Sharknado IV: The 4th Awakens hit the SyFy channel on Sunday night. Since the cheesy horror franchise is something we’ve referred to every so often here, we would be remiss if we didn’t provide a comprehensive review.

We’re, of course, going to be remiss. Our review will hardly be comprehensive. It will also be spoiler-free. Revealing spoilers would involve watching the film a second time, and frankly our livers just couldn’t take it.

The Gore
A large part of the Sharknado success formula is the over-the-top gore. Sharknado IV continues that tradition. If you liked The Evil Dead movies, are a regular watcher of the SyFy channel weekly horror flicks, or just like low-budget horror movie special effects Sharknado 4 is right in your wheelhouse. Sharknado never takes itself seriously, and half the fun is to see which stars have cameos and how, exactly, they get eaten.

It isn’t like the gore in The Walking Dead. It’s more akin to the cartoonish gore in video games. Still, it isn’t for kids. I wouldn’t let my 10-year-old watch this, I’d think twice about my 13-year-old seeing it, but kids 15+ will probably get a kick out of it. You should probably inform them beforehand that sharknados aren’t a real thing, despite what their teachers taught them in their global warming indoctrination classes.

The Special Effects
Sharknado special effects are low-budget and designed to look that way. If you don’t find yourself laughing at them you’re watching the move wrong.

The Acting
There are some surprisingly good performances here. Ian Ziering, who plays the reluctant hero Fin Shepard, is joined by Cody Linley (his son, Matt) and Ryan Newman (his daughter, Claudia).

Then there are the shockingly bad ones. Gary Busey is… not good. I can only imagine what blackmail material Tara Reid has on the producers, because she somehow gets worse in every Sharknado iteration. Honestly, I don’t know how she’ll turn in an even worse performance for Sharknado V but I have faith. Maybe they’ll just have her run more.

Everyone else falls somewhere in that spectrum and it really feels as though they are doing it on purpose. Bad performances provide a different avenue for laughs over the silly yet clever jokes that appear in movies like Airplane.

The Characters
Sharknado IV has two major plot lines: the Shepard family itself, and the Sharknados trying to destroy them. Each family member brings something to the fight and the love and support they show one another is refreshing and unexpected. To avoid spoilers, we can’t get too specific. If you decide to watch the movie for yourself, look for this.

Tommy Davidson plays Aston Reynolds, the billionaire head of the Astro X corporation, which has developed technology to stop Sharknados. In fact, thanks to Astro X, as the movie opens, there hasn’t been a Sharknado in five years. The character is surprisingly deep. They could have made him evil or incompetent or greedy. What else would you expect? Instead, they made him proud, mistaken, and willing to sacrifice his company to correct those mistakes. Tommy Davidson brings a so-so performance to the role, yet this somehow adds to the complexity of the character because it plays up his personal foibles without taking away from his ultimately heroic actions.

Maybe Tommy Davidson is actually a spectacular actor. All we know is that the character stands out, and it has been a very long time since we’ve seen a black actor in a role other than “helpless victim” or “villainous scum”. Thanks, Hollywood. You finally did something right.

The Cameos
Sharknado IV has cameos aplenty. We’re sure they are funny if you know who it is, but even if you don’t, and we didn’t for most of them, the movie does a fine job of highlighting that something is up, and the line they give is still funny. As a writer who includes references, I appreciate this a whole bunch.

The Commercials
Clever product placement is something we appreciate in our cheesy television movies and Sharknado IV includes plenty. You might even think the first 15 minutes are a total setup for Xfinity. The SyFy channel also ran a plethora of ads for other SyFy shows, which replaced all the good SyFy shows a couple of years ago. Whichever shows those were.

The Ridiculous Factor
The Sharknado franchise boils down to the ridiculousness of the overall plot interacting with the ridiculousness of each scene.  Sharknado IV does not disappoint. Each scene includes goofy pop-culture references, unlikely shark attacks, and unlikely heroics.

Little details matter. Viewers might notice the hills of Kansas look suspiciously like the hills of California (except they aren’t on fire). Plus, you know, Kansas. The flat state with all the corn doesn’t have hills that look anything like real hills.

The NBC anchors do a fantastic job of reporting made-up news, so it’s no wonder that the Sharknado producers asked them to play that part in the movie. Sadly, their role is mostly relegated to exposition and plot-summation, which is entirely necessary since the majority of viewers might be playing the Sharknado drinking game.

The Sharknado kept morphing into a different kind of ‘nado throughout the movie. Simply combine a dangerous-sounding noun and the ‘nado suffix and you’ll get the idea. Larry Correia could do worse than include the Noun-nado in the next iteration of his annual Christmas Noun saga. This particular gag grew tiresome, fast. Folks have been making up there own ‘nado types ever since the first movie came out, and the writers would have been better off letting the public keep that.

Our Recommendation
Sharknado IV is the best of the Sharknado movies in terms of being a movie, but the worst in terms of overall entertainment. We didn’t laugh as much. However, it is the only Sharknado movie Codex has watched twice, and if you enjoyed the other Sharknado movies you’ll like this one too. We’re giving it 3 stars out of 4, even though we usually rank our movies using sporks.


The Spork Speaks — Tempest in a Teardrop — tempestinateardrop.com