Monday, August 8, 2011

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011)

Okay, let’s get one thing clear. Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is a bad movie. The film contains glaring continuity errors, the acting gets pretty wooden at times, the script is just as lazy as you’d expect and the CGI is pretty bad (though not as bad as Lake Placid 3). In short, it’s everything you’d expect from The Asylum, but that’s not to say the film isn’t a lot of fun. While it doesn’t reach the inspired heights of unintentional lunacy in Mega Piranha, director Mary Lambert keeps things moving with very little drag time and refuses to take things too seriously.
The movie opens with Dr. Nikki Riley (Debbie Gibson), an environment activist, breaking into a building to steal a bunch of exotic pythons. With her are Gia and Ben, who are either grad students or fellow activists in training (we all know they’ll be fodder for some giant reptile; the fun is guessing which critter gets them), and aren’t too happy to be involved in criminal activities.
It’s also never clear if they are breaking into a warehouse, a pet store or a private home. But none of that matters, as the story simply requires them to snag a bunch of pythons and release them back into the wild.
Of course, Riley doesn’t release the snakes into a suitable ecosystem, like the wilds of the Amazon. Instead, she settles for the nearest swamp, which is part of the Florida Everglades. Sure, the snakes don’t belong there, but Riley brushes that problem off, saying the snakes need to be in the wild and that nature will even things out. Unfortunately, nature is taking its sweet time and the pythons start killing off the gators at an alarming rate.
The declining gator population forces Park Ranger Terry O’Hara (Tiffany) to take some drastic action. Having denied the local hunters licenses to kill gators, as the population was rather low to begin with, she starts handing out permits for python season. What she doesn’t know is the snakes have had time to increase both in size and numbers, which results in the death of her fiancĂ©, Justin, and several other hunters.
Vowing to avenge Justin, Terry decides they need “bigger gators” to combat the snakes. Her assistant Angie (Kathryn Joosten) helps her score boxes of anabolic steroids, along with an experimental muscle growth formula, and the two spend an evening feeding juiced raw chicken to the gators, unaware of the hidden cameras set up by Riley.
This makes you wonder what kind of an environmentalist Riley is. First, she releases an invasive species into a foreign ecosystem, than screws a bunch of cameras into trees. She acts like a Republican scientist, convinced that anything man does to the environment can’t be too bad and nature is the ultimate free market.
Anyway, Riley goes into the swamp after discovering her pythons are being destroyed and finds the gator population is growing to gigantic size. Before becoming a Gatoroid snack, she’s rescued by Dr. Diego Ortiz (A. Martinez), an outside scientist sent in to investigate the giant pythons. He’s found giant gator eggs and knows the gators are growing bigger, yet his pleas to call in the National Guard are ignored by O’Hara, who’s too focused on her upcoming charity ball to investigate Ortiz’s claims. What no one knows is that the pythons have decided that gator eggs are a perfect substitute for gator meat, and they’ve started growing due to the steroid cocktail in the gator fetuses. Sure, it’s impractical, but at this point, why let science get in the way of a giant monster movie.
Riley goes back to her lab, finds the footage of O’Hara feeding the gators, then dons an evening gown and prepares to crash O’Hara’s party. Okay, maybe evening gown is a bit of an exaggeration, unless you consider a slutty strapless tube dress to be proper evening wear. You know the dress I’m talking about, as you’ve likely seen the pop star fight scene on YouTube.
While the two former rivals slap cream pies over each other and roll into a swamp, Ortiz arrives just in time to warn the partiers to arm up, as a herd of Gatoroids and Mega Pythons also plan to crash the party. Yep, the two reptiles have put aside eating each other and decided that humans are the new red meat. Ortiz, O’Hara, Riley and Angie manage to escape and head for Miami to deliver the bad news about the impending reptile apocalypse in person. But the creatures beat them there, so now our heroes have to figure out how to lure the giant beasts to a quarry (in the Everglades?) that has enough explosives stored nearby to blow the monsters into bits, and not be eaten in the process.
Okay, if that summation didn’t tell you how stupid this movie is, well, they you’re likely to believe that the Everglades contains a mountain range (which it does in this movie). But the plot isn’t designed to make sense, only to deliver giant monsters on a regular basis and the movie scores on that note. Director Lambert makes the right decision to keep the film moving along at a good pace, explaining the story with the camera rather than stall the plot with a dull exposition scene. So instead of a static talking head shot, we see a giant python eating a Gatoroid egg, and the CGI effects let us know the steroids are being passed on to the snakes (Yea, I know, IT MAKES NO SENSE! Just get over it!!). By using the visuals to tell part of the story, Lambert keeps the film from tripping over dialog scenes or, worse yet, ignoring explanations of any type (both of which sank Mega Shark vs. Crococaurus).
Lambert also attacks the humor in the script with gusto. As Ortiz calls out for anyone at the fund raiser who’s packing to arm themselves, the film pokes a not to subtle joke about how much they love their guns down South. We get a recycled joke from Jurrasic Park that still might make you chuckle and the script injects a groan inducing line from a Tiffany song into a tense moment. But the most gut busting moment is when a Mega Python bites into a blimp. It was like the channel just switched over to a Looney Tunes cartoon and will make you blow beer out your nose if you’re not careful.
But how does it score as a drive-in movie, or on Joe Bob’s triple B scale. Well, the blood is rather tame, even for a SyFy feature. But the beasts make numerous appearances, spending most of their screen time gobbling up human victims before taking out the city of Miami. As with Mega Piranha, showing the creatures interacting with humans doesn’t require extensive CGI work on buildings and such, allowing the filmmaker to deliver more monster action before the effects budget gives out.
As for the second B on the Joe Bob scale, well, the film contains no nudity (or extras of a Gibson wardrobe malfunction, as she’s constantly pulling up the top of her white tube dress), but it delivers plenty of what was once called “jiggle.” Gibson’s white dress aside, she spends most of the movie stomping through the swamps in either shorts or tight jeans, with accompanying halter tops (and quite frankly, she’s looking pretty skinny. I mean supermodel skinny. Debbie, please buy a few cheeseburgers with your Asylum salary.) As for Tiffany, her Park Ranger outfit appears to have been designed by Daisy Duke, while her evening gown is designed to remind you that she has some major cleavage. It felt like I was watching Charlie’s Angels all over again.
But the ladies don’t fare too bad on this one either. While none of the actors compare to Paul Logan’s brickhouse physique in Mega Piranha, the film is full of attractive guys. O’Hara’s fiancĂ© Justin is quite the Southern gentleman, talking about dinner with the wedding planner like it’s the highlight of his week. And his dying wish is for O’Hara to remind him how beautiful their wedding will be. It’s hard not to like the guy after that. Other men in the cast include O’Hara’s steroid supplier, who sports a cut off tank top accentuating the fact that he does a lot of bicep work. Finally, Martinez has a grizzly Tommy Lee Jones look going for him, but without the growing jowls. Not too bad for a studio who’s last offering as a leading man was the actor formerly known as Urkel.
Come to think of it, The Asylum seemed to address every point I made about Mega Shark vs. Crocasaurus. Did the studio happen to read my review or, better yet, did Mary Lambert? Well, if any of them are reading now, I have three things to say. Tawny Kitaen. Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart. Mega Barracuda. You know we want it.
Throw a surprise cameo (probably spoiled by now) into the mix and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid ends up being a great Saturday night creature feature. Just add in a bit of your favorite boozy beverage and I think you’ll enjoy this one. It’s not as “good” as Mega Piranha, which was more organically batshit crazy than calculated camp. Still, it’s a lot of fun for fans of giant monsters and pop stars duking it out in evening gowns, with a steady supply of cream pies.