Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Movie Review: Suicide Squad (PG13 – 123 minutes)

The comic that introduced the Suicide Squad, also known as Task Force X, was a Brave and the Bold comic in 1959 – but then they got their own run in 1987.  

Essentially, they are an assembling of some of the villains in the DC comics universe; promised time off their sentences for good works done operating out of the Belle Reve Penitentiary under the iron-fist rule of Amanda Waller.  Waller became increasingly suspicious of the Justice League members, wondering what would happen if they ever went too far in taking the law into their own hands, and turned against the people of earth.  In assembling a group of expendable ‘bad guys’ with explosives in their heads to keep them in line, she created a terrible, controllable army – if they failed, it didn’t matter, she could wipe them out and no one would miss them.  The Squad has from time to time had most of the villains from the DC Universe among its ranks, but some of the most notable are Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Enchantress, Captain Boomerang, Nightshade, Plastique, Killer Frost, Slipknot, Paraite, Speedy, Vixen, and King Shark!

It’s an interesting setup, and really allowed some of the more interesting villains in the DC universe to shine in their own anti-heroic moments.  In the animated TV show Justice League Unlimited, Waller was introduced, and basically owned everyone and everything as she did what she felt was necessary to keep the heroes in line.  She was voiced by the incredible C.C.H. Pounder.

The Squad was also introduced on the TV show Smallville – where Waller was played by the legendary Pam Grier. 

Incidentally, Rick Flag on Smallville was played by Ted Whittall.  More on why I’m mentioning him later.

They were actually also done pretty well in an arc on the TV show Arrow. 

Waller was played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and their version of Deadshot played by Michael Rowe gave the line that Will Smith gets in this movie, also yes, Michael Jai White as Bronze Tiger, Sean Maher from Firefly as Mark Scherffer/Shrapnel, and voice Actress Tara Strong voiced Harley Quinn and was prepped to do much more with her.

That arc began and ended very quickly, which seemed strange, as they had been building towards it for the majority of that season.  It was later revealed that because the Cinematic DC Universe was making a Suicide Squad movie, upper level DC/WB execs decided they were not allowed to be used in the TV DC Universe, and had to be eliminated.  A bad move on top of several other bad moves by the DCCU.

This new Suicide Squad movie was plagued by some pre-release movies, having to go back and do reshoots after principle filming was finished earlier this year.  The rumor was that after the success of Deadpool as an R-rated comedic anti-hero movie, the DC head honchos wanted more humor added to Suicide Squad, contrary to the previous DCCU grimness and non-humor existence.  The story builds on the universe built in Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel and continued in his Batman Vs. Superman earlier this year. The government in general and Amanda Waller in particular is a bit spooked by the power that Superman has displayed, and so they are contemplating what to do should he (or the next ‘superman’) turn against them.  Well, Waller has been collecting terrible Meta-humans in Belle Reve, and she’s ready to move forward with Task Force X.  The first third of the movie is introducing the characters by way of her dossier of folks that she uses to convince Admiral Olsen to give her the green light to go ahead with the project, and we get long intros on Deadshot and Harley Quinn, and abbreviated intros on the others (Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang) – hey, the movie knows who you’re there to see, or thinks it does. Each intro gets its own song.

In explaining her plan to him and his cronies – she also introduces them to Dr. June Moone who is currently inhabited by ‘the Enchantress’, a legit witch from a long ago and far away civilization that Dr. Moon accidentally let loose.  Waller gets her green light after the Enchantress proves to be useful in stealing things from armed vaults across the world, and if she tries to get an attitude, Waller just jabs a couple of pokes into the Enchantress’s heart, which Waller keeps in a lockbox.  Olsen and co. are won over, so Waller tells Col. Flag (who just happens to be in love with Moone, which Waller implies she orchestrated), to get Belle Reve to collect her folks, and inject explosives into their necks to keep them in line. 

Spoiler Alert from here down – but really, it almost doesn’t matter.

Suddenly, the movie seems to skip the second act and go right to the third act as the Enchantress tricks Flag, frees her brother, and decides to build a ‘machine’ to destroy humans because they love machines and are no longer worshipping her and her brother.  Seriously.  She takes over most of New Orleans, and Task Force X is called in. Suited and booted, the Squad leaves Belle Reve and heads down to New Orleans with Flag in charge, but not before Slipknot is dropped off to join them – he gets zero intro aside from Flag saying, “Slipknot, the man who can climb anything.”  Katana also suddenly joins them as Flag’s enforcer?

They are told they are there to rescue a high-priority target.  Meanwhile, Enchantress is … I’m not entirely sure what she’s doing, she’s wiggling in front of a swirling circle of debris that has darkened the city while her brother is now like 10 feet tall and destroying anyone and anything that comes near.  They are also turning people into an army of sorts – covering them what looks like computer generated ink with eyeballs.  That’s really the best description I can give.

That created army gives the movie an excuse to have the Squad drop in and battle some easily defeated foes, to remind you that Harley is crazy and Deadshot is a really great shot.  Oh, and the Joker seems to be on his way to get Harley, I guess?  Boomerang tries to get Slipknot to run off with him, leading to Slipknot getting his head exploded – so literally this character was added in maybe 10 minutes prior to this point gets a line and a half – then gets exploded. Flag eventually comes clean about Dr. Moone (they didn’t know this already?) with the squad as they sit quietly in an abandoned hotel bar bonding.

The Squad heads into the building where the target is being held – pretty easily get up to the top to rescue their target, who – surprise – is Waller.  She kills the entire team she was with, because they weren’t cleared for any of this, and they head out.  The Joker has stolen a helicopter – and has the technology to turn off Harley’s neck-exploder – so he grabs her.  Waller asks Deadshot to kill her, but he misses (on purpose), so she asks their forces on the ground to shoot down the copter – which they do, and Harley falls out as it crashes – trying to make you think the Joker didn’t make it.  But you’re not fooled by that nonsense for a minute.  In any case, another helicopter shows up and Waller gets on, saying she’ll send another one for everyone else (which you know is a lie).  Well, that one is taken out by the brother, and Enchantress snatches up Waller and uses her brain to locate some satellite and military targets to eliminate. 

So, the squad decides to go after Waller and the Enchantress and put a stop to this, they head down to the street where Harley is waiting after falling out of a helicopter, and enter the building to fight the witch.  Croc swims up underneath with part of the military that is left to plant a bomb under the brother.  The Enchantress asks the Squad to join her – and gives the Squad members visions of what their life could be…their happiest ideas, but luckily Diablo sees through this, and helps clear the heads of the others.  He then takes on the brother – turning into what I can only describe as an ancient Aztec Fire God? – because he already lost his family, he’s not going to lose this new family (what? When did they have the chance to bond that much? These are bad guys, they don’t bond fast.)  Well, he eliminates the brother, but doesn’t make it through that, and the others battle Enchantress - finally able to defeat her as Harley fakes her out by saying she’ll take her up on her offer to join her.  Luckily – Flag destroys the heart, thinking that will also cause him to lose Dr. Moone, but no worries, all she has to do is peel off the slime left by the Enchantress disintegrates, because they’ll kill off awesome folks like Diablo and Slipknot (to be fair, he wasn’t around long enough to know if he was awesome), and annoying folks like Dr. Moone need to be saved.

Waller shows back up (where was she?) and reminds them all she can still blow off their heads, but they get to make some demands and have lighter prison sentences.  Deadshot gets to see his daughter, Croc gets BET, and Harley gets an espresso machine.  Of course, only until Joker comes to bust her out – surprise, he’s not dead.

The credits then roll, all bright colors and neon lights – one of few moments of lightness and color in the movie – and we get a shot of Waller having a meeting with Bruce Wayne, he wants some info, and promises protection, they both make it very clear that they know everything about the other.  Here’s my problem with that scene – I loved it, because those two actors are phenomenal and I loved seeing them trying to out-power and out-intelligence each other, but I also hated it, because neither Waller nor Batman would ever come to the other for help or ‘protection’.  But hey, whatever, I guess the ones in this version of the universe do, after all, this movie implies that Joker and Harley have a sweet relationship.

Directed by David Ayer – who did Harsh Times, End of Watch, Sabotage (a movie I truly hated) and Fury, the movie is unbelievably choppy, dark (literally and figuratively), and just a mess.  Now, that may be more of a result of editing and studio notes rather than something he did or had control over, but based on End of Watch and Sabotage – I know he does gritty, urban, crime dramas.  Bits of this felt like they wanted to be that.  Again – I legitimately felt that I missed the second part of the movie. Traditionally, movies that assemble a group of heroes (or antiheroes in this case) have act one as the assembling, act two as the preliminary mission, where things don’t go all that well, but we learn more about the characters and they learn to work together.  Then act three is them really gelling as a group and taking out their foe (see the Avengers for a really well done example).  In this, there was no second act – no preliminary mission, no opportunity for the group to get to know and respect one another.  Now, I’m not saying you have to stick to the proven formula – but it seemed really important in this movie in particular, because the movie spent a great deal of time trying to reinforce that these are ‘bad guys’ and don’t care about anyone but themselves – so I really didn’t buy that they were that bonded by the time they go on their first mission (which is the climax of this movie), because they are bad guys and wouldn’t care about anyone else. Maybe because they are villains on borrowed time already, they bond super fast?  Still seems unlikely.  My issues with the movie are with the directing, writing, and edition – not with the acting. I liked the cast (for the most part) and thought they all did well with what they were handed.

  • Will Smith is definitely the lead, and if you enjoyed the movie Focus, which he led and co-starred Margot Robbie (I did not), here’s their big reunion.  I enjoyed Will’s performance, I liked the scenes with his daughter, explaining how and why he was caught by Batman.  I think it would be interesting to see a Deadshot movie, and Will could certainly pull it off, with less supporting cast forced into the movie, he would have had more of a chance to shine – he’s a leading man, and sometimes ensemble casts don’t work well with leading men.  He had the Deadshot mask, but only wears it like twice, because hey – come on, he’s Will Smith, you have to see his face.

  • Margot Robbie plays Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Arkham Asylum psychiatrist who the Joker manipulates into becoming Harley Quinn.  Now, you can do your own research on the nature of Joker and Harley’s relationship over the years, but it’s always been that she’s madly (emphasis on the ‘mad’) in love with him and he’s far too much of a sociopath to love her. She’s more of a tool or possession to him.  So, him being portrayed as a bit lovesick for her in this movie makes no sense.  But – Robbie’s performance is pretty good.  I hated the outfit, especially since there was one brief scene that she was in the original red and black outfit.  But, she does a good job – she’s annoying and vicious, right where Harley should be.

  • By this time, you’ve already heard the stories about how Jared Leto stayed ‘in character’ the whole tiem they were shooting the movie, sending bullets and dead animals to his costars (that’s not method acting, that’s just being a dick).  You’ve also probably heard him complain about how much of his work as the Joker was cut from this movie.  Personally, they could have cut more and I wouldn’t have complained.  I didn’t care for his performance, and I didn’t think it was necessary. It was almost confusing to have him in the movie – really he should have only been in the Harley flashbacks.   Also – yes, that was Common that he bullies in that one scene for no reason.

  • Jai Courtney plays Captain Boomerang, one of the Flash’s villains.  He seemed to be the comic relief, or this movie’s attempt at comic relief.  He’s just fine, and finally got to use his own Australian accent.  He was loud, obnoxious, and entertaining – but I really wanted more actual boomerang action.  He didn’t really use them enough. Not mentioning the pink unicorn thing – not sure if that’s from the comics. It seems like a direct Deadpool pull. I will say I was super excited during his flashback sequence, because we saw the Flash catch him – and for a moment, I was happy to see the Flash – but then I remembered it was Ezra Miller Flash, and not Grant Gustin, and I was all disappointed again.

  • Jay Hernandez plays el Diablo – and he was one of my favorite parts.  Visually interesting, and morally more complicated than the other characters – he stole the scenes he was in.  Not a true supervillain as much as a small time gangster with some uncontrollable pyrokinetic abilities. Again – I was super confused as to why he felt these folks were his new family after about 6 hours together, but hey – I loved the transformation at the end.

  • Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje plays Killer Croc, and I loved the look –which is something, considering my favorite Killer Croc is the version from the Arkham games, and he’s like 8 feet tall.  I was thrilled they went with all prosthetics and makeup, although AAA (as he’s known) is so beautiful, I would have also loved to see just him.  In any case, Killer Croc was woefully underused, he had three lines, one swimming scene, and lots of glaring in the background. He’s so interesting, I really would have liked more on him – he’s a character that suffered because of the overflowing amount of characters in the movie.

  • The wonderful Adam Beach plays Slipknot – who again, is introduced in one scene and killed in the next.  We learned nothing about the character, who he was, what he was doing, how he was caught – nothing.  Such a waste of what could have been a really interesting character – again, really suffers from too many characters.

  • Karen Fukuhara plays Katana, who similarly to Katana on Arrow – possesses a sword that contains the souls of all the people it has killed.  She shows up in one scene then stays quietly in the background of several others. She gets one flashback – but not much else.  She felt really forced in, again – a shame, because on Arrow – she was slowly and carefully developed over an entire system.

  • Joel Kinnaman plays Rick Flag – who is manipulated into first dating Dr. Moone, then loving Dr. Moone, then leading this group of maniacs to rescue Dr. Moone, all by Waller.  He does a good job, but really, it didn’t require much from him. 

  • Model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne plays Dr. Moone and the Enchantress, and was boring as Dr. Moone and even more boring as the Enchantress.  I can’t figure out why they chose Enchantress to be the big bad of this movie, and I don’t think Delevingne was strong enough to carry the villain role in a movie full of villains.

  • Alan Chanoine plays the businessman that the Enchantress turns into her brother.

  • Scott Eastwood plays Lieutenant Edwards – who seems to be Flag’s right hand man, but honestly, the movie was so dark, I barely remember seeing him in the movie.

  • Surprisingly, Ike Barinholtz is in this movie, and plays the guard at Belle Reve, who is an all-around jerk to all the inmates, and easy for the Joker to manipulate into assisting him.

  • Remember how I mentioned Ted Whittall played Rick Flag on Smallville? Well, he’s in this movie, and plays Admiral Olsen, the one who eventually gives Waller the go-ahead with Task Force X.  I can’t help but wonder if he said to anyone on set, “You know, back when I was Rick Flag…”

  • Viola Davis plays Amanda Waller, and yes – she is that good. She steals every scene she’s in, and really gives Waller the trademark coldness, intelligence, and all-around hard-assness that the character is known for.  She was wonderful – and again, I loved the scene between her and Affleck because of her and Affleck, not because of the scene.  I hope she’s the through-line in all the DCCU movies coming forward, I think they would al l benefit from her presence.

Overall, I didn’t care for it.  I was just a mess of a movie – a lot of potential.  It’s a shame, because there were so many interesting characters – which you have to have in this movie – but so many of them felt forced and rushed because so much time was given to Harley and Deadshot.  And yes, I get that Will Smith and Margot Robbie are being pushed as the stars of this movie, and I enjoyed both of them, but perhaps to balance the movie better, maybe you needed less well known actors in those roles – to give the other characters more time?  I’m not sure.  And while the scenes that were edited out may help to clarify the holes and issues I had, honestly, I didn’t enjoy this enough to want to go back and watch more – which is the same reaction I had to the BvS extended edition. I just didn’t care enough to make the effort.

5 out of 10.  There were parts I liked, but the problem was that those parts were buried in too much random nonsense.

Bonus – More Amanda Waller v. Batman.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Movie Review: Jason Bourne (PG13 – 123 minutes)

Jason Bourne was created by Robert Ludlum for his book the Bourne Identity in 1980 – which was actually first adapted for TV in 1988.  

In 2002, the novel was loosely adapted into a feature film starring Matt Damon and directed by Doug Liman.  It is the best example of the shift in action-movie leads from the giant, larger-than-life heroes of the 80s and 90s (Schwarzenegger, Stallone, VanDamme, etc.) into a more realistic, skilled, everyman.  The movie style also signified a shift from the bombastic action movie to a smarter, more thriller-type action movie, which took itself far more seriously and was more tightly directed – less ‘splosions, more self-doubt and introspection.

Matt Damon was a unique choice for Bourne, having been mostly recognized for really smart independent dramas up to that point.  In the novels, Bourne was a much older man, but Damon really suited the part for this confused hero.  Bourne wakes up after being rescued by fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea; he has no memory of who he is or why he was unconscious in the water, but he suddenly realizes he has a very particular set of skills.  Following clues starting with a laser pointer embedded in his hip – he begins to realize he was a hitman working for the CIA under Operation Treadstone.  Treadstone seems to be a program that was brainwashing and enhancing ‘volunteers’ to create the perfect soldier…or several soldiers.  Along the way, he gets help from a woman named Marie Kreutz; and in a roundabout way from another CIA associate Nicky Parsons.  The movie wraps up pretty tightly, with Bourne helping to expose Treadstone, and retiring to Mykonos with Marie.
That was all pretty great, and if you haven’t seen it in a while – watch it again.  Of course, it did really well, and since there are a whole bunch of the Bourne novels – we got three other movies.  

The Bourne Supremacy in 2004 and the Bourne Ultimatum in 2007 were both directed by Paul Greengrass (there was also the Bourne Legacy in 2008 with Jeremy Renner, but it was both connected and unconnected, and that’s a little confusing).  Greengrass took Liman’s tight action style to heart and developed his own trademark style.  And by style – I mean completely ignoring the fact that the Steadicam was invented and instead shooting everything with handheld cameras.  This results in the audience feeling like they are part of the action, inside the fights and chases with Bourne.  It’s a style I hate, but that others love – which is fine, to each their own. Personally, I prefer the action and fights shot from a distance (with a Steadicam).  The actors worked really hard on that fight choreography – pull back so that I can see it.  Don’t stick the camera in between them so that I feel like I’m getting punched. I’m not here to get punched or be in the backseat during a car chase – I’m here to watch a bunch of actors get punched or be in a car chase.

In any case – the movies continued Bourne’s search for himself and the cause of his strife – which really kept being varying levels of CIA Black Ops programs. Supremacy wasn’t great, and Ultimatum wasn’t bad – I particularly like how it tied up nice and neat with Bourne floating in the water, the same way he had started this mess.  It seemed like a great end to the trilogy, so I think you’ll understand when I refer to this new movie as mostly unnecessary.   

We pick up a decade after Bourne exposed Blackbriar/Treadstone and then disappeared – he’s basically wandering around the world participating in underground fights to make some money…as you do when you’re a spy with amnesia.  

Ex-CIA analyst, Nicky Parsons, is busy hacking the CIA and dumping all their black ops programs online when she accidentally discovers something about Bourne’s father – so requests to meet up with him in Greece during a huge protest.  Well, the CIA is on to her pretty quickly, and the head of their cyber ops division, Heather Lee, and the CIA Director, Robert Dewey, start tracking her down so they can get Bourne.  Dewey pulls another ‘asset’ to eliminate Bourne, while Lee asks if she can instead attempt to bring him in.  The ‘asset’ is all about going after Bourne, because due to Bourne’s actions in exposing Treadstone, the ‘asset’ was captured and tortured years ago – so he’s harboring a major grudge.

Parsons gets eliminated pretty quickly, but manages to get Bourne a key, which he follows to a locker and finds her research, which leads him to another operative, which the CIA tracks again.   He grabs the former operative in London – and learns that his own father was the one who came up with Treadstone/Blackbriar, and was killed once he protested his son’s recruitment into the program.  And all this time, Bourne thought he was volunteering – but his father created the program and the CIA went after him in particular!  This all came out of nowhere, and was never mentioned in any of the other movies, but hey – whatever.

While all this is going on while Dewey is making a deal with Aaron Kalloor, the CEO of a social media enterprise company called Deep Dream, to allow the CIA to use Deep Dream to essentially spy on everyone all the time.  Kalloor is beginning to regret his decision to partner with Dewey, and is thinking about pulling out.
After Bourne evades capture by Lee in London – he gets back in touch with her to learn that Dewey is behind all this and he’s about to be on a panel with Lee and Kalloor in Vegas (what? Is the CIA director really doing tech panels in Vegas?).  In any case, Bourne also heads to Vegas the same time as the other ‘asset’, who Dewey has now reassigned to kill Kalloor, Lee, still Bourne, and really anyone else who gets in his way.  

Bourne gets there just in time to prevent the hits, take out Dewey in his Aria hotel suite, allow Lee to let him get away, then have an unbelievably epic car chase with the asset up and down the strip before finally crashing into the Rivera; defeating him, and once again walking away.  He meets up with Lee in Washington D.C., who seems to be about to get a big-time promotion, and records her as she offers to either bring Bourne in, or put him down if necessary.  Then he walks off into the sunset as Moby plays – again.

Greengrass is once again behind the handheld camera here, and while I found the camera shakiness annoying in some of the others, I found it almost unbearable here.  The extensive car chases with the shaking were actually on the verge of making me nauseous. I get that he loves that as a device, but it’s so unnecessary in every single scene.  There are scenes in this movie where characters take out a cell phone to read a text, which the audience is supposed to also read, but the camera is shaking so much you cannot read it. No need to use a handheld there and no need to use handheld for simple conversations.  That aside, the story also felt unnecessary – no mention of Webb’s (Bourne’s real name) father had ever come up in any previous movie, so to make the whole point of this movie a revenge story since Dewey was the man who hired the asset to kill Bourne’s father felt really forced.  In terms of the cast, they were all very good – I honestly have no complaints there.
  • Matt Damon is still fantastic as Bourne.  He’s confused and angry – mostly angry because he’s confused. In this one he continues to get angrier once he find out his father was murdered. I am a fan of Damon, and I like him in these movies.  Think about how much better BvS would have been with him as Lex Luthor – with a more quiet, intelligent, menace…

  • Tommy Lee Jones plays CIA director Dewey – and he’s great, but you’re never fooled by him into thinking he’s a good guy – he’s pretty villainous almost the whole time, but he’s great at that, so I’ll go with it.

  • Alicia Vikander plays Heather Lee, and I actually really liked her very cold, calculating performance here.  Similar to her Ex Machina robot – but less emotional!  For a moment, you think she may be on Bourne’s side, wanting to help him by bringing him in, but then you realize that she’s using it as career-boosting power, which really makes her more layered and interesting.

  • Vincent Cassel plays the ‘asset’ who spends tons of time chasing Bourne around. He’s got very little to do, which is a shame, because he’s really an interesting guy.  I couldn’t help but think when they were running around Vegas that he did the same amount of running around Vegas in Ocean’s 13.  If you want to see what he can do – watch Brotherhood of the Wolf – it’s a French movie starring Cassel and his wife Monica Bellucci, and it’s really weird but good.

  • Julia Stiles plays Nicky Parsons again – and she felt really flat in this. I couldn’t tell if that was as choice, or simply her, but either way, it didn’t seem to match the intensity of the information she was trying to pass on, since that’s really what gets Bourne out of hiding and back into the game.

  • Riz Ahmed plays Aaron Kalloor, the head of Deep Dream, who is basically a Silicon Valley character. If you’re not watching Silicon Valley on HBO – you should be.

  • Ato Essandoh plays CIA agent Craig Jeffers – and his job is really just to go around with Dewey and give him updates on where Bourne is and what he’s up to.

Overall, the whole movie just felt unnecessary, which is a shame, because I was really looking forward to it.  The action might have been good, but the camera was shaking so much I couldn’t really see it.  The car chase at the end went on forever, which is interesting if you’ve ever spent any time on the Vegas Strip – you know there’s almost no way to have a car chase there, first because of traffic, and second, because it’s not really as long as it seems to be in this movie.  I enjoyed the cast, for the most part, and I wanted it to be better – but really, skip this one and just rewatch the original. 

4 out of 10 – removing extra points for the shaky camera work.
Cast Interviews:

Bonus – Brotherhood of the Wolf, so weird and French – but really entertaining!

Monday, August 1, 2016

TV Movie Review: Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens

Welcome to the beautiful disaster that are the Sharknado movies. Hard to believe we’re already on the fourth one!  SyFy tends to create a lot of silly creature feature movies – they are filled with D-grade celebrities and insanely terrible writing, special effects, and acting – but all of that is what makes them so absolutely watchable.  As long as you understand you’re watching total crap – it’s a good time.

Sharknado first aired in 2013, staring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid fighting to reunite their family while battling a tornado filled with sharks.  That one speculated that global warming was causing sharks to mass in unnatural numbers while a freak hurricane occurred above – when tornadoes spun off the hurricane, they sucked up the sharks and dumped them into the flooded streets of L.A. The movie was an unexpected hit due to viewers live-tweeting their shock and awe.  And so a franchise – based mainly on Ian Ziering’s confidence in his over-committal - was spawned. 

You’ll remember that the last one ended with Fin pulling his wife, April, and their infant son out of the belly of a great white shark as she had given birth there while falling back to earth from space – where they had to leave Fin’s father, Gil, on the moon after he fired a space laser that disrupted the bank of sharknados along the east coast.  The movie ended with fans getting to choose April’s fate by tweeting #AprilLives or #AprilDies as she appeared to be directly in the path of falling space debris.  I tweeted that she should live, because after you give birth to your baby in the belly of a great white as it falls back to earth from space – really, nothing should kill you.

This movie picks up five years on from that point, billionaire Aston Reynolds has created company Astro-X, and installed Astro-Pods around the earth that are able to eliminate sharknados as soon as they crop up.  He’s also developed better space travel so he was able to rescue Colonel Gil Sheppard (Fin’s Dad) from the moon.  Gil is now working with Fin’s daughter Claudia at Astro-X, developing a mechanized suit with the assistance of a scientist named Wilfred – who we later learn is April’s dad.
Fin and his now five year old son are on his mother’s farm in Kansas.  Young Gil is drawing family pics with his mother as a shark (not even going to get into that…) and they are still in mourning from losing April – apparently she was in a coma for four years, and they finally pulled the plug.  

Well, Fin and his cousin Gemini mention that Nova is in Paris (to quickly explain why she is not in this movie), and they are heading to Las Vegas because Aston Reynolds is celebrating five years of being Sharknado free by opening a huge Vegas hotel/casino called SharkWorld.  Fin’s son Matt is scheduled to meet them there after being in the military for the last few years.  His military service has really changed him. I don’t mean emotionally, I mean literally changed him into a different actor than he was in the first movie.  In any case, new Matt and his fiancĂ©e Gabby are about to get married while skydiving when a sharknado hits.  This allows for all kinds of Sharknado-Vegas bits as a shark eliminates CarrotTop’s head, they swarm through a casino, and the Chippendales dancers get to fight falling sharks.

Fin and Gemini jump into action (literally) to save Matt and Gabby during their dive – and then, in a moment of pure genius (or nonsense), Fin hijacks the pirate ship from in front of the Treasure Island hotel to sail down the flooded strip, narrowly evading a ‘sharkberg’ formed from falling sharks.  And that’s just the cold open.

At this point we learn that April is still alive – well, sort of alive.  Her father, Wilfred, has turned her into a cyborg of some sort, rebuilding what he could of her from the bits that were left after the space wreckage hit her. He’s told her that Fin, the baby, Gil – everyone else basically, died, so she’s spending her time doing cyborg training montages.

Aston and his crew realize that the reason their systems didn’t disrupt the Vegas Sharknado is because it was sand-based, not water-based, like a regular Sharknado (what? How did the sharks get … you know what, nevermind. The science is sound).  They bring Fin, Gemini, Matt and Gabby down to Texas where Aston is based to talk it through – and they decide to drive to Kansas. Meanwhile, a sharknado – with ice and hail in it (hail-nado?) pops in over San Francisco – just as April learns Fin is still alive from a news conference, and breaks out of her holding area in time to save Gil and Claudia from being sucked up into the hailnado by catching their car WITH HER HANDS.  Aston comes to get them after they yell at Wilfred for telling everyone that everyone else was dead.  Then they head out to meet the others in Kansas.

Okay – so the Vegas Sand-sharknado headed down to Texas, and while Fin and Co. fight it – it crosses over an oilfield, becoming, you guessed it – an oil-nado.  It hits power lines, there’s a spark, and sure enough – the oil catches fire – so now you have a fire-nado – but still with sharks inside, so it’s spewing out firey sharks as it twists over Texas.  Fin uses a large bit of machinery and some fire extinguishers to defeat that ‘nado, and the hail-nado has been taken out – but there’s still one over the central U.S., a large sharknado that went through Salt Lake City, and is now heading straight to Kansas. It also rolls over a farm, picks up cows, and the cows were fighting the sharks inside of it.
As Fin and all drive north, after some help from his lavalantula-fighting buddy Colton (I can’t even get into that now), the remaining ‘nado hits the world’s largest ball of twine, filling it with sharks, and causing it to roll down the streets just as they arrive in Kansas to rescue Fin’s mom and son. Gabby gets hit by falling sharks as Matt, Gemini, and Fin get into the farmhouse to rescue little Gil.  Then, concurrently, we are introduced to the mayor of Chicago – who has launched into a tirade on TV about how all these sharknados are actually Fin’s fault and he’s not allowed in Chicago – not really an issue, since he’s still in Kansas – but of course, the house gets picked up in the storm, and carried to Chicago – where it falls on the mayor, wicked witch-style.

Aston’s plane lands with April, Gil and Claudia – and April heads into the ruined farmhouse to rescue Fin and little Gil.  Now, the Sheppard clan is completely reunited on Aston’s plane as they come up with a plan to stop the ‘nado, which is complicating things by rolling through the Perry nuclear plant in Ohio and heading towards Niagra Falls – now a full-blown nuclearnado filled with radioactive sharks.  The science is sound.

Everyone heads to Niagra Falls for the final showdown, and they get a slow-motion walk up.  Inevitably, they manage to shut down the nuclear-nado, with Fin using the completed mechano-suit, and April revealing that she CAN FLY.  She can straight-up fly because she’s mostly cyborg.  Of course, every member of the family gets swallowed by different sharks, Russian nesting-doll-style (seriously) ending with Fin getting swallowed by a large great white that then gets swallowed by a whale. Where did the whale come from (whale-icane?)?  Little Gil is the only one left out – so he takes his baby chainsaw and jumps into the whale, rescuing each member of the family in turn. They all crawl out of the ick to stand triumphantly together just as the Eiffel Tower spins in and lands in front of them with a lone figure on it. Looking up at it, Fin says, “Nova?!” 

Honestly, I was exhausted after watching it – emotionally and mentally drained, and my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. Really, they outdid themselves this time.  Props to writer Thunder Levin (yes, that is his real name) and director Anthony C. Ferrante.  The movie is so much insane fun.  The cast keeps expanding in terms of celebrity cameos – but the core is pretty much the same.
  • Once again – half of the success is Ian Ziering, and his decision to pay Finley Allan Sheppard with complete and total dedication.  He’s in on the joke, but playing it so incredibly seriously really adds to the fun.

  • Tara Reid plays April, and I never thought I would say this – but she’s better in this one! She actually seems to be a little more self-aware (instead of half-asleep), and really, that training montage was hilarious.

  • Ryan Newman plays Claudia Shepphard in both this one and the third, but is not the same Claudia as in the first one. And that’s a good thing, because Newman is way more fun and aware.

  • Cody Linley (yes, Jake from Hannah Montana if that means anything to you) plays new Matt, and again – he’s way better than the previous Matt. 

  • Imani Hakim plays Matt’s wife Gabby, they met in the military and had a whirlwind romance (see what I did there?) but it was unfortunately cut short after sharks fell on her.  Too bad, because she was awesome while she was around.

  • Masiela Lusha is new this time around as Fin’s cousin Gemini – I’m not going to lie to you, I missed the explanation of who she was, and I kept thinking of her as not-Nova until I thought maybe she was his sister?  But no, cousin – she’s pretty fun and action-ready.

  • David Hasselhoff plays Gil, Fin’s father – and continues to match Ziering’s intensity.  Especially fun this go round was that he got to interact with Baywatch alums Alexandra Paul and Gena Lee Nolin again as they played two Astro-X technicians who got killed by nuclear sharks because they were slow-motion running away from the nuclear-nado.

  • Gary Busey plays Wilfred Wexler – April’s father. Honestly, I completely believe Busey and Reid are related.

  • Tommy Davison plays Aston Reynolds – and this may have been the role he’s been meant to play. He matches the silliness of the tone perfectly, and I particularly enjoyed the cameo from his Living Color co-star T’Keyah Crystal Keymah as one of his techs.

  • The rest are basically cameos, and honestly this time there were pretty much too many to mention, but here’s a few:  Carrot Top, Vince Neil, Wayne Newton, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Jillian Barberie, Stacey Dash, Dan Yeager, Dr. Drew, David Faustino, Kym Johnson, Gilbert Gottfried, Paul Shaffer, and Seth Rollins. 

Overall – it’s complete nonsense.  Turn off your brain and enjoy the ride. You’re going to encounter multiple people who will tell you it’s dumb.  Yes, of course it’s dumb, that’s the point.  Remember, tell them the science is sound, and if they persist, throw a knunch their way.  That’s the simultaneous knee-punch that is really hard to defend.

10 of 10 – because, why not. Gained points for the Star Wars quotes and references, the Wizard of Oz quotes and references, and all the other quotes and references.

Bonus – Comic Con Panel!