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Overall Rating
2.42

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Just Average66.67%
Pretty Crappy: 8.33%
Sucks: 25%

1 review, 6 user ratings


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Octopus
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by Jack Sommersby

"Even a Killer-Octopus Movie Needs Lovin', Too."
3 stars

Not the greatest thing since sliced bread, but not the artisitic disaster, either.

I don't expect oodles of readers to believe me when I aver that Ocotpus is actually a decently entertaining film despite lines like, "Do you know how to pray? Now's the time." With a five-million-dollar budget and shooting locations in Bulgaria, it's semi-professional-looking and possessive of very few schlocky effects, surprisingly enough, and while it isn't likely to sate the appetities of hard-core creature fans it's far more enjoyable than one would expect, thanks in large part to decent writing, adroit direction, and mostly acceptable acting. No, it doesn't have the style and grace of something by the likes of George P. Cosmatos' underrated Leviathan or the wall-to-wall entertainment value of Stephen Sommers' Deep Rising, but it's superior to the plain-Jane averageness of Sean S. Cunningham's Deep Star Six and all-out awfulness of Ovidio G. Assonitis's Tentacles. All in all, it's never boring and has production values that are unexpectedly acceptable.

The story opens in 1962 at sea during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Russian submarine carrying drums of anthrax-like poison is torpedoed by U.S. forces before it can reach Cuba, and the leaky drums settle at the bottom of the ocean. Forward thirty-eight years later to Sofia, Bulgaria, where the U.S. embassy is bombed by the world's number-one terrorist (played by Ravil Issyanov). The terrorist is captured by CIA analyst Roy Turner (Jay Harrington), who is assigned to accompany the prisoner back to the States onboard a U.S. submarine, which is manned by take-no-guff captain Jack Shaw (David Beecroft). There's also a beautiful blonde onboard, Lisa Finch (Carolyn Lowery), a doctor with the Oceanographic Institute who's running an analysis of changes of ocean currents and marine life in an area called the Devil's Eye, where twenty-seven ships have disappeared. An old sailor's myth is that a serpent is responsible for this, making the Bermuda Triangle look like a "duck pond".

Of course, we the audience know that this is no myth, that the giant octopus on the video box is what's wreaking merciless havoc on those who venture into its terrain. What we don't know is that there's another threat in store for our heroes: the terrorist's accomplices who've infiltrated an ocean liner, commandeered it, and are steering it toward the direction of the submarine to extract their leader. This is a nice touch on the part of the screenwriter, Michael D. Weiss, in that the story consists of three conflicts to keep things interesting: that of the terrorist's accomplices with the liner crew; the escaped-on-the-sub terrorist's cat-and-mouse dealings with Turner; and the sub's crew with the big-as-a-football-stadium octopus, which grabs and decimates two divers who've ventured outside to inspect some damage to the sub but soon declares a full-blown assault on the rest of the crew.

In too many films of this type, there's almost always too much of what I refer to as "padding"; that is, boring exposition and dead space in between the monster scenes that keep the narrative drive stilted. With Octopus, there's always a conflict actively going on, which keeps the proceedings consistently interesting. It also helps that the director who pulled duty here, John Eyres, helmer of the Shadowchaser series, directs with a sense of pace and agility. The opening action sequences have a good amount of flair, are well-framed, and aren't any lesser than other scenes in bigger-budgeted films of this ilk. As for the action that takes place in the sub, with the help of editor Amanda I. Kirpaul, Eyres keeps the scenes visually astute and the sightings of the creature sparse yet numerous enough to keep us on edge. And it all culminates in a not-bad finale, where the ocean liner comes fully into play and the creature is revealed in all its gargantuan glory up till its timely, literally-explosive demise.

Being that this is a PG-13-rated film, there's no gore to be had, unfortunately. When the octopus claims a victim, it usually consists of a tentacle grabbing the person and retracting back toward the mouth, where he or she disappears without so much as a sight of blood. And though there is indeed one woman in the main cast, the most in the way of skin we get is her in a shirt and panties or wrapped up to the neck with a towel. (Oh, and the token black gets killed near the end. Big surprise, no?) But being that there's a decided lack of blood, it's somewhat refreshing that there's also a decided lack of bad acting. While he's saddled with a see-through, second-rate Jack Ryan-esque role, Harrington, who currently plays Dr. Ron McCreadie on TV's Desperate Housewives, is appealing as the meek agent who develops into a risk-taking agent. As the terrorist, Issyanov gives him a soft-spoken playfulnesss rather than going the hiss-and-holler route. Beecroft is solid if sometimes hammy as the five-'o-clock-stubble captain. And, as the doctor, Lowery is immensely likable and gets a real rapport going with the audience, acting with a directness that gives her scenes some semblances of immediacy. (She also looks super-duper in her post-shower scene.) In a film that's still too tame for its own good and boasts only so-so special effects -- the octopus F/X is OK but by no means anything to roll out of bed for -- Lowery is a B-movie talent worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Give this one a try on a rainy Saturday afternoon. You might be surprised, as I was.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4533&reviewer=327
originally posted: 01/08/07 11:14:56
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User Comments

11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 3 stars
5/28/07 David Risser The only thing that made this movie original was the octopus itself. 2 stars
12/09/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another mutant movie! Godzillla could kick this monster's ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
12/08/00 Friday Movie Night Lowery in underwear is the low highlight of this film 1 stars
11/27/00 groodude toxic underwater monster movie - needed a bit more T&A 3 stars
11/23/00 fdg It sucks. computer graphics sucka 2 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Oct-2000 (PG-13)

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