If you’re here, you are probably just as excited as we are that SyFy and The Asylum went ahead and made yet another ‘Sharknado’ movie! You know, you would think that after three movies based around the concept of “a tornado but there are sharks in it”, the idea would get kind of stale; but you would also be thinking wrong! Holy crap there is no doubt about it, ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ takes things to a whole other level of awesome that the first three just couldn’t capture! We’re back with Finn, April, and the whole gang (well, most of the gang anyway) from the previous films to take on a whole new world of ‘Sharknado’ style fun with this third sequel to the already beloved cult franchise. Here’s our (mostly) spoiler free review of ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’!
(Please note, this review contains spoilers for previous films in the ‘Sharknado’ series.)
Going into this movie, it’s easy to see that the world has changed substantially since the end of ‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!’. This film is set a good five years after the end of the last film, and if you watched ‘Sharknado 3’, then you know that the world has really seen some shit. What’s weird though, is that the world has actually embraced the whole shark thing, and now we’re taken to Las Vegas where the world’s first gigantic shark-themed hotel is about to open! It isn’t just Shark themed, it’s packed full of actual sharks as well! You would think after the events of last three films (which saw the destruction of major cities like New York, Orlando, and Washington DC), the world would be terrified of Sharks being anywhere that they shouldn’t be (like a desert, for instance), but people seem really pumped! The whole hotel is based around a large ‘Anti-Sharknado Device’ at its center so that things stay safe. Or at least they should stay safe until the device fails and a whole new series of catastrophic events kick off!
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it’s a Sharknado! Then the whole thing just gets incredibly out of hand and wrecks a bunch of landmarks from The Grand Canyon all the way to Niagara Falls! Even the world’s largest ball of twine isn’t safe! Have they no shame?! This time around they aren’t just normal Sharknados either, as they have evolved over time to use the very elements against us resulting in the even more terrifying versions like a ‘lava-sharknado’, ‘hail-sharknado’, ‘lightning-sharknado’, ‘boulder-sharknado’, and finally the ‘nuclear-sharknado’. While we’re sure that sounds ridiculous, that’s probably because it is – but it feels like a very natural evolution for this series to take.
As far as the story goes, the story actually makes some semblance of sense this time! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of this entire series, but the stories to most of these sequels haven’t made a whole lot of sense. It’s not that they ever really have to either! I’m just saying that it’s pretty awesome that this one does! The Sharknados themselves are getting worse and worse as they respond to humanities attempts to stop them. Hell, the last one gave us sharks in space! Before they even hit the opening credits, ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ gives us one of the best opening action sequences in recent memory. I don’t want to get too into it and ruin anything for you, but it may or may not involve a Sharknado, carnival rides, and sailing a pirate ship down the Las Vegas strip alongside Bud Bundy from ‘Married With Children’. Every time one of these things starts out, it’s somehow bigger and better than before. The sharks are everywhere, and it’s wonderful. This movie manages to dial the ridiculousness back a notch in a good way, and brings it back to “fun but not entirely crazy and stupid”, until the grand finale when all bets are off and things become more absurd than ever before (which is a lie, because nothing will ever be more ridiculous than the end of ‘Sharknado 3’).
One concern worth noting is that while there were lots of sharks happening, and plenty of random violence and carnage, this film had a pretty big lack of actual death. Only a handful of characters of note bit the big one in this movie, and that makes it feel slightly more toned down than a ‘Sharknado’ film should be. Even some of the movies bigger attacks are kind of a cop-out, which is slightly disappointing. Still, when a Sharknado takes someone, it’s always one of the most fun shark kills we’ve ever seen!
As far as the cast and characters, most of those that you wanted to see return make their appearances. Thankfully we’ve got Ian Ziering back again back as single father and world hero Finn Shepard. That man is the heart of these films and they really wouldn’t work without him, so it’s great to see that he’s sticking around and SyFy isn’t in any rush to replace him. Finn is now a mean who seems kind of weary of the world. He’s been through a lot in the last few years (including a minimum of three Sharknados and that whole ‘Lavalantula’ thing), and he seems like he’s pretty over it and is ready to have his life settle down. Tara Reid also returns as April, but in what seems like a lesser capacity. She isn’t seen as much as in some of the previous films, but when she’s onscreen, she’s just as fun as ever, if not more! April has had some interesting character developments since we last saw her, considering we last saw her get crushed by a large shark. Now, five years on, her family (and the world in general) believes her to be dead, when actually she’s become a ridiculous cyborg with an insane amount of powers and abilities (and fun movie quotes!) that put her on the level somewhere between Inspector Gadget, The Terminator, Robocop, and Iron-Man. Whether we knew it or not, Tara Reid is secretly the hero we need, although probably not the one we deserve.
The man responsible for this change in April (and hiding the fact that she’s actually alive) is her father, newcomer Gary Busey! Busey is… well he’s Gary Busey. I feel like this may have been the most toned down I’ve ever seen Busey in a role, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing he definitely seems like an odd choice for the part because of it. I just miss when Gary Busey was always acting like Gary Busey. While we’re on the subject of fathers, David Hasslehoff makes his triumphant return to the series as Gil Shepard Sr., bringing forth his usual robust charisma to a film that is already chock full of absurdity. ‘Sharknado’ series alumni Ryan Newman is back as Finn’s daughter Claudia and newcomer Cody Linely takes on the role of Finn’s son Matt (previously played by Charles Hittinger in the first ‘Sharknado’ film). Neither of these characters are given too much to do, but the actors seem to be having fun with it and really help to turn this movie into a big family affair! Since this film is set several years after the last one, Finn’s formerly newborn son Gil is up and moving as a full blown five-year-old now as played by newcomer Anthony Rogers.
Rounding out the mainly featured cast additions come in the form of Imani Hakim as Matt Shepards newlywed wife Gabrielle, and Tommy Davidson as Aston Reynolds. Hakim fit’s the Gabrielle role well enough, but is largely forgettable (so much that I almost forgot to include her on this list!) due to no fault of her own. They just didn’t really give her very much to work with. Tommy Davidson, however, may be the best new thing in town! He fills a very ‘Tony Stark’ kind of role, and he plays it wonderfully. Davidson is a very welcome addition to an already fantastic cast and brings a great sense of fun to his part. I’m really hoping we see more of his character in the inevitable ‘Sharknado 5: We Will Make These As Long As You Keep Watching Them”.
Besides the sharks themselves, the ‘Sharknado’ films are known for the insane amount of celebrity appearances and cameos peppered throughout, and ‘Sharknado 4′ definitely doesn’t disappoint in that category. By the time we hit the actual opening credits we’ve seen appearances from the likes of Carrot Top, Vince Neil, Wayne Newton, Al Roker, and even a few Chippendales Dancers! Of course Al Roker is back again, and this time he’s got his man on the road Gilbert Godfried taking us into the eye of the storm! We even get some less likely cameos from Dogg The Bounty Hunter, as well as a few “Texas Chainsaw’ alumni during a sequence we can only call ‘chainsaw porn’. We also get some fun appearances from the likes of Stacy Dash and my personal favorite cameo in any of these movies to date, Steve Guttenberg! They pulled out all of the stops and got ‘The Gutt’ to reprise his role from ‘Lavalantula’ in a sly nod to Finn’s cameo in that film.
Random thoughts jotted down while watching the film:
- Why is everyone wearing eye patches? There are a minimum of three characters who sport them throughout the film. It’s a bit odd and distracting
- There is a giant chainsaw vehicle because of course these is.
Tara Reid is ‘Robocop’, but not in a good way. Like the reboot.
- The Shepard family finding out April is still alive has to be the least excited I have ever seen anyone united with a assumed dead family member.
- What is the deal with Gary Busey’s character anyway?
- Finn has an Exo-Suit and there is nothing not to love about this.
- OF COURSE THE SUIT HAS CHAINSAW HANDS.
- They are literally just killing everyone now, but also, not.
To put things bluntly, the first ‘Sharknado’ was great, ‘Sharknado 2: The Second One’ was better, but by the time we hit ‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!’ it felt almost like it was trying too hard, while this one feels juuuust right. There aren’t very many movies that can get away with dialogue like “we have to blow up the Grand Canyon”, but ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ hits the nail right on the head. Did we mention that it actually makes an effort to live up to it’s title and squeezes in as many ‘Star Wars’ references as it possibly can throughout it’s runtime. They’re pretty great, although after a while they start to become eye-roll inducing (although Hasslehoff Just GETS IT at one point- Watch ‘Star Trek’ people!). By the time the credits are rolling, this film has crossed so many barriers and turned itself into some weird cross between “Twister’, ‘Deep Blue Sea’, and ‘The Avengers’.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the words ‘Shark-ception” definitely comes to mind. ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ culminates is probably the most ridiculous ending of any of these films to date, and there is nothing to not love about it. If you’re a fan of the first three, you’ll love this one. And really if you’ve never seen a ‘Sharknado’ movie before (in which case, what is wrong with you, get on that!), it is really difficult not to have a good time while watching this movie. We highly recommend pairing this movie (and the previous three) with a large couch, several good friends, some snacks and drinks, and you are all set for one hell of a ride!