As far as TV events go, you could do a whole lot worse than Thursday night’s ‘Sharknado’ premiere. A Syfy original movie – and oh boy I hope you know what that means, so you knew in advance what you were getting into – ‘Sharknado’ hits all the notes you’d hope that a movie titled ‘Sharknado’ would hit.
First and foremost, there are multiple tornadoes filled with sharks, though that doesn’t come until the final act. Most of the movie is more of a “Sharkflood”, with Los Angeles flooding and sharks terrifying people in the streets.
That does little to dampen the fun, however, thanks largely to a shockingly good lead performance by Ian Ziering. The ‘90210’ alum commits to this role with impressive enthusiasm, single-handedly willing the film into having some semblance of tension despite simply abysmal special effects and a slew of supporting performances ranging from “passable” to “catastrophic”.
‘Sharknado’ is structured like a ‘Grand Theft Auto’-style video game, with Ziering, his ex-wife, his buddy, and his girlfriend (?) completing a variety of “missions” as they make their way through Los Angeles to an indeterminate end point. There’s a bus of kids to be rescued, old people to be helped out of the pool, etc. Throughout all of it, Ziering does both the physical and emotional heavy lifting, and pulls it off as well as anyone could possibly ask for.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for his co-star Tara Reid. If Ziering was the lightning rod, Reid was the limp noodle, sleepwalking through the entire movie in an obviously mailed-in performance. It’s too bad, because had the struggling starlet known what kind of social media traction this movie would have, maybe she’d have considered putting her best foot forward.
Everything culminates with one of the most ridiculous and satisfying set pieces you’ll ever see in a movie, as Ziering’s (I’m not bothering with character names, you understand) son and girlfriend (?) take off in a helicopter to drop bombs into the three rampaging sharknadoes, which….stops them? It miraculously works, but the woman is eaten by a flying shark (as tends to happen during a sharknado), and the boy nearly crashes the chopper. On the ground, Ziering rescues him, but he himself is swallowed by a shark. Not to worry though, as Ziering chainsaws his way through the shark’s belly, and in the most improbable twist you’re ever likely to see, emerges with the woman. That’s right, the SAME SHARK ate them both whole!
Is it stupid? Yes. Are there some groan-worthy one-liners? Oh, you better believe it. The “time of the month” joke early on was particularly atrocious.
But darn it, if you can’t enjoy ‘Sharknado’ for what it is, then I feel like you’re really missing out. It’s a dumb movie that knows it’s a dumb movie, like ‘Fast and the Furious’ meets ‘Jaws’ meets a shoestring budget meets bath salts. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty fun ride – and that’s exactly what ‘Sharknado’ delivers.