Thursday, November 19, 2015
I finally got around to watching the infamous Sharknado. This is a movie which takes some patience, but truth told is littered here and there with some genuinely funny moments. The first of the Sharknado canon is certainly a tongue-in-cheek effort, but simultaneously tries to follow with some rigor the expectations of the disaster/monster movie genre. We meet our cast, a heroic figure a surfer/bar owner named ironically Fin Shepherd, his barmaid employee Nova, his best bud Baz, and initially at least a barfly named George, who is the first of the main cast to get "sharked".
The premise is pretty simple, an unprecedented storm which forms massive waterspouts sucks up various and sundry sharks which seem to be moving through the area in massive numbers. These sharks then are rained down willy-nilly on the people of the greater Los Angeles area and manage to crush, mangle, and munch many of them. Also dangerous are the large waves which push even more sharks into harm's way. In the face of this Fin and his gang go to rescue his estranged wife April and his even more estranged daughter Claudia. They do but with some difficulty and he learns his son is also in danger and goes to save him, stopping often to save various and sundry folks along the way. The saga ends with a helicopter dropping bombs into the "sharknados" to disrupt the flow of air. It's all pretty ludicrous, but no more than countless other flicks.
What sets this one apart and makes watching it more tedious than it should be is the shoddy filmmaking. The editing process fails to create convincing continuity and the suspense (such as it might be) is often demolished with overlong action sequences which focus on small and boring details. The movie sounds like a hoot and has a fun climax with one real surprise, but getting there is a bit difficult.
Sharknado 2: The Second One is much better immediately. It knows what it is, knows what works and likely having a somewhat bigger budget uses it wisely to created the story of a new storm which hits Fin's native New York City this time.
We begin on an airplane where Fin and his wife April are heading to NYC for a family reunion with Fin's sister and her family and to publicize April's book about the previous sharknado event. But Fin quickly spots trouble as a sharknado storm hits the airplane with deadly consequences. Fin, demonstrating new skills at a rapid pace, gets the plane onto the tarmac and tries to warn the officials who of course ignore him. He and his family miss one another as they dart across NYC trying to avoid the twin effects of a blizzard and a summer storm which also includes sharks. There is a fun visit to a Mets game, a romp down Times Square, and a visit to the Statue of Liberty, which loses its head which rumbles down some streets like a bowling ball. All of that is great fun and the cameos come fast and quick.
But that said, the show, as much improved as it is in many respects, does still have inexplicable slow moments and the storytelling is ramshackle indeed during the climax which does a remarkably poor job of keeping the elements of the narrative connected. We see so many movies with fundamental storytelling chops and we take it for granted, but seeing one which violates those rules makes you appreciate the basic skills it requires to make all the moving parts add up to a rational whole.
And last and arguably least is Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! This latest installment is almost overcome with cameos, so many familiar faces from the ranks of the "B" and "C" celebrity ranks that I quit even registering most of them after awhile. This one takes the nascent energy of the first movie and the quixotic camp of the second and ramps up both but fails to get the parts to gel as they ought. We have too many fancy bits and pieces and a movie which seems to want to be a parody of its own predecessors, which is hard since they do varying degrees are already parodies of the basic form of the disaster movie.
The story starts in Washington D.C. which in short order gets utterly demolished, though the President and Vice-President are saved by Fin and his brother-in-law. Then the story shifts to Florida and the Universal Orlando theme park in particular as Fin's pregnant wife April and his grown-up daughter Claudia wander around waiting for the sharknado to develop around them. Along the way to find his family Fin meets up with his former employee Nova who has become a hardened shark-killer in the intervening years and has equipment and help to make the stopping of future sharknados possible. There is a lot of wild action in jet planes, roller coasters, and ultimately even the space shuttle when the deadly sharks make it into space itself.
Wild and raucous, this one puts the fork in the franchise even though a fourth installment seems destined to arrive sooner than later.