Is it possible to survive one unnatural disaster to only be thrown into another one that's even more lethal than the last? Well, that's pretty much the premise behind the new Syfy movie "Sharknado 2: The Second One," which had our surviving lead characters from the first film finding more trouble tagging along with them. Sure, there were a few subplots going on, but viewers tuning in were more interested as to when the sharks were going to arrive instead of everything else; and their arrival did not disappoint.
"Sharknado 2: The Second One" followed Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) who saved Los Angeles from a recent sharknado that threatened to destroy the city. Of course, the city wasn't too happy with the amount of property damage he caused doing it, but he managed to get some fame for his heroics nonetheless. He also managed to score the girl in the form of his ex-wife April Wexler (Tara Reid) who wrote a book about their adventures in California and were flying to New York for her book tour to support it. Unfortunately, the plane ride back to Fin's old stomping grounds didn't go as smoothly as they thought when the plane was attacked by falling sharks that managed to kill multiple passengers and the pilots. Fin managed to safely land the plane, but April was injured by a flying shark and lost her hand in the process. While Fin tended to his ex-wife, he realized that another sharknado was headed straight for New York City. He contacted his sister Ellen Brody (Kari Wuhrer) to inform her to get to safety with her daughter Mora (Courtney Baxter). The only problem was that her husband Martin (Mark McGrath) and their son Vaughn (Dante Palminteri) were at a baseball game right by where the sharknado would hit the hardest. Fin had to leave April's side in order to get to his brother-in-law who once upon a time was his former best friend before he married Ellen. He had to put his feelings aside in order to save his family. Luckily, Fin ran into his old girlfriend Skye (Vivica A. Fox) to help when things got tough, even though she still appeared to have romantic feelings for him. He also had some help from a taxi driver named Ben (Judd Hirsch) who was a fan of Fin's heroics and was eager to help out in any way. Will Fin be able to save New York City from another sharknado or die trying?
In terms of questions, the movie's only real one was whether it was necessary to make a sequel to a film that was genuinely a disappoint from start to finish. The special effects were poor quality at best and the acting was probably the biggest punchline. The original's primary saving grace was that everyone involved knew that the movie was generally a low grade disaster movie that was popular in the past: full of camp and nothing else. For the sequel, everything was designed to maximize on the campiness that made the original so popular. This time around they upped the ante by making the shark attack deaths more outrageous and slightly even gorier for shock value. There were also a large number of celebrity cameos from people who simply wanted to say a few lines before they got eaten by a flying shark. Robert Hays from "Airplane!" was a pilot in the beginning and he managed to pull in some punchlines about the film before his swift exit. Additional cameos came from Kelly Osbourne and Billy Ray Cyrus among others who came and went just as quickly. It was also pretty hilarious for television personalities, such as Matt Lauer and Al Roker, to try to add some serious news credibility to a story about sharknados while keeping a straight face. Now, that's some serious acting right there because anyone else would have been cracking up and at the dialogue they were given to read in their scenes. What made it worthwhile was how they got involved in the action when a shark fell into "The Today Show" studio and how Lauer showed it very little mercy. The longer of the cameos was Hirsch's tax driver who provided some quick one liners and was a valuable part of the adventure, until he served his initial purpose to get the main characters to their destination. Of course, the weakest part of the movie was the obviously strained acting from everyone involved by trying to either embrace the cliched dialogue and trying to deliver their lines just a little too seriously. The movie's biggest offenders of both were McGrath and Ziering who couldn't decide whether to embrace the drama or find humor in their dialogue. Luckily, viewers decided that the latter option was the better of the two.
As for breakout performances, Ziering, Reid and Fox provided some interesting plot twists as their characters were locked into another dangerous situation. Ziering did the best he could to give his stunted dialogue some credibility, but it was hard not to either root for the character or cringe while his character tried to inspire his fellow New Yorkers to be brave and stop the sharks in any way they could. What also made the scene somewhat cringeworthy was when a flying shark was coming at him while he was saying it. Instead of ducking, he used a chainsaw to stop the shark in its tracks. He did have a decent rapport going with McGrath and Fox as they went to great extremes to save their city. In terms of the romantic subplot with Reid, Ziering and Reid seemed more like old friends than an on-screen couple coming together to kill sharks. It also didn't help that they didn't share very many scenes together this time around. Hopefully, that would change if there was a third movie, which will be likely due to the recent ratings success of the premiere airing. Reid, on the other hand, had the challenging task of trying to make viewers understand why she would go out into the middle of another disaster to save the man she loved after their complicated past. It also helped that she seemed a little out of place in the action, but her most redeeming scene came when she managed to create a weapon where her hand used to be. Watching Reid kill some sharks like this was definitely worth seeing. As for Fox's character, she provided some mischief and attitude as her character was willing to do whatever it took to help Fin. It was a plus that she had some minor chemistry with Ziering that made their scenes together somewhat bearable. The only disappointment was that her exit could've been done with a little more flair, even though it was in the cards. Now, that scene would've made for a perfect grand finale.
"Sharknado 2: The Second One" premiered on July 30th at 9:00 PM on Syfy. Check your local listings to see when the next airing will be.
Verdict: The sequel managed to up the ante with even crazier scenarios and the star cameos, but the overall quality of the film's special effects and poor acting can't be overlooked either. There will likely be a third one after the success of the premiere airing.
Movie Score: 2 out of 5 stars (For Fans of the Films)
1 out of 5 stars (For Everyone Else)
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)