I take a big old’ bite out of Sharknado (2013)

Having finally got round to watching it the day after the UK TV Première (I missed it because I was out watching “Only God Forgives” and we know how that turned out), I wasn’t going to review it. After all, what more was there to be said that wasn’t tweeted when it debuted on American TV? Well, it turns out there were a few things that bugged me about it and so here we are.

First of all, I love disaster movies. Love ’em. I put disaster movies in the same category as pizza and blow jobs – even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good. I’m also a fan of cheesy movies (I devoured every episode of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” I could lay my UK-based hands on). Finally, I have always been a fan of sharks in movies, from the great (“Jaws”), through the adequate (“Deep Blue Sea”) to the plain bonkers (“Shark Attack 3“). Given all those ingredients, I had put my serious film-head aside and was all set for some cyclonic selachian shenanigans.

I’m a firm believer that you have to go into some types of films with a certain frame of mind. If you’re down for watching “Sharknado”, you’ve given up the right to complain about the idea of a tornado occurring over the ocean, scooping up only sharks (and no other aquatic life) and then those sharks being able to function out of their natural habitat. So far so good, and the film even began with a sly and apposite commentary on the shark fin industry and who the real monsters are (clue: it’s us). The fishing boat is, of course, in the path of the oncoming storm and a bizarre gun battle is interrupted by some storm-tossed sharks who, as per movie cliché convention, are always hungry.

So far, so dumb and so good. To give the film credit, it’s got the courage of its convictions and it doesn’t hold back, even in the face of a level of basic scientific ignorance that would make even the Kansas Board of Education pause for reflection. As I said, I’m giving the film a pass on meteorology and partial credit on marine biology. But the line must be drawn here. This far, no further.

I wanted this film to be nonsensical, whacky entertainment. And it tries really, really hard to be just that, despite setting a surprisingly high percentage of the film inside various cars film through the windshield while some junior prop sprays it with a hose. What lets it down is that it’s made with such basic technical ineptness that it becomes impossible to suspend your disbelief for prolonged periods of time.

Apparently in the grip of a “global warming”-induced superstorm, the weather is astonishingly changeable and frequently changes from torrential rain to bright sunshine to partial cloud, often within the same scene. Locations and interiors are mixed with abandon without really making any visual sense, exacerabted by the physics-defying flooding (which allows the sharks to infiltrate Los Angeles) which can’t seem to decide whether it’s caused by rain or by the sea. This results in a bizarre action sequences where a house near the top of a hill is flooded to the extent a large shark can swim through the rooms, yet the exterior of the house and indeed the rest of the hillside is unflooded. I could go on and on nitpicking like this but I won’t (sharks chewing, sharks having articulated “necks”…).

The Z-list cast do what they’re there to do – mostly feed the sharks. The script is as good as this kind of nonsense deserves. It’s the technical production which really lets it down. The ironic thing is that because it’s been a huge “hit”, there’s a sequel in the works. And because they know there’s a built-in audience for it, they might – just might – put a bit more money into it, and attract a bit more talent both in front of and behind the camera, so there’s a real chance that the sequel might actually turn out to be something a little bit special. And props for officially calling it “Sharknado 2: The Second One“.


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