After reaching only the first hour in my two hour and four minute (yes, I counted the minutes) viewing of the low budget-turned-smash hit “Sharknado” series’ fourth installment, I contacted my editor in a desperate plea to end the torture. Dear god, please let it end.
In 2013, the world was introduced to a bizarre, yet strangely enthralling concept: a “sharknado.” And surprisingly, the first film gained a major following, mostly stemming from the kind of guilty pleasure viewing that goes hand-in-hand with a Syfy production. It’s easy to spend a lazy Sunday at home with the often ridiculous and out-of proportion movies the channel is infamous for. This time, however, it’s become just too ridiculous to be anything short of painful.
“Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens” begins with an intro à la “Star Wars,” but in a manner that would draw cringe from even the most mercurial fan of the franchise. With the scrolling yellow letters littering the screen, we brace ourselves for the pain. The fourth movie begins five years after the events of the third movie, “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” that premiered in July of 2015. Following the film, fans were called upon to decide the fate of April (Tara Reid, “American Reunion”) via Twitter hashtags for #AprilLives or #AprilDies, respectively.
First, there’s Shark World, an entire Las Vegas hotel dedicated to sharks that’s about to get hit by the first, of many, sharknados during two long hours. At this point, Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering, “Dancing With the Stars”), sensing the oncoming storm, sets out to save his newlywed son (Cody Linley, “Hoovey”) from skydiving into a sandstorm of sharks, which ensues a mid-air car landing and a wild ride on the Treasure Island pirate ship. I wish I was kidding.
Usually, these movies are ridiculously over-the-top, but there are too many aspects that stand out against the poorly-generated CGI for it to be easily dismissed (for example, April’s terminator-style body, which enables her to run a distance of approximately 30 miles by plugging herself into a wall outlet like an iPhone). Or, the fact that a sharknado began in Las Vegas and miraculously migrated to Niagara Falls in the span of a day. Or maybe the chainsaw store that conveniently lined up eight fire extinguishers against a fence when needed. Maybe even the unacknowledged death of a newlywed wife via flying sharks? I could go on all day. The point is, “Sharknado 4” fails to succeed in creating an equal balance between a popcorn movie event and a bad production, which its predecessors miraculously managed to pull off with relative ease and success. It all boils down to one logical conclusion: “Sharknado 4” tried to impossibly pack a multitude of things in a two hour span, ultimately losing its audience as one thing progresses into another at a ridiculous pace. With little character development to go off of in the fourth installment, Syfy instead chooses to jam in sharknados and action sequences everywhere. As a result, the pain and “dear-god-please-make-it-stop” mantra crescendoes to unbearable levels, even for something so crazy as a “Sharknado” franchise film. After the first hour passed and the dust-sharknado progressed into a boulder-sharknado, cow-sharknado and an oil-sharknado, which morphed into a fire-sharknado and later progressed into a lightning-sharknado-turned-nuclear-sharknado, I lost all hope that the film could be brushed off as another run of the mill Syfy production.
In creating so many “-nados” to fill in for character introductions and growth, the film lost an essential concept the first film touched on: family. In the previous three films, Fin Shepard was on a mission to save his loved ones from the sharknado event. There was motivation and plot to keep the movie running forward. However, this installment feels sloppy and lazy, opting instead for more action sequences and aimless wandering rather than a set direction. Whether this was intentional is unclear, but the change in gears certainly didn’t work for the fourth installment. Running from Las Vegas to Texas to Kansas to Chicago and ending up in Niagara Falls via a falling house created an unsavory experience for viewers. They already made us believe in a sharknado, but a sharknado that can trek cross-country? Seems a little unrealistic.
After their Kansas house was uprooted and they rode the winds to Chicago, the end was finally coming into sight. Amid dry references to popular pop culture and a surprising lack of good old-fashioned celebrity deaths (because that’s why we’re really here, right?), the film seemed to reach a conclusion, sparked from the deaths of multiple major characters, who, for your information, were eaten by increasingly larger sharks in a grotesque Russian nesting doll fashion. They were then swallowed by the endangered blue whale, who just happened to be hanging around Niagara Falls at the time, because otherwise its presence would make absolutely no ecological sense. In the meantime, April uses her cyborg abilities to fly into the falls after her five-year old son, who thinks his real mom is a shark, and save him from the rapids. After only just returning to solid ground, the child picks up a well-placed tiny chainsaw and proceeds to cut open the nesting doll of sharks and whales to unearth the remainder of his family members. Seriously, does nobody watch this kid? Anyway, the movie ends quite suddenly with Nova’s (Cassie Scerbo, “Make it or Break it”) return on a flying Eiffel Tower, which leaves the franchise open for another installment next July. Although, in the meantime, I’ll be praying that we won’t have to witness a “Sharknado 5,” because I’m honestly out of ideas. What could possibly follow a nuclear-sharknado?