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 fiancée 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!