Monday, June 17, 2013

Sharknado (2013)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long


Company:  The Asylum

Runtime: 88 mins

Format: Screener

Plot: When a freak hurricane hits Los Angeles, thousands of sharks have no trouble terrorizing the waterlogged populace, but then when the high-speed winds also form tornadoes, nature’s deadliest killer rules water, land, and air.

Review: I know a lot of people love shark movies, but personally I'm just getting sick of them at this point, because the B-Movie genre is just getting over-saturated with them these last few years – they've become the easy go-to B-movie monster and I've gone on plenty of rants in the past about how we need to move away from them and give some other animals the spotlight. Luckily it seems that is finally starting to happen, seeing as how we've been getting plenty of good spider and dinosaur movies lately and a few less shark ones. Likewise, it's no secret that I'm just not a fan of Asylum's natural disaster movies. I give each one a shot, but I seem to find them all too similar to one another to really be of interest anymore and I also find that those are the ones that seem to have the laziest writing and the laziest acting and pretty much the laziest everything and I can't really muster up any interest for them anymore. 

With that stuff in mind, you can probably see where I'd be super cautious of Sharknado, a movie that combines both those genres into one movie – however, even I can't deny how damn eye-catchy and attention-grabbing that awesome title is, and when Asylum sent me a screener of Sharknado to review...well, I have no qualms in admitting that I was actually pretty excited to sit down and spend an hour and a half with this flick when I got home from work.


And boy, what a fast hour and a half it was! The movie started with a bang and never let up, only getting more and more insane (in a good way!) as it went on. It moved at such a quick pace that it was over before I even realized how much time had actually passed, and let me tell you – Sharknado doesn't waste any time at all. I was expecting the main event of the movie, the promise of the awesome poster art's flying sharks bringing down destruction onto a city to happen in the final 20 minutes or so as things often do in these movies, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It opens on a scene of sharks swimming in the ocean and getting picked up by the massively strong winds of a gigantic massive hurricane (Hurricane David, actually – which could be a coincidence but I'm willing to bet it was a nod to David Rimawi and David Michael Latt, the two main head honchos of The Asylum), which was directly followed by a scene of a fishing trawler getting caught in the whipping, whirling, teeth-gnashing shark-filled hurricane on its way to making landfall, and before the movie hits the 20 minute mark the hurricane and its army of hungry pissed off flying sharks has made landfall and rains destruction and chaos down, starting with a beach and its resident bar and boardwalk, and moving further inland from there, so literally from the opening seconds the movie has jumped right into its main plot and only escalates – no beating around the bush with this one!

Oh, and yes, the movie comes with just as many WTF moments as you would expect a movie called Sharknado to bring to the table; We have scenes of sharks flying in through windows, high winds knocking a Ferris wheel off its holdings and rolling down a street while at the same time sharks are falling down from the sky around it and trying to munch down on people, one of the sharks being knocked out by a bar stool being used as a bat, sharks swimming through a flooded Los Angeles and viciously attacking cars and chowing down on pedestrians, a shark shooting up into the air from out of a manhole only to get blasted mid-air by a shotgun blast, the main cast breaking into a hardware store and arming up on guns, chainsaws, and homemade explosives to battle the shark infestation, and of course the actual title mash-up itself of swarms of sharks being tossed around through the air by three giant F5-category tornadoes with all the damage, destruction, death, and fun moments of campy cheese that you would expect from such an amazingly unique sight!

The only part of these scenes that I found a bit iffy though, was during the flooding of Los Angeles, the water level as to how much of the city is flooded at any given time seemed to change from scene to scene. In some scenes the water was half-covering vehicles and deep enough for fully-grown sharks to be swimming around and playing Jaws in, while in other parts there's hardly any water (or even none) covering the streets, and certainly nowhere near enough for sharks to be fitting into. In addition, toward the end when the characters are trying to throw some bombs into the middle of the tornadoes to make them dissipate, both the people in the helicopter flying towards the tornadoes, as well as the people on the ground shooting up at the flying sharks, got way too close to the tornado – seriously, they were all pretty much inches away from these gigantic F5-category tornadoes and their hair wasn't even so much as blowing around, much less them getting sucked up into it, which is what should have happened being so close to the funnels. But hey, just some minor nitpicks in an otherwise uber-cheesy and just plain fun portion of the movie.


None of that cheese though would really be worth a damn if the special effects were utter crap, but thankfully they're not. There are a few weaker moments for it scattered here or there, but for the most part it's certainly above-average for the usual Asylum fare, though about on-average with the best of their 2013 selection (such as Age of Dinosaurs and the upcoming Atlantic Rim). Much like with 2-Headed Shark Attack they used practical effects for close-ups of sharks munching down on people and some of the shots of their fins moving through the water, but CGI for the wide shots as well as for the shots of sharks either swimming underwater or being whipped around through the air, and both types looked pretty good most of the time. Another part of the effects that certainly deserves a mention here is that the storm effects in the first part of the movie, as it approaches from the distance, were very well done. In retrospect that may have even been real storm footage that was just seamlessly integrated, or perhaps they actually filmed in front of an approaching storm, but if neither of those are the case then those dark skies and thick foreboding clouds were really well done CGI moments that had you almost feeling the humid winds approaching.

Another thing the movie surprised me with a bit was that it does a good job of very quickly establishing all the characters and making you care for them enough so that you're actually a bit sad to see them start getting offed. As I said above, the movie is in full-swing of its insane unique plot by 20 minutes in, and already by that point it has you feeling like you know the main cast and makes you genuinely care about what happens to them. And don't necessarily assume you know who will survive and who will die, because the movie has a knack for throwing some potential curveballs in there in that regard. I suppose that's also just as much a testament to the strong acting as it is the writing and directing as well – pretty much everyone here shines pretty brightly and never did take me out of the moment with any bad acting, which is made even more surprising by the fact that many of the characters are played by Unknowns that have very little previous acting gigs. 

Of course there are a few decent-sized names here as well, as there normally are in Asylum movies so they can slap their names onto the cover art. We have Ian Ziering as the main lead, most known for his voice work as lead characters on the classic animated series' Biker Mice from Mars and Godzilla: The Series, with Tara Reid playing his ex-wife that he does not get along with well at all. Sadly, Tara Reid is not aging all that well. She still looks beautiful with enough make-up on, but all those TMZ-reported-on nights of drugs and parties has not been so kind to her, making her look far older then she actually is. Admittedly though, she was a bit better then I was expecting her to be with this; I was totally expecting her to be nothing short of a painful trainwreck to watch and listen to, but thankfully she isn't. Hell, even though her line delivery is pretty bland most of the time and she may not be the best actor this movie has to offer, I'd still say she turned in a better performance here then she did in Uwe Boll's Alone in the Dark almost ten years ago. In addition to them, there's also John Heard playing a hilarious comedic relief character that's an old drunk who is a regular to Ian Ziering's bar that jumps in the car with them when all hell breaks loose, and Jaason Simmons from Baywatch playing one of Ian Ziering's friends and not nearly as much of a womanizing asshole as I was initially expecting him to be, and actually turning out to be one of my favorite characters in the whole thing.

And sure, most of these actors play their roles and act their way through all these insane shark-related situations pretty straight-faced, but sometimes playing things straight-faced in an otherwise really cheesy movie just adds to the cheese, in my opinion!


As I mentioned at various points earlier in my review, Sharknado may have a couple iffy parts here and there that made me scratch my head probably more then I was intended to as opposed to embracing it (changing water levels of the flooded city, characters getting within inches of a strong tornado with no repercussions, a couple minor shots of CGI that wasn't quite up to par with the rest), but the good far outweighs the bad, and with buckets of cheese just oozing from every pore of screen time. I never thought in a million years that if you took the two sub-genres that I'm utterly sick of, and combined them together into one movie, that it would result in a damn good time and just the revitalization I needed to feel for both shark movies as well as natural disaster flicks. Honestly, a movie like this is almost above review, because you get exactly what you expect a low budget movie called Sharknado to give you; If you love the title, you'll probably love what the movie has to offer, and if the title is something that makes you groan instead of laugh, then you're probably better off just staying away because the movie gives you all the cheese you would expect out of that title. Between Age of Dinosaurs already being out and Atlantic Rim coming out soon, followed shortly after (hopefully) by Sharknado, it looks like Asylum has a damn fine summer for 2013, with hopefully just as fine of a rest of the year to follow.

As to when you can expect to be able to add Sharknado to your home DVD and/or BluRay collections, sadly no release date (or even trailer for that matter) has yet to be announced, however if I was to take a guess I would place my money on late-July/early-August sometime, but that's nothing more then my own speculation. I do know however, that it will be airing on the SyFy Channel as one of their SyFy Original Movies and is currently set to air on the night of July 11th. As soon as a home video release date is announced though, along with a trailer, I'll be sure to edit this part of the review to include them.

In the meantime, enjoy another picture! (July 10th Update: Trailer added below picture now!)

8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward



 

4 comments:

  1. Wow, that looks like a lot of cheesy good fun. I love how you say it's as crazy as you'd expect from the title - because I know that's what I was hoping for! I am really looking forward to seeing this one. Great review!

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  2. So can't wait for this! Awesome Review!

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