Sharknado (2013)

Directed By: Anthony C. Ferrante
Written By: Thunder Levin
Starring: Ian Ziering
  Tara Reid
  John Heard
  Jaason Simmons

With a title like Sharknado, we know right off the bat not to expect Jaws, or even Deep Blue Sea. In fact, the only thing that is expected of a film such as this is that its tongue is held firmly in its cheek, with all notion of reality thrown completely out the window in favour of utter madness. In the case of the latest project from the lunatics over at The Asylum, in conjunction with the infamous SyFy channel, the title has a lot to answer for because, when it comes down to it, it’s less of a sharknado, and more of a sharkflood. Sometimes, it’s not even particularly windy, but yet there are still sharks flying everywhere, while the CGI is so utterly dreadful, that, quite often, it’s not even clear whether there are fish caught up in the storm, or just lots of random objects, as would be expected. The rather ludicrous premise of a tornado filled with sharks is given even less credence as the action takes place in southern California. Several weather reports pop up to inform us that, though this weather is not typical of SoCal, it’s still possible. Er, somehow.

Our hero is burly local, Fin (har de har), who is played with unnecessary dedication by Ian Ziering. An absent, but loving, father, Fin must trek across the city to rescue his estranged ex-wife (an almost unrecognisably melty-faced and mumsy Tara Reid), and children, along with a couple of stock characters so lazy they may as well have been named Hot Chick and Rambling Drunk. Of course, the plot doesn’t really matter, as its only job is to place the characters in the path of the many, many, many sharks that are somehow flying, and chomping, through the air instead of simply dropping dead, as they would do without water.

Fin may be trying to win his wife back, or prove his affection for his kids, but we don’t really give a shit about him, until he’s facing up against a Great White, armed only with a chainsaw. Shark-related creature features are the catch of the day at the moment – the more implausible, the better – and yet, the harder they try to make sense, the less fun they end up being. Sharknado over-explains its premise to the point of boredom, trying desperately to root itself in reality, with a bizarrely-toned prologue about the cruel practice of finning that goes absolutely nowhere, and not nearly enough of the crucial money shots of sharks actually spinning around in a tornado. If the film was based around the flooding of a major city where it actually, you know, rains, then it could’ve been genius – sharks are in the subway! Sharks are in the sewers! Sharks are swimming down Fifth Avenue! The water is rising and we’ve nowhere to go! As it stands, the idea of sharks flying through the air is goofy and fun, but not in the least bit scary, especially when so little care has been taken to make the creatures look in any way realistic. There is one key sequence; in particular, towards the end that is so incredibly implausible, it makes the film worth watching for it alone. It is the only moment of pure genius, pure madness, that gives a glimmer of hope for what could’ve been. It also appears to be the only instance of practical effects in the film, and it’s much stronger for it.

Not as boring as Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, nor as much fun as Sharktopus, Sharknado positions its flailing, airborne fins somewhere in the middle ground of low budget, SyFy original creature features. It is fun and, at times, quite funny, but ultimately goes nowhere once the fins start flying. A second instalment is slated for release very soon but, in the meantime, perhaps Ghost Shark will make more of a mark on this most over-populated of subgenres.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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