Awfully Good: Sharknado
In case you've been in a social media coma, the Syfy Channel released a movie called SHARKNADO last week and the Internet collectively shat itself.
Director: Anthony Ferrante
Stars: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, John Heard
The first hurricane to ever hit the state of California (damn you, global warming!) brings with it the worst thing to happen to twisters since Jan de Bont.
I swear to God the execs at Syfy have a standing bet going: who can come up with the dumbest idea possible and actually get it on the air. They go around the room saying the most random, inane concept they can think of and the first person to say "no" has to pay for hookers and blow that night. Then with a quick phone call to production company The Asylum, dreck like SHARKNADO is birthed on your television set.
SHARKNADO is really not that different from other Syfy flicks like SHARKTOPUS, MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS, SHARKS IN VENICE, DINOSHARK, SHARK ATTACK 3: MEGALODON… you get the picture. It has an eye-catchingly dumb title, the same D-list stars (the "D" stands for depressing), the same terrible visual effects and the same toilet paper script. And there's no metaphor or subtlety at work here; it really is about a tornado full of sharks. To best describe it, I would say—remember the scene from the equally bad MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND where a pissed off Uma Thurman throws a CGI shark through Luke Wilson's bedroom window? That's essentially this entire 90 minute movie. What little joy you get comes from the novelty of seeing the occasional water beast somewhere it's not supposed to be.
This time around, the actors willing to work for craft services include:
- 90120 alum Ian Ziering as a champion surfer turned bar owner turned instant shark-hunting expert
- Tara Reid as Ziering's bitch of an ex-wife. I use the term "bitch" because he braves countless (and literal) waves of sharks to save their family from imminent death and she still treats him like garbage. Ziering even stops to save a school bus full of children from reenacting DEEP BLUE SEA and she gets all pissy at him for wasting time!
- HOME ALONE dad John Heard as an old drunk guy who creepily hits on young girls. (This time the thing he accidentally left home was his dignity.)
- Cassie Scerbo of BRING IT ON: IN IT TO WIN IT fame as Nova, a young bartender deeply in love with Ziering (and later his son), who has her own dark secret involving sharks
- Some Australian guy that says things like, "You’ve got kangaroos loose in your brain, mate!"
SHARKNADO lulls you in to a false sense of security by opening with an army of sharks getting sucked in to a waterspout. That should be all the plot you need; however, you won't see said sharknado again until the final act. There is another brief action sequence at the beginning (where sharks attack people on the beach when they’re only in water up to their ankles), but the majority of the film instead focuses on Ian Ziering's really dumb quest to save the family who hates him. Since he was once a champion surfer, of course he knows how to expertly navigate his way through a flooded Los Angeles that's teeming with sharks (and no other sea creatures whatsoever). Storm drains, sewers, swimming pools—you can bet wherever there's water in this movie, there's instant aquatic death! Thankfully, everyone has seen Shark Week and is an expert on shark behavior and biology.
Eventually Ziering makes it to his ungrateful ex-wife, daughter, and the wife's new boyfriend who has the world's most punchable face. Thankfully he's eaten almost immediately. (That's really not a spoiler since the deaths in this movie are more telegraphed than messages in the 1800s.) But they're still not done! Now everyone has to go back to the opposite end of town to save Ziering's son, who we've never heard of before. Along the way we encounter:
- A shark that's able to climb a rope with its teeth
- A shark that attacks a car and tears in to the roof like Robert Patrick in TERMINATOR 2
- A shark slurping up a dude like a Japanese person eating noodles
- Ian Ziering holding a chainsaw over his head to slice through a flying shark samurai-style
- A nameless redshirt that gets his arm bitten off by a shark while another attacks his leg and a final one crushes his head
- Ian Ziering fearlessly building an intricate pulley system to save a group of schoolchildren, then apparently abandoning them in the middle of the L.A. freeway during the sharkpocalypse after their overweight teacher dies
Of course the CGI creatures in all of these sequences are laughable at best. (Any footage that features a real shark is clearly from a nature video.) Even the tornadoes look worse than the ones in the movie TWISTER, which came out almost 20 years ago. There's also a bunch of hilarious technical gaffes you'll notice if you're barely paying attention, like camera filters changing shot to shot or an overhead helicopter POV that shows a beautiful day at the beach during the supposed hurricane sequence. My favorite though has to be when Ziering and his family barely escape their house as it explodes from floodwater—and they get outside and there's no standing water anywhere.
SHARKNADO is fairly mediocre almost the entire way though, but it definitely finishes strong when the title event occurs. Instead of seeking shelter during the incoming fish-twister, the group decides to arm themselves with weapons to "take a stand" against the shark-infested winds. This involves Ziering's son (who's been in the Air Force for about a week) flying a helicopter next to a tornado while Nova drops homemade bombs in to it to "equalize the air." Despite science, this plan somehow works for the first two tornadoes, until Nova falls out of the chopper and directly in to the mouth of a passerby shark. This prompts Ian Ziering to look at the incoming Sharknado and say, deadly serious, "I'm going to finish this."
He then immediately drives a car bomb in to the twister and blows it to hell—but not before the hundreds of sharks contained within falls on to the surviving populace below. When Ziering sees one coming directly for his daughter, he grabs a chainsaw, pushes her out of the way and leaps headfirst in to the open maw of the beast. As everyone stands over the shark and mourns the loss of their patriarch, Ziering uses the chainsaw to burst forth from the giant fish's stomach—carrying Nova behind him. YES, he was swallowed by the exact same shark that swallowed his friend AND they're both still alive. This heroic act is too much for bitchy ex-wife Tara Reid to handle and the pair immediately rekindle their love and make out as Ziering is covered in fish guts.
It is my opinion that this amazingly stupid, logic-defying conclusion completely validates the existence of SHARKNADO.
"That's a tiger shark!"
"How do you know that?"
"Nothing like this has every happened before!" – The world's most obvious newscaster
"Looks like we're all refugees now." –Australian guy, after learning their houses are probably flooded
"Looks like it's that time of the month" - Australian guy after seeing a room filled with bloody water
"Easy come, easy go." - Ian Ziering after seeing his wife and daughter's house completely destroyed
"They took my grandfather, so I really hate sharks." –Nova
"Now I really hate sharks too!" Ian Ziering's son, who's really trying to bang Nova
This "almost redband" trailer shows off a lot of the good stuff.
Tara Reid herself suggested a SHARKNADO drinking game where you take a shot every time someone says "shark." Since most humans don't share Tara Reid's titanium liver, here's a version that's a little bit safer:
- Someone gets eaten by a shark
- Someone uses a chainsaw against a shark
- Someone says they don't like sharks
- There's a random anti-government rant
- Someone doesn't react properly during inclement weather (i.e. standing and looking out the window during a tornado)
- It's "Joni with an I," dammit!
Double shot if:
- The movie has the gall to cite a previous case of a tornado picking up small fish as a scientific reason that Sharknado could really happen