Judge David Johnson and giant squids go together like tube socks and chipotle sauce.
Don't do Kraken.
For its entry into the pantheon of fake-looking CGI creatures that attack people, Echo Bridge Entertainment gives you Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep. The creature? A giant squid. The CGI quality? Ass. Does someone get impaled through the head with a tentacle? You betcha!
Facts of the Case
Ray (Charlie O'Connell, Sliders) knew the day would come when he had the chance to avenge the death of his parents. As a child he witnessed mom and dad get skewered by a giant squid and since then has prepared himself for the opportunity to exact sweet vengeance on the murderous beast. That chance has arrived, in the form of the lovely Nicole (Victoria Pratt, Mutant X), a marine archaeologist (or something) that is hot on the trail of some famed Greek relics.
Ray jumps on board with Nicole and her crew of intrepid interns. Together they head out to the sea, where they find the wreck of an old cargo ship and some clues that Nicole's treasures lie beneath. Unfortunately, a malevolent squid jealously guards the prizes and will not hesitate to waste anyone that ventures near it. Worse, a scumbag named Maxwell (Jack Scalia, Remington Steele) is looking for the same stuff and he's got a pack of armed goons to do his bidding. All of the players will collide in a red-tinted-sprite-soaked finale where there will be much death, suffering, and dismemberment.
Victoria Pratt and Charlie O'Connell and a charming arm rip are the only highlights of what is ultimately an unimpressive, by-the-numbers, computer-generated, creature feature. The two lead actors have great chemistry and come away looking as if they're actually trying and not just showing up to cash a paycheck. Their characters are cookie-cutter—Ray is the emotionally scarred mystery man with a score to settle; and Nicole is the passive-aggressive strong female who fills out a sports bra nicely—but the actors manage to infuse enough energy into them to keep things interesting. And about that arm rip, it happens at the end, and my doesn't that limb just slide off nice and easy!
As for everything else…not much to see. The cinematography is adequate, what with the big watery vistas and all, but the filler material between sea voyages registers at about a 1.4 on the "This Stuff is Interesting to Me" scale. The mythology behind the Greek treasure Nicole is after is half-baked and the presence of Maxwell and his stereotypical bad guys is more a contrived plot device than a move that gives the story any added dimension. The guys show up in their leather jackets and goatees brandishing guns and scowling a lot, and become convenient fish food when the script calls for it (and we run out of other characters to feed to the squid).
Yeah, how about that squid? Like so many other made-for-TV monster movies that have come before it—and will likely follow—the titular creature is composed totally of ones and zeroes, and looks about as far from realistic as can be. All the shots of the squid, save perhaps the murky underwater sequences, are take-you-out-of-the-movie fake, and when the Kraken grabs its preys and chomps down, the graphics become a blur of CGI red and green. I'm sure it was cost-prohibitive, but some rudimentary prop-work would have been a lot cooler. I would have preferred a man-in-suit approach versus the low-tech graphics work. A final note on the gore: the film is rated R, but it's a light R, with the aforementioned arm rip and a quickly edited decapitation comprising the bulk of the hardcore bloodshed. Even that is computer-generated, so, whatever.
The film looks fine (a detriment actually that reveals the budget constraints on the visual effects department) in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; colors are sharp and the detailing holds fast, even through the darker scenes. The DTS and Dolby Digital tracks are more than adequate for the on-screen mayhem, and a decent making-of featurette accompanies in the extras bin.
Aside from some good lead performances, there is nothing to distinguish Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep from its legions of schlocky brethren.
Pack this one up and send it to the nearest Chinese food restaurant.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
• Making-of Documentary
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