It’s a rare person who’s not yet heard of the Sharknado franchise, and we thoroughly recommend you watch them if you’ve not done so already. Last night saw the premiere in the US of the latest from the Sharknado team, this one subtitled, ‘The 4th Awakens’.
‘Sharknado 4’ takes place five years since last year’s ‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!’, which saw April Wexler-Shepard, wife of hero Fin Shepard, hit by a piece of falling space shuttle debris. Her fate had been left in the hands of viewers, determined by the winner out of the hashtags, #AprilLives and #AprilDies. We discover early on in the film that April’s family believe she has died, and consequently Fin is living in Kansas with his mother Raye (played by Cheryl Tiegs), and youngest son, Gil, who was born at the end of ‘Sharknado 3’. Due to the efforts of playboy tech billionaire, Aston Reynolds, and his company Astro-X, there’s been no sharknados for that whole time…but of course, all that is about to change.
Like the preceding Sharknado films, this one is completely rammed with celebrity cameos, from the NBC news reporters (Syfy, which makes Sharknado, is an NBC Universal subsidiary), to the likes of Carrot Top, Steve Gutenberg, David Faustino, and Brandi Glanville, as an Astro X Technologist. Jedward cameo for the second time – in Sharknado 3 the duo were park patrons at Universal Studios, Orlando. This time they’re working at Astro-X head office in San Francisco, as Astro Techs. The film also sees the return of David Hasselhoff as Gil Shepard, Fin’s father, last seen on the moon. The Hoff’s daughters, Hayley and Taylor-Ann, also pop up as employees of Astro-X. See if you can spot the cameo by the film’s director, AC Ferrante (we’ll give you a hint: he’s behind a camera).
It’s a fun film – if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely love it. If you’re not, you might want to suspend your disbelief and remember that it’s not meant to be taken seriously. You will find yourself questioning everything – but just sit back and enjoy: count the pop culture references, the cleverly hidden and the downright obvious homages. Beyond the sub-title, the film mines popular culture right from the start, with the Star Wars style text scrolling through explaining what’s gone down the past 5 years. There’s a lot of references to The Wizard of Oz as well, and it’s surprising it’s taken this many films for the writers to tap that well, given the tornado connection. They could have left the connection at Fin living in Kansas, but there’s more – check out the Chicago Mayor, played by Stacey Dash – as well as a great one liner from Fin, “Follow the yellow brick road”. There’s also a nice Baywatch reunion, but we’ll leave that one for you to find for yourself.
Tara Reid’s character, April Wexler-Shepard has really been fleshed out over the past few films. From what was essentially a minor character in the first film (the female lead was actually Cassie Scerbo, who played Nova), we’ve seen April ramped up to the point where she is now essentially a super hero – in fact she tells a little boy in this film that she is “Iron Man’s wife”. And she’s not wrong – in the second film she lost her hand. Since then she’s become more and more automated, to the point now where she’s actually pretty much a cyborg, under the care of her father, Wilford Wexler, a lead scientist at Astro-X, and a forerunner in the field of robotics. He’s played uncharacteristically calmly by Gary Busey. We can’t wait to see how her character is developed for ‘Sharknado 5’ (and that film really must happen).
There’s a lot of important lessons to learn from the Sharknado films, believe it or not. Ignore the idea that so many different types of sharknados are ripping through the US – in fact ignore the whole idea of how on earth sharknados are supposed to exist at all. At the heart of it, it’s a love story, between Fin and April. It’s also about their family, and how the family that stays together lives to fight (sharks) another day. But most importantly, it’s about living life to the full, even in the most dire of circumstances. And it’s a fun movie, which brings people together. A cursory glance at Twitter last night revealed that Sharknado 4, just like the previous Sharknado films, was one of the top 10 worldwide trending hashtags. And that’s with it only being released at the time in Denmark, Finland, and North America. And at the moment, with the world in turmoil, we agree with director AC Ferrante, who when asked on Twitter how many sharknados we need said,
As many as the public demands. 🙂 With the world such a mess, flying sharks are the escape we all need right now!
‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ premieres on Syfy UK tomorrow night, 9pm.