We’ve I’ve seen it all—Dinoshark, Sharktopus, Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus, Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus. But to all Syfy television leeches’ delights, The Asylum managed to plug new variables into its inexplicably successful science-fiction-monster-attack formula. Thursday’s premiere was simply disaster times three: a natural disaster, an oceanic creature capable of disaster, and a Hollywood disaster (but you’ll always hold a special place in our hearts, Tara Reid).
So you don’t confuse it with Citizen Kane, this shark attack thriller follows Fin Shepard and friends as they fight to save the Santa Monica coast from shark-infested tornados that are mutilating the city. It opens on a shark poacher with a fantastic Eastern European twang, wheeling and dealing with a businessman over a monetary exchange for the creatures. The best part of this scene? Stacks of hundreds are stealthily stored in a tackle box. But as the boat is surrounded by both shivers of sharks and the whirlwinds of Hurricane David, the beasts begin to fall out of thin air quite literally onto the crew on deck, swallowing men whole. The boat loses, and we move on to a perfectly cliched swimsuit-sprinkled California beach scene.
Sexy surfer girls, bikini-clad bartenders, and a lovable local drunk copping a feel at the counter ease the audience into the film only to discover it’s a stinted calm before the storm. The hurricane hits right away, and the bar owner Fin (original 90210 alum and recent Chippendales host Ian Ziering), his surfer buddy Baz (Jaason Simmons), and employee Nova (Cassie Scerbo) tag-team to take on the shark storm that breaks through the windows and doors with a baseball bat, shotgun, and barstool.
Fin realizes that his estranged family living in the hills may not fully comprehend the weather brutalities to come. The troops pile into a jeep and head to higher lands, where his hateful wife April (Reid) and resentful daughter Claudia (Aubry Peeples) reside. Bad news continues to surface as April’s new beau attempts to take the alpha-male position in Fin’s family circle. Fortunately, a shark takes care of Fin’s male competition before the film even attempts to muddle the blissfully uncomplicated plot with a love triangle.
Off they go to save a school bus of children, an old folks home, and most importantly, the entire city from the three tornados consuming anything and everything in their paths. Thankfully Fin and April share a son, Matt (Chuck Hittinger), who happens to be in flight school, fully prepared to toss bombs into the sharknados from training helicopters, which will somehow blow the twisters and sharks to smithereens. Our tomboy, badass, bartender friend Nova (who loads a shotgun quite sexily, according to Fin) has a Tom Brady arm and sinks the first bomb into the sweet spot of one tornado. But as a shark flies out of thin air and attaches its jaw to the chopper, Nova falls out of the helicopter and into the storm in a failed attempt to stab the beast.
Matt lands the chopper safely and reunites with his family, but only managed to destroy two of three sharknados. With no time to mourn the loss of Nova and Baz—who was caught in a twister and disappears into the hurri-chaos—Fin drives another bomb into the final tornado and saves the day. But turning his back for a second was not a safe idea as a giant great white bullets through the air towards him. With a buzzing chainsaw in hand, Fin is swallowed by the shark temporarily, only to make a speedy but gutty exit by slicing the shark’s slide and slipping out through its flesh.
The sun is shining, the family is reunited, and NOVA IS ALIVE! What a sweet coincidence that the shark Fin chainsawed in the throat was also the one that swallowed Nova as she fell to her watery grave (or so we assumed). With a few sputters and some sexy mouth-to-mouth action from Matt, Nova and the Shepard family stare off into shark guts and sunset. “What a day,” Fin jokes, the credits roll, and we begin realizing just how much we will shamelessly appreciate the pinnacles of this film.
Why we love it:
It’s honest. The title doesn’t attempt to fool the audience. The first scene doesn’t even matter and never is readdressed. The characters speak entirely in elementary dialogue and tornado-fish puns, and it realizes we needed a little bit of that Cassie Scerbo eye candy. The film oh-so-generously went straight to TV so we could enjoy it in from our own couches, and the in-home commentary may be the highlight of the 90 minutes.
It’s a political commentary. It reminds us that we should all be aware of the negative affects of global warming and never underestimate the potentials of Mother Nature. Alternatively, it encourages you to dive even deeper into the sea of possible interpretations. Is it the work of God? Is it an apocalypse of sorts as the news broadcaster suggests before she is eaten alive on TV? But the convenience store clerk nails it: “It’s the Government, with a big capital G. They’re behind everything. They know what we buy, they know what we eat, when we go to the bathroom. They know what kind of cheese I like.”
It’s scientific. “Bombs. Instead of letting live sharks rain down on people, we’re going to get into that chopper, throw bombs into the tornado, and blow those bastards to bits!” Matt uses his flight school training to calculate a flawless solution to the shark-littered twisters wreaking havoc across L.A. Baz teaches his disciples that a tornado is just two winds blowing at different speeds that combine and rotate together. Fin, Matt, and Baz combine their masterful knowledge of nature and physics only to inform us that you can actually just throw a homemade bomb into the center of the cyclone to neutralize it, and the sun comes out immediately after detonation.
It’s thought-provoking. Despite its obvious tone, Sharknado leaves us with questions and stimulating possibilities for round-table discussion. Where are all of the other ocean creatures? Are sharks the only fish that are tornado-compatible? Can a shark fit in my sewage system? Does the government know what kind of cheese I like?
It’s an hour-and-a-half of ridiculous, slapstick, theatrical, scientifically-impossible fun. With few tricks up its sleeve, Sharknado only adds to the list of hysterical Syfy monster-dramas that make for a shamelessly brainless 90 minutes well-spent. And as the movie tagline affirms, “Enough said.”