So, it's time for another franchise retrospective, and as part of our coverage for "Sharknado Week" we'll take a look at the Sharktopus trilogy from the SyFy Channel.
So, unlike most of our previous posts, there isn't a lot to say about this series. Believe it or not, the original aired long before the channel even brought the notion of throwing sharks around in a tornado, as the filmed premiered on the channel September 25, 2010 at a time when more creature features were produced year-round for the station as a one-off feature. When the station realized the popularity of the first Sharknado and the idea came to offer more similar films in that style, the film was a natural to be included as the first sequel appeared in August 2014 and then finishing up with the third entry being part of the first official "Sharknado Week" on July 19, 2015. Beyond that, there isn't much else to say about these films.
So, with, let's get into these.
Director: Declan O'Brien
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Creature Feature
Testing for a genetically-mutated shark/octopus creature goes awry in the battlefield and accidentally unleashes it upon the world, forcing a rag-tag team of scientists and hunters to band together to destroy it before it's rampage gets further out of control.
Overall, this one was a highly entertaining creature feature that had a lot to like. Like a lot of these Sci-Fi Channel entries the best feature of this is the action-packed encounters which are launched from the start here. The opening shark attack that leads into the ambush by the main creature is a great start that enables even more action within this one. Other scenes from the boat chase during the initial test that causes it to lose control, the big attack sequence along the beach involving it slaughtering the swimmers in the water and the beach-goers on land with its tentacles before launching the final encounter along the rocky outcrops, the underwater ambush along the coral reef which provides a fun escape and the later boat attacks which features the exciting gun-fight into the thrilling escape chase provides this one with a fully exciting pace full of rather thrilling series of action scenes.
This carries into the main series of action-packed encounters which feature even more spectacle and excitement from the failed chum- ambush which goes for suspense from the chummed waters and underwater stalking as well as the spectacular hotel sequence of it appearing unexpectedly and starting the panic there which leads into the fantastic attacks on the patrons before escaping. The finale at the marina comes off just as good with lots of action from both the creature as well as the containment attempts which are highly inventive and exciting confrontations that really score well in here. Packed with plenty of gore here from the numerous kills throughout, a novel creature design and plenty of enjoyable action bits amount to all the positives here against the few negatives.
One of the big parts here is the rather uniformed and completely off-the-mark science here to explain the creature's existence which falls into the usual trap of containing nonsensical matters and utterly contrived pseudo-science to get the point across. There's very little here that makes sense and the film just really falls short asking for that reasoning to be accepted as truth. Likewise, there's the small facet of this one focusing so much on the short attacks here for the creature that the film's pacing does seem a little off in that there's long section of time without much happening only to hen place a brief action bit right in the middle of it all. Though the big action scenes here are quite good, that this one leans so heavily on the shorter end of these scenes is what holds it down. Finally, the fact that the CGI for the creature here does tend to lower this even more when it rarely matches the setting, is way too obvious about the nature of its origins and changes perspectives from the surroundings quite frequently which is wholly distracting. These here are the film's few flaws.
Overview: **** 1/2/5
Still one of the finest entries in the genre from the channel, there's a lot to really enjoy with this one. Definitely give it a chance if you're a fan of these cheesy creature features, while those who don't appreciate this style of film should heed caution.
Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda-
Director: Kevin O'Neil
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Creature Feature
After accidentally loosing the latest genetic bio-weapon, a team tracks down the last remaining sharktopus to use as their own muscle in bringing the mutated creature back under control while both creatures terrorize their sea-side community.
This was a rather enjoyable and exciting creature feature that really has a lot going for it. One of the better elements here is the connection made between this and the original so that it can connect the two despite the creature having been definitively disposed of from that effort, and the way it goes about making sure that it's coherent with each other is quite a nice stroke because it plays such a huge part of the film as a whole. By having the marine biologist find it and keep it at the park, it's able to bring about the later scenes there where it gets captured and loosened after the other creature, which manages to be quite an interesting feat there.
The fact that the two creatures are given plenty of screen-time here is another solid factor in keeping the action flowing along nicely and keeping this from really getting too dull and slow with the film quite easily being able to slip into an endless round of exposition about the two different creatures and where they came from, but instead this manages to forsake that with a few small sections to give us a great idea about what's going on while still providing this with the type of information needed to stay interesting throughout since we know what's going on here. The leaves the action to be quite enjoyable here with numerous attacks from each creature both on the locals and also attacking each other, which is cheese-filled goodness the first few times around with the prolonged battles providing exactly the kind of extended action scenes that keep these interesting while never forgetting its' target audience in the slightest, and that's an impressive feat to be accomplished here.
There's a few small problems of concern, mainly in the fact that the subplot about the creature being stolen as part of some terrorist plot being quite unnecessary and generally provides the film with absolutely nothing positive about it in this regard. The story is crammed into the film for the sake of getting the body count even higher yet the purpose of setting it loose could've been accomplished without his involvement or forcing those extra-lame set-pieces into the film that hinders the overall pace to deal with this situation that really shouldn't have been there. As well, the usually-abysmal CGI for these efforts is still something that needs to be fixed due to the frequent size changes they undergo as well as the inability to interact with the rest of the people around them in the shot, which is what is starting to become a major problem in these kinds of efforts. Otherwise, this one is a lot more fun than it should be.
Overview: *** 1/2/5
Featuring some rather enjoyable elements alongside some rather bigger detriments, this one isn't as impressive as the original but it still manages enough to be quite watchable. Give this one a shot if you're into the type of stories or enjoy the SyFy Channel entries, while those who aren't as impressed with those efforts should heed caution.
Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf-
Director: Kevin O'Neil
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Creature Feature
Hoping to secure a hanging debt, a fisherman finds his battle with the monstrous Sharktopus in jeopardy when the appearance of a part-man, part killer-whale, part-wolf hybrid appears in the area leading to a massive territorial battle between them.
On the whole this one is quite the impressive and enjoyable entry in the rapidly evolving franchise. Much like the previous efforts, this one lives and dies with the cheese in here which is found in the usual suspects throughout that range from the creature designs to the plot set-up and the action to the special effects and mostly everything else in here. A lot of these come off rather nicely because of the cheese, from the creature designs as Sharktopus looks the best he's ever looked here with a rather cool-looking head-redesign and a more natural coloring job on his body, while the Whalewolf comes off even better as the four-legged, whale-bodied wolf-headed creature is one of the channels' absolute best designs, yet the infusion of the wolf into the creature allows it to be imbued with more life and character than almost any other creature they've ever showcased. With scenes of it attempting to be house-broken in the scientist lab, a rather amusing trait in wanting to play fetch with the severed limbs of it's kills and generally being treated like a dog throughout here there's some utterly hilarious moments found throughout here while also managing to build up enough sympathy for the creature that it's eventually turn is wholly justified and reasoned.
Likewise, the influx of the voodoo priest and his ability to gain control over the creatures is immensely cheesy but also manages to inject a fresh spin on the series without letting it get too wrapped up in the familiar and makes for a novel idea in a series not really known for allowing that opportunity. In turn, that sets up the action along the way with this one getting a wide range of attacks, from the cheesy like the first fishing attempt to catch the creature or the attack at the marina where they manage to sever it's tentacle and enable the voodoo-possession to occur through that, while more serious scenes include the Whalewolf being stalked through the laboratory by the police detectives or the multitude of fights between them that occur here as they manage to battle a couple of times along the way and each one manages to get the upper hand in one of the battles before the final showdown which is the shortest battle yet remains no less exciting anyway. Even other action scenes, like the creatures' continued attacks on a reality show filming in the area or the escape chase from the scene manage to get a lot to like here and the finale in the shopping mall is pure hilarity that has to be seen to be believed and is truly uproarious. These manage to hold it up over it's few minor issues.
Among it's biggest issues is that the special effects here are obviously done in CG and look it every second they're on-camera, especially the Whalewolf which is absolutely one-shot CGI that's never been officially rendered in a finished product. The creature continually looks like an unfinished creation which never interacts with anything around it, continually changes sizes and depth in it's scenes and is such an outlandish creation that it really highlights how it looks that bad. That type of believability extends to the acting which is over-the-top, wildly varying and looks as natural as the concept of the creatures. There's Catherine Oxenberg as Dr. Elsa Reinhardt who's somewhat cheesy, varying accent and preposterous motivations make it hard to believe her as this type of person, although the cheesiness of her role might win some over. Akari Endo as Inspector Nita Morales is decent but tends to be overwhelmed by things when the action hits so she is a bit weaker in the later half. However, she's still good enough as the friendly-yet-determined officer at first that it's not a big deal. Casper Van Dien as Ray Brady is a serviceable lead as the drunken fisherman who's try to con his way through life and gets caught up here which isn't all that much of a stretch for him in these kinds of roles. Overall, the acting isn't awful but there's still a lot to like elsewhere here to really make this worthwhile.
Clearly the most fun in the franchise, there's so much fun throughout here that really manages to make this one an enjoyable entry for those that appreciate this style. Give this one a look if you've gotten this far into the series or truly appreciate cheesy creature features, while those that don't go for that type of feature should heed extreme caution.
And finally, to rank these:
1. Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf (9.5)
2. Sharktopus (9)
3. Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (7.75)