Notes Before I hit play: I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into this one. Unlike the first film, I didn’t have anyone telling me how good it was. I didn’t know where it was set and I had no idea what the premise could possibly be if a freak sharknado had already happened in the first movie. I thought maybe it would open with Nova and Matt getting married, and a sharknado would rip through their ceremony like the first few scenes of Spy Kids, or that the crew would pick up from where the first movie ended and they would have to deal with the aftermath of the sharks that fell from the massive sharknadoes on the flooded and unsuspecting city of Los Angeles.
Synopsis: April and Fin are headed to New York for a book signing after their incredibly popular survival guide to sharknadoes blows up. I bet you can’t guess what happens when they arrive in the Big Apple! A sharknado, it’s a sharknado….
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. BUT just because I enjoyed it does NOT mean it was a good movie. In fact, as far as movies go, it was really bad. I think I’m just dying for some semblance of a plot after the review I dropped earlier this week.
That being said, I did enjoy it. For some reason, it felt like the writer really nailed the execution of this one. It felt more like a solid film rather than a power point presentation of kind-of plot and stock footage. it had a theme, it stuck to that theme, and it had a beginning, a middle, and an end that made sense, albeit a cheesy mess that recycled the plot from the first film. It was funnier, featured cameos of SO many famous people, and even forced me to give a shit about one of the characters, which the first movie barely did.
A lot and I mean a LOT of the material from the first film was reused. They recreated the school bus scene to a T, they remade the whole Fin-getting-swallowed-by-a-shark thing happen again, and they even fit in at the end that the last shark of the movie was the one to have swallowed April’s arm. At least the first movie made it believable that Nova was in the belly of that shark, they were still in the L.A. area. The shark that took April’s arm was flying somewhere over New York, it could have landed anywhere.
At this point in the series, if you’re going to continue it, I would hope they’d move on to something a little more interesting. Maybe they can delve into scientists learning about what causes these sharks to migrate the way they do. Maybe, just maybe, we can have an episode more rooted in the relationships between these characters so the dialogue isn’t so weak and the character arcs aren’t pointless. Why hasn’t anyone tried to kill all of the sharks in the ocean to prevent the next sharknado from happening? Why haven’t meteorologists figured out what’s causing the tornadoes? Why does Fin still think he has a shot with April when she barely speaks a handful of lines in each film? Just. Why!??
There are too many unanswered questions here that leave me wanting a movie that explains them all. However, I fear that all we have on the horizon is more sharknadoes and flimsy character relationships.
But let’s worry about that when the time comes. For now, I want to tell you all about this movie.
I had hoped that the second film would somehow pick up where the first one left off. I mean, that was a lot of sharks to just dump off onto the city of LA without any repercussions. We don’t see or hear anything regarding the disaster in LA aside from the references multiple characters make to the first disaster.
So Fin and April are on their way to NYC for a book signing. While they’re there, they’re going to meet up with Fin’s family since, again, his is the only family that matters. Since the first movie, the pair have gotten secretly engaged and written a survival guide for surviving sharknadoes. They’re in a complicated relationship that they haven’t taken public yet, so the writer uses that as an excuse to create unnecessary drama later on, but we’ll get to that. Nova is no where to be found, nor Matt or Claudia. As a matter of fact, neither of the three are mentioned at all in the film as far as I remember, even though Fin is flying in to meet up with his sister, her husband, and their kids.
In true Sharknado fashion, rather than be original with their content, the writers for this film stripped the “old woman on the wing of the plane” scene straight out of the Twilight Zone and used it here to make Fin seem like he was coming undone. He sees a shark on the wing no one else can see. Convinced he’s just seeing things, he does his best to ignore it when concerned flight attendant Kelly Osbourne asks if he’s alright. It’s only a matter of time however, before Fin straps on his plot armor and the plane gets caught up in yet another inexplicable sharknado.
The plane is ripped to pieces. A door flies off, one of the engines cuts, and the pilots are sucked from a broken window when a shark busts through one to eat the copilot. Of course, landing the plane falls to Fin and he does so in true action hero fashion. As he does this though, April ends up in harms way and, while hanging out of the now open door, shoots at approaching sharks. One swoops in and takes her arm with the gun and her engagement ring, and flies away.
As this scene was going on, we were also introduced to Fin’s sister Ellen and her husband Martin, played by Mark McGrath. With them are their two children Vaugh and Mora, two of the worst possible names for anyone ever. Fin apparently grew up in New York and moved to LA at some point during his adult life. Getting all of the backstory about Fin this movie served us really makes me want a prequel at some point in the series, but I digress.
We’re not exactly made aware of the motives of these characters, but we do know that the connecting fiber is Fin. He’s Ellen’s brother, he’s Martin’s childhood best friend, and he’s coming into town to sign books or something.
Martin, Vaughn join two of Fin’s other friends, Skye, played by Vivica A. Fox, and Brian played by Judah Friedlander at a Mets game that apparently Fin has tickets for (even though he’s supposed to be going to his book signing but whatever). Ellen and Mora go to see the Statue of Liberty with two friends of Ellen’s that only exist to be death padding for the mother/daughter duo’s inevitable survival. This all serves the purpose of splitting the group up to create suspense later on, something the first movie desperately needed.
UGH okay, that felt like way too much setup for what the movie is actually about. Of course because it’s the Sharknado series, they deal with a sharknado coming to New York. It’s almost exactly the same movie as before, but the difference this time is that there are more celebrity cameos, it’s happening in New York, and the cast isn’t a bunch of white people.
I’m going to take a second now to talk about Ben. Ben is a sweet old man taxi driver that somehow knows where Fin is at all times and never hesitates to give him a ride wherever and whenever he needs it without collecting fare. Ben is played by Judd Hirsch. When I watched the movie I recognized him instantly, but I didn’t know his name or where I knew him from, turns out I know him because he’s been in a handful of movies I love like A Beautiful Mind and Independence Day. However, I found that the fact that he’s a taxi driver is a nod to his near-decade long role on a show called Taxi so that’s extremely awesome.
Ben is an important character. He’s interesting, he’s kind, humble, and easily my favorite character in this movie and maybe the whole franchise. Something about him makes me incredibly happy. Maybe it’s his refreshing sense of humor that was probably ad-libbed into the script, maybe it’s the fact that he’s a sweet old man, or maybe it’s the fact that the way he was written makes me care about him because he’s the only truly selfless character in the franchise so far. I’m not sure. What I am sure about though, is that his death was devastating and I will never forgive Thunder what’s-his-face for including an actual “jump the shark” pun after he passes. The scene in which Ben dies mirrors the school bus scene from the first film, instead this time, it’s focused on Ben. He lets everyone out of his taxi before he attempts the jump from the hood of his taxi to the hood of another random car in the swelling waves around them. I think the beauty of it is the character setup before the scene with Ben and Fin, as well as the fact that this scene is about Ben, not Fin. Unlike the school bus, this isn’t about Fin being a hero, it’s about Ben overcoming fear to save himself when all his life he’s cared about others first.
I just wanted to make sure I mentioned that scene before I gloss over it like I’m going to do with the rest of this movie.
So the Sharknado gets going, the groups are split between Fin, Martin, Vaughn, and Skye, and Ellen and her daughter Mora with the occasional guest cameo to save them from the rolling decapitated head of Lady Liberty. In the whirlwind, Fin is dealing with his former flame, Skye. Apparently the two had something going on in high school, he moved on, and she didn’t. She didn’t move on to the point that she straight up kissed Fin the second she saw him and made the rest of the movie super awkward. From that point on, she became the thirsty woman trying to get into Fin’s pants, you know, since Nova isn’t in this one.
It seems like there’s always one of those in each movie….wonder if it’ll ever be April.
Anyway…Skye is a hardcore chick that absolutely refuses to take no for an answer. Every time Fin tries to tell her she can’t do something, she says something along the lines of “if you can, why can’t I” and I fucking love the dichotomy between that aspect of her character and the fact that she’s also boiled down to a horn dog.
Because Fin knows how to fix the sharknado issue from last time, he immediately asks the group to help him make bombs for him to catapult into the vortex. But this sharknado is different, it’s bigger, stronger, and full of far more sharks than the last ones were. He even tries to strap the bombs together, but it’s no use. All that does is set the sharks on fire and creates a whole new set of issues with the sharks raining down on innocent civilians that no one cares about…again.
So this time, Fin and Skye have to perform a risky operation to get the tank of Freon to fuse with the lightning rod of a very tall tower and send a chilly blast into the sharknado that’s nearly tripled in size by now. Yeah. I know it sounds really dumb, BUT it also looks dumb too, so you’re fine. Not to mention, once the explosion happens, Skye and Fin get stucked up into the tornado. Skye is ripped to pieces, but Fin’s plot armor allows him to slice through another shark from teeth to tail with his chainsaw, but also RIDE A FUCKING SHARK WITH A CHAIN LEAD AND IMPALE IT ONTO THE LIGHTNING ROD. YEAH. YEAH. I KNOW.
As if all of that isn’t bad enough, once he lands on the roof, he meets back up with April.
Now, I didn’t really mention April in this review because she’s not important and is barely relevant to the story. Most of the film she’s hanging out at the hospital because, you know, losing a hand requires surgery. However, she wants to prove to…everyone I guess that she can do stuff and isn’t useless. At one point near the end, she jumps on a firetruck and goes to the roof with Fin and Skye. We then find out that she’s taken the stump of an arm she had and turned it into a circular saw death machine.
I don’t…yeah. I don’t know.
She stands around, kills like, one shark, and, in the end, Fin is more thankful that she’s there than he was for Skye sacrificing herself to save the town because he was too busy riding sharks.
Of course, one of the dead sharks that lands on the top of the building is the one that contains April’s hand, engagement ring in-tact, and gun still cocked and loaded, totally undigested and ready to fire.
Once the immediate danger of flying sharks has passed, Fin takes the ring from the disgusting prop arm and places it on April’s finger who, of course, agrees to marry him…again? I assumed in the beginning they were already engaged, but okay.
Year Released/Director: 2014, Anthony C. Ferrante
Rating: Passable- This movie could be considered better than horrible.
Favorite Death: There were a lot of great deaths in this film from Wil Wheaton to that dude from Shark Tank, but I think my favorite of the whole film, and I know it’s very similar to what I said last time, but it has to be the giant ass whale shark dropped out of the sky and smushed Ellen’s last remaining friend. Sharks falling from the sky and smushing people is just fucking funny.
Funniest Part: Oh god, where do I start. There were quite a few funny parts in this one so it’ll be hard to choose between slo-mo sharks getting chainsawed in half, prop arms that look like noodles, and the subplot of that guy that was once a baseball legend hitting a home run for his dad with a shark. But I think the scene that takes the cake is when April shows up on the roof with Fin and kills a shark with her new circular saw hand. The scene that preceeded that revelation was simply her looking at a saw, looking at someone else, and saying aloud that she has an idea.
To be fair, we never find out what she does for a living, so maybe she was able to afford that house in the hills with money she made from welding, but I don’t see that happening. It’s never explained how she was able to make the thing work, there are no safeguards applied to it, and she just….shows up with it, uses it once, and then it’s off screen like it never happened.
If you’re going to give your character that has, until now, been a wet blanket that’s sucked one too many lemons and is sexually frustrated, don’t give her something awesome and then not explain it.
What they did right: a few things went right here. For one, the budget was way higher. The sharks looked like sharks, there were clear references to the first that gave the film a sense of nostalgia, there were so many celebrity cameos, Dancing with the Stars was quaking. Also, I loved the fact that this film included more than just sharks getting sucked up into the tornado. I saw a few other animals including an octopus that made me die of laughter when it was thrown up against a window at one point.
Finally, there were people of color in this movie! Not only were they there, but they played important roles! With lines! On top of that, I noticed the film made a point to make sure they were never the first to die in a situation and when they did die, they died the death of heroes. I really love that they made up for the lack of POC faces in the first film.
Thoughts from Interviews:
One interesting tidbit I found was from an interview with Anthony Ferrente, director of the film. He talked about the gore, which was something I also picked up on. It seemed he included blood and gore wherever he good, starting off strong with a longer-than-necessary look at the stump that was April’s arm when her hand was bitten off.
He said “you can’t do a lot of that in a Sharknado movie because, you know, you have sharks doing things they can’t physically do.” I was SO happy to hear that the director even took this into account when making the film.
In the same interview, Ferrante chatted about the copious amounts of celebirty cameos in the film. The interviewer asked whether the actors came first or he wrote them in ahead of time. Ferrante mentioned that he initially wanted Henry Winkler for the role of Ben because of the “jump the shark” line, but instead were given Judd Hersch. I mentioned earlier that it sounded as if all of Judd’s lines were ad-libbed. Turns out they kinda were. Ferrante mentions in this interview that they changed the script multiple times, even to the point where he was sending him new lines via a walkie talking during shooting. Hersch picked them up with no problem or complaint and therefore presented us with an amazing performance. It seems like a lot of people wanted to be in the film, so Ferrante wrote a part for them. That explains why some of the cameos seem a bit disjointed yet somehow work together.
One quote I loved from this interview was “It was a living organism every day. You go on to set, you have eighteen days to shoot a movie like this. We shot it in February, we delivered it in June, we have over 700 visual effects. Try that, Superman. There’s no way…say what you will about these movies, whether they hate it or love it, or it’s rough around the edges, but we pulled off the impossible on both movies and I think that’s part of the fun of the film. It’s not perfect and it’s not planned to a T, so there’s room for things to happen organically.”
Apparently during filming, it was extremely cold. So cold, in fact, literally every interview I found talked about it. I just had to mention that.
Sorry about the interviewer’s audio in this one, it’s not great. What is great is that in this interview, we get to learn where the idea for Sharknado originated. Ferrante said “The idea started a few years ago. An occasional writing partner and I…were coming up with pitches and one of the pitches was Sharknado, and nothing happened initially with it and then when I was writing a script for SyFy, Leprechaun’s Revenge, I loved the title so much I put it in as a joke. It was like there was all these killings happening in the town and going ‘well we gotta cover this up ’cause we don’t wanna have what happened in that other town, remember sharknado? They never lived that down.’ And SyFy just became enamored of the title as much as we had and then suddenly we’re making a movie called Sharknado.
The plane cutting through the clouds like a shark through water, and the pilots discussing whether they had the fish or chicken for dinner are a direct nod to Airplane! (1980), with the aforementioned Robert Hays, once again, playing a pilot.
The characters played by Mark McGrath and Kari Wuhrer are named Martin and Ellen Brody. Those are the same names as Roy Scheider and Lorraine Gary’s characters in Jaws (1975). Their son is named Vaughan, which was the name of Murray Hamilton’s character as the Mayor in Jaws (1975). (Ok fine, maybe that means the names weren’t as dumb as I thought, but you can’t tell me Mora was in Jaws too…)
Wil Wheaton’s appearance in the film had originally been a joke in The Big Bang Theory (2007), season seven, episode twenty-three, The Big Bang Theory: The Gorilla Dissolution (2014), where he gets the opportunity to audition for it after getting fired from another bad horror film.
And finally, I’m saving the best and most mind-blowing bit of trivia for last, “Petunia” (a stuffed opossum which makes an appearance in each movie) can be seen in the shop where Martin and Vaughn go looking for supplies.
YEAH THIS MOVIE HAS A STUFFED OPOSSUM MASCOT! I need to do some digging into that one for sure.
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