The Sharknado franchise, ranked

The Last Sharknado (or Sharknado 6) is out, and to celebrate, I’m going to wax lyrical about all the movies, then gleefully and arbitrarily rank them.

I adore shark B-movies. I’ve seen loads – Sharktopus (of course), Ghost Shark, Swamp Shark, Sand Sharks, Shark Night, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, Snow Shark Ancient Snow Beast [sic], Two-Headed Shark Attack, and so on – but the most well-known (OBVIOUSLY) are the Sharknado movies.

For those who don’t know, a sharknado is a waterspout/tornado/storm that pulls sharks out of the ocean and rains them down on people. Regardless of species/diet, all sharks swept up in the sharknado eat people. This is their sole purpose in life. They survive in the clouds, just waiting to fall to earth and eat as many people as possible on the way down.

GMA sharknado.PNG
“America’s latest unwelcome export” X’D

The Sharknado franchise follows the progression of sharknados from a mere freak Los Angeles storm to a global weather system disaster, and the consequent development of protagonist Fin (really. “Fin”. REALLY) Shepard from bar owner/surfer to saviour of the planet, on account of his uncanny ability to survive and stop sharknados. As this is an American series, dispelling the sharknados involves increasing levels of strangely accessible firepower, from chainsaws to guns to tanks to nukes. The basic plot of each movie involves the formation of a sharknado (or multiples thereof), inciting a call to action from Fin Shepard and his merry band of family and friends, then multiple unrealistic hijinks and stunts in order to destroy the sharknado(s). This of course necessitates the killing of infinite sharks in infinite inventive ways.

I’m no film critic, but I can safely say that the Sharknado franchise is ridiculous, and actively proud of it. Nothing in these movies make sense. The “plot” jumps from one unlikely scenario to the next, building up the craziness until it’s impossible to know how much more over the top the movie can get. Then the movie ends and the next one picks up where the last one left off. How crazy do I mean? We’re talking live sharks floating into space. We’re talking children going over Niagara Falls in a barrel and surviving. We’re talking brainwashed cyborg mothers. We’re talking sentient weather. It’s like watching children’s action fantasies unfold onscreen, only with worse dialogue and recycled CGI. If your thing is ‘quality cinema that sensitively and tastefully plumbs the depths of human existence’, stay away. If your thing is ‘so bad it’s good’, you’ll like these. And I love them.

I recommend watching in chronological order with goodly amounts of your preferred alcohol to hand. But some are “better” than others, and here’s my definitive ranking. QUEUE THE SPOILERS.

6. The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time
Oh man. Oh man oh man oh man. Ridiculous and absolutely fucking terrible. I don’t want to spoil it (too much) this close to the release date, but: time travel, robots, ALASKA, dinosaurs, and a heartwarming HEA.

5. Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens
I was tempted to post this on 4 May 2019 just to make a ‘May the fourth be with you’ joke, but alas. What to say about The 4th Awakens . . . the sharknados go national. They rage across the USA, and take on extra features, like fire and oil and cows. “Firenado”, “cownado”. Yeah. Things start in Las Vegas, which is a fun setting for anything. Chippendale dancers feature. So do Gilbert Gottfried and Stacey Dash. This is the movie which provided the world with the immensely gifable scene of a Chippendale dancer fending off a shark with his crotch.

This is one of my favourite gifs.

This movie is a mess, and marks the point where plot turned optional. Of course it’s hilarious and entertaining, with exceptional scenes of whimsy and nonsense, but I couldn’t tell you what the point of it was – except perhaps to bridge movies 3 and 5. So it could serve as ‘America Under Attack From Sharknados Take 2’. Watchable, but forgettable. It’s more cohesive than 6, so here it is.

4. Sharknado 2: The Second One
This is a solid offering. The story bounces from west coast to east coast, with a sharknado raining terror on New York City. Plenty of action and unnecessary drama, Fin does his chainsaw thing, pretty standard – but the stakes are raised because he’s got back together with April after proving himself in the first movie, and despite no real character or relationship development (or any chemistry whatsoever between the actors), this is important somehow. Yadda yadda sharks. Because no key moments stand out but the plot still makes sense, this is near the bottom of the list. Considering it’s such a short list, this truly doesn’t mean much. Definitely worth watching. Fin rides a shark at one point.

3. Sharknado 5: Global Swarming
Incomprehensible. Entertainingly so, believe me, but I rolled my eyes more than usual. The sharknado goes worldwide, sucking Fin’s youngest child, Gil (really. “Gil”. REALLY), into the mothership and traversing at will . . . somehow. The team (now composed of the Shepard Family Plus Accepted Friends) have to run around the world to fight it off and rescue said child. There’s a baffling detail about some ancient historical prophecy. Stonehenge and the Pyramids are involved. I dunno. I liked the Indiana Jones references.

I also appreciated the international settings. Some of the cameos were truly spectacular – Katie Price as . . . someone, Charo as the Queen, Samantha Fox as a tech guru assistant, Tom Daley as Tom Daley, a variety of European actors I vaguely recognised, Olivia Newton-John as a badass scientist (in an Illuminati-like shark-fighting organisation), Fabio as [SPOILER], etc. I enjoyed seeing historical monuments that hold true emotional and cultural significance for me being destroyed by sharks; it felt inclusive and like the next step forward for American cinema.

There are worse ways to go.

It was just a shame that 1) the product placement for some app or whatever was so incredibly blatant, and 2) the plot was so basic – until the very end *dramatic music*

2. Sharknado
The original, the first, the spark that lit the fire. This is the one that laid down themes and motifs which run throughout all the other movies, that gave us the incredible theme song, and that set the stage for further innovation in sharknado delight

Key elements: shark; Fin; chainsaw; impending death; total denial of basic biology, physics and weather science; inventive CGI.

This movie is charmingly simple compared to later movies – Los Angeles is hit by a freak storm in which sharks are swept up from the sea then come down with the rain. Fin, a local bar owner/surfer with family difficulties, becomes an unlikely hero when he takes on the sharknado in order to save his family and his beloved city. The director summary: “There’s a flood. And a storm. Don’t worry about it.” I have many favourite parts, including the famous ones involving a chainsaw, but I think my favourite detail has to be the house that gets flooded and filled with sharks – while situated on a very not-flooded hill.

1. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
To my mind, this is peak Sharknado: it’s largely coherent, yet wonderfully OTT, and conscious of that with absolutely zero fucks given. This movie goes places. This tests the limits of the audience and discovers them boundless. The first ten minutes involve Fin saving the US President from a freak sharknado – an American flag is involved – and the last ten minutes fighting sharks in space.

I wasn’t kidding.

A sharknado storm system sweeps the entire east coast, which naturally means that Fin Shepard has to save the entire east coast (unfortunately, that does include Florida). The movie brings in more of the Shepard family as well as celebrities wanting cameos in the latest B-tastic hit. And oh man, the cameos are rife – Jedward help look for lost teenagers before dying; George R.R. Martin snarks at a movie before dying; David Hasselhof proves he’s still the hero we all deserve before dying; Frankie Muniz is utterly wonderful and gets the best/worst death; Jackie Collins also springs up, as well as numerous others.

And don’t worry, there’s an unnecessarily complicated birth to offset all the death. Because what’s a franchise like this without a highly unrealistic pregnancy? Watch out also for Shepard Family Values, the meddling mother-in-law, awkward teenage romances, doomed adult romances, gore, Sharks In Unlikely Places, completely incorrect military procedure, intense serious looks, and lots of running. Universal Studios get epic product placement. CGI is (ab)used with abandon. It’s glorious and wonderful and the best.