Review: Sharknado 5: Global Swarming

Scripted by Scotty Mullen and directed by Anthony C. Ferrante (director of the previous films), the “Sharknado” franchise is back with this globe-trotting 2017 entry. We begin with an “Indiana Jones” rip-off font and prologue involving shark hunter Nova (Cassandra Cserbo) discovering Sharknado cave paintings, and eventually an ancient relic under Stonehenge that, when removed starts a whole shitstorm of Sharknado activity. Enter our heroic couple Fin Shepherd (Ian Ziering) and cosmetically…er…robotically enhanced wife April (Tara Reid, looking alternately drunk and confused), who attempt to save the day across several countries, but primarily England. Along the way you’ll see former “SNL” impish irritant Chris Kattan laughably miscast as the British PM, Clay Aiken (the first of way too many “Celebrity Apprentice” alum here) surprisingly not bad as an English scientist, Fabio hilariously cast as The Pope, Poison front-man Bret Michaels amusingly being hit by a double-decker bus in London, Australia’s own Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson as themselves as the fit hits the shan in Australia, and Olivia Newton-John and daughter Chloe Lattanzi looking like plastic surgery nightmares as a couple of robotics experts (!) who operate out of a transforming Sydney Opera House. That’s one of the film’s funnier visual gags, culminating in skateboarding legend Tony Hawk skateboarding on the famed structure’s ‘sails’. We also get “Pineapple Dance Studios” scene-stealer Louie Spence inexplicably cast as Reid’s UK bodyguard (!), journalist/“Celebrity Apprentice” alum Geraldo Rivera (who is at least having fun) as another kooky scientist, a seriously ancient-looking Samantha Fox alongside Aiken, veteran C-list celebrity Charo inexplicably cast as The Queen (!!), and in an international service worthy of some kind of award, Abby Lee Miller gets eaten by a shark. Seriously can’t stand that woman. “Star Trek” legend Nichelle Nichols even turns up as a political dignitary at one point. There’s plenty more cameos on offer, some more recognisable than others, no doubt. The film’s token professional wrestler this time out (previous ones being Kurt Angle, Seth Rollins, and Chris Jericho) is John Hennigan, AKA the former John Morrison in WWE and current Johnny Mundo in Lucha Underground and GFW/Impact. The occasional actor and parkour enthusiast manages to literally jump a shark at one point. That was bound to happen, I suppose, as he’s very much the kind of wrestler/personality you’d expect to find in a “Sharknado” film.

After taking a giant nosedive with the awfully dull “The 4th Awakens”, the “Sharknado” franchise continues with this completely batshit entry that I have to confess was quite a bit of fun. Yes, making a deliberately ‘bad’ movie makes for spottier viewing than if they did it accidentally, but this is certainly a step back in the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) direction. On the plus side, the wacky antics at the Opera House, and some of the bizarro casting of the likes of Geraldo, Fabio (for me the best gag in the entire film, he even supplies a chainsaw!), and Clay Aiken provide some curious amusement. Gilbert Gottfried playing a shouty TV on-the-scene reporter will never fail to make me chuckle (He was the best thing about the previous film). Also, I’m 99% sure that co-executive producer Tara Reid is mostly unaware of how terrible an actress she is, and her every scene provides all the wrong/right kind of entertainment. She’s fascinatingly awful with her half-hearted attempts at displaying any human emotion whatsoever. In fact, she might just be the bizarro highlight of the entire film, whilst also giving a worse performance than in the previous entries combined. Also priceless was the stopover in Japan leading to the inevitable Sharkzilla. It’s a shame then, that the CGI creature itself looks awful, just a bunch of whirling dervish sharks in a vague monster-like formation. Still, the idea is both inevitable and amusing. Star Ian Ziering, meanwhile appears to be loosening up finally in the lead and he’s much more fun for it. As for Cassie Cserbo, why does she always look to be in a filthy mood? Even outside this franchise she always looks so grumpy, and she’s not a terribly good actress, either.

On the downside, Aussie morning show hosts Karl and Lisa turn up and drop various bad Aussie-related things like ‘budgie smugglers’, lyrics from Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ etc. In fact, ONJ and her daughter drop various ONJ lyrics and “Grease” references too, and they’re among the weaker gags in the film. ONJ, a national treasure for many years, may have metaphorically jumped the shark by now as she’s a really sorry sight I’m sad to say. Meanwhile, as much as I recognised more of the celebrities than in the previous film, they’re still pretty cut-rate for the most part. Thankfully, unlike the previous film, pays a bit more attention to story instead of just shoving vaguely familiar faces in our…face. The scope of this one is far larger than before, traversing several different countries and locales, and for what it is, this is one of the livelier and crazier films of the franchise. Speaking of crazy, check out the Dolph Lundgren cameo at the end. I won’t spoil who he plays, suffice to say that the film’s ending rips off (or pays homage to, if you’re being incredibly generous) a popular 80s franchise.

Although perhaps the second most assured effort of the franchise behind “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!”, I can’t in good conscience recommend it. However, at least this is a bit more than just a series of questionable celebrity cameos, which is all “Sharknado 4” offered, really and it was terribly dull in that regard too. Making an intentionally bad film or a tongue-in-cheek B/C/Z-grade movie is a very tricky thing to achieve, but at least this film manages to amuse some of the time. I’ll give it that. Please though, no more of these films. Enough already.

Rating: C


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