US 2013, 87m, SyFy
Blu-Ray: StudioCanal (UK) - Cert 15
As a freak hurricane hits Los Angeles, sharks attack the flooded mainland. When not one but three tornadoes follows, and the mammals are swept up in it, nobody is safe...
In the late 1970's, the Ideal Toy Company released a game to tie in with the mega-hit Jaws. An enjoyable variant on the same stable's Buck-A-Roo, it involved the player trying to extract items from the mouth of a plastic shark without setting off a trigger which would cause its teeth to suddenly snap shut. I mention this here because the unconvincingly CGI-rendered creatures of Sharknado reminded me of this toy. Allow me to illustrate...
You get the idea, and there's plenty more dodgy CGI where that came from. A "wave" which is meant to be hitting the end of a pier looks like a pebble was dropped in a sink then overlaid. Sequences set on a beach look like two different top and bottom images were joined together with no attempt to make them match. As our heroes attempt to diffuse the tornadoes with homemade devices from a helicopter (as you do), cars can be seen driving along, unhindered in the background. There's more, but this sufficiently describes the ineptitude of the not-so-special effects. Throw in the manner in which the landscape abruptly switches from flooded to sun-baked, and you do wonder how much effort was going into all of this.
This could be forgivable (perhaps it's intentional?) to an extent if it was entertaining, but Sharknado is totally lacking in any kind of drive or suspense. Unlike the same channel's Ghost Shark, which at least kept things moving briskly, this just plods along as a series of tiresome episodes. A rescue scene where our leading man retrieves a group of children from a school bus starts with one kid being hauled to safety, before abruptly cutting to all of them happily grouped on a bridge... Now look, I hate to sound picky here, but wouldn't you expect at least one of them to get involved in a life-or-death struggle with one of these mammals to generate at least some excitement?
The rest of the film suffers from the same general malaise. Potentially good set-pieces are rendered in such a workmanlike fashion that they feel ultimately pointless. It's as though director Anthony C. Ferrante is busy doing other things, like writing his shopping list, whilst shooting. Admittedly, several of the increasingly daft shark attacks are laughably entertaining in themselves, but they fail to redeem a pretty boring exercise overall. It truly boggles the mind how anyone could make such a ridiculous premise into such a dull film, and that's precisely what keeps it out of "so-bad-it's-good" territory.
Sharknado is also a contender for the weediest surround-sound mix of any release this year - what should surely be loud explosions and crashes often come out muted and muffled. You'll get more sonic thrills from a Daniel O'Donnell album.
Meanwhile, Sharknado 2 is promised. Maybe they'll get it right next time?