As I hope #SharkWeak has proved, I’m a huge fan of Shark movies, be they the prime cuts like “Jaws”, the gourmet burgers such as “Deep Blue Sea” or the dirty kebab van sustenance of SyFy original movies. I can tolerate wooden acting and look past the occasionally shoddy special effects (I grew up watching classic “Doctor Who” and “Blake’s 7” so I know a thing or two about using my own imagination to close the SFX gap) as long as there’s a hint of imagination and wit in the writing. “Sharknado” and “Sharknado 2: The Second One” were passable and “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” actually managed to be halfquarter-way knowingly funny. By “Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens”, however, the one-joke franchise had worn out its tolerance. It bored me. “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming” didn’t bore me.
It infuriated me.
As America reels from the effects of the devastating effects of the polynados of the last movie, Finn Shepherd (Ian Ziering) brings his family to London to attend a United Nations conference on Sharknados. Meanwhile, Nova (Cassandra Scerbo) is back, spelunking in the vast caverns under Stonehenge (presumably left there after all the “Transformers: The Last Knight” argy bargy) where she finds an ancient artefact and some cave paintings. It’s been a big week for ancient cave painters what with “Game Of Thrones” and now this. Wouldn’t you know it, the removal of the artefact creates a giant sharknado above Stonehenge, sucking up all the shark life from the seas around Salisbury <sarcasm />.
Of course, this Wiltshire-based weather phenomenon immediately threatens London and eventually the world after it snatches away Finn’s son and arbitrarily develops teleportation abilities. Can Finn and April (Tara Reid) rescue Gil (Billy Barratt) and prevent the devastation of a global but tightly budgeted sharknado-geddon? You know what, who cares?
This franchise has disappeared so far up its own cloaca that it’s basically peering out at the world through pointy CGI teeth. After the lazy “Star Wars” gags of the previous instalment, here we have a title card and opening which riffs weakly off “Indiana Jones”. It’s nothing compared to a crass attempt at a 007 reference once they reach London that comes off more as Lames Bond than anything else. Literally no British institution is left unsoiled by this grotesquely ignorant movie and its attempts to appeal to the basest instincts of its base.
There’s an egregious, almost savant level to the lack of awareness of London’s geography but then in a film which merrily switches bridges during a sequence it’s hard to know where lack of local knowledge ends and filmmaking ineptitude begins. Of course, ineptitude implies that the makers actually cared about what they were doing but their reach exceeded their grasp. The truth of “Sharknado 5” is they’re all too aware that they can put any old shit on screen and it won’t matter.
The script is a barely coherent parade of weak, throwaway moments so desperate it even borrows a joke from “Superman IV: The Quest For Peace”, designed to facilitate a parade of awkward, often z-list cameos that it reads like it was written by the casting director. Oh wait, it was. In a crowded field, it’s probably GMB’s Laura Tobin who delivers the worst performance, besting no-talent favourites like Katie Price and Louis Spence to the worst of the worst title thanks to her achingly self-conscious yet lifeless delivery of her lines.
The weirdest thing is the sharks of the sharknado have almost become incidental by this point. There are no amusing or imaginative kills and they seem more of a threat by falling and crushing people than in the chomping (which is, admittedly, an unexpected element of realism). The CGI is par for the course but the practical effects look cheaper and tackier than ever. During a Buckingham Palace-based action sequence where Finn retrieves the Queen’s crown and hands it to what looks like Gary Oldman’s character from “Hannibal” (although a quick IMDB check reveals it’s actually Charo, presumably cast as the Queen because Helen Mirren was unavailable), the teeth of the shark bend as he reaches into its mouth. It’s kind of astonishing that a film this cheap went to the expense of actually filming on location in London but it also results in numerous scenes of relaxed tourists ambling around during what is meant to be the ruination of the capital.
It’s a film informed by a Trumpian level of international awareness, and Finn Sherpherd’s unironic invocation of making America great again strikes a bum note in a film which already can’t seem to tell its arse from its elbow. Switzerland gets off comparatively lightly compared the UK but Australia and Japan aren’t quite so lucky and if cultural sensitivity takes a beating, it’s nothing compared to the treatment meted out to Newtonian physics and pretty much every other branch of science.
Sprinkled in amongst the cavalcade of cameos by bad cosmetic surgery recipients and excruciatingly awful performances (Chris Kattan’s ‘British’ Prime Minister is punch-the-TV irritating) there are a few names (Nichelle Nicholls, Olivia Newton-John) which just make you sad that they’ve been reduced to this. Of the main cast, Ian Ziering plays this straighter than he’s ever done before, with a sincerity that implies he thinks he’s part of something groundbreaking and important while Tara Reid gamely tries to look like she knows what’s going on, especially after a character makeover which leaves her looking like ‘Bubblegum Hooker Barbie’.
A never ending procession of Dumbass Ex Machina ‘twists’ brings us to a Zemeckis-inspired ending which signposts where this now post-apocalyptic clusterfuck of a franchise intends to go next. At this point, I’d rather feed myself to the sharks than watch any more of this garbage.