07 July 2010

At the most recent Made-For-TV Movie About Deadly Animals Awards gala (the “Crappies,” as they are affectionately known), Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus took home the Best Fake Science Award. It also won the Best Misrepresentation of the Life of Government Scientist Award, Best Recycling of FX Shots, and the coveted Has No Idea What Oceanographers Actually Do Award. Some of these wins were controversial, and the producers of Kraken have already launched a smear campaign in the press. I’m here to tell you why Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is completely deserving of these awards.
Best Fake Science Award:
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus takes a different route from 22 Mysteriously Mutated Snakes on A Submarine Under Attack By the Chinese Starring Luke Perry and peppers the fake science throughout the entire movie. There are entire sequences – at least two (clearly inspired by CSI) in which the “oceanographers” do weird things to unlabelled vials of chemicals. I admit, I’m not an oceanographer, but whatever they were doing in the labs was clearly fake. I have never, in my life as a scientist, seen a lab with that many vials and beakers of brightly coloured liquid. It was like someone caused a rainbow to condense in Erlenmeyer flasks. And they weren’t even wearing goggles.

The best example of MSvGO’s fake science is that mega shark and giant octopus were flash frozen during one of the ice ages. In the movie, they are released from their icy prison by a combination of global warming weakening the ice, and a pod of humpback whales breaking the weak ice up by swimming full speed into the underwater ice shelf in an effort to kill themselves - thereby unleashing the defrosted bodies of mega shark and giant octopus upon the world. Al Gore didn’t say anything about that in his power point.

In my book, and in the book of the committee who award the Crappies, fake global warming and fake laboratory procedures and fake animal behavioural science trump the fakery of it’s competitors Kraken and Nessie. The fake biology in Megalodon did give this movie a run for it's money, however. In the end, it seems that MSvGO's range of fake science was just more deserving.

Best Misrepresentation of the Life of Government Scientist Award:
The main “oceanographer” gets fired from her job at an Oceanographic Institute for stealing a submersible for the purposes of frolicking with some humpbacks in Alaska.   It was not really explained how she got there because she’s based out of California. And it’s not as if they leave the keys for the submersible lying around and you can just nip down to the water for a joy ride (if only!). Those things have entire ships dedicated to their operation. To the best of my knowledge, in Canada we only have one ship in our research fleet capable of supporting our submersible, and I think ours in unmanned and not a cushy two-seater like in this movie. So, in order for her joy ride to even be possible, she would have had to hijack a government research vessel too. Not going to happen. Soon after she is fired for this stunt, she meets up with her mentor and tells him that she’s being followed by “the Feds.” Ha! As if the government cares what its scientists are doing!

Has No Idea What Oceanographers Actually Do Award:
It was unclear what type of oceanographer the main characters was, although she did not have a doctorate, mentioned something about surveys and cartography, and had an obsession with whales. She also seemed to know a lot about the behaviours of fishes and invertebrates too. Maybe she was a marine geologist with a background in animal behaviour who just called herself an oceanographer? Her mentor was described as a paleo-oceanographer, and he appeared to specialize in elasmobranchs, so, you know, he pretty much collects shark teeth for a living. They both had a really strong knowledge of biochemistry as well, which was convenient. And there was a third scientist from Japan, but he was there as a love interest and not to throw around fake science. Also see above re: Best Fake Science Award

Best Recycling of FX Shots:
So, this movie obviously had a small FX budget. I mean, all the money went to pay the salaries of Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas. So, what few shots they could afford they got their mileage out of. Like that shot of mega shark’s dorsal fin disappearing into the water as it converged on the Navy destroyer. That was in the movie about 3 or 4 times. So was the underwater shot of the shark swimming, the one completely without scale so that the shark could have been 2 feet long for all we know. There was also the close-up shot of the giant octopus’ eye, that was shown at least twice (it looked remarkably like the eyes of the aliens in Independence Day). And the final epic battle between giant octopus and mega shark, the entire reason for the movie, featured two helpings of the scene where the shark bites off one of the octopus’ tentacles.

The bulk of the FX budget was obviously spent on the sequence where mega shark launches himself thousands of meters out of the ocean to take down a passenger jet. Really, that was the climax of the film. It should have just ended there. Although the scene where mega shark randomly attacks the golden gate bridge was good too. There really weren’t many good scenes of giant octopus. He was clearly second fiddle in the eyes of the producers.
As another aside, there was lots of talk about how smart these animals were, and how they were “learning.” If they were so smart, why did they keep trying to eat things like passenger jets and oil rigs? Why weren’t they eating digestible material, like whales and oceanographers?


Deb said...

Amazing. Where do you keep finding these movies?! I'm going to have to sit down one day (or week) and watch of these!

Ellie Fish said...

I found this one by clicking on the "Monster films" tag in the library's search engine. The GTA library system must have these!