Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009) — It’s instructive to compare this SciFi movie, produced by The Asylum, with Sharktopus (2011), produced by Roger Corman. In the past fifty years, Corman has reduced the production of just barely adequate cinema to a mechanical process: Put twenty bucks in one end, get a made-to-order feature out the other which is just good enough (and just expensive enough) to fulfill the need for which it was made. Productions from The Asylum, on the other hand, almost always feel like last-minute rush jobs because someone forgot once again that, after coming up with a kick-ass title and cover art, they need to have something to show people. Thus:
- The script is perfunctory (with possibly the most chemistry-less romantic subplot ever);
- the acting is such that the inclusion of Deborah Gibson’s stunt-casting does not lower the median skill level any;
- the production poverty is front and center — for example, one set is very clearly used as the bridges of two different battleships and a submarine, with only some elementary changes in lighting gel to distinguish its use;
- despite the “vs.” in the title, the two titular creatures remain an ocean apart until the last two minutes.
Ghostbusters (1984) — Mainly as a palate-cleanser. Once the box-office king of comedies, and well deserved — without the excesses, either comedic or dramatic, that would characterize a supernatural action-comedy if it were made these days. (Yes, I know — cue the “get offa my lawn” rants.) I’ve seen this so many times, every musical cue and blue-screen line and bit-part actor and rough edit is imprinted on my very being.
Godzilla (2014) — You know what makes this Godzilla movie different from the last American attempt? Respect. Director Gareth Edwards, the man behind the labor-of-love independent Monsters (2010), is obviously a man who loves kaiju movies for what they are and what they can be. This is a movie that harks back to the original Gojira; it’s a movie without comic relief, concerned with immense, implacable forces that can walk through humanity’s greatest monuments without batting an eye. Surprisingly, it’s also a moving human story, with terrific acting and drama. If you’re looking for giant monster fun, rewatch Pacific Rim; this is a movie about awe-inspiring size and destruction.