Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 23rd, 2006
Modern images of the Kraken come via Jules Verne’s book and from remembrances of the 1954 sci-fi movie named after his book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
That’s about ready to change, in a small way, after the September 23nd broadcast of Kraken on the Sci-Fi Channel.
Early reviews are what might be expected, as people sometimes make more fun of the name than the subject. Take for example, Kevin McDonough of United Features Syndicate in his contribution, with the oddly headlined "’Kracken’: Well, the title’s good" :
You have to love a movie called "Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep" (9 p.m., Sci Fi). Or at least you have to appreciate how the movie got that ridiculous name.
For some years now, Sci Fi has been delighting audiences, and at least one critic, with its Saturday-night franchise of cheap, silly thrillers. In an entertainment universe where Hollywood spends a quarter of a billion dollars to produce the third remake of "King Kong," these features are a refreshing return to B-movie purity.
"Kraken" begins as a giant squid attacks a small boat containing a romantic couple and a small boy reading himself to sleep with Jules Verne’s "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Two seconds after getting amorous, the couple become squid food. Fast-forward 20 years and that small boy has become Ray (Charlie O’Connell), a hunky sailor who joins forces with bikini-clad maritime archaeologist Nicole (Victoria Pratt).
She’s in search of sunken treasure, but finds a giant squid instead. Or does the giant squid find her? She also has a team of bad guys on her tail. How do we know they’re bad? They dress in black.
Originally produced as "Deadly Waters," the film was acquired by the geniuses at Sci Fi, who offered visitors to their Web site the chance to rename it. Thousands took a crack at the task, and "Kraken" was the best of the lot. Other entries included "Two Guys, a Girl and a Giant Squid," "The Squid Stays in the Picture" and "Killamari."
Of course, what reviewer Kevin McDonough either is missing in his joking mood or unaware of is that the Kraken is an ancient name for the giant squid, once considered an absurd fiction until undisputable physical evidence of its existence became available in the 1870s. Before then, however, respectable opinion held it to be as fabulous as the mermaid, and those who claimed to have seen it could count on being ridiculed if they took their sightings to scientists.
Obviously, that tradition seems to have escaped the knowledge of some critics of this new Sci-Fi Channel movie.