‘Sharknado 2’: Even More Sharks Being Shot Out of Bigger Tornadoes

Welcome back. We’ve been here before. The advantage of the derecho of hype surrounding the Sharknado sequel is the creation of an entire nation of informed consumers. You knew going into this, whether you wanted to or not, that this would be a second two-hour chunk of your life devoted to watching a television movie in which a cadre of solidly recognizable actors battle a waterspout filled with live sharks for reasons known only to a vengeful and slightly immature god. If you’re like us, maybe it took you until the 115-minute mark of the second film to wonder why these folks have been so dead set on fighting the weather rather than bracing for it for two whole movies now. (We will come back to this.) It’s July. It’s perfectly all right to park your brain in a hammock and just water it periodically with Spanish gin and tonics.

Warm-Up Quiz

Which of the following is not a real Syfy original picture?

A) Bermuda Tentacles

B) Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators

C) Pegasus vs. Chimera

D) Arachnoquake

E) The Terror of Titmouse Fjord

Answer: E), for now.

A Body Can’t Find Anything in a Crowd

It turns out it’s possible for a sequel to a television movie that ended with Ian Ziering jumping into the mouth of an airborne great white shark to rescue the mean girl from ABC Family’s Make It or Break It to try to do too much. Fittingly for a movie that begins on a plane and is set largely in New York City, Sharknado 2: The Second One is characterized by claustrophobia and overcrowding. The cameos fly thicker than airborne hammerheads, and going into the first commercial break — with Robert Hays playing a pilot, before we even get to characters named Martin and Ellen Brody, and Judd Hirsch driving a taxi — the drop-ins are already a little exhausting. (We’re not going to even attempt cataloging the cameos here. Just know you should feel left out for not being asked to appear.) Whether it’s a deliberate attempt to court an older audience with recognition moments that will mostly fly over the heads of the Millennials who made the first film a new-media sensation, or even if this is just everybody who felt like signing on to make a Shark Attack Via The Weather picture, a movie centered around A PAIR OF SHARK-FILLED WATERSPOUTS MENACING NEW YORK CITY doesn’t need to scream “DO YOU GET IT?!” quite so frequently. We should have gotten over being offended on behalf of other properties months ago, back when it was announced Mark McGrath’s character was named Martin Brody, and if we’re offended by pillaging, what are we doing watching Asylum flicks, anyway? But here is an intentionally typed and heartfelt sentence: A Sharknado sequel could have been made to stand on its own merits. This isn’t it. But a genuine wish that the filmmakers of the Sharknado sequel had more confidence in their material is its own kind of remarkable, isn’t it?

Last summer, Grantland voters selected Sinbad in a landslide as the best candidate to portray the president of the United States in an extended Sharknado universe. The Second One didn’t display any higher authority than the mayor of New York, but whom would you cast?

POLL: Who is president of Sharknado’s America?

A) Sinbad, in a second term

B) Soleil Moon Frye

C) Lark Voorhies

D) Jackie Chan

E) Billy Ray Cyrus, somehow

Here is What Happens, If You Can’t Be Bothered to Watch the Shark-Chainsawing Movie for Your Damn Selves

When last we saw our heroes, Fin (Ian Ziering) and April (Tara Reid) had temporarily overcome leftover hurt feelings from their divorce to battle a sharkstorm in Los Angeles. Now on a New York–bound plane, April is wearing her wedding ring again and has written a book on her experiences, while Fin broods that he’s sick of being known as the Sharknado Guy, a situation perhaps exacerbated by the massive shark tooth he wears on a cord around his neck. The absolute best instance of tiptoeing into another mythos (and it’s a genuine joy) occurs almost immediately, with Fin having a brief “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode as he glimpses a shark outside the plane in midflight and is scoffed at by fellow passengers and a surly air marshal. (We did just get done complaining about the rip-offing being hammy even by Asylum standards, but how often have you sat in your living room saying, “Honey, don’t you wish there were a shark clinging to the wing of that plane?” and had that wish granted?)

Anyway, the plane is headed through some kind of comparatively minor sharkstorm; the pilots get sucked out; April loses a hand, and Fin, of course, ends up landing the plane. None of it is particularly suspenseful, because Fin is on the plane, and Fin hasn’t had any chainsawing scenes yet, but we do get to see what kind of big ol’ smears cartilaginous fish leave on the windshield of a commercial aircraft. Fin manages to put the correct side of the plane on the ground at JFK, where the cause of the emergency landing is met with skepticism. It’s a clunky and semi-baffling setup for conflict: Did the plane just fly through a crowd of sharks? Did no pieces of shark survive inside the plane? Does the plane full of witnesses not back Fin up? Why is Fin doing press with April missing a hand before she even goes into surgery? Whatever, we’re committed now, because Billy Ray Cyrus is her doctor and April’s eyeliner has somehow remained immaculate throughout this entire ordeal.

The theme over the opening credits was written for this special occasion; most of the lyrics consist of “Sharknado!” It is reprised later on in the film, because when else are you gonna get to use this song?

Anti-Shark Weapon Power Rankings

1. Pizza peel

2. Ambulance

3. Oversize novelty bat

4. Taser

5. Kelly Ripa’s stiletto heel

Meanwhile: Fin had previously arranged to meet old friends Skye (Vivica A. Fox, and they have A Past!) and Bryan (Judah Friedlander), along with brother-in-law Martin (Mark McGrath) and nephew Vaughn (Dante Palminteri) at a Mets game while April did her book signing. So as to leave no branch of the Fin family unvexed by the incoming shark front, Fin’s sister Ellen happens to be touring Ellis Island with two of HER friends and her daughter. All the ladies in this plotline have identical hairstyles and one is Pepa, of Salt ’N. In simultaneous set pieces, Fin shows up at the ballgame just in time to spirit the gang away from the encroaching shark-filled weather system (“There’s no words to describe the inside of a shark,” he says, which is presumably why April’s the one who wrote the book) and into the subway, while Ellen and her cohorts are attacked by sharks jumping onto the Ellis Island ferry.

The sharks give chase through the subway tunnels. “I know we haven’t been as close as we used to be,” Fin informs Martin, with impeccably bad timing. Friedlander is dealt the most ignominious death in a movie crammed with them, bitten in the ass and dragged out the ragged open back end of a train car. What becomes of his novelty bat is left to our imaginations. Fin kills a shark with a shard from a regular bat. Judd Hirsch reappears at exactly the right moment, and we will spend the rest of his time onscreen entertaining the fantasy that he might be playing an earthbound angel, like they let Wim Wenders take over Syfy original programming.

With all parties still separated but with the survivors all back on street-level Manhattan ground, the chase scenes begin. The menfolk and Skye toodle around in a cab, raiding a bodega for makeshift shark-fighting gear — we see Vaughn purchasing Chekhov’s Off-Brand Nerf Gun and Lighter Fluid. “This ain’t L.A., bro,” says Martin of Fin’s plan to bomb the sharknado out of formation, like that’s the only problem with this plan. The women are being chased by the rolling head of the Statue of Liberty, which has been ripped from its shoulders by the storm and sheared of its spikes by rolling down streets a whole lot. After they’ve commandeered a garbage truck, it finally occurs to them to veer several feet onto the sidewalk, and the head rolls on, like a tempest-tossed Raiders of the Lost Ark prop, undaunted.

There’s a handy internal framing device going on here, where every once in a while the movie cuts back to the Today Show set and Matt Lauer and Al Roker give updates on the weather. This is a clever bit of plotting that places all the action within frequently updated contexts of where the waterspouts (two of ’em! And a lightning storm!) are and what they’re doing, and frees up the rest of the characters to continue trying to insert their motley emotional backstories into every other scene. About those two waterspouts: They’re moving toward each other! Where do you reckon they’ll converge? At the hotel where everyone was supposed to meet up that afternoon, dummy. What’re you, new?

via cloacacarnage.tumblr.com

Sharknado Sequel Catchphrase Countdown

5. “This is a twister with teeth.”

4. “But the next time you offer to lend a hand, don’t be so literal about it.”

3. “The shark kept chasing me, and it had this huge scar across its face, and I shot him in the eye, but it’s like he knew who I was.”

2. “But only one of my legs is real.”

1. “We are talking about shark falling rates of two inches an hour.”

So the sharknados and the entire surviving main cast are all converging on this high-rise hotel, and the flood is following them inland (or wherever; we lost track when April ordered hospital staffers to take a scared lost child “to the basement” as water poured DOWN a staircase she was standing on). Ellen and her daughter are on bikes; Fin, Skye, Vaughn, and Martin arrive by cab and swinging rope. (Everybody in this movie makes it look really easy to climb onto the roof of a cab from inside.) April, fresh as a sharkbit daisy after amputation surgery, has escaped the flooding hospital following a Jaws: The Revenge face-to-face encounter with a suspiciously scarred shark. Skye and Fin commandeer the roof of the hotel, where she has a sword and he becomes, like, her shieldmaiden for this cool little moment, before she goes all Dina Meyer in Starship Troopers a little later and dies horribly for him. “We work good together,” quoth Skye, and they sure do share a sense of IS THIS REALLY THE TIME. Fin is launching homemade bombs into the sharknado, but the twisters are “too cold” to break apart, but on the bright side, the bomb-struck sharks falling into the streets below are now on fire.

Deus Ex Sharkina

“We’re talking about a storm of biblical proportions,” says Al Roker, and WHAT VERSION OF THE BIBLE IS THIS IN, BECAUSE WE WILL RIDE FOR IT. OK, new plan: Fin is going to use the lightning rod on top of the Empire State Building and some Freon tanks to freeze-splode the sharknados as they converge with the lightning storm? Or something? (Sure, Fin, blow off the top of the Empire State Building and complain that Los Angeles was ungrateful for your efforts.) Fin has acquired a very large chainsaw. April has constructed a working buzz saw that fits over her stump. “[Skye] still likes you, I can tell!”, says April, and these three all deserve each other just about equally, but this is about where Skye bites it.

For those of you scoring at home, it took us this far into the second movie to wonder what brought about the characters’ impulse to fight these weather systems for two movies in a row rather than use their wiles to organize mass exodus efforts. “Because then Ian Ziering wouldn’t have survived a lightning strike atop the Empire State Building and subsequently been thrown into a pair of tornadoes filled with live sharks” is the only answer.

Above, Fin whirls about in the toothsome weather. Below, New York’s entire population of urban gardeners and farm-to-table gastropub proprietors battles falling sharks with pitchforks, axes, and shovels. In a bottom-up deus ex machina, an elderly man lobs his entire collection of chainsaws (??) out of his truck bed and into the funnel cloud, where they cut many sharks. Fin wraps a length of chain around a particularly plump specimen, and rodeos it into impaling itself on the Empire State Building, which was not at all blown apart, somehow? Never content to end a movie without retrieving a blonde or a piece of a blonde from inside a shark’s body cavity, he locates April’s severed arm and retrieves her wedding ring, re-proposing marriage on bended knee. While we preferred the intimacy of the original Sharknado ending, it’s a nice, flip touch.

#Best #Brand #Tweet

Best Dessert Based on a Syfy Original Movie

Best Cameo

Billy Ray Cyrus, who has played a doctor before, making your achy breaky heart metaphors a good 10 years too late.

Biggest Missed Opportunity

This one’s gonna sting.

Do We Clamor for a Threequel Now That We’ve Seen The Second One?

Probably not? Too bad, maybe? Although if ever there were a team to explain away how a waterspout might form in the outer reaches of Earth’s stratosphere …

Is This a Good Sequel?

What even constitutes a good sequel in this specific case? What’s the point of even asking this about an Asylum joint, the cinematic equivalent of barbecue pork rinds? Is Sharknado 2 less charming for being hydroponically raised in a corporate high-rise, or do we celebrate the fact that it’s even in a position to BE corporate? These are all valid questions. And no matter where you come down on any of them, it’s like what makes watching something like the Super Bowl so compelling: Humans crave connectivity, and you will always remember, whether you want to or not, that you united with millions of your fellow citizens to take in the sight of Biz Markie trapping a shark in a pizza oven. We live in amazing times.

Stay Tuned

If you like your camp less gritty and more campy, Roger Corman is, as always, here for you. Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda premieres Sunday at 9, only on Syfy, your home for one-on-one battles between made-up abominations of science.

Filed Under: Sharknado, sharknado 2, TV, Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, syfy

Holly Anderson is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ HollyAnderson