It’s been five years since the last Sharknado hit. Astro X has saved the world from the utter destruction of sharknadoes. By stabilizing the atmosphere, they have ended severe weather, ensuring that the debilitating events of global warming are not felt by the people of the Sharknado universe. Fin (Ian Ziering), the protagonist in charge of making questionable decisions and pulling living people out of sharks, is living pleasantly in Kansas with his young son, finally free of his dangerous past at the start of Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens. He even leaves his standoffish disposition behind for a full few minutes when he sees his son. Well, for the first two and a half minutes at least.
Fin and his niece, Gemini (Masiela Lusha), head to Las Vegas for a reunion with Fin’s older son, and it immediately seems as if there’s a storm brewing. For the past five years the sharks must have been practicing their aim, as they’ve significantly improved the accuracy and frequency of their attacks. They’ve achieved mastery in darts, horseshoes and cornhole, as they impale, consume, and slide into whatever is in their way. One major point of growth throughout the Sharknado series has been the increase in number of shark attacks. While only a few random bystanders were hurt by sharks in the first movie, dozens were randomly smacked by sharks in Sharknado 4.
Overall, the film is plagued by inconsistent characterization and cinematography, and also by the expectations that the franchise created for itself. While the inconsistencies in characterization have been consistent in Sharknado movies, many didn’t seem intentional, and thus their comedic value is lost. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the lack of space travel. With an extraplanetary cliff hanger and name alluding to Star Wars viewers naturally hoped for a sharknado in space. Aside from a brief mention of Fin’s dad’s lunar excursion and a few tiny Star Wars references, the film is devoid of space. Maybe the budget didn’t allow for a space themed movie or maybe the writers realized that you can’t have a tornado without an atmosphere; a true disappointment either way.
News coverage of the sharknadoes starts early, and it seems that Al Roker (as himself) is always ready to share more of the pseudoscience that the writers have concocted to explain the storms. The news bursts appear too often to work as cameos, but too aggressively reference the real world to be part of the Sharknado universe. They are a bit tiring and lose their entertainment as soon as they lose their shock value. Gilbert Gottfried’s cameo as an NBC reporter, however, is perhaps the biggest highlight of the entire film.
The Sharknado franchise has had mixed results with cameos. Many appearances promote unrecognizable “celebrities” known only to niche audiences. Several cameos referenced the given actor’s background, however obscure they might be. When the cameos were understandable, they were hilarious, but the scenes were often awkward and unamusing. Gottfried’s cameo was one that really added to the movie. Everyone knows his distinctive voice, and he had a meaningful part in telling the story. Most of all, it was preposterous that voice of the little bird from Aladdin (yes, that’s why his voice sounds familiar) is reporting live on a sharknado.
The ludicrous little bits and pieces of action make Sharknado 4 incredible and irritating. Sharknado is fun because it’s so frustrating. There’s fun in the frustration of watching a terrible movie, and in complaining about it with your friends. Whether it’s a great cameo from someone totally out of place or a brand new type of ’nado, there’s always something utterly bizarre coming at the viewer.
Sharknado is a saga defined by poor quality. In the fourth installment, it outdid itself, in both good and bad ways. In built upon the previous movies, had plenty to laugh at and still even more to complain about. However, much of Sharknado 4 remained less than great. Sharknadoes can be pushed only so far, and the series’ creators are reaching their limit. We will likely fail to see a sharknado in space, but who knows what else the writers may spin out. While the prospects for future Sharknado plots and expansions are cloudy, at least there was an outrageous cliff hanger serving as a remnant of hope for the future.
Katie Sims is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.