Rather than defend my choice of flicks, I’ve often pointed out that I don’t criticize others for liking what they like, either. Taste varies from person-to-person, meaning that what I find funny, what I find touching, what I find endearing, and what I find confusing may very well not be what the rest of you out there in Cyberspace find; and to each his own. Also, I’ve argued that just because a particular picture entertains me doesn’t necessarily mean that I like it, promote it, support it, or want to own it. But if it strikes a chord – and whatever sound that may be – then I think it deserves a bit of discussion and/or reflection, which is largely what I’ve always done in this space on SciFiHistory.Net … and I’ll do so as long as I can.
That qualifier out of the way … yes, I’ll admit that I’m somewhat easily entertained by the likes of Sharknado. Doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, all that really means is that I’m not afraid to admit it. Does the film make sense? Of course not! Is it a fine example of cinema that deserves to be inducted into the U.S.’s National Film Registry? Again, I’m inclined to suggest not. Will it achieve world peace? Well, that probably depends upon what planet you’re talking about, but Earth? Meh. Survey says, “Doesn’t seem likely.” But is it a movie? Does it have a premise? Does it deliver on said premise? And does it warrant you time, effort, and consideration?
If you’re willing to be entertained, then perhaps make it so.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.”
I’m not here today to convince you to undertake Sharknado. It’s a film I didn’t catch when it originally aired on Syfy back in the day, but I did see it not long thereafter on home video (via a promotion). With a title like that, I knew full well going in just about what I was getting, and I’m happy to say that my expectations were met. Frankly, I gave up hope a long time ago that features made in conjunction with Syfy were ever going to be anything spectacular; and I’ve even long suggested that the network might do well to kinda/sorta give damn near everything they attach their name to either a respective grindhouse treatment or a healthy dose of Sharknadoing. Such a branding might at the very least earn back fans of schlock cinema, giving the fans of Charles Band’s Empire Pictures or Full Moon Pictures a run for their money. God knows they’re out there, and it’s a shame no one’s universally tapped that market.
The beauty of a property like Sharknado – besides the fact that it’s produced an incredible six features – is that it has transcended art: it’s become it’s very own thing. Folks who haven’t seen a single outing likely have still heard of it, and there’s no denying the cultural cache that comes with such name recognition. An incredible number of storytellers have committed entire careers and have built entire studios around the idea that they, too, could achieve household status … and they’ve failed. Think what you will of it but Sharknado has risen to that level. Whether or not it’s deserved? Well, that’s a debate best left to saints and sinners … or academics.
But as to the merits of it as a film, you ask?
Well, the Sharknado is a rare meteorological event that’s yet to have been captured in nature. (FYI: last time I checked, we’re still missing the definitive link between apes and man, too, so never say never, folks.) Sharknado is a word that – unless I’m mistaken – is never even uttered in this inaugural adventure, only appearing in the credits and advertising materials. Still, that won’t stop Fin Shepard (played by Ian Ziering) and his merry band of sharkbait to rise to the challenge and save their corner of mankind from being eaten by the sea’s deadliest predators, now incessantly airborne.
Simply put, it’s the tale of one man and his family and friends. He’ll stop at nothing to save them when the direst circumstances appear, and that’s as commendable today as it was when Abraham Lincoln vowed to put the Union back together way back then. It’s a relatable hero’s quest – not to be confused with Joseph Campbell’s scholarship – and it serves every picture well enough every time it’s tried. Fortunately, Fin has surrounded himself with a likable team – the late John Heard as George, Jaason Simmons as Baz Hogan, and the stunning Cassandra Scerbo as Nova Clarke. They share their leader’s moral core, and they’ll also risk life and limb to help keep one man’s family safe from existential doom.
Sadly, Fin’s ex-wife April Wexler (Tara Reid) never quite comes across as an ‘ex’ worth saving, a popular sentiment among mainstream divorcees. Her delivery of lines leaves a lot to be desired as she shows up basically speaking them as if read emotionlessly from pages of a script. (Perhaps she can’t believe this is where her career ended up?) Daughter Claudio (Aubrey Peeples) is equally bland, but some of her character’s weakness might ascend from the fact that she’s none too fond of dear old dad for reasons never quite discussed. At the very least, son Matt (Charles Hittinger) has the chops to recognize that someone’s gotta stop these sharknadoes from a’blowin,’ and he hatches a plan that conveniently utilizes the flying skills he’s currently enrolled in school to bolster. At least someone’s a chip off the old block, after all!
I’ll always applaud the effort expended especially when it’s given in an honest attempt to do something different.
In that regard, Sharknado deserves your attention.
Sharknado (2013) was produced by Southward Films, Syfy, and The Asylum. At present, the film is available for free (with adverts) on a variety of streaming platforms or one can purchase it on DVD. However, those wanting something a bit extra special are encouraged to seek out and explore the latest and greatest incarnation – Sharknado: The 10th Anniversary Edition has been not only fully remastered (?!?!?!) but includes what’s being billed as hundreds of new special effects. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I thought that the sights-and-sounds to this remastering looked pretty spiffy: the FX – even in the original – are certainly not up to the Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, or Steven Spielberg level, but – here’s a tip – they aren’t intended to be. As for the special features? As I viewed this via streaming, there were no special features to consider.
Much like I’ve always said that 1984’s Dune is a subject matter best left to fans of the source material, 2013’s Sharknado falls into the same category: in fact, Sharknado is precisely the kind of film that’s best left to folks of such goofily inspired cinematic fare. It makes little narrative sense, it isn’t based upon any true story (that we know of), and it’ll likely only ever achieve a measure of cult statis … but as a franchise it persisted. Doesn’t that count for something? The fact that storytellers and audiences embraced this measure of lunacy for not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but an incredible six features says something about how easily an intellectual property can earn its sea legs. Until such a time that there’s “Son Of Sharknado,” “Bride Of Sharknado,” or “Sharknado Vs Ben-Hurricane” those who enjoy such fare will just have to make the best of that half-dozen flicks … unless Hollywood comes a knockin’ for a big budget reboot?
So … who wants chum?
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at The Asylum for providing me with complimentary streaming access to Sharknado: The 10th Anniversary Edition by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.