I attempted to play a little game during Sharknado 5 by tallying how many complete sentences were spoken by Tara Reid’s character, April Shepard. It’s no secret that Reid’s presence in this film series is mostly confined to “just standing there” and increasingly being CGI’d into doing ridiculous feats via the cybernetic implants (if you’re reading this, I can only assume you know what I’m talking about) she’s acquired along the way. Recall the original Sharknado, when her “big moment” involves passing a chainsaw to her husband Fin (Ian Ziering), the actual hero: She doesn’t speak much then either…for reasons that immediately become obvious whenever she does speak. Let’s just say that her delivery has not improved since 2013.
So yes, I tried to count the complete sentences uttered by Reid, but forgot halfway through the film that I was doing it, having fallen victim to a potent cocktail of boredom conjured up by the movie’s inert sluggishness. Kudos to The Asylum—they’re the only studio that can turn “people flying through magical tornadoes filled with sharks” into a startlingly effective sedative.
Simply put, this series has run its course and is currently beating a dead shark. And that’s coming from someone who is more or less a Sharknado fan, or at least a defender of the first few films in the series, which, despite being stupid, have a certain low-budget charm to them. As time has gone by, though, the franchise has gone from amusing diversion to increasingly grating summer obligation. The sheer degree of product placement alone should be enough for most reasonable humans to change the channel in disgust, best exemplified by the moment when a primary character says the following line without a shred of irony: “Let’s see what I can find on the Xfinity Stream App!” You could make a fairly convincing argument, as a result, that this isn’t a “movie,” per se—it’s a bloated assemblage of marketing and cameo appearances by hideously Botox-frozen and knife-altered former celebrity faces.
The plot, as it were, is simultaneously more inscrutable and easier to sum up in one sentence than any of the other Sharknado sequels. It’s about a kid getting sucked up into a sharknado, and the entire rest of the film involves trying to get him back out again. That’s it—I’m not sure how long he’s up there, but it appears to be days at the very least, just flying around aimlessly.
It’s pointless to attempt any further deconstruction of this film, so allow me to simply share with you some of the random things that ended up jotted in my notes, none of which I could possibly have predicted in advance.
- “The harness of dooka-wacka?” (It turns out that this is a reference to the actual Fijian shark god Dakuwaqa, but good luck figuring that out when Cassie Scerbo is saying it.)
- Multiple John Landis references in the course of a couple minutes, including a nice homage to American Werewolf in London.
- “Sydney Opera House laser Voltron.”
- “Former Lucha Underground champ Johnny Mundo!”
- “Well, at least this movie has Nichelle Nichols, so it’s got that going for it.”
The ending of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming makes at least one thing clear: We’re getting a Sharknado 6 next summer, and it’s going to explore the only remaining frontier that the series hasn’t yet touched. I’m sure that I’ll end up reviewing it for Paste—this isn’t the kind of thing you do for five movies and then simply stop—but it’s difficult for me to imagine that the series could somehow complete a U-turn into the camp of “entertaining” once again at this point. Like a shark, it has to keep swimming or it will die…but maybe it’s time to stop swimming anyway.
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Writer: Thunder Levin
Starring: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo and an unfathomably large number of D-list cameos
Release Date: August 6, 2017 on SyFy
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer who has somehow managed to review every single Sharknado film. You should throw him some chum by following on Twitter.