Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (Review)

Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda
Written by Matt Yamashita
Directed by Kevin O’Neill

Mom! Dad! Why are you fighting! ::bursts into tears::

Sharktopus was one of the better performing SyFy original movies and helped lead the charge into the fray of combination animals running amok on an unsuspecting populace. As it’s also a Roger Corman production, you know that every last dime is going to get squeezed out of the film. Hence two sequels! Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda is the first of these, essentially the Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy.

But Sharktopus is dead, how can there be another Sharktopus movie? Easy! Thanks to a handy recap of prior events, we learn that Sharktopus was preggers! A shark egg sack is among the pieces of Sharktopus that float out to sea and are quickly caught in a net for a boat being chartered by a Latin America amusement park that has sent it out to find cool stuff in the ocean, and Lorena Christmas discovers the baby Sharktopus 2.0, which she begins to raise.

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

I’ll make you watch every episode of King of the Nerds, or else!

On the polar opposite side we have another genetically engineered creature built as a weapon with Pteracuda, which has the flight powers of a pterodactyl and the underwater strength of a barracuda. While talk mentions that the US military is probably going to settle on its drone program over these genetically manipulated monstrosities, Dr. Rico Symes is convinced that he can create a creature that is more destructive in air and at sea that can outclass the drones. Things look well, until Pteracuda is almost immediately hijacked and goes berserk.
Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Good thing she was wearing her life jacket!

Dr. Rico Symes (Robert Carradine) – Dr. Rico Symes is the amoral genius creator of Pteracuda, doing the whole project in secret to the world and his own company. Symes must then stop his creation after it is hijacked, but refuses to stick his neck out while doing so. He founded Symodyne, which we know is bad because all companies that end in -dyne are evil! Not only that, but Dr. Symes kidnaps Lorena at gunpoint and drags her into his unmarked white van. Robert Carradine is awesome here, he is like an evil Lewis Skolnick on steroids!
Lorena Christmas (Katie Savoy) – Not a Ph.D., hired directly out of college by her uncle, who owns the aquatic theme park. Raises the new Sharktopus from a newborn, and recognizes its intelligence, and was trying to condition it to be nonviolent. I wonder if she’s named after Dr. Christmas Jones from The World is Not Enough.
“Ham” Hammerstein (Rib Hillis) – Leader of the security team hired by Dr. Symes as insurance in case something goes wrong with Pteracuda, and the only member to make it through the opening sequence alive. Weirdly loyal to Dr. Symes for most of the flick until he’s betrayed one too many times. Enjoys harpoon-based weaponry.
Sharktopus (CGI) – Sharktopus is really Sharktopus 2.0, either Son of Sharktopus or Daughter of Sharktopus. It doesn’t really matter for movie purposes. Just how Sharktopus got pregnant in the first place is not addressed. Raised in a theme park, Sharktopus is unable to throw off its created purpose as an alpha predator/weapon, and thanks to a control circuit lodged in its head, is sent out to fight Pteracuda.
Pteracuda (CGI) – Designed as a replacement/improvement of drones, Pteracuda is hijacked and soon is killing lots of people, leading its creator to go to extreme methods to hunt it down. Which means it fights Sharktopus! The hacker who takes control wants Pteracuda to attack a nuclear power plant.

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Seconds before the kiss

The baby Sharktopus growing up in a SeaWorld-ripoff doesn’t escape the world’s notice, even if the proposed Sharktopus show isn’t ready for prime time. Dr. Symes notices and knows what Sharktopus is, and sets out to pay off the park owner to use Sharktopus to fight Pteracuda before anyone with authority figures out what he did.

Thus the two monsters begin their battles, which happen sporadically, both monsters being off and on controlled by outsiders. It becomes obvious that part of the film is just dragging out the fight so the finale can’t happen too soon.

The fight scenes themselves are pretty hilarious, they threw in all sorts of monster gimmicks and action. Unlike a few versus films, there is enough fights to make everyone happy, and you can even tell what is going on in many of the shots. A voiceover tries to play up the dangers of octopi, calling them killers of the deep and saying “The ocean is salted with the tears of the dead.”

Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda was partially crowd-sourced, with potential monster names tossed out on Twitter by Roger Corman so people could vote. There is even a bit of gimmick casting, with Conan O’Brien appearing as a very arrogant Conan O’Brien before he gets Sharktopussed and turned into a volleyball. Then the film was aired the same week as Sharknado 2, which stole a lot of its thunder. And Sharknado 2 is a superior picture, but that’s not to say Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda is bad, it’s just above average SyFy original creature feature. I enjoyed it, I won’t change the channel if it’s on, but I won’t be seeking it out.

The inclusion of a SeaWorld analogue in a post-Blackfish world could have lead to some awesome subtext and digs, but outside of the owner instantly selling out and Sharktopus killing lots of people, there isn’t really a widespread condemnation of keeping alpha predators in captivity for entertainment. Or maybe there is…

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Fishing lures are getting more complicated all the time!

Robert Carradine does an awesome job of playing a smug and backstabbing scientist who is just looking out for number one. He practically steals the show on the human scenes with his immoral and scenery chewing villainy. He outright tells Ham that he’s not going to risk his neck, and runs off to safe places several times. His treachery becomes his undoing, as he burns all his bridges so there is no escape from creature retribution. Rib Hillis more sleepwalks through his character, hampered largely due to his characters lack of personality until near the end of the film. Katie Savoy does well with Lorena Christmas, someone who is obviously in over her head but still has the skills and experience required to help save the day. The worst performances are some of the supporting characters, the completely overacting rich American tourist couple just grated and grated every scene they were in, it took way to long to kill them off!

Unfortunately due to all the outside control and other weird events, there isn’t much time for personality for the monsters. Sharktopus seems like it is smart and adaptive, but that’s never really used in the film. Pteracuda was designed as a weapon and just attacks attacks attacks. The scene where Pteracuda slaps Sharktopus is the only real time we see personalities emerge. It’s a shame, because cool monsters have personalities, and SyFy monsters almost never have personalities.

Sharktopus will return in Sharktopus vs. Mermantula, which was filmed back to back with Pteracuda. Hopefully we don’t have to wait for the third Sharknado film to get our fill of shark/octopus action.

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

It stinks!

Rated 6/10 (annoying American, noble dunce boyfriend, more annoying American, what NBC did to Conan, Sharktopus now in kite form, brain device)

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Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms!

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Someone is revenging against this nerd revenge!

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Did you know SCUBA is an acronym? Also I’m going to eat you!

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

The Soviet judges only give you a 5.5, pushing the East Germans into the lead

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

I’m not Rodan, dang it!

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

I killed Andy Richter!

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Sharktopus biting 6 feet in front of Conan O’Brien

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Hi, my character seems like an addition used to create a loose narrative between the sequels, but that won’t be confirmed until the next movie!

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

Ha, you walk stupid, Pteracuda!

Sharktopus vs Pteracuda

The only movie that advertises itself while watching itself!

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