The Asylum and SyFy hit a cult goldmine with Sharknado, a television event with an inane premise and flat production values that point all blame towards budgetary reasonings and its small screen platform. With a solid social media campaign and successful PR, the stars aligned, and out popped a hit! A hit that was “so bad, it’s good”, but a hit nonetheless.
I don’t belong in that fanbase. I caught Sharknado after the hype had died down, and walked away disappointed. It wasn’t because my expectations were high. I was let down because it was really embarrassing.
Sharknado was a scrappy TV movie with terrible performances and logic so outlandish, that it became hard for me accept the movie as popcorn entertainment. The backlot work was obvious, the effects were poorly rendered, and the formula suggested everyone was here to simply cash a paycheque.
It was inevitable that a sequel was on its way. People who were watching the premiere were even live-tweeting title suggestions. I cringed at the idea of a sequel to Sharknado. It could become too smug and drunk with popularity, or it could’ve repackaged and shovelled the same junk towards its audience. A definite lose/lose situation for me.
The chances of a sequel working were slim. So, consider myself baffled when I report that Sharknado 2: The Second One is not only a helluva lot better than its predecessor, it also makes for an entertaining disaster movie.
This time around, filmmaker Anthony C. Ferrante has been given a bit more money, a wider landscape to destroy, and a cast of many who want to be involved with the project. It isn’t smug and Ferrante rarely stops his movie to nudge his elbow into our sides. Sharknado was a shoddy B-movie, its sequel is properly schlocky.
Is there a difference between shoddy and schlocky? Shoddy indicates failure, and schlocky hints at camp. A movie can be both, but the terms are then usually used to demerit the flick.
Take the first Sharknado. It fell on its face because Ferrante still had to submit a straight-up creature feature despite all its gimmicks. He was balancing a lot of silliness, but couldn’t play too far into it without risking the entire project. And, movie goers don’t mind watching a jokey feature, but the film can’t be too into the joke. Meanwhile, the cast couldn’t care less about what the final product resembled. As you can see, Sharknado may seem simple, but there’s too much to handle. It ultimately caved in on Ferrante.
After watching Sharknado 2: The Second One, I could see Ferrante making the movie he wanted to make as opposed to making a movie that had to carefully fit a type of mould. Just like his benign actors, the filmmaker is handling the sequel in a way that suggests he wants to please viewers. Also, now that he has a bit more clout and freedom, he uses a lot of opportunities to offer ridiculous action pieces.
Ian Ziering’s leading performance as Fin Shepard feels more comfortable with the material as well as with those catchphrases. They don’t all work, but they offer some good groaners. Tara Reid also does a 180 as Fin’s love interest April. Her appearance before seemed haggardly unkempt. Here, she shows she’s a good sport, but I’d by lying if I said her reactions didn’t garner some of the biggest unintentional laughs. But, hey, acting alongside computer animated killer sharks may not be her forte.
There are cameos a-go-go in Sharknado 2: The Second One. The personalities keep on coming like an onslaught of flying sharks. There are some random sightings that have difficulty not calling attention to themselves, like Jared ‘Subway’ Fogle’s awkward and pointless appearance. And, a little of Matt Lauer and Al Roker go a long, long way. However, I got a kick out of Biz Markie’s pizza parlour owner and Judah Friedlander’s baseball fanatic. I’m torn between Richard Kind’s pop-up. Kind has a great presence and a hilarious payoff, but his brief sub-story doesn’t belong in a movie like Sharknado 2: The Second One.
The animation is rubbery, the effects are corny, and the continuity is broken. But, the kills had me giddy and Ferrante successfully turns New York City into a code red lockdown. The film’s climax where New Yorkers really start stepping up against the shark attacks even had me cheering.
Well, I guess this positive review makes me a Sharknado fan. I’ll just have to make sure when I tell people I specify that all my affection is for Ferrante’s follow-up.