(On TV, September 2016) I lasted longer than most, but with Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens I’ve reached the end of the joke as far as the Sharknado series is concerned. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise: it’s in the nature of series to last as long as they don’t dip below a certain quality threshold, even if Sharknado’s said threshold was comfortably lower than most. Here, even the forgiving standards of the series aren’t even met, jumping from Las Vegas to Niagara Falls with plenty of dumb pit stops along the way. The plot’s incoherence seems worse than ever, the celebrity cameos are more intrusive (especially if you’re not a reality TV aficionado), and the low-budget aesthetics feel even cheaper than usual. (Take, for instance, the Gary Busey scenes, obviously filmed away from the rest of the cast even when they’re supposed to be in the same room!) The panache of the first film has degenerated into noisy “-nado” nonsense that the low budget can’t properly execute, and there’s very little joy left to the result. The dumbness has been pushed far enough to go from charm to irritation. Hopefully everyone involved in the series, including stalwart protagonist Ian Ziering, are seeing the writing on the wall as well and should quit. I won’t say “never ever again”, because I may be bored next summer with nothing but Sharknado 5 on the DVR, but making it through Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens was annoying enough that I’m not exactly holding my breath until the next.
(On TV, August 2015) The problem with self-aware trash cinema is that it’s frankly still trash cinema. Third in a series meant to be mocked, Sharknado 3 knows the routine by now, and keeps escalating the craziness into orbit. (This is not a figure of speech.) Things start with such a full-tilt roar even before the opening credits, as sharks rain down on Washington and a crazy White House sequence ensue, that it’s hard to figure out how the film will top its own opening. But after a slower first hour or so, things get crazy once again toward the end, delivering a big bang of a conclusion. I’m not sure how they’ll top that in the already-announced Sharknado 4, but that’s part of the fun. In the meantime, there are plenty of celebrity cameos, over the-top set-pieces, CGI sharks eating bystanders in equally-CGI bursts of blood. Tara Reid and Ian Ziering know the routine as well, and work through their lines without breaking up. (This being said, Cassie Scerbo steals most of her scenes.) If nothing else, Sharknado 3 delivers on the promises made by its previous instalments, and little more should be said. Still, it’s still trash cinema, and I can’t help but wonder if my time wouldn’t have been best spent watching something else. But who am I kidding –I’m already planning forward to the sequel.