Sharknado (2013)

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante

Written by Thunder Levin

Run Time: 86 minutes

Tagline: “Enough Said!”

25 Words or Less:

If you like sharks, and you like tornados, then you’re gonna love this movie.

 

Open with immediate action…a huge water funnel sliding across the open ocean sucking up countless sharks into the sky. Well…there’s our back story!

Well, we don’t waste any precious time with back story…

Somewhere else on the CGI seas, a fish boat Captain is selling a ton of illegal shark fins to a nameless Japanese guy…yeah, let’s see how long these two last. Of course the negotiations go sour at the same time sharks start literally to rain down on the deck and eat the crew. If that wasn’t nutty enough, the giant water spout sucks up the entire fishing boat while the Captain stands (calmly!) on the deck and is eaten up, bite by bite, by sharks blowing past him through the air! This is so believable. I mean, really, really believable.

Yeah, Fin, those are some pretty gnarly waves…

Cut to sunny California with the requisite beach footage, i.e., babes in skimpy bikinis and so on…but I’m not complaining. Anyway, we meet Fin, played by Ian "90210: Steve Sanders" Ziering and his Aussie buddy, "Baz", who are paddling out for a little surfing despite the huge waves they insist are there, but are nowhere to be seen in the actual shots of the ocean. I guess we’ll just trust them and pretend the waves are there.

Meanwhile, back at Fin’s beach-side bar, creatively named, wait for it…"Fin’s", a cute waitress named Nova slings drinks and struts her stuff in an admittedly nice fitting bikini. A quick cut shot reveals a strange bite-like scar on her leg…ooooooo…I wonder if that’s a shark bite. At the end of the bar, local Comic Drunk, George (played by veteran actor John Heard, who must have been either desperate for a pay check or had nothing else to do that day), keeps grabbing her ass, she purposely spills his drink…ho ho ho blah blah blah. There. We met 2 more characters. Can we move on now?

Meet the horribly disfigured Nova…oh what scars she must carry inside as well…

Back outside, a huge swarm of CGI sharks plows into the hapless bathers and and start biting everybody, including people standing in ankle-deep water! Wow, those sharks sure do get around. Boy, you think you’d be safe from shark attacks in water barely over your big toe, but I guess not. Through a confusing onslaught of stock-footage, jerky-cam jump-cuts, and gallons upon gallons of fake blood, all hell breaks loose and the casualties mount…despite Fin’s helpful shouts of "Get out of the water!" (Gee, Fin, you think?!) Baz also gets chomped on the leg by a huge shark but is surprisingly OK. Well, not so surprising since he’s one of the good guys. After a medic bandages Baz’s leg, he and Fin decide to blow off some steam and head over to the bar to drink beer instead of, oh, maybe helping the scores of wounded people still sprawled on the beach.

After a moment’s reflection, Fin becomes a bit worried about all the shark activity, DUH!, so he calls his estranged wife April (Tara Reid) to check on his daughter, Claudia. You see, the characters have to have something to do or else, well, they could just drive inland and the movie would be over…and we wouldn’t want that, now would we? Meanwhile, outside things are looking really bad, i.e., tropical storm stock footage, so Fin closes the bar and sends everybody home. (Despite the huge slaughter earlier that very same day on that very same beach, the bar is still packed with happy people playing pool and drinking beer. I guess you get used to that sort of thing around there.)

With no warning, a huge wave blows in the front window and deposits a chomping shark in the right in middle of the floor…what a buzz kill. Nova impales it with a pool cue while muttering "Man, do I hate sharks". Ho ho..Nova, you are one hot tamale! Fin decides to drive out and check on his daughter, soooooo Fin, Nova, Baz, and George pile into the car and drive off. Wow, that’s a close knit group of friends.

Fin and Baz…the Good Guys

After a long, pointless scene rescuing a bunch of motorists trapped in a flooded underpass, Fin and the others finally reach April’s house. (I know I’ve pointed this out before in other reviews, but do they really need to pad out an 85 minute movie?) Oh, and by the way, drunken George was mercifully removed from the script when a huge hammerhead shark launched itself over a seawall and gobbled him up. Yeah, I really cared too…I’m completely beside myself with grief.

Anyhoo…with Claudia and April piled safely in car along with Baz and Nova (man…it’s getting crowded in there! Good thing George was eaten), Fin insists on heading back into town to pick up his son, Matt. (Why couldn’t they have picked him up on the way out to April’s?) Via some clumsy dialog (surprise), someone points out that Matt Just Happens To Be a helicopter pilot. Now I wonder if that’s going to come in handy somewhere down the road.

Ha! Being fun is drunk!

"Beware of sharks swimming in the streets and falling from the skies," a radio announcer gravely warns (somebody should really give that guy an award for delivering a line like that without laughing). Nevertheless, the gang drives along flooded roadways trying desperately to find a way through the traffic chaos. Correction: usually flooded and usually raining…then again, sometimes sunny and not a cloud in the sky. …I guess the Minister of Continuity over at the SyFy Channel was either drunk or frankly just didn’t give a shit during the presumably brief filming of this movie.

Barstools and bike rims…the sharks don’t have a chance!

Let’s see, on the way to the airport to pick up Matt, big hearted Fin compassionately stops on a bridge (note: bright and sunny up here) so he can repel down and save a busload of children stranded in school bus (note: dark and rainy down here). After bravely letting himself down to the bus, he rescues the kids as the surging water rises and brings the sharks closer and closer…oh, the tension!

As Fin clambers back up to the top of the bridge, he is nearly devoured when a huge shark propels itself out of the water and becomes tangled in the ropes. Irritated at missing its prey, the shark lets out a loud growl (!) and starts chomping its way up the ropes! Amazingly, Fin does the obvious, smart thing and simply cuts the rope sending the growling beast back into the waters below. (It says a lot about how lacking in common sense these movies are when somebody does the obvious, simple solution, it sticks out like a sore thumb.)

I guess sharks CAN climb ropes…whadda ya know!

After a pointless police chase provided solely to reveal a plot point with a nitro-powered Hummer he borrowed, (again, I wonder if that is going to come in handy!), Fin and the others finally reach the airport and we mercifully enter Sharknado’s third act. Pulling up onto the tarmac, our heroes look up and spot not one, not two, but three gargantuan tornadoes…no, wait, make that SHARKNADOS! Wisely abandoning their vehicle outside (for the time being), Fin leads the others into a random hangar for refuge when, surprise! they also discover Matt and some movie extras (read: shark bait) cowering in a closet. Why didn’t Matt and his buddies just drive off hours ago? In fact, and I’m going out on a limb here, Matt’s a freakin’ pilot, so couldn’t they have just, ya know, flown out of danger?

The excitement on the Sharknado set is simply contagious, isn’t it?

Being the brightest bulb of the bunch, Matt shows the others how to rig together a crapload of, er, "bombs" using scavenged smoke alarms, road flares, and mini-tanks of oxygen. I repeat: smoke alarms, road flares, and bottles of oxygen. Yeah, that’ll work. Anyway, as the others grab whatever they can find to use as weapons (April snatches up a hedge trimmer…ok, now that was funny! ) Matt and Nova volunteer to take a helicopter up and toss bombs into the sharknados since, as Baz sagely explains, the warm air from the explosion will "cancel out" the cold air in the tornado causing it to dissipate. Ooooookay, if you say so Baz.

Yes. These are actual scenes from the movie.

Once in the air, Matt immediately gets into trouble when a bunch of swirling sharks start nipping at his helicopter, and boy the scene looks as silly as you probably imagine. And really, shouldn’t Matt have considered this eventuality before lifting off? I mean, he’s flying into a freakin’ tornado full of freakin’ sharks! Anyhoo, watching desperately from the ground, Fin whips out his pistol and starts picking off sharks, one by one, right out of the air as they approach the chopper…I repeat, shooting sharks swirling in a giant tornado, from the ground, with a pistol. I gotta admit, this movie does have its funny spots.

Fin picking off sharks from the ground…

After successfully "defusing" 2 of the 3 sharknadoes, Matt guides the chopper towards the last, and largest, of the storms, not only in shear size, but in sharks per cubic meter because, man!, this thing is chock-full of ‘em! No sooner is Nova in position to cast her bomb when, wouldn’t ya know it, a shark leaps out of the clouds and grabs the chopper’s runner causing Nova to fall out and be swallowed whole…mid-air!!! Matt gives a half-hearted cry of despair and (safely) crash lands his chopper back at the airport.

With all that’s happened up in the storms, Fin realizes that he has to take charge, again. He tosses a bomb in the front seat of the Hummer and drives it just close enough to the tornado to be sucked up into the maelstrom while he safely rolls out of the door just in time. Amazing how he didn’t get sucked up as well…just sayin’….Anyway, the bomb explodes, tornado evaporates. Nuff said.

You know, Matt…it just might work!

As the last tornado loses steam, it rains down thousands of sharks which flop around and eat anybody dumb enough to not have gone inside a building and just wait it all out. One particularly monstrous shark glides through the air (with its fins!!!) and zeros in on Fin. Seeing a particularly large maw coming his way, Fin does the only smart thing: fires up his chainsaw, holds it up over his head, and meets his fate head on (literally) as the shark swallows him whole "on the fly", so to speak, before expiring on the pavement. (And, no, I didn’t mock up that screen shot below..that’s directly from the movie.)

But don’t worry, after a second or two, Fin cuts his way out of the shark (his chainsaw is now a painfully obvious plastic toy) and catches his breath before diving back into the cadaver to pull out…Nova! Yes, that was the exact same shark that devoured Nova as she fell out of the helicopter. (And it’s a good thing he didn’t even scratch her with the chainsaw while sharing the shark’s stomach with her for a few moments.) Sheesh…that scene makes the rest of the movie seem believable enough to be a wildlife documentary in comparison.

Things that make you say “WTF?”

OK, almost done: the sun sets over the city’s bloody, fishy ruins giving the soggy survivors a moment to reflect and ask themselves 3 very important questions:

How can Mother Nature be so cruel?

How can we protect ourselves from this ever happening?

How can I get a new freakin’ agent?!

Anybody got a mop?

The End

Dennis Grisbeck (February 2014)

Afterthoughts

I’ve now seen Sharknado 5 times in the last 3 days while preparing this review, and I feel confident in saying that I’m pretty darned familiar with all of its in’s and out’s. I’m convinced that this was simply a fun project that was thrown together on a shoe string budget just for the hell of it. No consideration was given to continuity, scientific verisimilitude, back stories, nor motivations, except for the motivation not to be eaten by airborne sharks.

The acting was acceptable, and I tip my hat to the fact that nobody cracked a smile while delivering their thoroughly goofy lines…then again, I bet there is one hell of a bloober reel out there somewhere. Ian Ziering was a charasmatic lead and pulled off his performance with a healthy amount of panache and believability…and the word “believable” is rarely used when discussing Sharknado!

All in all, Sharknado was a refreshingly light-hearted goofy movie that does not in any way take itself seriously. It has a fast-paced 85 minute run time and is stuffed with plenty of shark attacks…in the water, on land, and in the air. So thanks to the mad genius behind this crazy gem and here’s looking forward to more! (Speaking of mad geniuses, Sharknado writer “Thunder” Levine has also to his credit the preposterious “Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood”…I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for that one!)

Monster Shack Update:Sharknado 2 is already in production! Huzzah!

Read more about Sharknado at

IMDB

5 comments to Sharknado (2013)

  • guts3d

    Whoa! Great review! I must admit I have a soft spot for movies like this that say the hell with believability and continuity, let’s make some movie magic! Although you would think that this living in tornadoes is a common occurrence for the finned killers, as they don’t seem too shaken up in their new spinning digs. I wonder how their gills get enough water to keep them breathing once airborne… No wait, suspend that dis-belief!

  • Just go with it, man…just go with it :)

  • guts3d

    We need a good monster crab movie, but we should combine it with a natural disaster like… say a white-out blizzard. But make the giant mutant crab an albino that blends in with the snow and has a penchant for eating people… Hollywood, here I come!

  • Sean

    Follow your dream! – And don’t forget the residuals!

  • Guts3d

    I’ll need an Executive Producer, a Director, and somebody with deep, deep pockets…

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