“How have you not heard of this thing?! It was all over Facebook a few months ago! It’s got a Twitter account! “
“It’s already followed me back!”
This brief exchange about fifteen minutes into ‘Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf’ is a pretty good summary of the movie as a whole. The film, which is the second sequel to 2010’s ‘Sharktopus’ takes the cheesiness of the first two films and amps it up to a new extreme, while simultaneously missing it’s own point entirely. Gone are the campiness and fun factors that made the first two ‘Sharktopus’ films so entertaining; replaced with slapstick comedy and a bunch of one off gags that fail to be even remotely funny around 80% of the time. But is the film salvageable? Can it be saved from itself by the time the credits are rolling? And better yet, is it worth even taking the time so sit down and watch? Let’s dive in to our full review of “Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf’!
The movie starts off appropriately enough, with the opening scene taking place during a funeral on a boat. Wasting no time, the funeral is interrupted almost immediately with an attack from our titular
hero star, Sharktopus! It’s a really fun way to start off the movie, but aside from an introduction to the drunken and clearly pretty washed up Captain Ray (portrayed by none other than Casper ‘Johnny Rico’ Van Dien), we don’t really get much from this sequence unfortunately. It doesn’t really do a whole lot to explain why the Sharktopus is in the area, where it came from, and what it’s been up to in the interim since the events of ‘Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda’. What it does do, is set up an absurd storyline for our human characters that goes something like “a gang lead by a voodoo priest bails Captain Ray out of jail after he is arrested because a woman went missing from his boat (during the aforementioned funeral sequence), and now the voodoo priest wants him to hunt down and bring him the heart of the Sharktopus as payment for this debt”. That sums up the general plotline for Casper Van Dien and his cohorts, but without going into much detail, this entire chunk of the story feels really clunky and unnecessary. We could have easily just said “Sharktopus attacked his boat and now he wants revenge” and there we are, but instead we get an overly complicated sub plot that doesn’t really bring much to the table.
Then we move on to the second story within the movie, wherein which a disgraced baseball player submits himself to an insane biological geneticist’s experiments (seriously?) in some sordid attempt to regain his athletic talents, only to find himself turned into an unstable Werewolf creature. In order to stabilize the Werewolf in him, the mad scientist adds Orca DNA to the creature and creates Whalewolf! It might very well be the most absurd and contrived attempt at any kind of origin story for any monster ever created on film. It seems like it would have been more viable to just say “oh we opened a sea cave and there was a Whalewolf in it… *shrug* “, but instead we’re stuck with a bunch of goofy mad scientist laboratory scenes that treat us to what is probably the worst fake German accent ever recorded, courtesy of the atrocious acting of Catherine Oxenberg.
As far as the cast, Casper Van Dean is at his campiest, phoning it in to the best of his ability and collecting his paycheck. The film’s entire budget seems to have gone to getting Casper Van Dien to show up, although he might be the only fun thing in the movie that actually works, so power to him on that one. There is seriously a scene where Van Dien somehow just punches six guys with guns in the crotch simultaneously and then runs away. This is a thing that happens, and it will have you guffawing at your television. Mario Arturo Hernandez is pretty terrible, and thankfully he isn’t on screen for long before being turned into a giant CGI Whalewolf. It’s also worth noting that both Hernandez and actress Akari Endo appeared in ‘Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda’ previously as completely different characters! I know these films are made on a budget, but could we get some new actors in here since both of these parts are lead roles in the film? Maybe people who can act this time?
The effects aren’t anything much to look at, which is expected from a SyFy Original movie, but also seems weird considering that the first two film’s effects weren’t too shabby! Sharktopus himself looks a little green around the gills and certainly has seen better days. Whale wolf has a really fun design, and is a great concept as a creature for a film like this, but the entire thing is poorly executed. Instead of any really fun effects, we’re treated to pure CGI that involves a ton of CGI blood-splatter that couldn’t look more fake if it tried. My favorite thing to see is the numerous human bodies that pop like they are a CGI filled water-balloon when they are bitten by one of the creatures. Some real fake blood on set would have done wonders for this film.
While the movie does give us some enjoyable kills, they are few and far between, and the story as a whole feels like a big mess. Half of the fun of movies like these is that they’re stupid cheesy and ridiculous, but ‘Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf’ almost takes itself too seriously at some points, while going the completely other direction at different times. Several scenes feel terribly over dramatic, while others feature pure slapstick comedy that goes as far as showing a human character shaking the Sharktopus’ tentacle in a peaceful agreement before the Sharktopus slaps them across the face several times in a disrespectful manner while seemingly laughing.
There are numerous sequences where a human character should clearly be dead, but somehow isn’t, and they are just flailing around at the empty air where the CGI monster will be inserted later. There are several other subplots throughout the film involving an aging actress, several cops, a gang war, and a ‘The Bachelor’ style dating show; the last of which is easily the best sub-plot of the movie, featuring great dialogue like “we share a special connection, but your reaction to the violent death of my last soul mate has left me questioning how I feel about you”. It’s very reminiscent of the first films great little bits involving the bungee jumpers! If the movie had more sequences like this that were actually fun, it likely would have fared better.
The bottom line here is that we want to see this monsters fighting! It’s called ‘Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf’ for Pete’s sake! For the majority of the movie, we see the Whalewolf running around, with Sharktopus being trimmed down to mostly what seems to be a cameo role in his own film. Whalewolf is the main focus of the film, and it isn’t a very entertaining one. The ‘end game’ of the film leaves both creatures dead in a rather inappropriately anticlimactic manner that makes you wonder how either of them even lasted as long as they did if that was all that was needed to take them out for good. We get an over resolution to the film’s story, while being left with a bit of a ‘stinger’ just before the credits roll that a Sharktopus has still survived, giving us hope for further sequels to redeem this once enjoyable franchise.
‘Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf’ feels like it’s generally a less fun film than the previous ‘Sharktopus’ installments, and it’s almost like they stopped even trying to make a fun and entertaining movie in lieu of just making a movie for the sake of it. When you consider the roots of this franchise, it’s sad to see it get to this point so soon in its timeline with only three films under it’s banner. While it’s definitely worth a watch if only to see Sharktopus in action again, it might be time to let this franchise sleep with the fishes for a little while before bringing it back for a new installment.