July 14, 2013

Sharknado (2013)

"A freak hurricane hits Los Angeles, causing man-eating sharks to be scooped up in tornadoes and flooding the city with shark-infested seawater."

Since I mentioned it in my last post, I suppose I ought to say something about "Sharknado". What better movie to review for "Surprise Sunday" especially as the biggest surprise is that I actually liked it?

Yes, I can find very little wrong with "Sharknado" other than the obviously awful effects and scientific impossibilities. It's very nicely paced, has some amusing gore, lots of action, and even a couple of decent moments of suspense. As far as disaster movies go, "Sharknado" is as exciting as any of the Summer blockbusters. In particular, there's a sequence with a Ferris wheel which is really outstanding considering the low-budget.

I didn't get bored, although I nearly did during the school bus rescue scene and a bit of superfluous family drama near the end, so I'm going to rate "Sharknado" as one of the best movies from The Asylum that I've ever seen. Take that with a huge pinch of salt though because I've only seen half a dozen of their products anyway. Clearly some talent was accidentally allowed to sneak in which I doubt will ever happen again. The Asylum have been trying for years to make an intentionally "so bad it's good" cult movie, but more through luck than judgement, they got the balance right this time.

Enough said!

Having got the praise out of the way, it's time to look at the more negative aspects.

"Sharknado" is, of course, a "B movie". Worse than that, it's more like a C, D, E or F movie, but it's certainly not "Z grade" like most of the theatrical films that I've reviewed recently. There's entertainment to be had here if you are in the right frame of mind, or even if you aren't. A lot of message board snobs have said that they'll only watch "Sharknado" with a load of beer on board, but there's no need for that unless you want to make a party out of it.

The acting is TV quality which is in keeping with this being a TV movie, but some of it is uncommonly bad. The biggest name in the film is John Heard, and he's beyond awful. Maybe it's his age or the fact that he just didn't care that much, but his performance is painfully embarrassing to watch.

Ian Ziering does a fairly decent job as the annoying lead character named Fin (geddit?) who doesn't realise the "no good deed goes unpunished" rule no matter how many times it slaps him in the face. That surprised me because I absolutely loathed him when he used to play Steve in "Beverly Hills 90210". What a difference almost a quarter of a century makes! Mind you, I only used to watch that show for Shannen Doherty so I barely registered Ian Ziering and didn't ever know his real name.

I still don't really know who Tara Reid is. I know she's in a couple of movies which I have on DVD ("The Big Lebowski" and "Urban Legend"), but I can't say that I recognised the name or was able to put a face to it even with that information. Apparently she plays Fin's equally irksome ex-wife, but if you'd told me that she was the daughter I wouldn't have been any wiser. Neither of them do much in this movie so Tara Reid's status in my mind isn't going to change.

You're going to need a bigger bookcase!

Cassie Scerbo, the pretty, shotgun-toting brunette with a slightly wonky nose, steals every scene she's in, so if anyone will be remembered from "Sharknado" in a 100% positive way, it'll be her. She alternates from cute to sexy in a heartbeat and may be someone to look out for in the future. It seems that she was in "Bring It On: In It to Win It" (2007), but I don't remember too much about that or if I ever watched it. She'd probably be great as a final girl in a real horror movie.

There's not much else to say about "Sharknado" as it's just a bit of fun. Apart from a couple of stunts, all the action was done with CGI and green screens, plus some models and a couple of latex mock-ups, so make of it what you will.

I think there was more talent shown with this computer generated silliness than in movies with a far bigger budget so I'll not-so-grudgingly give out praise where it's due. The stars of the show are the often incongruous effects, but getting the movie to look half as good as it does with the budgetary contraints and schedule must have taken some doing. Realistically, I can imagine that it was a lot less fun for everybody behind the scenes. Whoever did the post-production editing had such a great sense of timing that they also deserve some kind of award.

I have no hesitation in recommending "Sharknado" as the "must see" SyFy channel movie of 2013. Since I'm an "elitist prick" rather than a hipster, I'm definitely not saying that to be ironic. I couldn't care less if it makes me look like a hypocrite either. There's an exception to every rule and liking "Sharknado" serves me right for making rules for myself in the first place.

"Sharknado" isn't something that I'm ever going to buy on DVD (unless it's in a multipack), but it's certainly worth a rental once it comes to Redbox in September. I'm sure it'll be reshown ad nauseum before then though.

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