Thanks to its unprecedented (and unpredictable) social media presence, last year’s SHARKNADO, written by Thunder Levin and directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, was plucked from sub-B-movie obscurity to become not only Syfy’s most watched original movie of all time, but a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Despite the fact that the film was objectively terrible (see our review here), its glorious irreverence and manic energy made it one of 2013’s most influential cult creations. The question was never if there would be a sequel, but if the one-note premise could sustain a second outing (and if the notoriously fickle public would care). In terms of media awareness and viewing figures, SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE was a rousing success (it surpassed the original on Syfy’s most watched stakes), but as a viewing experience what’s it actually like?
In a nutshell, SHARKNADO 2 is exactly like its predecessor. The acting is terrible, the special effects are laughable, the script is risible and the story deranged. And it’s bloody good fun. Writer and director both return, as do co-stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. In the case of the former it’s a boon, as Ziering’s chiselled good looks and boundless energy add to the narrative’s remorseless forward momentum, but Reid is as vacant and lifeless as before (her role is much reduced this time, thank goodness). As with the original, the film’s saving grace is Levin’s script, which offsets its clunky, brain-dead dialogue with a succession of ambitious and inventive set pieces that are just the right side of too-preposterous-for-words. Also like last time, director Ferrante is just along for the ride, but at least manages a tad more storytelling flair.
Capitalising on its brand awareness, SHARKNADO 2 engages in an orgy of product placement and pointless cameos. It’s all rather vulgar, but to be expected of a low-rent outfit like Syfy (that said, I did enjoy the sight of Kelly Osbourne being decapitated by a shark). Blink and you’ll miss most of the cameos, and even if you don’t you’ll struggle to see the point of them (Jared from Subway?), but I suppose it all helps to increase the film’s exposure. As noted above, the effects haven’t improved since last time (they truly are terrible), and after only two outings the gimmicks (I’m looking at you, chainsaw) are already starting to look stale.
SHARKNADO 2 is less a movie, more a protracted exercise in self-promotion. Whereas the first was an unexpected hit, the second arrives with all guns blazing, determined to make as much media noise as possible. The tactics are as tacky as they come, but somehow they manage to add to the charm. If the first one left you cold you’ll hate every minute of the sequel, but converts will love it. For all its many (and I do mean MANY) flaws, it’s every bit as stupid and spectacular as the first. The set-pieces don’t always come off, but again that’s part of their charm, and Ziering is already starting to adopt the world-weary, through-the-wringer likability of John McClane. Whether the joke can stretch to a third outing remains to be seen, but we won’t have long to wait – SHARKNADO 3 has already been announced for next year.