Leaving behind the shark + topographical feature formula, “Sharktopus” takes the opposite tack and raises the concept to dizzying new heights by splicing our predatory protagonist with the DNA of another famous movie monster.
Commissioned by the US Navy, Dr Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts) creates a genetic hybrid between a great white shark and an octopus, controlled by a cybernetic implant. During a combat demonstration, the creature is attacked by drug traffickers who destroy the control mechanism and unleashing the uncontrollable monster on an unsuspecting Mexican coastline.
We’re still firmly in TV B-movie territory here but in Eric Roberts we’ve got our biggest star name thus far and this one is produced by none other than Roger Corman, a man who knows a thing or two about wringing every last bit of entertainment out of a hokey premise and a meagre budget.
“Sharktopus” is certainly proud of its title character and doesn’t take long at all to show us what it’s got, a likeably cheap and cheerful CGI creation with just enough character and personality to make you overlook some of its dodgier moments. Character and personality amongst the human cast is in shorter supply and Eric Roberts demonstrates his skills as an actor by maintaining a decent performance up against such wooden castmates, especially Commander Cox (Peter Nelson). The movie functions pretty well as a travelogue for Mexico’s Riviera Maya (albeit one which discourages you from going in the water) and you’ll be left with a lingering suspicion that Roberts only accepted the role for the holiday in Mexico. In fact, once his character is safely on the yacht, he’s literally able to phone his performance in.
It has a charming mix of old school practical effects and cheesy CGI and unlike, say, “Jurassic Shark” or “Raiders Of The Lost Shark”, there is some skill behind and in front of the camera. It helps that the whole thing doesn’t take itself too seriously, with just enough wit to carry it off. There’s a likeability to it that’s no doubt due to Corman’s lowest common denominator sensibilities.
After the sparse kills of “Avalanche Sharks”, refreshingly nobody is safe from the Sharktopus and it munches its way through the cast of colourful archetypes with gleeful abandon. It gets a little unnecessarily gory in the closing stages and the blood/ water splatters on the camera lens are an oddly distracting fourth-wall-breaking touch.
Overall, a frivolous and fun ‘shark’ movie, worth at least a single watch. Definitely the best of the bunch so far.