In the distant future when I am old, gray, wrinkled, and sitting in a rocker on the front porch of my super sweet million dollar mansion, my grandson will ask about the worse experience of my life…
“Was it when Hilary Trump rose to power in 2016, Grandpa? Or the Great Second Civil War of 2032? Or the robot uprising of 2040?” He’ll ask me, bright-eyed and optimistic.
I’ll say, “Oh no, grandson of mine. None of that.” And then, I’ll dig through a landfill (probably on the moon because future) and show him a copy of Sharknado: The 4th Awakens.
Is that an over-the-top statement? Why certainly, my dear sir or madam, but you see Sharknado is an ‘over-the-top’ movie and this review must reflect that accordingly. Because, if they’re not going to try, then why should I? I write that after popping two aspirins and raiding the pantry for our strongest liquor. Sadly, it looks like root beer will have to suffice.
In my notes for the film review, I’ve drawn crudely a shark with laser beams coming from its eyes. I think that’s all the qualifications I need to be hired as a screenwriter for Sharknado 5: Money, Money, Money. Let’s not kid ourselves here:this film was made with one intent and one intent only—to line some film executive’s bank account.
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens is a heavy set man with dark hair greased to the side in some dimly lit room, wearing a white Tony Montana suit, and prepared to make you an offer you can’t refuse. He has you tied to a chair, and if you make a sound, he’ll break your arms; but if you don’t, if you sit there quietly, he’ll still break your arms. That’s the position I found myself in. You can’t write a review of Sharknado. It’s critic proof. The series literally jumped the shark two films ago. If you don’t like it, then you’re obviously one of those “out of touch” critics because it’s suppose to bad. On the other hand, if a movie like The 4th Awakens received glowing reviews, it’s surely a sign of the impending apocalypse, and in that case, all hail our Cthulhu masters.
People intentionally commit murder too, and I don’t see that being applauded. The intention to make an intentionally bad film isn’t even new and refreshing. SyFy’s been coasting on it for the past decade, and The Asylum has made a name for itself in shamelessly ripping off blockbusters. The 4th Awakens is pretty much the same old-same old. Sharknadoes have once again cropped across the country and only one man, Fin Shepard, armed with a chainsaw can stop them.
From that description, the film honestly sounds awesome. Bruce Campbell made his entire career on films like this. On paper, The 4th Awakens sounds like a good, trashy time; at worse, it could be a guilty pleasure and entertaining to say the least. Yet unbelievably, it squanders its premise. It doesn’t try to be fun or funny or hilarious or gory or entertaining. It sets out to be a bad film, and not in a “so bad it’s good” sort of way, and in that regard, it accomplishes its task.
The whole film, like its predecessors, is filmed mostly on a green screen. The same generic soul-sucking CGI that SyFy uses for the rest of its movies (and for previous Sharknado films) is on display once more. From a pure visual point of view, this robs the film of any stakes. Obviously, the actors are swinging at air. Obviously, they’re not really at Niagara Falls. Need to go to Chicago? Sure, just stand in front of the green screen. The special effects cast everything in a state of cardboard.
There’re cameos galore, as every B, C, and D actor wants in on the Sharknado action. There’s Carrot Top being Carrot Top as an Uber driver and Gilbert Godfrey as a storm chaser, dumbing down events that already felt like they were being force-fed through a straw. There’s Dog The Bounty Hunter because, why not, right? Gary Busey, okay, let’s throw him in there. He can film all his scenes alone on a green screen and through ‘movie magic,’ we’ll make it look like he’s interacting with the rest of the cast. They even dragged poor Wayne Newton into this for a ‘blink and you miss it’ cameo.
So, what makes The 4th Awakens different than its predecessors? What’s the big wow factor this time around? I’m glad you asked. Now, the tornadoes can take on different properties, so you have a firenado, lightningnado, bouldernado, lavanado, and yes, even, a nuclear sharknado. Our main group of heroes fight a nuclear sharknado using a mech and a cyborg woman. (Never thought I’d write that sentence.)
Many of the main characters return, including Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard and Tara Reid as his wife April. David Hasselhoff also returns as Fin’s father Gilbert Shepard, because you can’t have B Movie fun without inviting The Hoff. I won’t talk about the acting because it’s basically nonexistent. Ziering and Hasselhoff do about the best work if that’s saying anything. What this series desperately needs is someone like Bruce Campbell or, you know, just Bruce Campbell to make fun at its ridiculous elements. It needs a Han Solo, an Ash Williams, a rogue, a selfish asshole, anything to cut through the cookie cutter blandness of its leads.
The “story” lacks even internal logic. Somehow, the Shepard family have god-mode turned on and can jump from buildings, fly through radiation, and be slung around in a tornado without so much as a scratch while everyone around them becomes shark chow. At times, The 4th Awakens and the previous films feel like fan fiction to Jaws. What if a tornado picked up sharks? What if the main character was a cyborg? What if we have a Chippendale groin thrust an oncoming shark? “All it needs is a lightsaber,” I thought, as characters quoted good movies like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Wizard of Oz. Then, April’s hand turned into a lightsaber attachment as she said, “May the Force be with you.”
…And I was out. I’m done. In my professional and not so professional opinion, screw this movie. I can value someone intentionally making a bad film, even if I question the logistics of why someone would. But, if you’re going to spend two hours of my life hitting me with quotes from better films, shoving product placements for XFINITY down my throat, and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the screen (that’ll be in the sure-to-be sequel), you better recognize it for what it is: mindless garbage. There’s nothing original. They even had a cameo from Stephen King’s Christine, for some strange reason. At this point, Sharknado is almost as bad as the Scary Movie franchise. At least, I chuckled at those.
What I would really be interested in seeing is an R-rated Sharknado. The ability to cuss, the mindless gore and violence, would at the very least distract from the CGI and at best become a cult classic like the genre they’re currently trying to emulate. Why should SyFy movies be considered the bottom of the barrel? Why can’t they actually be fun instead of some badly rendered schlock? The channel seems to be making a renaissance of late in its other programs with shows like 12 Monkeys, Dark Matter, and KillJoys. I much rather they focus on more television shows like that than Sharknado 20.