This was originally published at The Edge SUSU on August 2nd 2014.
Self explanatory title aside, some set-up may be required in reviewing Sharknado 2: The Second One. Following the cult success of the first Sharknado with the “So-Bad-it’s-Good” crowd, the “creative team” over at The Asylum (a very apt moniker for their staff I’m sure) realized they were on to something with their, admittedly very unique premise: Tornadoes ravage L.A whilst picking up exclusively sharks for some reason. So, keen to strike while the iron’s hot, they quickly churned out a successor that promises to up the ante, increase the scale and bafflingly build upon the… human … drama?
At first it seems like the film-makers are 100 percent in on the joke, which threatens to ruin the fun of the whole experience. But then, whenever it seems like they are doing this on purpose, a curious attempt at drama or narrative progression will occur which can only suggest one thing, someone on this project actually tried.
So the plot? Well a Sharknado happens. This time in New York… That’s more or less it. Trying to comprehend the character’s relationships with one another is surprisingly difficult because they are so poorly established. So to actually follow the human element of the story may take some effort… weirdly. People just show up out of the blue and are suddenly heavily involved in the story. So you’ll frequently find yourself exclaiming “Who the fuck is this guy!?” Truthfully, the sharks have the clearest motivations for the majority of the run time. And even then, you have to question why at one point one jumps out of the water onto land, where it cannot breathe, just to eat someone’s face.
But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of the signature stupidity we’ve come to expect. The intention to one up the original is clear from the off set, so there’s a plethora of standout moments. One set-piece sees the head of the statue of liberty chase our protagonists down the street as if it was locked on to them, intent on mowing them down, its blood-lust even drives it to pursue them around corners. Elsewhere a chase through the subway will make you question the logic of just about everything happening on screen.
The film’s climax is also gloriously ridiculous and brings to mind important, contemporary questions. Like, “Is it ethically sound to beat a shark to death? Especially when, against it’s own will, it has been sucked up into a tornado and thrown around like a rag doll?” Or “How much upper body strength do you need to hit a shark across the city with a baseball bat?” And “Who cares about the laws of physics anyway? Our hero can ride a shark out of a Tornado and still have a smooth landing. Also why do these Tornadoes not pick up debris, vehicles or any of the things normal tornadoes do?” And finally “What happened to Tara Reid’s career?” See, this film breaks new, thought-provoking ground.
As for Editing? The film is woven like a fine tapestry, each stitch meticulously executed, not a thing out of place. And if you were worried that confusing cutting would mean that set pieces wouldn’t make any sense, you can take a sigh of relief. After all when I see a shark fly head first THROUGH THE INSIDE of a passenger airplane, I don’t need to know how it did so, or where it ended up once it did. Nor do I need to see where anything is in relation to anything else during a chase scene. Stock footage meanwhile is utilized seamlessly, honestly you can’t tell. When a baseball game is apparently taking place in a different timezone with entirely different weather conditions to where the audience of said game is, that’s just a mere technicality. To expect the two to match is just being pedantic. Yep, Kubrick-esque precision is here in abundance.
The screenwriting is beyond words. One “romantic” gesture in particular is so horrendously dark, that it could work rather well in a black comedy. Instead it’s played as a cute and quirky little moment. Seriously stick around for it, it will make you reassess everything you thought you knew about love. Of course there’s also no shortage of jaw-dropping dialogue (“Sharks could be coming down at a rate of 2 inches an hour”) and conversations are at times so confusing that they border on surreal, thanks to especially bizarre delivery from the film’s confused and embarrassed cast.
Frankly, Sharknado 2 is as much fun as you want to make it. So probably a lot. The only thing tarnishing the hilarity is the whiff of irony in some of the scenes, the sense that it’s starting to become too intentional now. But luckily, whilst Asylum are aware of how these films are being watched, when they do wink at the audience it’s cringe inducing. And when they don’t, when they still take themselves seriously… It’s Outstanding. And yes, it does somehow find a way to one up the original, so it’s sort of like The Godfather Part II… of shit.
Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), “directed” by Anthony C. Ferrante, is Distributed by the Asylum, Certificate 15.