Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! [2015]

MPAA (TV-14)  CNS/USCCB ()  RogerEbert.com (2 Stars)  AVClub (F)  Fr. Dennis (4+ Stars)

IMDb listing
NY Times (N. Genzlinger) review
ChiTrib/Variety review
RogerEbert.com (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (C. Framke) review

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! [2015] (directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, screenplay by Thunder Levin) is a made-for-TV-movie that recently premiered on the SyFy channel [wikip] that I was averted to by a high school friend of mine / "actual fan" of my blog ;-) saying: "You've got to see / write about this film." ;-)

Though this was a "made-for-TV movie" and I generally don't review at least television series (they require a greater commitment of time than I can generally give them) as a lifelong fan of truly / intentionally "b-movies" how could I resist?  And the SyFy channel dutifully re-played the first two films in this series prior to this the third in a "Sharknado" marathon.  So by the time the current film was playing, I was "up to speed." ;-)

Oh what a chainsaw buzzing, blood splattering geyser of razor-toothed mahem ;-).  The basic premise of the film franchise is that "climate change" ;-) has resulted storms so powerful that tornadoes would form over the oceans picking-up sharks, thousands upon thousands of them -- great whites, hammer-heads, tiger sharks -- out of the sea, and then dump them spinning, crashing (and of course BITING) down on the utterly stunned populaces below.  In the first Sharknado [2013] film, one such cyclone of devastation rained / tore down upon Los Angeles.  Sharknado 2: The Second One [2014], "post superstorm Sandy" ;-) rained a similar spinning cyclone of carnivorous mayhem upon New York.

In the current film, a "sharknado" first struck and devastated Washington D.C. and _then a whole line of them_ was threatening to agglomerate into a "Sharkicane" threatening the whole U.S. seaboard from Florida to Maine.

Can one sustain such an impossibly insane story-line?  YES!  Dear Readers, improbably, impossibly, but IMHO YES!  Now in my teenage years, there was a phrase "jumping the shark" recalling a crazy, silly really, episode of the up-to-then successful, but clearly running out of steam, television series Happy Days [1974-1984] [IMDb], that took the cast out to Florida "on vacation" for an episode and then as had one of the lead characters, Fonzi, improbably "jump over a shark" on water skis as the episode's cliff-hanging climax.  That proved to be the death-knell of the series.  Where does one go from there?

Well here the creators of the Sharknado films have confidently moved the improbable, impossible, crazy story to such ever higher, ever more impossibly insane heights -- "into the upper atmosphere" WTF all the way UP INTO SPACE :-) -- that I just have to say, that UNTIL THE FOURTH MOVIE COMES OUT (already threatened at the end of this third one ;-) WE JUST  DON'T KNOW, yet, if they "jumped the freakin' shark" ;-) ;-)

What a run, what an _unbelievable_ run ... of blood-splattering ever "life-as-we-know-it" threatening mayhem ;-)

So then, WHY ??? would such a _stupid_ concept involving whirling "shark-laden vortices of death" work?  WHY sharks?

Well, what's a shark?  It's basically an utterly merciless blood(let)-seeking biological torpedo.   By lore, even the smallest of cuts, that is even the smallest objective evidence of slight imperfection / failure, summons these creatures from miles away to attack / devour / destroy the unfortunate "loser" in this the world's "game of the survival of the fittest."  Then ever since Steven Spielberg's Jaws [1975], viewers have been reminded that sharks come at us "from below," "pull us down" (overwhelm / drown us) and only _then_ devour us.  In a hyper-competitive world when any flaw/weakness in our character or presentation can "bring us down" to our destruction, the metaphor of living / working "in a shark tank" is one that we CAN -- at least in our nightmares -- completely understand.

But ... up until ... these "Sharknado" films ;-) ... the problem with employing a shark in a disaster film storyline was, of course, that sharks ... live in the water.

That's IMHO the _genius_ of these films: They combine "anxiety over climate change" and fear of tornadoes (again vicious, utterly uncontrollable storms of tightly circling winds that destroy everything in their paths) with SHARKS.  These "sharknados" lift sharks out of the water and SPEW THEM, TEETH FIRST, in all directions, devouring the stunned / hapless onlookers in their paths: "[Sharks] in Georgia?  How'd they ever get here?" ;-).  How'd they ever get there, indeed/ ;-)  The concept of the "shark-nado" is both _insane_ and (as a metaphor) _brilliant_ ;-)

So this being the third Sharknado film, by this time, one would think that the creators of the Sharknado series would have consumed all that could possibly be done with a bunch of (okay, a whole lot of, THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of) sharks and a weather formation / tornado.  But no ;-) ;-) ...

In the first film began with one-time surfer / since then SoCal beach bar owner Fin Shepard (played by Ian Ziering) and his staff, notably young still college age bartender Nova Clarke (played by Casie Scerbo), being confronted with the freak storm that produced the first "Sharknado" out in Southern California.   Their ingenuity / bravery saves L.A. as they come with the idea of "dropping bombs from helicopters" into the sharknadoes to dissipate them.  

By the beginning of the third installment, Fin Shepard is a national hero for having saved (along with Nova and her friends) Los Angeles in the first installment and (with the experience he acquired, largely alone) New York in the second.  Indeed the third installments begins with him being honored at the White House by the President (played by Mark Cuban) and (somewhat improbably) vice president (played by Ann Coulter) and presented with a "golden chainsaw" in honor of his bravery / ingenuity.  With a new storm heading toward Washington D.C., he finds that he has to use said "golden chain saw" to defend the President and his Party from the onslaught of whirling, ever hungry sharks _tearing down_ on the city from "on high." 

After that initial Sharknado, he finds himself reunited with Nova Clarke who since the first episode has gone to college, entered / left the military and with her new "bio-meteorologist" boyfriend Lukas (played by Frankie Muniz) has become a "sharknado chaser" and perhaps the world's preeminent expert on all things "sharknado."

She and Lukas are the ones who warn Fin and then various authorities that these sharknadoes "were evolving" ;-) : First, sharks were being thrown increasingly into the upper atmosphere (hence why when at film's end some appear all the freakin' way out in space, it's no longer completely a surprise ;-).  Further, these flying sharks are starting to live on birds (rather than fish) and so are able to survive up there in the sky indefinitely.  Finally, the storms themselves are becoming larger and more numerous, agglomerating in the climax into a line of storms that threaten the whole Eastern seaboard of the United States, requiring not merely "bombs" to dissipate them but some kind of blast from space.

This then carries the film, set after its "sharks over DC" prologue to central Florida -- Orlando and the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Caneveral -- and eventually, inevitably into "outer space."  It turns out that Fin's estranged dad (played by David Hasselhoff) had walked away from Fin and the rest of the family decades back as he become involved in all kinds of "secret" military-space projects for the NSA / NASA.  And now he has to be recruited by Fin, Nova and the others to "tip his hand" about said "secret military space projects" to help them "save the world" from this "line of sharknadoes"  Much, improbable, _crazy_, but FUN ensues ...

The presence of complicated / strained "family ties" within Fin's family, of course, fulfills a very important requirement in Hollywood B-movie disaster films: The story's NOT just about "saving the world" from "giant radioactive crabs" or "space blobs" or, in this case, "shark infested tornadoes" ... some "issues at home" have to be resolved as well.  And the sharknado trilogy is filled with such "family drama":

In the first film, Fin was being dumped by his wife April (played by Tara Reid) and daughter Claudia (played by Ryan Newman) because as a washed-out surfer, now mere owner of a beach-side bar, he was "going nowhere."  So amidst the sharknadoes bearing down on Los Angeles, he has save his estranging wife/daughter from the onslaught.  And .... he does.

By the time of this third episode, Fin's back, indeed more than back, with his wife April: they're expecting a new child.  But we find that he has this new problem with his dad (a dad who he hasn't talked to in decades) and he has renewed (though lesser) problems with his teenage daughter, who's pouting somewhat (on vacation at Universal City in Orlando) because "fame" has taken away Fin's attention from her (and well, let's face it, with a new "baby brother or sister on the way" ... BOTH her parents are inevitably focusing on the soon-to-be arrival of the new baby).  ALL _THIS_ has to be "resolved" by film's end and ... IT IS ... SPECTACULARLY :-) ;-)

Anyway, a number of the critics above have gotten tired of this third Sharknado episode.  I honestly believe that they're being WILDLY UNGRATEFUL ;-) though perhaps because I'm "just coming on board" I'm just presently "in love."  But I have to say that this is ONE OF THE FUNNIEST, MOST IMPOSSIBLY CRAZY "DISASTER FILMS" THAT I'VE EVER SEEN and I am happily -- SMILING FROM EAR TO EAR -- looking forward to the next one! ;-)

So GREAT JOB FOLKS at the SyFy Network, GREAT JOB! ;-)

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