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Case Number 27374

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Tentacle 8

Grand Entertainment // 2013 // 124 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Alice Nelson // May 25th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge Alice Nelson belonged to a group called Tentacle Ate.

The Charge

A film so convoluted, it must've been made by the NSA to create a diversion from the phone surveillance controversy.

Facts of the Case

Tentacle 8 is a covert government group with no existing files or operations. Ray Berry (Brett Rickaby, The Crazies), is an NSA analyst who is asked by his friend and colleague, Mitchell, a member of the secret organization, to unleash a virus that would shut down the government's computers long enough for Mitchell (Gary Richardson) to disappear. But Ray's magic has unintentionally erased all the files with the names of the groups' members, and now the mild-mannered Ray is caught in the middle as the different covert agencies try and apprehend him in hopes of retrieving the list. Some want the names in order to eliminate its members, while others want to warn them, so they can disappear. Either way, Ray is in deep trouble, and must quickly find a way to get off the grid and avoid being eliminated as well.

The Evidence

Tentacle 8 is billed as a "fast paced spy thriller." They must mean fast like tortoise fast, because this film plods along at a pace that the fabled reptile would be proud of. You'd think that director John Chi could tell a coherent story as slow as things progress, but even now I'm not quite sure what the hell this film is about.

From what I can gather, Ray is a mild-mannered NSA analyst who helps out a buddy of his who is a member of Tentacle 8—a group even more secretive than the NSA. Somewhere along the way he falls in love with Tabitha Lloyd (Amy Motta), who works for the Inspector General of the CIA. She may or may not be in love with Ray because she's also working with FBI agent Brian Mosely to retrieve the list of Tentacle agents, but this subplot is forgotten as soon as it's introduced. Then there's another Tentacle member disguised as a homeless man (don't ask), who's in cahoots with a phony computer chip developer, who hopes to fool the government into buying his malfunctioning chip. This computer chip is supposed to cause the government's computer system to melt down and delay the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, and even the audience from finding out who the members of Tentacle 8 are. Not for one moment is any of this believable, and when Ray is suddenly kidnapped by yet another covert group, you will be so thoroughly lost that you may resort, as I did, to coming up with your own scenario in order to make sense of it all.

Tentacle 8 is Chi's first feature, and he must've gone to the John Woo school of filmmaking. Although, instead of being enamored with the slow-mo sequences like Woo, Chi loves moving his camera in a circular fashion around his characters as they engage in some serious monologuing—and there's plenty of it. It's like being on some sadistic merry-go-round that makes you a little dizzy; so much so that at times you can lose the thread of the dialogue—which really isn't that hard to do.

The main problem with Tentacle 8 lies squarely on the shoulders of the writer and editor: John Chi and Kevin Lipnos respectively. The essence of Chi's ideas are interesting, but the film is rudderless, and with the wayward editing, the attempt to do a non-linear style of storytelling falls flat. It's a shame too, because the actors' performances are very good, specifically Rickaby, who is the standout of Tentacle 8. He's joined by an eclectic array of characters, many of whom come and go without much explanation, their roles not clearly defined in a story that never really comes together.

Tentacle 8 is a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation with good lighting and clear images, but it's never able to veer away from looking like a low budget film. Still, the Dolby 5.1 audio is sharp, and the dialogue easy to hear, with a nice soundtrack that includes a beautiful classical score, while at other times is suspenseful when it needs to be. There are no bonus features.

Closing Statement

All I ask for is a coherent film. Tentacle 8 is an espionage film with a plot so covert, even the audience has no idea what's going on.

The Verdict

To the NSA analysts monitoring the site, I find this film Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 0
Acting: 82
Story: 62
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Grand Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 124 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Espionage
• Independent
• Mystery
• Suspense
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None


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