities Deborah “Don’t Call Me Debbie” Gibson and Lorenzo “Don’t Call Me Renegade” Lamas as its leads, the preview’s presence on MTV’s website led some to think the whole thing was a publicity hoax for the MTV Movie Awards. Once it was determined that it was in fact an actual film, the buzz only intensified. After all, Mega Shark is seen leaping out of the ocean to take a bite out of a passenger jet in mid-flight! The only question on everyone’s mind was “Can this movie possibly be as good as the trailer makes it seem?”
Well, in order to answer that, let’s calmly and objectively weigh the pluses and minuses of MSVGO (CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD):
1. The film does indeed star a Mega Shark and a Giant Octopus, two ridiculously oversized prehistoric predators whom the pseudonymous writer/director would have us believe were flash frozen in mid-combat (probably over some sports rivalry) millions of years ago. +PLUS FOR THE SHOUT-OUT TO DINOSAURUS.
2. Gibson plays a brillant, system-bucking marine researcher (a concept falling on the Hollywood Female Scientist Believability Scale somewhere between Raquel Welch in Fantastic Voyage and Denise Richards in The World Is Not Enough) who, along with her Artie Lange-like sidekick, is following whales along the Alaska coast in a mini-sub she “borrowed” from the institute that employs her. -MINUS FOR GIBSON PILOTING ANYTHING.
3. As luck and plot advancement would have it, a nearby secret military experiment drops a sonar device into the water that sends the frenzied whales crashing into a glacier wall, freeing and somehow thawing out the title terrors. Soon (really rather unbelievably soon, considering the distances involved), GO wrecks a Japanese oil drilling platform and MS is chomping down on whales–and, just like the trailer teased, an honest-to-gosh Boeing 747!–in the Pacific near California. +++PLUS FOR MEGA SHARK’S IN-FLIGHT MEAL.
4. Gibson, her old college professor, and a overly-philosophical Japanese scientist arrived to study GO’s chowdown are taken into custody and held in a military ”installation” (which the same sunglasses-and-camo-clad, gun-toting actor stands in front of in every shot), where wisecracking, ponytailed government official Lorenzo Lamas browbeats them into helping come up with a way to stop the creatures. –MINUS FOR LAMAS’ DEMEANOR AND FOR THE SHOTS OF THE DIRECTOR’S PAL AS THE GUARD.
5. When nothing else inspires them, an out-of-left-field makeout session in a supply closet–and the discussion of love and attraction that follows–between Gibson and the Japanese scientist helps them think of using pheremone sprays to draw each critter to where it can be contained (as the old prof says to Lamas, “Those guys have been frozen in ice for millions of years. Wouldn’t you be a little horny?”). –MINUS FOR THE PSUEDOSCIENCE AND FOR GIBSON KEEPING TOO MANY CLOTHES ON.
6. When Operation: Love Connection fails–badly, with a still-horny MS taking out his frustration by jumping out of San Francisco Bay and biting a chunk out of the Golden Gate Bridge!–Gibson suggests Plan B, a “Thrilla in Manilla” where they’ll lure them back up north and “get them to kill each other.” +++PLUS FOR MEGA SHARK’S MOUTHFUL OF ”BRIDGEWORK.”
7. During an undersea chase, with the main cast in a submarine trying to reach an undersea ravine before MS swallows them, the sub’s panicky pilot goes all Crimson Tide and pulls out a gun for a ridiculously artifcial 90 seconds of suspense. -MINUS FOR THE SHAMEFULLY OBVIOUS BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR OSCAR BID.
8. Much like previous creature double features King Kong vs. Godzilla, Alien vs. Predator and…uh, Kramer vs. Kramer, MS and GO are hardly together onscreen until the climatic showdown, when they’re seen bloodied and sinking down into the depths (not unlike Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic). Meanwhile, Gibson, her new boyfriend, and her mentor survive to run off and investigate a new aquatic mystery in the North Sea (Mega Herring?), and Lamas survives to wonder why he ever took this role. —-MINUS FOR THE AMBIGUOUS ENDING, THE THREAT OF A SEQUEL, AND FOR NOT HAVING GIBSON SING THE SONG OVER THE CLOSING CREDITS.
So, does MSVGO live up to its trailer? No, of course not! I mean, come on, just look at that name again. How could any motion picture crafted by man or woman possibly live up to such a title (and mind you, the film’s studio’s recent slate included Snakes on a Train, The Day the Earth Stopped and Transmorphers: Fall of Man)? Even so, this high-concept howlfest is worth considering for fans of “so bad it’s good” cinema. Might I suggest sushi instead of popcorn?