Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Film Review: Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)

© Syfy | Source: ETonline

USA; 88 min.; trash, horror, sci-fi
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Writing: Thunder Levin
Cinematography: Ben Demaree
Cast: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Frankie Muniz, Ryan Newman, David Hasselhoff, Mark Cuban, Bo Derek

Nova: I'm going to kill all of 'em, every last one of 'em.
Fin: We’ve tried that three times. Didn't seem to work.

"Oh hell yes!" must've been my reaction when I first heard that there was going to be another Sharknado flick. It's a franchise I enjoy quite a bit. I mean, if you've got a thing for movies bloated with bad special effects, cringe-worthy dialogues, second- to third-class actors and a refreshing absence of logic, this is the place to find it. Pair all this with a bunch of flying, blood-thirsty sharks spinning around in a tornado, and you're certain to have created a gem of trash cinema. And that's exactly what the first part is.

There already was a broad array of trashy shark films out there but when Sharknado was released two years ago, it felt special. It was insanely hilarious, absurd to the (fish)bone and terrible to look at. But, like it's most often the case with terrible things, it's hard to take your eyes off of such a train wreck of a movie because it's simply a blast to watch. A year later, Sharknado 2: The Second One – the name alone deserves some credit – did not manage to bring across the spontaneous and unexpected fun of its predecessor, but it came up trumps with a (j)awsome finale on the Empire State Building. Due to the massive popularity of the franchise, director Anthony C. Ferrante and writer Thunder Levin gathered once more in order to knock out a third part. The result, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, shines with another inspiring tag line, but falls flat when it comes to mindless shark fun.

After having survived and terminated a sharknado in both Los Angeles and New York, surfer Fin (Ian Ziering) is honoured for his heroic deeds by the President of the United States (Mark Cuban). When oh-so-unexpectedly a sharknado hits the White House, Fin and the Commander-in-Chief slaughter their way through the flying carnivores. This, however, is not the end. More sharknados are heading towards the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando where Fin's re-married and pregnant wife April (Tara Reid), their daughter Claudia (Ryan Newman) and his mother-in-law May (Bo Derek) intend to spend a fun afternoon. While Fin tries to make his way to Florida to save his family, he encounters an old friend, Nova (Cassie Scerbo). With the help of Fin's father, retired NASA colonel Gil (David Hasselhoff), the two try to stop the biggest sharknado in history.

First of all, it's good to have them all back. Ian Ziering's Fin has become a kind of trash icon, and rightly so. The former Beverly Hills 90210 heartthrob plays him so wonderfully straight that the ridiculous situations his character is placed in, for example being presented with the New York Order of the Golden Chainsaw, come across as even more hilarious. Tara Reid, once more, demonstrates that acting really isn't what she should be doing – and we can all be glad that she's found an outlet for her non-existing talent in the Sharknado movies. Cassie Scerbo, who also appears in the original instalment, is certain to please fangirls and -boys. Especially since her Nova has transformed into a kick-ass warrior woman ready to take out some sharks at all costs. The way she jumps off caravans in slow-motion, wearing a weird mask and Tomb Raider-like gear sure is a sight to behold.

Cameo-wise Oh Hell No! is certain to impress as well. From German TV host Oliver Kalkhofe, Irish pop act Jedward, former Playboy bunnies Kendra Wilkinson and Holly Madison to singer Ne-Yo, television presenter Jerry Springer and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin – we're all bound to recognise at least one of these peeps.

I am, however, rather disappointed in The Hoff. The name alone is usually enough to make me flash a smile. His performance in Anaconda: Offspring (2008) is something that I still hold very dear. And while he works well with giant snakes, sharks don't seem to bring out the best in Hasselhoff. His portrayal lacked heartfelt exaggeration and honest silliness. If only he had brought all the cheese and camp to the role that he previously showed in his Broadway performance of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the whole thing could've reached a new dimension of bad. As is, he's merely boring, and leaving potential untouched. The fact that the last we see of him is a smirk which he directs towards the camera while roaming the surface of the moon in a spacesuit, surrounded by sharks, is only a minor consolation.

Furthermore, Oh Hell No! looks way too polished for my taste. There's a posh montage featured in the opening credits. Sets include Universal Studios, a NASCAR race and, well, space! Instead of destroying only one city, the sharknados seem to make their way through the entire USA. Everything is stepped up a notch, which cannot achieve the natural trashiness of the predecessors. The third part tries too hard to be cheap while, at the same time, wanting to present conventional action coolness. Having Fin cling to his car door in the midst of a mighty storm might be ridiculous in itself; it is, however, made to look like a scene from a regular Die Hard movie. Where's the fun in that?

The worst thing about Oh Hell No! is its blatant patriotism, though. While The Second One effectively uses its New York setting as a way to comment on the city's toughness in face of a grave crisis, the third part feels like it has been cut out of a Michael Bay production. "God bless America" quotes, the exhausting use of the Star-Spangled Banner and, on top of this, a re-enactment of the Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph, this time with a shark impaled upon the rod – I'm not sure if I want my silly, innocent pastime politically charged in such a way and manner.

Yes, there are sharks, there's a tornado, the main characters are back, the cameos are fun – but, heck, we have all this in the previous two movies as well, without the annoying undertones and with a much higher factor of terribly delightful, hilariously abysmal bad. Next time, since, obviously, there's going to be a fourth one, don't try so hard, Sharknado! Leave your political agenda at home, fire up The Hoff, and let those badly animated sharks do the rest.


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