Friday, July 10, 2015

Sharknado 2: The Second One Review

In 2013, hype and gossip about the SyFy Channel's latest schlockfest, Sharknado, grew to such an extent that it was being talked about by several celebrities on Twitter and became a trending topic. This publicity was such that the SyFy Channel's encore broadcast of the movie was most watched film in the history of their network. When there is a reception like that and a production cost that low, it's the perfect conditions for a sequel. Thus, Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) came into being and was the highest-premiring film in SyFy history. And yes, it is every bit as stupid as it sounds.
Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and his ex-wife April Wexler (Tara Reid) are flying to New York City to promote How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters, a book April has written about the infamous Los Angeles sharknado. As the plane comes in for a landing through a storm it is battered by airborn sharks in another freak weather storm akin to the one Fin and April survived. This time multiple sharknadoes are causing large ravenous killer fish to rain down upon New York City's unsuspecting population and cherished, iconic sites. As the only ones with experience, Fin and April are best equipped to save The Big Apple.
"Sharknado" sounds ridiculous enough, and indeed was probably a big draw for the first movie. But even the subtitle, The Second One, is hilariously stupid. The first movie knew it was ridiculous and was genuinely having fun with it. Sharknado 2 does its best to bring more preposterous scenarios and cheesy dialogue, the likes of which made the first move so delightfully bad. Attacking the sharks with swords, fire axes, and chain saws are not unheard of. In fact, the ridiculousness is pushed full throttle and just ends up remarkably silly. Things like physics are completely thrown out the window. It's as if the writers were thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if Fin cut a great white shark perfectly in half lengthwise?" "Yeah! And to make it even cooler, he should do that while giving a speech! There's no way that wouldn't work!"
Similar to the first movie, the camera work was abysmal and gave little sense of space or direction. In one scene our heroes are caught in a cab on a street which is flooded with water up to the axles. There, naturally, are dozens of sharks swimming in these eight-inch-deep waters. They hoist a rope over a streetlight so they can swing to safety. Really, that should only get them maybe twenty feet away, tops. But the camera never shows us what our heroes have swung to. The top of another car? The sidewalk, which would also be flooded? Would it have killed them to take half a moment to show what it was they landed on? How safe can they be at that unspecified location when sharks can leap 15+ feet out of the water? Seriously, if you think about this movie at all, it completely falls apart. This is not in any way or by any means to suggest that it was well put together. Just sit back and enjoy the ridiculous madness.
There were a number of "celebrity cameos" in Sharknado 2. I use "celebrity" in a very generous way; it was more like washed up actors and obscure people that were desperate to appear in a movie. Most of these cameo roles made nods to previous roles the guests had played. Robert Hays was previously a pilot in Airplane! Judd Hirsch was a cab driver in Taxi, Jared Fogle was a longtime spokesman for the Subway restaurants, and Billy Ray Cyrus was a doctor in the TV series Doc. Al Roker and Matt Lauer appear as themselves hosting The Today Show and commenting on the insane weather conditions. Some of these characters' names are in-joke references to Jaws, having similar names to characters in the classic shark movie. Wil Wheaton was my favorite; he's pretty much great in everything he does these days.
The visual effects are still just as poor as the previous movie. The CGI lacks refinement, and are inadequately blended into the actual shot. You can tell the bad CGI storm clouds are added to what is obviously a sunny day; some shots have these lame storm clouds and others have clear skies within the same scene. The digital gore was actually slightly improved. Still very fake looking, but it did look somewhat more gross. We saw the chewed up face of a woman after a small shark gnawed on her for a bit. That was the only instance that made me second guess if this was in compliance with normal broadcast television standards. It still looked too fake to be taken seriously, though.
Sharknado 2: The Second One is just as dumb as its predecessor. The script is terrible and full of cheesy lines, the acting is barely above that of a soap opera, the special effects are painful to watch, and there are plot holes big enough that the Statue of Liberty's decapitated head could roll through. But like the first movie, Sharknado 2 knows it's being ridiculous and does not at all take itself seriously. If we are to rate the movie by how well they achieved what they set out to do, this is a phenomenal success, even if it is really bad! Granted, the schlock factor here is not quite as entertaining as it forerunner, but fans of this franchise are going to get a kick out of it. The only real way to watch this is with friends while laughing at it and making fun of it. But if preposterous, low-budget movies that don't bother to make sense aren't your thing, there's no way you'll enjoy it.

I've just discovered that a third installment is going to be released soon. Check your local TV listings for Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! on the SyFy Channel, premiering on July 22, 2015.

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters is an actual book. I have read it, and it is somewhat entertaining and talks about monsters from other B movies. It can best be described as a bathroom reader. Check it out on or at Barnes & Nobel. Available in paperback, ebook, and audio book formats.

What's your favorite ridiculous campy B movie? Are there any that are worth going out of the way to see? Comment below and let me know!

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