Sharknado 2 (2014)

Much like its predecessor, Sharknado 2: The Second One does exactly what one might expect. The sequel ups the ante considerably, kicking off its ludicrous narrative with an utterly unfathomable, yet ultimately very thrilling, airplane sequence, which involves, among others, Kelly Osbourne, Wil Wheaton, Airplane!’s Robert Hays and a whole load of flying sharks. Although it’s not quite as nuts as a similar sequence towards the end of Snakes On A Plane, it sets the tone nicely for what’s to come.

Presumably thanks to a bigger budget, and with even more freedom to let loose, returning director Ferrante relocates the action to New York City, where horrible storms that might just bring sharks along with them are par for the course – indeed, weather broadcasts, hilariously hosted by real-life weatherman Al Roker, punctuate the proceedings in an attempt to create an air of realism. Ian Ziering returns as overly-earnest hero Fin, opposite his rapidly-melting wife Tara Reid, whose best moment comes when she goes full Ash with a circular saw after losing her hand to a hungry shark.

This time around, any semblance of a plot is, understandably, done away with in favour of increasingly bizarre cameos – Andy Dick as a police officer! Kurt Angle as a fireman! Perez Hilton as, er, himself! – and more nods than you could shake a chainsaw at – there is, quite literally, an alligator in the subway joke – but it’s all in good fun, and for the most part, although the sharks look utterly rubbish, they do pack quite a punch. Or bite, rather, as the phrase “tongue in cheek” doesn’t even begin to cover a film like this, and such is its charm.

At times, there is a little too much emotional, family-orientated exposition, but when the fins start flying, they rarely stop. Thankfully, Reid’s character is relegated to a hospital bed for the most part, so we aren’t subjected to too much of her attempting to stay conscious onscreen, either. Ziering takes it all a bit too seriously, yet again, but his Fin is a decent hero and he’s at the centre of some pretty cool set-pieces, such as the aforementioned subway sequence, and a Frogger-esque, James Bond-style leap across a load of waiting sharks.

Speaking of sharks, The Second One boasts remarkably dreadful SFX – although, to his credit Ferrante sure knows how to frame a shot so as best to over-compensate for a lack of action – with the obligatory gushes of computer-generated water looking particularly terrible. In the few instances where animatronics, or at the very least models, seem to be used, the protagonists’ plight is given more depth and it’s disappointing that more fun isn’t had with these creations. However, it’s all about Fin cutting a shark in half with a chainsaw, or going through one again using the same tool, and supposedly CGI works better for that – he surfs a shark, at one point, too – so the choice is understandable.

Wonderfully-named returning writer Thunder Levin injects his zippy script with lots of side-eyed references and clever nods, but the delivery is, for the most part, clunky especially when certain characters decide to have a heart-to-heart at the most inopportune moment possible. On that note, though, the body count is impressively high and even key characters aren’t safe from the jaws of the airborne fish that, curiously, never seem to be able to sate their appetite. Gorehounds will find plenty of eye-popping blood and guts to drool over, too, even though Ferrante’s reliance on CGI takes away some of the gooiness.

With a title as on-the-nose as The Second One, we know what to expect from Sharknado 2. It’s fun, dumb and the carnage, once it gets going, is pretty relentless. Ziering does a fine job of playing the everyman thrust into danger and forced to play the hero yet again, while an endless procession of blink-and-you’ll-miss-em cameos provide laughs and, in some cases, cheers – who doesn’t want to see Perez Hilton get savaged by a Great White? – while simultaneously fleshing out the otherwise non-existent narrative.

Obviously, it’s not going to be winning any Academy awards, and genre purists may sniff at its rather blatant intentions, but Sharknado 2: The Second One is fun as hell, and unlike many other, much more mainstream, horror flicks that are currently on offer, it does exactly what it says on the tin – and really, who are we to argue with that?

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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