TV review: Sharknado, SyFy
Love/Hate, Channel 5
Thursday 08 August 2013
The premise behind US Twitter sensation Sharknado was a simple one: a freak hurricane (curse that global warming) hits Los Angeles, causing killer sharks to flood the streets of Hollywood. For most people that would be disaster enough, but this was a film from the kings of schlock, Asylum Films, and thus things swiftly escalated.
Not long after the first beasts were sighted ("Sharks in the swimming pool? Don't be ridiculous," scoffed one poor fool), the hurricane spun off into a tornado that promptly sucked up the sharks, making them fly through the air, fall out of the sky and kill innocent bystanders in all manner of increasingly awesome ways.
There was a brief attempt at an actual plot beyond "Look! Sharks! Sharks falling out of the sky! Help! Run!", but in all honesty it was difficult to care whether laidback surfer Fin (Ian Ziering from the original Beverley Hills, 90210) and his ex-wife April (Tara Reid, answering the important question, "What does Tara Reid do when not hanging out with Jedward?") survived to love another day because... Look sharks! Sharks plunging out of the sky with their jaws conveniently open, ready to chomp people to death!
As for the dialogue, it was the standard mix of corny one-liners ("They took my grandfather. So I really hate sharks"), references to other, more serious, shark movies ("We're going to need a bigger 'copter") and blind panic ("Go, go, go", "Help, run, run, run", "What the hell is that?")
How high your tolerance for such things is probably depends on how early in your life you were exposed to bad 1970s disaster movies. Fortunately, having been raised on them, I thrill to implausible scenarios, cornball dialogue and large casts dying in wacky ways. And while Sharknado didn't quite match the memorable moment in The Poseidon Adventure when a game Shelley Winters recalls her days as a competitive swimmer and frees Gene Hackman from certain death only to keel over herself, it's also the case that you probably don't need pathos when you have sharks.
For no one could ever accuse Sharknado of failing to understand its selling point. This wasn't a film that could simply be content with remembering to include a scene where a busload of innocent children face death by shark, nor the type of movie that would rest on its laurels after shooting a sequence where a shark falls out of nowhere before devouring its hapless victim. No, this was a drama that wanted to go the full Ahab. OK, so Melville's big beast was a whale, but do you think that's the sort of minor detail that bothered the makers of a film called Sharknado?
Thus, the deliriously camp finale saw winsome waitress Nova plunge out of a helicopter and into the rapturous jaws of a happily waiting great white shark, just minutes after she'd bonded with Fin's daring son Matt. Poor Nova, stuck for ever in the belly of the beast.
Luckily, Fin clearly took a keen interest in his son's putative love life and followed her in armed with a chainsaw. Yes, that's right, Sharknado's climax featured our hero cutting his way out of a great white shark with a chainsaw and dragging his son's potential girlfriend out alive after him. There aren't the words to describe how singularly brilliant an idea that is.
Meanwhile, increasingly addictive Irish crime-drama Love/Hate provided a brutal dose of reality as Darren bared his heart to Rosie, who in turn found herself hospitalised by Stumpy, while the unhinged Hughie did little to repair his reputation as a loose cannon by battering hapless accomplice Martin to death, before confessing to brother John Boy that he'd killed Robbie. Frankly, you'd have a higher chance of survival facing the flying sharks.
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