Sharktopus vs. Tales of Earthsea

Tales of Earthsesa: a glorious prospect

Tales of Earthsesa: a glorious prospect

Earthsea is a land far away filled with dragons that fight each other for little reason and magicians who gradually lose their power as the plot thickens.  Sharktopus is a rampaging hybrid quite proud of his body count and not afraid to show it.

I was super excited to watch Tales of Earthsea, for, yes, I blindly jump into any movie associated with the great name Miyazaki.  I was also super excited to watch Sharktopus with my brother and his fiancee on this rainy afternoon.  What else makes your day besides shamelessly sexy beach cutaways, gory deaths, and cheeto-cheesey dialog?

Tales of Earthsea opens with a promising back story—-slightly reminiscent of Laputa in Castle in the Sky. A glory quasi-ancient civilization is threatened by a disturbance in the balance between man and nature, darkness and light, war and peace.  Enter psycho-patricidal young prince, scarred-yet-stunning mysterious young girl, and a wizened-yet-waning wizard.  And, yes, as my clumsy adjective phrases may insinuate, these characters have all the right makings and none of the unique energy that makes animated characters glorious.  The best character was the creep sauce villain; how does William Dafoe make a whisper the most intimidating sound you’ve ever heard?

Where are we going in Earthsea?

Where are we going in Earthsea?

The artwork was beautiful—rich and organic, with just the right proportion of detail and simplicity.  It reminded me a bit of Cezanne’s contemplation of the mountain: simplifying and heightening the saturation of our real world actually helps us sense it in a more profound measure.  Like honey in tea is sweeter than honey in a spoon.

The character and plot development was woefully didactic.  Live vs. death.  Simple, straightforward, compelling. Somehow, those themes transformed into an essay on the cyclical, dualistic nature of reality.  To deny death is to deny life—-I think each character said that at least three times.  While I respect trying to grapple with intriguing concepts, a movie is still a movie.

That’s why Sharktopus wins this throw-down: it gave me exactly what I expected with pleasant variations.  I looked to Tales of Earthsea for a lyrical, almost pastoral, benediction and got a jumbled collection of aphorisms. I looked to Sharktopus for blood, sex, violence, and schlock and got blood, violence, schlock, and self-reflective sexiness.

Sharktopus pones a yacht.

Sharktopus pones a yacht.

My favorite moment in Sharktopus is the demise of a yacht-bound radio host.  Captain Jack has been exiled to Mexico by the FCC, where he is now assisted by a lovely Paris Hilton blond in a bikini as he provides witty, self-conscious commentary on the life he now leads—–whose exigence, of course, is Sharktopus itself.  As her Blackberry chirps the iPhone text tone (a lovely, homage-like goof), she reads to him an alert for attacks along the coastlines.  She is genuinely concerned; he goes on air and say the only way to stop the beast is virgin sacrifices.  Please email photos, preferably nude, to Captain Jack.  Off-air, he defends himself to his pouting assistant by saying there is no such thing as a sharktopus: whereupon he is promptly eaten alive by said creature.

Of course we know sharktopi don’t exist.  Of course we know life isn’t as simple as a dramatic script.  But that doesn’t mean we aren’t willing to suspend disbelief for 90 minutes and explore the possibilities.

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