Like a scab you just can’t help picking at, the so-bad-you-just-can’t-look-away franchise drops its third instalment with an admirable, if ill-deserved swagger; a selachian mic-drop of ludicrous proportions.
When Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) goes to Washington DC to collect the highest civilian honour from the President of the United States, the last thing he expects is a sharknado to drop right on top of the White House. But that’s only the start of Fin’s problems. With sharknados popping up down the length of the eastern seaboard, he faces a race against time to get down to Orlando – where a heavily pregnant April (Tara Reid) is waiting to give birth – before the sharknados combine into an unprecedented sharkicane.
So I guess at this point, physics, meteorology, marine biology and, what the hell, plot logic and common sense are completely out the picture, right? Certainly, veteran asylum writer Thunder Levin (“Sharknado”, “Sharknado 2: The Second One” and, erm, “Atlantic Rim”) throws them in the bin and busts out his big book of stupid clichés with which to shove the plot along. The dialogue is awkward, stilted and often cringingly bad, which is unfortunate because the storyline is so convoluted it requires a lot more talking than previous efforts, with the pacing suffering badly as a result. The special effects are often anything but special, and the editing is shockingly bad, with some scenes clearly sequenced out of order, even for a franchise as uninterested in continuity and lucidity as this one.
Most offensively, though, this third “Sharknado” is so self-aware it makes Skynet look like a ‘Speak & Spell’. It’s no longer just ‘in on the joke’, it’s become the movie equivalent of Eric Idle’s character in the classic Monty Python ‘Nudge nudge, wink wink’ sketch. Nearly every scene is forced product placement for another product or division of the NBCUniversal empire. From theme parks to TV presenters and even their recent tie-up with NASCAR, nothing is off-limits as far as crow-barring references and cameos into this self-referential and self-promoting cavalcade of carcharadon caricatures.
The cameos have, of course, become a proud staple of this series and as you’d expect, the third one is chock full of ‘em, from the actually-related-to-the-plot appearances to the jumping-on-the-bandwagon want to be involved style. As with the principle cast, the quality of the cameos varies enormously. Mark Cuban is the least convincing POTUS in cinematic history and there’s an ill-judged cameo from Michelle Bachmann, a Tea Party supporting former member of Congress so scientifically ignorant she probably accepts the ‘science’ of Sharknado as fact. Luckily their involvement is brief and there are better guest stars on offer. “Star Trek: Voyager” veteran Tim Russ is good value but its Frankie Muniz who impresses the most, managing to life the material above the mediocre during his time on screen, his eventual demise managing to be epically funny, possibly the highlight of the entire film.Possibly the most surprising cameo, though, is from the terrible fake baby from “American Sniper”, who plays a small but pivotal role in the finale. The least surprising? Of course Fin’s estranged father is played by David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff.
However, there must be a special place in Hell reserved for any film which goes to the trouble of casting Jedward as a ‘celebrity’ cameo and yet doesn’t kill them as gruesomely as possible; though given how brief and pointless their appearance is, most of it may have ended up on the cutting room floor.
The returning cast do their jobs with a commendable earnestness, especially Ian Ziering whose devotion to duty and delivering dialogue with a straight face is worthy of an award better than the one he is presented with during the film. Cassie Scerbo’s return after being benched for “Sharknado 2” is a welcome one and makes up for much of the absence of Tara Reid who seems to have upset the producers at some point given her marginalisation during the story and the cliffhanger ending they give her.
And yet, despite all its many, many flaws, it actually manages to be a bit more fun than the first two instalments. Rising to the challenge, the plot this time round is probably the most outlandish, nonsensical and stupid narrative of the series and possibly all time. The opening sequences is a witty take on James Bond films with the White House-set action forming the pre-credits sequence. The Orlando theme park is actually a great location for the sharky shenanigans, lending itself to some good jokes referencing “Jaws”, “Twister” and the fishiest of Red Wedding gags. But this is a threequel and simply destroying the entire eastern seaboard of America wasn’t going to be sufficient so of course, they go into space! Good thing space launches aren’t extremely weather sensitive otherwise a cluster of toothy tornados would be a problem. Oh, and you can now add astrophysics to the list of disregarded disciplines too.
From tooth to tail, “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” is an aggressively dumb B-movie, starring C-list actors and produced by Z-list talent. Yes, it’s unhinged from anything remotely approaching reality and goes out of its way to flout accuracy in favour of delivering on its central, stupid idea but there’s an endearing side to its desperation to deliver more outlandish set-pieces than its predecessors. It’s still utter crap, of course and the joke is wearing desperately thin (a fourth instalment has already been confirmed though) but there’s fun to be had in amongst the execrable dialogue and clunky exposition. It’s my favourite of the three so far, but that’s not saying much.