Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015) – A Review
We’re now more than familiar with the premise. Sharks in a tornado – this time for a third time.
Sharknado hero Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) is hanging in Washington D.C. to be honored by the president when another Sharknado hits and this time it threatens the whole eastern seaboard!
He must fight off this disaster and attempt to get to his pregnant wife April (Tara Reid) and his daughter in Universal Orlando. Fortunately, Fin’s father (David Hasselhoff), devoted shark-killer Nova (Cassie Scerbo) and lots of D-List cameoing celebrities will lend him a hand.
I’m not going to recount my feelings about Syfy’s surprise pop culture phenomenon Sharknado or its sequel Sharknado 2: The Second One – you can check out my reviews. But now after watching number three the novelty and goofy ‘So Bad It’s Good’ point of this series (which is why everyone is watching it) has completely vanished for me. The first was cheesy absurd B-Movie fun, but now the series has become too much of an in-joke for its own good.
It’s the usual stuff to expect from a Sharknado movie. The acting is bad, the production values are cheap and the special effect are abysmal.
As with Sharknado 2: The Second One, Sharknado 3 doesn’t offer anything more than that one did other than even more D-List cameos crammed into as many scenes as possible, more blatant product placement and a story set in a different locale. The series has become quite a different animal from the original films low-budget obscure foundation these sequels have been built on.
The sharks have almost become secondary to the amount of cameos the filmmakers manage to lasso into this. Thinking back I can’t remember one single shark attack, bite or killing from this movie – and you would think that would be the most important thing to think up here!
Other than Frankie Muniz getting his limbs bitten off one-by-one most of the other shark victims get killed one of two ways – they’re suddenly squished by a falling CGI shark or a CGI shark blows past them and they take a bite out of them. There’s really not much variation to it and it gets tiresome awful quickly.
There’s also no decent ‘shark killing moments’ either. It’s hard to imagine a movie that gives its characters guns, chainsaws, bombs and laser chainsaws I can’t recall one worthwhile ‘kill a shark’ moment from this.
Compare that to the first one with Fin getting swallowed whole and chainsawing his way out of a great white shark and then pulling his fallen comrade out of it as well (a gag which this movie repeats by the way). It’s clear the well has run dry out of ideas and the only thing they can come up with is having as many B-celebrities who are willing to get in on this trend to pop up wherever they can squeeze them into this.
They’re falling so in love with the celebrity cameos that its become annoying. Personally, I really don’t care if such-and-such actress or actor or talk show host appears in this. It doesn’t impress me. I read the cameo count was somewhere near fifty appearances by famous faces (or semi-famous faces or whatever you want to call them) – and I didn’t give a hoot about any of them.
Let me rephrase this complaint. I don’t mind a cameo if that person is given something to do in the movie. Say they need someone to play a gas station attendant or a mayor. It’s a role that is needed and they would have normally just had some nameless actor do it, but then they realized they could get this recognizable actor to do it, ok why not!
So dropping in a few celeb cameos, fine. But when it’s so painfully obvious that they’re just trying to cram in a non-stop chorus line of celebrity cameos because the people are willing to do it and their existence is only to show up for no other reason than to have the audience say, “Oh I recognize that person!” I find it increasingly tiring.
There’s this thing that’s been happening where ‘recognition’ has equaled comedy nowadays. I have no idea where it started or why it’s working. Maybe it’s some kind of ‘wink-wink we’re sharing an inside joke with you and you caught it so aren’t you clever’ thing that makes people feel satisfied, but I’m sorry I don’t get it. Unless they’re having Penn and Teller do something funny with their appearance just seeing them randomly show up in Sharknado 3 does not make me laugh.
Plus, at this point I don’t think the filmmakers would turn any celebrity down if they had any passing interest in doing a cameo in one of these movies. This is a movie series afterall that stars Tara Reid! I imagine any B, C or D List celebrity can get in on this joke without much arm-twisting. If they want to shock me with a celebrity cameo get Jack Nicholson to show up as a cranky sheriff.
The story is pretty pointless to go into. Sharks rain down while Ziering and crew try to avoid them. The only way of stopping this biblical sharknado is borrowing a space shuttle from NASA and taking the fight into space. Luckily Hasselhoff is a former astronaut. Yeah, it’s as stupid as it sounds.
Universal Orlando got some nice publicity from this flick since a heck of a lot of it takes place there. It was probably a location they got to use pretty cheaply, but really the amusement park setting adds nothing other than a silly roller coaster scene.
As soon as I heard Hasselhoff was going to appear in this I knew I was in for a rough ride. Goofing on the Hoff is such an ancient gag that it’s lost any luster for me. It’s like when they tossed him in Piranha 3DD and used him to such terrible effect. His appearance here isn’t that bad, but he added nothing.
They try to move the film into such intentionally ridiculous heights the ‘So Bad It’s Good’ aspect of this cheesy B-Movie just came off as trying WAY too hard to be outlandish and acting desperate to come up with stuff for viewers to tweet about. The tweeting reaction worked, but I’m not so sure about actually being entertaining on any level. At least it wasn’t for me.
Tara Reid, her daughter and Bo Derek are completely forgettable in this. Ziering looks to be anxious to further his status as a shark-killing hero in these movies, but there’s really nothing different here than what we saw from him in the last two movies. Muniz comes off pretty good in his little amateur shark-killer part at least.
One bright spot in all this was the return of Cassie Scerbo as Nova the beach gal who has an extreme hatred for sharks. I liked Scerbo from the first movie – mainly for superficial reasons – and was disappointed she didn’t return for the second one.
Well, she’s back again and acts like a badass shark-killer. She arms herself and suits up to battle this sharknado. I would have preferred if all the time wasted on the cameos was given to her for some inventive and angry shark killing scenes.
Actually if they dropped all the cameos, dropped Fin’s family down in Orlando, nixed Hasselhoff and just had it be about Nova in her sharknado-reinforced trailer riding around with Fin and Muniz trying to save people and survive the storm the movie probably could have been more entertaining. Nova is certainly a much more interesting and attractive a character to watch than Tara Reid!
I’m not sure where the line is of a B-Movie being ‘so bad it’s good’ in correlation to a movie being ‘so bad it’s just stupid, they’re really trying to overdo it, they’re getting too cutesy, they’re trying too hard to sell the joke and its become not fun to watch’ but this Sharknado sequel just didn’t work again this time for me.
I said this way back in my original Sharknado review:
“Based on its success it won’t be too surprising we’ll be seeing more natural disasters and killer animal/monsters colliding. Grizzly-cane. Spider-Blizzard. Snake-A-Lanche. Volcanic Bats. They’re probably already in pre-production.”
To my surprise I saw a new Syfy movie premiered around the same time called Lavalantula starring Steve Guttenberg. Giant fiery spiders being spit out from a volcano. I was close to calling the premise of that one! I haven’t watched it yet and I’m expecting it to be lousy. But at least it will be different than what’s become of the Sharknado series, which is just rinse and repeat – oh and add a lot of cameos.
I could very easily be overthinking the Sharknado thing and being overly-critical of a movie that is meant to be bad. The expectations one should have sitting down to watch this are very specific – a bad movie that you can have fun laughing at. And for those who still can, hey good for you.
The common rebuttal to someone who would say, “Oh this movie is crap”, is “Well, what were you expecting? You just have to shut off your brain, have fun and enjoy it for what it is”. Well, my brain was shut down and I still didn’t have any fun or enjoy any of it. For me it failed to do what it was supposed to do. And I’m not too confident as this series continues with Sharknado 4 it will manage to reach its dumb fun B-Movie goals any better than the first one did.
I’ll end on one positive thing about the Sharknado series.
Those old enough to remember there was a time when television was more of a communal experience than it is today. There was a time long, long ago when you would watch a television show or mini-series at night and the next day you would discover everyone had watched the same thing and you could talk about it with everyone else. You know that old term ‘water cooler talk’. Today Twitter has become our country’s water cooler.
Thanks to Sharknado we can take satisfaction that this pop culture novelty is creating a similar sense of community that seems like a distant memory. All those twitter-happy viewers watching it live, who are sitting with their phones at the same time you are makes you realize so many others are laughing, giggling or just shaking their heads at the same time you’re experiencing it and you get the sense of this shared television moment.
Hey, it’s not exactly the cultural impact of Roots or anything, but we’ll just have to take it.
I can see how people say it’s a fun social media movie, but I’m not sure how Sharknado 3 will fare a few months from its original airing. Even a few weeks. I doubt many will find it worth watching again when it’s not the trending topic of the day and when the Sharknado fad completely ends.