directed by Anthony C. Ferrante
(SyFy, 2013)

Even though I've been on a bit of a sharks- and crocodiles-gone-wild phase lately, I've been avoiding the SyFy series (now five strong) of Sharknado movies ... because they look really bad. But today, tired and bored, the first film in the series popped up in my Netflix queue, and I thought what the hell.

It really, really sucks.

I can forgive filmmakers for not understanding concepts like velocity and inertia as they pertain to, say, the movement of sharks in a funnel cloud, as these concepts have not been closely studied in a laboratory setting. But really, you'd think in a movie about sharks and the weather, they'd bone up just a little on the facts regarding sharks and the weather. Also, when you decide to include a helicopter in your plot, maybe ask somebody who's flown one about helicopters in high-wind situations. Perhaps question the logic of a character spontaneously starting a running gunfight with the captain of a fairly small boat when you're miles from shore and have nowhere to go, even if you win. Maybe call a retirement home and ask if the staff would allow the residents to paddle around in an outdoor swimming pool when there are hurricanes and tornadoes (and airborne sharks) about a block away.

If you're going to use tiny bombs to blow up tornadoes -- um, maybe ask a meteorologist if that sort of thing has a snowball's chance of working. And let's not even discuss the merits of shooting sharks out of a tornado with a handgun.

Heck, if you're going to have one of your characters wade through deep, blood-red water in white clothing, maybe look into the effects of staining on fabrics. (I bet the prop department could help with that. They could maybe even run an experiment on set to see if blood discolors bleached cotton.)

Another neat experiment they might have tried -- see if sharks in a few inches of water can fling themselves 20 feet into the air. I bet they can't.

I mean, these guys can't even keep up with dizzying concepts like rain and the relative depth of floodwaters as you move through them. (Like, if you show water gushing through the windows into a house, don't then switch to an outside perspective and show that the driveway beside the house is barely damp. It doesn't work that way.)

The movie stars Ian Ziering, Cassandra Scerbo and Tara Reid as people caught up in a terrible hurricane-cum-tornado that floods the streets of (and, later, the skies above) Los Angeles. Ziering (as surfer-cum-bar owner Fin Shepard) is good at killing sharks because he's a surfer. Scerbo (as barmaid-cum-shark survivor Nova Clarke) is good at killing sharks because she hates them for eating her grandpa when she was wee. And Reid (as annoying divorcee April Wexler) is -- well, mostly she complains and is thoroughly unlikable until, suddenly, she's the main love interest because, I assume, most of the other women in LA are now dead.

You know what concepts I really wish this filmmaking team had studied? Plot. Dialogue. Convincing acting, and the wisdom of a second take if your cast doesn't sell a line on the first try. I also wish they'd invested in better CGI and more convincing shark props.

The only part of this movie I really enjoyed was writing down how much I hated it. And that alone might be worth the time spent.

review by
Tom Knapp

14 October 2017

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