Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Sharknado 4
"With writer Thunder Levin engaged throughout in trying to get his 'nadoes to, um, jump the shark, one wonders if the thrill hasn't gone for him too."

Can the Sharknado franchise sustain a fourth installment? Whether one views it as one joke or high concept, it has done pretty well to stagger through three. Here, alas, the ideas seem to be running out. Right from the Star Wars-style introduction, it's much more self-consciously derivative than its predecessors, and whilst individual snippets of this may be cute - there's something poignant about David Hasselhoff's character trying to distinguish Star Wars from Star Trek for his uninterested granddaughter - in sum it becomes tedious. The confidence that gave the earlier films their verve is missing. With writer Thunder Levin engaged throughout in trying to get his 'nadoes to, um, jump the shark, one wonders if the thrill hasn't gone for him too.

This is not to say that it's not trying. An ambitious opening sequence packs in a trip to Las Vegas, a hotel full of sharks, a skydiving wedding ceremony, a hungry sandstorm and the sailing of a pirate ship down the Strip - all before the opening credits. The action throughout is frenetic, to the point where viewers could really use a little more time to breathe. As in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, there are abundant celebrities in peril, from the Chippendales to Jedward, though much of this won't translate well for international audiences since the bulk of them come from US TV.

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So - the story. We are now firmly in science fiction territory, with a high tech weather control system (which may remind some viewers of the device from Highlander II: The Quickening) keeping sharknadoes at bay. Hero Fin (Ian Ziering) has therefore being able to retire from the squalene battlefront and concentrate on raising young son Gil (Nicholas and Christopher Shone), the baby from the last film. With wife April (Tara Reid) apparently dead (thanks to a vote by viewers at the end of that film), Fin is heartbroken and little Gil is growing up believing that his mother is a shark. But April has in fact been kidnapped by her father, who is rebuilding her as a cyborg. Cue some awkward family conversations that take place just as the weather control system is breaking down and the sharks are returning with a vengeance.

You can expect to see more types of sharknado here than you ever have before. You can also expect a satisfying amount of destruction of large monuments - including a cute moment when a flaming shark (don't ask) gets stuck up the nose of Mount Rushmore's George Washington. In this regard, the film certainly puts out. But it's slightly embarrassing when Hasselhoff is acting other cast members off the screen - even before the obligatory Baywatch pastiche - and too many sequences simply end up with characters flailing about rather than delivering the emotional impact they should.

At their best, the Sharknado films worked because, silly though they might be, they were well crafted. There's a distinct lack of care here which is disappointing. The final scenes are stronger, but - as it seems unlikely that the series will ever again ascend to the giddy heights of Sharknado 2: The Second One - it may, alas, be time to let the sharks go back to the ocean and write off the hype as just a lot of hot air.

Reviewed on: 18 Sep 2016
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Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens packshot
A revolutionary new atmosphere stabiliser has been holding sharknadoes at bay, but as hero Fin prepares for a family reunion in Las Vegas, things are about to go very wrong.
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Director: Anthony C Ferrante

Writer: Thunder Levin

Starring: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Masiela Lusha, David Hasselhoff, Cody Linley, Ryan Newman, Gary Busey, Steve Gutteberg, Lloyd Kaufman

Year: 2016

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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