Sharknado: The 4th Awakens – Review (* 1/2)

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Whether you consider them a poison pill you swallow once a year or an annual ritual accompanied by carby snacks and free-flowing booze, it’s hard to deny the incredulous Sharknado franchise is a pop-culture phenomenon unto, and perhaps often in spite of, itself.

When it comes to reviewing movies like this, a dilemma emerges; are stars and praise allotted for what a film intends to do, or what it actually manages to? There’s an ever-growing industry built on glib, ironic, “so-bad-it’s-good” filmmaking, and while the first three movies retained a heft of charm even as self-awareness became ever-present, this fourth outing sadly runs largely on fumes.

Some five years after the events of the previous film, Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) is living a peaceful live in Kansas with his children, but during a trip to Las Vegas, yet another Sharknado emerges to terrify the world, and again he must spring into action with his usual gang of cohorts to save the day.

“Franchise in Space” is usually the tipping point for just about any film series where it’s unequivocally stopped giving a shit about being taken seriously, and though that was clearly never a desire here when the third movie decided to leave Earth, the comedown in the subsequent film (assuming there is one) is usually mightily fierce. That is just such the problem here; after going so outlandish prior, Sharknado 4 feels written into a corner, unable to muster up thrills that come anywhere close to that previous level. Honestly, a time travel plot with terrible CGI Dinosharknadoes might’ve really been the best way to go for this one.

Sure, it does still provide some cursory chuckles by way of the howlingly terrible visual effects, silly cameos (especially Gary Busey as Tara Reid’s genius scientist father) and gratuitous violence, but after a point it becomes too much of a muchness, and the film is ultimately both repeating and insisting upon itself long before those end credits roll, inevitably teasing yet another film, of course.

The good news for Syfy and anyone involved with this film is that to call Sharknado: The 4th Awakens a terrible movie doesn’t damage it in the slightest. If you’re into this, you’re going to see it regardless, but you may find yourself curiously bored…unless you’re deep into a flagon of booze before it all goes down.

* 1/2

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens aired on Syfy on July 31st


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