The FIN-al Countdown.
“First time flying on a pterodactyl?”
Those lines are said, oh, about eight minutes into The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (a subtitle that, once again, is more clever than anything in the actual movie). Yup, we’re reviewing a Sharknado again — it’s the final hurrah and we’re here for it, even if the buzz really isn’t.
Yes, the “so-dumb-it’s-smart” (but is it really?) silly, campy hubbub that swirled around the Sharknado series, like so many ferocious flying sharks, dissipated a while ago. The novelty of Syfy leaning into its purposefully schlocky Saturday night monster movies with this go-for-joke franchise, featuring a who’s who of people who haven’t been “who” in a while, wore off years back and all that’s left is a lot of noise. The Last Sharknado is almost non-stop cluster-chaos.
It used to be that we quasi-cared about the oddball bouquet of pop-culture midway rabble recruited for a Sharknado adventure, but this time around, for the sixth movie, I found myself heading in blind and just discovering them on my own. Once the series landed Hasselhoff for the third movie – which was half the franchise ago – the lights began to flicker and dim on the entire saga and the bloom vanished from the rampaging rose. So The Last Sharknado, for me, was less “They finally got Gary Busy!” and more “Oh, I guess Neil deGrasse Tyson is Merlin” and “Is that Leslie Jordan as Ben Franklin?”
Others we can include in the Last Sharknado conversation are Gilbert Gottfried, The Brady Bunch’s Christopher Knight, The Love Boat’s Bernie Kopell, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider (who says “I’m not going to take this anymore”), Dexter and Noodles from The Offspring (complete with “Come out and Play” in the background, in case you don’t readily recognize them), and Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott (and you bet your butts there’s a Spelling/Ziering 90210 reference). It’s a big thick cross-time caper stew that’s basically Axe Cop if it made less sense.
I don’t think there’s a soul out there who believes this is truly the last Sharknado, as much as it should be, but it’s definitely a farewell to this team of heroes – to Ian Ziering’s Fin, Casie Scerbo’s Nova, Vivica A. Fox’s Skye, and Tara Reid’s robot-handed (turned actual robot) April. The fact that the entire endgame here involves a ravaged dystopian hellscape (the year 20013?) populated by hordes of free-roaming Tara Reids feels right, for both the series and our own salted future as well.
So where does the Sharknado series go after Sharknadoing the entire planet in last go round? Well, though time of course – and by “time,” I mean a Bob Evans placemat facts tour of history. Within five minutes, you’ll see Fin slide down the tail of a dinosaur Legolas-style (OK, Flintstones-style). Not long after that you get Fin pulling Excalibur (which is also a chainsaw, der) from a stone, a shark with Billy the Kid’s arm in its mouth flying at Fin’s face (gun in hand, still shooting), Ben Franklin flying his kite to generate enough electricity for a time jump, and… enough shameless Back to the Future references to shake a Flux Capacitor at (yes, there’s a Flux Capacitor too).
For whatever reason – and I’m not going to pretend like any of this plot needs actual parsing – Fin and the others (who never died back when they died because Fin’s time-hopping son, Gil, saved them) have to stop the first Sharknado from existing. But then that doesn’t work (I guess?) and they have to bounce through time-space and stop other Sharknados that they’re bringing with them as they… travel through time to stop Sharknados. I mean, none of it matters as long as RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alaska Thunderf*** can show up as Morgana le Fay and everything can wrap up with Ziering swirling within the gusts of Sharknado Prime, battling beasts alongside spectral warriors from throughout human history (Vikings, centurions, La Toya Jackson, etc).
Previous Sharknados have opened opportunities for conversations about how these kinds of creature features can be good-bad, or bad-good even, but now this series, after six years, has overreached and overspent the meager good will it attained. We’re now back full circle to “no, this is just bad-good-bad, with maybe not the good part so much.”
I will say though that The Last Sharknado’s attempt to end things on a sentimental note — with all of time getting reshuffled and rebooted so that we returned to Fin’s bar — worked because we got to see recycled footage of the late John Heard. I found myself uttering an “aww” so let’s call that a small victory for the swirling sharks.