So it’s come to this: The Last Sharknado. Can I get that in writing?
Me and the Sharknado films have had quite the trajectory. At first I was like: ‘this is a joke’. Then I was like, ‘No, seriously, is this a joke?’ And then I was like ‘okay, that was actually pretty funny’ followed by ‘okay, guys, enough now’ and then, finally, ‘oh, for fucks sake’ so I approached this one with the weary sense of obligation you might experience were you to attend your worst enemy’s funeral: you’re really just there to make sure the bastard’s dead.
You know what? It’s not the worst Sharknado there’s ever been (*cough* Global Swarming *cough*). Since the fourth one, the franchise has been attempting a “Fast & Furious”-style genre pivot away from ludicrous environmental survival horror to ridiculous sci-fi action adventure but for that you’d need a Vin Diesel equivalent and the Sharknado budget barely stretches to vin du table. The sharknados themselves had become almost incidental, a lever for the writers to reach for to end any given scene where they’d run out of ideas, cameos or couldn’t remember what the plot was anymore. “The Last Sharknado” at least brings them back to, if not the centre of the plot, then at least centre-adjacent and although they’re now just arbitrarily forming events (remember back in the first couple of movies where there was an attempt at logically explaining how sharks would get caught up in tornadoes? *contented sigh* ah, the good old days) which need to be dealt with like end-of-level bosses in this episodic and random odyssey through time.
Oh yeah, when they say “It’s About Time”, they are not kidding. We open back in the late Jurassic (World: Fallen Kingdom ripping off) era, as Fin (Ian Ziering) arrives in the prehistoric past with just a Humvee (which he promptly loses) and a satchel containing robot April’s head…which he also loses. He gets the satchel back, though, and spends much of the rest of the movie being concerned about his wife’s head (she’s had no complaints). Luckily, the first homage of “The Last Sharknado” is to “Star Trek: Voyager” as time travel is used as a mahoosive reset button, returning a ragbag assortment of characters hastily bumped off at the end of the previous instalment back to life – including April herself, who now rides a tamed pteradon. If you have “Game Of Thrones” reference on your pop culture bingo card, cross it off now. After some ropey Flintstones-style dinosaur effects and cartoon logic taken to live action extremes, it’s off on our quest to destroy the world’s first sharknado.
This time, the credits are like the Hanna Barbera cartoon from hell, which in many ways sums up the franchise itself and this instalment in particular. The time travel plot takes us from the age of dinosaurs to a renaissance fair’s idea of medieval ‘somewhere’ then on to the Revolutionary War, the Wild West and a 50s Beach Party before crashing in Santa Monica 1997 and leaping forward to the year 20,013 (a time period which may have been chosen purely to make a ‘Planet Of The Aprils’ pun).
Throughout all of this is a homage to one particular time travelling touchstone, and the relentless references to the need to reach 88 miles per hour might just give you a clue. Where “The Fourth Awakens” was a crass and constant riff on “Star Wars” tropes, “The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time” is not so much a love letter to “Back To The Future” as a threatening note wrapped around a dirty old halfbrick and hurled through the windscreen of a DeLorean.
Nevertheless, the various time periods are amusingly (and frugally) rendered, ideas are thrown into the pot in a gleefully hit and miss quantity over quality fashion and the cameos are at least less intrusive this time around. Marina Sirtis, Alaska Thunderfuck (of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”), Leslie Jordan and Tori Spelling are among the more notable appearances (there’s also Dee Snider and Dexter Holland for music lovers out there) but the main eyebrow-raising cameo is from Neil deGrasse Tyson as Merlin, surely once and for all surrendering any moral high ground he might have in giving any other movies shit for being unrealistic or unscientific.
Throughout the adventure, there’s some vague ongoing quest to reunite with Fin’s son Gill, or maybe not – it’s never quite clear and by the time Nova decides to take a selfish, potentially Blinovitch limited detour, the wheels really start to come off the plot wagon and its all just kind of stumbles to a weirdly circular conclusion, like a particularly ga-ga “La La Land”.
The performances of the main cast and much of the guest cast are actually reasonably good, each according to their gifts (I hope Tara Reid kept the receipt). It’s all as mad as box of frogs, of course, and if you’re still playing along at home with pop culture bingo, you can cross of “The Princess Bride”, “Star Trek: First Contact”, “The Sword In The Stone”, “The Terminator” and weirdly, “Trolls”.
For six movies, this series has boldly ignored geography, marine biology, meteorology, physics and plain common sense and while it may not have ended on the highest note, it has at least ended and that is worth celebrating.