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In this week's AccuWeather Podcast, I help to review the "Sharknado" series, the movie "The Perfect Storm," and in a blog exclusive, I reveal the worst weather movie I've ever seen (which isn't even worth a podcast).
LAST TIME ON "WEATHER IN THE MOVIES:" In our podcast this spring, I helped review "Twister" and "The Day After Tomorrow." You can listen to it here; safe to say that I believe Twister is a cult classic and fairly accurate, as science movies go, while I can't say the same for "The Day After Tomorrow." My co-host Becky disagreed. Will she again? Tune in this week.
SHARKNADO: THUMBS DOWN
How do you pluralize Sharknado? There are six -- yes, six -- movies in the Sharknado saga, plus a documentary and a mockumentary. The first movie that premiered in 2013 was so bad, so ridiculous, that it received a cult following that its creators at SyFy realized they could capitalize on for another movie. Then another. Then four more.
For a made-for-tv movie that garnered a mere 3.3 on IMDb, the franchise sure has done well -- in part due to its low budget, which only increased from $2 to $3 million between the first and fifth installments. Nobody really knows how much money the franchise has made; hopefully, this article that says it was the most successful movie franchise in history is what we now call "fake news."
"Sharknado 6: The Last One" premieres on Aug. 19. The movies lend themselves to live-tweeting, and I will be participating in that, once again, on the 19th on my @Accu_Jesse Twitter account.
Is there anything accurate at all in Sharknado? Is it really worth talking about? Sharks, of course, are too heavy to be pulled out of the ocean and into a tornado. If they were, they'd likely be stunned or killed and unlikely to eat humans on their way down from the sky (and they would also splatter on the ground). Sharknadoes are just not scientifically possible, unless you're talking about this one:
And yet, we as writers at AccuWeather.com found ourselves writing an article to debunk it before the second movie came out, then updated it for Sharknado 3 and Sharknado 4 . By the fifth movie, we didn't even bother, but we may, in fact, revive that article once again this year for the series finale.
It is, however, true that small animals can be lofted into a waterspout (which are generally weaker than a tornado). Confirmed reports include fish and frogs, and even a turtle in a hailstone, as you can see from our infographic.
If you're really interested, I've pasted in summaries of the six Sharknado movies at the bottom of this blog. Meanwhile, it's time to move on to the second movie we discussed in the podcast.
THE PERFECT STORM: THUMBS UP!
We all agreed that The Perfect Storm was a pretty good movie -- good acting, good directing, decent effects -- and also fairly accurate for the meteorology. It's based on the true story of the Andrea Gail, a ship that was lost at sea during the Halloween Storm in 1991, which I've blogged about before.
The storm was actually a combination of Hurricane Grace and a low pressure system coming out of New England. Waves of over 100 feet were reported by a buoy, but it's unclear if this record was ever confirmed. Certainly with waves of that size it's completely reasonable that they could sink a ship of that size. Whether or not the last moments of the Andrea Gail played out as they do in the movie, of course we don't know, as no one survived, but the fact is that the storm existed and had huge waves.
On the podcast, you can also hear some thoughts from Dave Dombek, who was working for AccuWeather at the time. I had just started my freshman year of college, and I vaguely remember discussing it with fellow meteorologists. Dave remembers much more.
THE WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME:
Sharknado, I submit, is not the worst weather movie of all time. I rented "Hurricane Heist" last week from Redbox and I want my $0.27 back. This was the worst movie I've ever seen; they made no attempts to cover up the obvious geographical, scientific or real-world inaccuracies, bad writing, bad directing and bad acting by b-list actors. I have specifics, but that's another blog -- or podcast -- for another time.
BONUS! SHARKNADO 1-6 SUMMARIES:
To be able to intelligently discuss Sharknado (if that is even possible) I was forced to review the plots of the last five movies. The following summaries are from WikiPedia (1-4) and IMDb (5), so please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
Sharknado (Rated 3.3 on IMDb):
A freak cyclone hits Los Angeles, causing water spouts that scoop up man-eating sharks and flood the city with shark-infested seawater. Bar owner and surfer Fin sets out with his friends, Baz, Nova, and George, to rescue his estranged wife, April, and their teenage daughter, Claudia, after the bar and boardwalk are destroyed by the flooding. While heading to April's home, the group stops in a freeway to save people as flooding causes sharks to attack. George is killed and the group learns of a tornado warning. They arrive at April's house just before the first floor is flooded and shark-infested. Collin, April's boyfriend, is eaten by sharks, but the rest of the group escapes unharmed from the house, which collapses.
Fin stops the car to save the children stuck in the bus from the assaulting sharks. Afterwards, the bus driver is killed by a letter in the Hollywood Sign. While Nova is driving the car, a shark lands on top of the car and rips the roof off. Fin's hand is cut and the group abandons the car before it explodes. They steal another car and meet up with Fin and April's son Matt, who is found taking shelter at his flight school. They borrow equipment from a nearby storage and Matt and Nova become attracted to each other. Matt and Nova decide to stop the threat of the incoming "sharknadoes" by tossing bombs into them from a helicopter. Two are destroyed, but they are unable to stop the third one.
As Nova fights off a shark that had latched onto the helicopter, she falls out of the helicopter and directly into another shark's mouth. Matt is heartbroken. Baz is also lost in the storm along with Matt's friends Bobby and Luellyn. Ultimately, Fin destroys the last sharknado with a bomb attached to his car and the sharks begin to plummet toward the ground. One falling shark flies directly toward the remaining members of the group. Fin jumps into its mouth with a chainsaw and cuts his way out. He emerges carrying an unconscious but otherwise unharmed Nova. Matt is reunited with Nova, and Fin gets back together with April.
Sharknado 2: The Second One (4.1 on IMDb):
Fin Shepard, and his ex-wife, April Wexler, are traveling to New York City to promote How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters, a book April has written about the Los Angeles sharknado. As the plane comes in for a landing through a storm, it is battered by airborne sharks, losing an engine. Sharks enter the plane, killing passengers and the crew, including both pilots. While Fin lands the plane, April's hand is severed while she attempts to shoot it with an air marshal's handgun.
Fin's sister, Ellen Brody, is sightseeing in New York with her family. Her husband, Martin, a childhood friend of Fin's, takes their son, Vaughn, to a Mets game at Citi Field along with Martin's and Fin's friends Skye and Brian. Ellen takes their daughter, Mora, to the Statue of Liberty, where she meets with her friends, Polly and Chrissie, who tell her about Fin's recent appearance.
At the airport, Fin tries to warn the crowd of the impending storm, only for one to take it seriously. After leaving April to the hospital for surgery, Fin is able to contact Ellen, and tells her to get to the Bales Tower Hotel on Manhattan as soon as possible. He agrees to retrieve Martin and Vaughn from the ball game, hiring a cabbie, Ben, in the process. At Citi Field, Skye surprises Fin with a kiss, but Fin explains that he and April are back together. The game is cancelled because of the storm, but when sharks start falling from the sky and killing people, Fin and his group improvise weapons to fight them and go to the subway.
On the ferry ride back to Manhattan, a shark kills Chrissie. The remaining three women flee from the severed head of the Statue of Liberty. Meanwhile, the subway tunnels flood, sending sharks to break into the train's rear cabin and kill Brian. Ben, who anticipated Fin's escape, takes Fin and the others to shops in search of weapons and items to make explosives. When the taxi is caught in a flood, Fin forms a rope swing to take Skye, Vaughn, and Martin to safety. When Ben is killed in his attempt and the rope falls away, Fin uses the top of the sharks as stepping stones to reach the others.
Two sharknadoes are converging into a more powerful storm directly above the hotel. Fin and Skye head to the roof to try to bomb the sharknadoes. Polly is flattened by a whale shark, but Ellen and Mora reach the hotel, and reunite with Martin and Vaughn. Fin and Skye sling bombs into the tornadoes, but as the storm system is too cold; only a few sharks are knocked down, and they are forced to flee down a fire exit stairwell. They meet the Brodys, who were fleeing up the stairwell that is flooding with sharks. They break down a door to escape the stairwell and leave of the building.
April flees the hospital, taking a fire truck to meet Fin and the others. At the Empire State Building, a third tornado is expected to merge with the other two. Fin plans to detonate a tank of Freon at the top of the building by connecting it to the structure's lightning rod to halt the storm. He rallies a crowd of New Yorkers, including the mayor and his task force, to battle the sharks. As he and Skye implement the plan, April, who has affixed a circular saw to her stump, arrives and saves Fin from a falling shark. Skye sacrifices herself to help connect the cables; the Freon explosion throws them in the air where sharks rip Skye in half. While in the twister, Fin grabs onto and rides a great white shark using chains, eventually impaling it on the building's antenna. He reunites with April and finds her lost arm in one of the fallen sharks, using the handgun to kill another one. He then takes the wedding ring from April's severed hand and uses it to propose remarriage, and she accepts.
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (4.1 on IMDb):
While sharknado fighter Fin Shepard is in Washington, D.C. to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom from the president, another sharknado strikes, devastating the nation's capital. Fin and the president work together to defeat the sharks, and the storm unexpectedly subsides. Fearing that April, who is at Universal Orlando with their daughter Claudia and her mother May, is in danger, Fin heads for Florida. On his way there, he encounters a "fognado", which is stopped by Nova Clarke, his former employee, who has become a hardened sharknado storm tracker, and her partner Lucas Stevens.
They stop at a military airport where they get clearance to use a fighter jet to bomb other forming sharknadoes. Lucas sacrifices himself to blow up a sharknado so that Nova and Fin can escape. They detonate a bomb in a sharknado over the Coke Zero Sugar 400 race. After crash landing in Orlando at the Universal Orlando Resort, they begin to search for the rest of the family. They are not able to get in touch with Claudia since she left her phone behind earlier, but April retrieves it from one of the ride managers who held on to it. Eventually, Fin and Nova reunite with April, Claudia, her new boyfriend Billy, and May who have survived the sharknado that has hit the theme park. They then rush to take cover inside the Universal Orlando globe, which rolls around amidst chaotic fleeing crowds before coming to rest atop Pharos Lighthouse.
Realizing that the numerous storms will soon combine into a massive sharknado wall that will destroy the entire East Coast (dubbed the "Feast Coast" by the media), Fin calls in a favor from his estranged father, former NASA colonel Gil Shepard, to help him with a risky plan to destroy the storm from space. Gil, Fin, April, and Nova reach Cape Canaveral where they plan to use a top-secret Space Shuttle to blow up tanks of rocket fuel in the storm. They head inside to prepare, while Claudia and Billy fend off incoming sharks by using guns. They share a kiss and begin to head back inside, but Billy is killed when a shark lands on him. While Nova clears a path, Gil, Fin, and April launch into space where they detonate the external tank, but it fails to stop the wall of sharknadoes. Gil deploys "Plan B", activating a Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative satellite laser weapon, stranding himself in space since there is not enough fuel to propel all of them back to Earth. This time, the sharknadoes are destroyed, but the beam causes the sharks to propel into space, attacking the shuttle. Fin fights them off using an energy-beam chainsaw; he and April are eaten by two different sharks which fall back down to Earth. Though the sharks are charred from atmospheric entry, Fin emerges from his shark unharmed and discovers that April also safely returned the same way, and that she had given birth during the descent. As the family and Nova reunite, Fin names his newborn son after his father, who has landed on the moon. April is about to recover Fin's father's badge when a Shuttle fragment apparently crushes her.
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (4.0 on IMDb):
In the five years since the previous film, Fin has moved to a farm in Kansas named "April's Acres," where he lives with his mother Raye and young son Gil. April is believed dead after being crushed by the wreckage of the space shuttle. Tech mogul Aston Reynolds (based on Tesla, Inc. co-founder and SpaceX founder Elon Musk) has developed a new type of high-speed space travel with his company Astro-X (a play on SpaceX), which was used to save Fin's father, Colonel Gilbert Shepard, from the moon. Astro-X has also developed a technology that is capable of using radio waves to diffuse tornadoes, leading to the end of the sharknado phenomenon.
Fin travels to Molong with his cousin Gemini to meet up with his son Matt, who has returned from deployment in Iraq. Meanwhile, Reynolds has built and is opening a shark-themed hotel featuring a giant tank of sharks. While Matt and his fiancée, Gabrielle, marry and skydive from a plane, a sandstorm tornado develops that cannot be diffused by Astro-X. The tornado absorbs the water and sharks from Reynolds' hotel, creating the first sharknado in five years. The streets of Las Vegas flood, but Fin, Gemini, Gabrielle, and Matt work together to survive the storm until it heads back out into the desert.
Since returning from the moon, Col. Shepard has become an employee of Astro-X, working on the development of a weaponized mech suit with the aid of his granddaughter Claudia in San Francisco as well as April's father Wilford, a scientist. However, he is unaware that Wilford has reconstructed April into a cyborg to save her life and told her that Fin and their family were killed by the shuttle debris to keep her at his laboratory. Fin, Gabrielle, Gemini, and Matt decide to take a train back to Kansas, only for the sharknado to follow the train after destroying the Hoover Dam. Astro-X blows up the Grand Canyon to stop the resulting flood, but as an accidental result the sharknado picks up stones to become a "bouldernado." The train ends up in Arizona, where Fin meets Aston Reynolds at Astro-X. Fin's group ends up in a small town in Texas, where they acquire chainsaws and construction gear to fight off the sharknado, which hits an oil field and transforms into an "oilnado" and then ignites into a "firenado". Meanwhile, two other sharknadoes develop, one near San Francisco that heads north and become a "hailnado," and the other near Yellowstone National Park that quickly transforms into a "lavanado."
At the Kansas State Line, Fin, Gemini, Gabrielle, and Matt pick up a red-and-white self-driving car that is a 1958 Plymouth Belvedere named Christine from Fin's friend, Colton, and reach April's Acres just before the sharknado - which has now picked up cows and become a "cownado" - strikes and Gabrielle is killed, to Matt's devastation. The house is picked up by the tornado and thrown all the way to Chicago, where it lands on the mayor. Elsewhere, April - who has learned of her family's survival and left Wilford's lab after angrily confronting him - saves Col. Shepard and Claudia from the hailnado in San Francisco. Later, Reynolds brings the three of them to Fin, Gemini, Matt and Gil, reuniting April with Fin and allowing her to introduce herself to Gil for the first time.
Reynolds informs the group that Astro-X has developed a way to alter their beacon pods in order to shut down the new sharknadoes. This method works on the hailnado and lavanado, but the cownado has since evolved further into a "lightningnado," and its electricity blocks their attempts. The situation further worsens when the lightningnado strikes a nuclear power plant (the Perry Nuclear Power Plant) in Ohio, transforming it into a deadly "nukenado" filled with radioactive sharks. Reynolds realizes that the only way to stop the nukenado from destroying everything in its path is to transform it back into a regular sharknado so Astro-X's pods will work on it, and the engines of Col. Shepard's mech suit can be used to power a device to remove the radioactivity from the storm by drawing massive amounts of water into it. Fin realizes that the only location with enough water to work is Niagara Falls, so they travel there with the nukenado following them.
At Niagara Falls, Reynolds volunteers to jump near the falls with a squirrel suit to set off the device, which will reverse the water flow upward into the nukenado and cool it. However, the device does not have enough power, and Reynolds falls off a cliff. Col. Shepard volunteers to pilot the mech suit to complete the plan, but is swallowed by a shark before he can put it on. Fin puts on the suit and flies into the storm alongside April - who can fly and shoot laser beams from her hands - to fight through and reach the device. Claudia and Matt are also swallowed by sharks. Fin manages to use the suit's power supply to activate the device, but he is electrocuted in the process and bitten in the chest by a shark. Niagara Falls is reversed into the nukenado, neutralizing its radiation and rendering it a normal sharknado again. The Astro-X technicians activate the pods, destroying the storm. However, Fin becomes unconscious and falls over the cliff and is swallowed by a shark, which is promptly swallowed by three more sharks and a blue whale in quick succession. Gil, having survived by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, pulls his own small chainsaw out of a stone and cuts open and enters the whale, where he cuts open the sharks to reveal Col. Shepard, Matt and Claudia all alive. Together they pull Fin out, but he has no pulse. April and Colonel Shepard use CPR on the unconscious Fin. Using her power supply and two sharks to create an improvised defibrillator, April manages to revive him.
Just as the Shepard family rejoices, the Eiffel Tower falls from the sky, having been blown all the way from France. Nova, who was earlier mentioned to have been vacationing in Paris, emerges from the wrecked structure, causing the Shepards to realize that the sharknado crisis is not only not over, but may now be a global problem. In a post-credits scene, Reynolds is revealed to have survived.
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (4.1 on IMDb):
After a fearfully brief period of peace, things are getting really serious, as a fact-finding expedition led by Sharknado Sister Nova about the origins of the devastating phenomenon, accidentally triggers a wave of ferocious and bigger-than-ever Sharknadoes, with the prehistoric Stonehenge as the epicenter. As a result, while the annihilating Sharknado batters down the British capital, Fin's young son, Gil, gets sucked into the heart of a brutal cyclone, with minimal chances of survival. Inevitably, Fin Shepard, an international hero and the only man in the world qualified for the job, along with his intrepid bionic spouse April must track down the Sharknado that rapidly transforms into the unimaginable: a global abnormality that wreaks havoc across its way. Now, Fin and April are against the world, because, this time, it is personal.
Picking up not too long after the events of The 4th Awakens, Global Swarming quickly established that Nova has assembled the Sharknado Sisters, a secret society of fighters. Enlisting Fin’s help, they go all Raiders of the Lost Ark to procure an ancient artifact that can vanquish sharknadoes. Or create them. Maybe both!
A bartender turned international shark hunter Nova (Cassie Scerbo) uncovers a druidic relic under Stonehenge used to control sharknadoes back in ancient times. Removing said relic awakens a primordial sharknado that warps space and time, drawing the world’s “finest shark soldier” Fin Shepherd (Ian Ziering) and his robot wife April (Tara Reid) back into the mix when their son Gil is trapped in the eye of the storm. Along the way they’ll need to recruit Nova’s Sharknado Sisterhood, ride a steampunk zeppelin, gain a holy chainsaw from the Pope, and harness the power of a shark god pyramid temple.
Of course none of this makes any sense, which is why it’s a relief that Sharknado 5: Global Swarming: Sold-Out World Tour makes only the bare minimum effort to hold things together. It’s less of a narrative than it is a series of episodic events connected by way of sharknado wormhole, one that takes Fin and April on a world tour through London, Switzerland, Australia, Rome, Tokyo, and Egypt. (All locations identified by the most obvious establishing chyrons in film history). Key for a film this stupid, Sharknado 5 is constantly in motion, leaving little time to think about the absurdity of what you’re witnessing or get annoyed by the bad dialogue. You go to a location, drop a bunch of sharks on it, have a few fun kills, jump back into the sharknado, repeat.
And there is so much absurdity to be had here. The London Eye and the Sydney Opera House are both missile defense platforms. A mysterious figure in Brazil steals the sharknado-controlling relic, they fight in the Roman Colosseum, he gets killed, and we’re never to think of him again. Pope Fabio awards Fin the aforementioned holy chainsaw, Fin promises not to throw away his shot, and then when jumping into the sharknado the chainsaw deploys a laser defense system. April channels Wonder Woman, Iron Man, and Jean Grey at various points in the film. Tokyo is under siege by a giant shark made of other sharks. It’s pure creative mania in the best possible way, devoid of the feeling that any idea was rejected or that any second passes were taken on the script. And the effects manage to support this course of action—everything still looks cheap in the Asylum house style, but the series’ increased budget makes it consistent in its cheapness, as opposed to the stitched-together first installment.
For a series that can do cameos and references so badly, the final scene of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming: It’s The End Of The World As We Know It is an absolute triumph of both. A Hummer pulls up to Fin, with the driver none other than Dolph freaking Lundgren, who is Gil from the future, who has harnessed a sharknado-powered time machine so they can go back and restore the timeline to a pre-sharknado world. Fin climbs in, the wheels lift up Delorean-style, and the film soars ahead to Sharknado 6.
Sharknado 6_(The Last Sharknado: It's About Time)
The last movie in the saga is set to be released on August 19, 2018. Tara Reid, Ian Ziering and Cassie Scerbo are set to return, and the film will feature time travel, Nazis, dinosaurs, knights, and Noah's ark. On March 28, 2018, Syfy confirmed the film will be the final installment of the series. On May 25, the film's title was revealed by a released teaser trailer and last week the first official trailer came out.
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