Sharknado (2013)


Airborne sharks in Sharknado.

Directed by: Anthony C. Ferrante
Starring: Ian Ziering, Cassie Scerbo, Jaason Simmons, John Heard, Tara Reid

As stupid disaster movie concepts go, Sharknado pretty much blows the competition out of the water. It is what it says it is: a tornado full of sharks, laying waste to Los Angeles. How can you not like that idea?

And while some of their earlier productions, like Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, have gone viral, The Asylum hit a home run with this one in terms of social media buzz. Even publications like Time and The New Yorker wrote it up. A sequel is already being planned.(Let’s all hope that Damon Lindelof stands by his tweet.)

So, what about the movie itself? Short story: It’s just as exquisitely bad as we have come to expect from The Asylum’s disaster flicks. And like 2012: Ice Age, it’s terrible in a good way: it’s so mindbendingly ridiculous that you just have to love it.

After an opening sequence featuring evil shark fin traders getting their just desserts, we meet the main characters. Our hero is called Fin (yes, really), a former elite surfer who is now running a bar on the Santa Monica pier. He hangs out with surfer buddy Baz (Jaason Simmons) and employs spunky waitress Nova (Cassie Scerbo), while veteran John Heard brings up the rear as barfly George.

We barely have time to memorize their names before a ferocious storm approaches, driving great numbers of sharks towards the shore where they promptly begin to feast on unlucky swimmers. As one shark comes crashing into the bar through a window, Nova gets to show she’s one to be reckoned with by impaling it with a pool cue. George takes care of another one with his trusty bar stool, before the group heads inland through the rapidly flooding city in order to rescue Fin’s ex-wife April (Tara Reid) and daughter. Wife and daughter are not convinced they really need to be rescued, until April’s new lover gets eaten by a shark in his suddenly flooded living room. That does the trick, and the whole gang heads off to pick up Fin’s son at flight school, while a shark-laden tornado hits downtown Los Angeles. A cunning plan is hatched in order to save the city: flyingtowards the tornado in a helicopter to throw homemade bombs into the inferno, thereby blasting the sharks out of the air and causing the tornado itself to dissolve.

That’s basically the whole plot, but what Sharknado will be remembered for, apart from the main concept, is it’s deliriously absurd finish. I won’t give it away here if you haven’t seen the film yet. Suffice it to say that it involves a great white shark, a chainsaw and a coincidence of epic proportions. It’s one of the funniest movie scenes I’ve seen in a while.

In conventional terms, Sharknado is a terrible film, which is not surprising at all given the bare minimum of time and money spent on it. The script is a collection of action scenes interspersed with a few dutiful but lifeless attempts at characterisation. The dialogue is equally generic. The plentiful CGI looks as cheap and quick as it likely is. As for continuity errors and inconsistencies, Sharknado reaches almost Ed Wood-esque levels as the weather seems to change from shot to shot, and sharks swim through flooded streets while the weather’s fine and life goes on undisturbed just a block or two away. The creative editing to get around the budgetary contraints is somewhat exasperating in the long run. That a disaster movie features dodgy science is par for the course, but this one occasionally challenges even the basic laws of nature.

I won’t complain too much about the actors, though. The main players are, all in all, a likeable bunch and perform acceptably given what they have to work with. There’s some stilted delivery from members of the supporting cast, but the one who fares the worst is in my opinion Tara Reid, who basically recieves top billing for a bunch of reaction shots.

In the end, though, to say that an Asylum film is ”bad” is very much to kick in an open door. Sharknado is exactly what could be expected – cheap, stupid and shameless. What it does have, and what makes it entertaining to watch despite all its shortcomings, is silly action, a fast and furious execution, and a shamelessly over-the-top concept. If you want real thrills and solid filmmaking, stay away. Otherwise, crack open a beer and have a laugh.

Rating: ?!/5 (Craptastic)

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