by Matthew Balz
The Sharknado franchise is a media beast that certainly surprised most people. Helmed by The Asylum, a production company that bases its income off ofmockbusters, it’s hard to believe anyone expected this series to become as popular as it has. I mean, when your corporate plan includes Battledogs,Asteroid vs. Earth, and Bermuda Tentacles, how can one predict which film will hit that perfect camp value for audiences? Regardless, something about the very first Sharknado film resonated with fans of low-quality, B-movie fandom and invigorated a whole new generation who live and breathe Tweets and hashtags.
The first film of this franchise began exactly how you would expect it to. Lacking in absolutely everything. The “story” is as loose and flimsy as they come, depicting characters caught up in a storm which miraculously disappears and reappears on screen from shot to shot, scene to scene, and drives the main characters from one location to another, often for avoidable reasons. Oh, and this storm just so happens to toss CGI sharks around through the air, periodically sending them swimming through a city as it floods, then un-flood, and then floods again … and un-floods again.
Stock footage is the meat of this movie (“movie?”). When the characters are on screen, the disasters are not, but that’s not a bad thing. To spot these people on screen would be to assume they were actors, but even the notorious Tara Reid couldn’t pull together a performance from deep within her echoing bank account.
Of course, none of this is to say that this movie isn’t fun. It is nothing but fun, as long as you know what you’re getting into. Plenty of drinking games have arisen from films like this, where groups of friends can revel in the bumbling ragtag ensemble of survivors on screen while simultaneously taking a shot every time you hear “I really hate sharks.” The greatest joy one could hope to find is that anticipation of the next set piece, the next flying-shark vs. human deathmatch, and the next crumbling CGI building. Yes, it’s terrible, but at no point are you going to believe that these mild winds sent a ferris wheel rolling across a crowd of semi-startled beach-goers. You’ll just keep whispering, “What are they going to try next?”
This film is the heaviest, fattest example of spectacle. Since the beginning of filmstock, movies have made the wildest attempts to stir an audience’s exitement, no matter the quality, and Sharknado is making its black-and-white celluloid ancestors proud. It’s hard to imagine anyone who would openly seek this movie out expecting to be impressed, but as this franchise continues on, it becomes difficult to believe there isn’t some spark of something special hidden beneath the bad acting and outlandish disaster scenarios. Currently heading into a fourth film, there was a reason this series took off while others, like Mega Pirahna, did not, and heaven help us for attempting to find out what that reason was.
Stay tuned for further exploration of the Sharknado franchise