Sharknado: The 4th Awakens Directed by Anthony C Ferrante
Written by Thunder Levin
Starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Ryan Newman, Masiela Lusha, Cody Linley, Imani Hakim SyFy | Asylum Productions
Release Date: Wednesday, July 31, 2016, 8:00pm ET
The Syfy channel has lived on the back of its campy and so-bad-they’re-good CG-shark fests for years. In 2009, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus debuted. A year later, they started splicing sea creatures together with the Roger Corman-produced Sharktopus. But nothing captured the cultural zeitgeist like 2013’s Sharknado. Celebrities began tweeting about it, and soon it was a social media sensation. It was obvious there needed to be a sequel, and in 2014 we got Sharknado 2: The Second One, followed again last year with Sharknado 3, Oh Hell No! Finally, because we the people demanded it, the franchise that merged sharks and weather phenomena continues with Sharknado: The 4th Awakens! On a sentimental note, I consider the Sharknado franchise my Geeks Of Doom anniversary as Part 2 was my first review for the site.
Five years ago, Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and his wife April (Tara Reid) rode back to Earth inside the belly of a giant shark from outer space. Their son Gil was born inside the shark. Unfortunately, their happy ending was interrupted, and it seemed like April was killed by falling space debris. At least that’s what Fin thought…
Episode 4 – The 4th Awakens (YES, in Star Wars style crawl) – 5-years have gone by and no sharknados. A tech company led by Aston Reynolds (Tommy Davidson) has figured a way to prevent tornadoes from forming. And what better to do now, than create a Shark-themed casino in Vegas! Meanwhile, Fin is living the peaceful life in Kansas, as far from oceans as possible (despite being in tornado alley… ha ha). Naturally, Fin heads to Vegas for Shark World’s grand opening with his cousin Gemini (Masiela Lusha). Literally, within seconds of his arrival in Vegas, a sand storm collides with the shark-filled casino and… well, you guessed it. Early cameos include Cheryl Tiegs as Fin’s mom, Carrot Top, Wayne Newton, and Vince Neil. Oh, we’re off to a wonderfully ridiculous start.
Over to San Francisco where April is alive and well, and running in boots (which my wife called the most unrealistic part of the Sharknado movie). She is seemingly part robot. Her scientist father (Gary Busey… let that sink in) is helping Astro-X with new technology including a flight suit for Gilbert Shepard (David Hasselhoff). Just when we were in danger of this becoming too serious a film, the sand-sharknado becomes a sand-boulder-sharknado, and hits the Shepard’s train en route back to Kansas. This leads to Finn wrestling a boulder-shark on the train. You gotta love the commitment to the Star Wars-themed title, as the characters reel off cheesy Sharknado-style takes on classic Star Wars lines, “Stay on target,” “Nice shot kid, don’t get cocky,” etc.
April goes through a Rocky-style training montage, complete with her Swiss-Army hand with chainsaw and lightsaber function. The sharknado follows Fin and the Shepard clan like a Great White tracking the Brody family in Jaws: The Revenge – sorry, I went there. The references get even cooler in this one, including a super-meta Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 reference… hail Choptop! Soon, the sharknado hits a Texas oil field and we have an Oilnado and a Firenado. They’re able to re-direct it, but soon the sand-boulder-oil-fire-sharknado hits some electric plant and becomes a lightning-nado… thanks to Gilbert Gottfried for explaining. April hears Fin is alive and goes after her family. Fin gets to Kansas and meets up with Steve Guttenberg! So true story, Guttenberg was offered the role of Fin in the original Sharknado and turned it down. He does mention he was dealing with a spider outbreak, a reference to his new Syfy movie franchise Lavalantula, with the sequel premiering next Saturday.
Soon the lightning-cow-sharknado hits Kansas, and the Shepard clan is in big trouble. Luckily, April shows up right in time… surprise, I’m alive everyone! The lavanado and hailnado have been stopped… but the lightning-meganado is headed towards a nuclear plant… uh oh. The Shepard clan is united and armed against the nuclear-nado. I love Al Roker giving exposition every few minutes on the Today Show. Hasselhoff volunteers to save the day and reunites with some familiar beach babes turned scientists before the sharks attacks. Of course being a Sharknado movie, the entire family ends up swallowed by sharks, but perfectly fine thanks to the first ever Shark-defibrillator.
And how else to end Sharknado 4 but with a shameless set up for Sharknado 5, yeah we all knew it. What can you say? If you are reading this, and watched it, then you knew what you were getting into. Personally, I think the Sharknado movies are actually getting better. The level of jokes and one-liners are fantastic, and Ziering pulls off one amazing straight man. I mean, he is stone-faced during these ridiculous things. The rest of the cast is fun, and the way they integrated the in-movie advertising and Syfy channel’s upcoming movies, is both shameless and fantastic. Plus, they do throw in some real cool geek nods, like the TCM2 scene. All in all, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens is definitely the best movie about sharks and tornadoes that debuted in 2016… and as usual, I can’t wait for Sharknado 5… and 6… and… well, you get it.