comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 18th, 2017 Movie – Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens

sharknado 4

I have to admit, I am having a hard time focusing on writing today’s blog. Marvel’s The Defenders just debuted on Netflix today and I really want to start watching that. But that will be my reward so let’s finish the task at hand. It has been a whole year since the cliffhanger ending of Sharknado 3, and I don’t know about everyone else but I have been dying to find out if April lived or died. So when the time came, I did what I normally do in these situations and

The plot: Since Fin Shepard stopped the last sharknado that threatened the East Coast, a company called Astro-X has risen to prominence, using their space ship to rescue Colonel Gil Shepard from the moon while also preventing sharknadoes from forming by using their weather control pods to disperse tornadoes before they form. Fin Shepard now lives on a farm in Kansas called April’s Acres with his son Gil and his mom Raye. Fin’s cousin Gemini picks Fin up to go to Vegas, where they are meeting Fin’s son Matt, who is on leave from the military. At the same time, Astro-X founder Aston Reynolds is in Vegas for the grand opening of his new shark-themed hotel. As they wait for Matt in their hotel, Matt calls them from a plane overhead, where he is in the process of marrying his fiance Gabrielle before they parachute onto the hotel roof. As the plane flies over Las Vegas, a sand storm forms and the Astro-X pods are unable to stop it. Matt and Gabrielle jump out of the plane but are caught by the twister and separated. As the sand storm hits Aston’s hotel and sucks the sharks into it, forming a “sandnado”, Fin rescues Gabrielle while Gemini rescues some of the other guests. They make their way to the street and go looking for Matt but when they encounter a flood, they quickly hop onto a hotel’s pirate ship and use it to navigate the flood towards Matt. Matt is eventually able to make it onto the ship, where he hugs Fin and then kisses Gabrielle, while the sandnado leaves the city. As the news comments about the incident and Astro-X’s failure to stop it, Aston contacts his headquarters in San Francisco to have them tell Colonel Shepard that he needs to finish work on his mech suit. In San Francisco, Gil, or Colonel as he prefers to be called, is testing a flight suit for Wilford, a scientist working for Astro-X who also happens to be April’s father, when he is approached by Claudia, who also works there, and is told Aston’s message. Back in Vegas, Fin refuses to give an interview, wanting to hurry back to Kansas to be with Gil but the only way Gemini could find out of the city was by train so they all board the train and head out. Unknown to anyone else, April is still alive, having been remade into a cyborg by her father, who comments on the results on her latest tests as she is recharging. The sandnado makes it’s way through the desert and destroys Hoover Dam, picking up the boulders and debris into it and becoming a “bouldernado”. Gemini sees the bouldernado approaching the train and they work to save as many people as they can while Fin makes his way to the engine and stops the train. Meanwhile, Aston blows up part of the Grand Canyon in order to stop the flood from the Hoover Dam destroying the nearby cities. Aston has Fin and the others brought to see him and asks Fin for his help in reassuring the American public but Fin refuses to be Aston’s mouthpiece. They get a car and make their way to Texas but the bouldernado follows them, where it hits an oil field and becomes an “oilnado”, which quickly becomes a “firenado” when the oil ignites. Fin uses a trencher loaded with fire extinguishers to get close to the firenado, then blows it up in the hopes of putting out the fire. The plan works  and the sharknado changes course but it hits a power plant and becomes a “lightningnado”. Meanwhile, another Sharnado appears in San Francisco while a “lavanado” forms in Yellowstone. As Aston works out a way to take out these new sharknados, April sees a news report and learns that Fin is still alive. She confronts Wilford as to why he lied to her about her family, and Wilford tries to keep her in the lab but she breaks down the door and leaves. The sharknado in San Francisco is heading towards Astro-X, having transformed into a “hailnado”, and as the Colonel and Claudia try to escape, their car is picked up by the storm but they are rescued by April, and they are all surprised to see each other alive. The three head to Wilford’s lab to confront him about what he did, and he claims to have done it to protect them all, then shows the Colonel a completed Mech Suit to use against the sharknado. Meanwhile, Fin’s car gets a flat as they enter Kansas and he calls his friend Colton, who loans him a car named Christine. As they head towards the farm, the lightningnado follows after them and they quickly abandon Christine before it is run over by a shark infested ball of twine. With only a mile to go to the farm, the make a run for it, while Gil and Raye head into the storm shelter. The lightningnado picks up a herd of cows, becoming a “cownado”. Fin and the others reach the farm, where they head to the barn to get some weapons. Matt and Gabrielle head to the shelter but Gabrielle is killed before she can make it in while Gil runs out of the shelter to find his dad. With the storm fast approaching, Fin and Gil head back into the house, while Gemini holds onto the outside as the house is picked up by the storm. Fin is able to rescue Gil and Gemini makes it inside before the house crash lands in Chicago, landing on the mayor who had blamed Fin for the disasters. April, Claudia, and the Colonel learn about Fin’s location and they head there, where April rescues Fin and Gil from the debris, and Fin is shocked to see his wife is still alive. Meanwhile, Astro-X uses their new isotopes to destroy the hailnado and lavanado, but the lightningnado proves resistant and hits a nuclear power plant, becoming a nuclearnado. In  their plane, Fin and April are talking about what happened and April tells him that what her father did was temporary, and they have no idea how long she will live. Fin says he doesn’t care and hugs her, then goes to introduce her to Gil, but Gil says April isn’t his mom. Aston talks with Fin and Gil about the nuclearnado and, along with Wilford’s help, they come up with a plan to stop it. They head towards Niagara Falls, where Aston uses a squirrel suit to fly down to a camp that is set up there and set off a quantum box that will turn the nuclearnado back to a normal sharknado, so the pods can disperse it. Aston turns on the box but it isn’t powerful enough to work and he ends up falling off the cliff when the weakened ground collapses into the falls. When Fin tells the others what happened, the Colonel says that they have another battery in the mech suit they can use so they head to Niagara Falls with it. As the Colonel gets ready to use the mech suit to reach the quantum box, he is swallowed by a shark and the suit ends up falling down the cliff. Fin goes to retrieve it, and he and April head to the quantum box, telling the others to get to safety but Matt and Claudia get swallowed by sharks while Gil, who was placed in a barrel for safe keeping, ends up getting sucked up by the storm and falling into the falls. Fin is able to reach the quantum box and use the mech suit to power it enough to change the nuclearnado back into a regular sharknado but before they are able to disperse it, Fin is knocked off the cliff and swallowed by a shark, which is then swallowed by three more sharks before being swallowed by a blue whale. April manages to rescue Gil, who pulls his little chainsaw out of a rock and proceeds to climb into the whale and cut open the shark inside, rescuing Claudia, then repeating the process with the other sharks, freeing Matt and the Colonel but Fin is unresponsive, April cuts an opening into the whale so she can free the others and then attaches some cables from her power supply to a pair of small shark to serve as a makeshift defibrillator in order to revive Fin. Aston had managed to survive his fall and is alive at the bottom of the falls while the Shepards celebrate surviving another storm when they suddenly see the Eiffel Tower fly through the air before landing nearby, with Nova, who had been vacationing in Paris, standing atop it.

Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens met was pretty much panned by the critics, holding a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens loses the ridiculous charm of its predecessors, leaving only clumsy social commentary and monotonous schtick that’s lost its bite.” While the previous movies had a lot of references to Jaws in them, this movie had numerous references to the Star Wars franchise, with the title itself being a spoof of the recent Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. While The Asylum and Syfy never made public the results of the twitter poll, the trailer for the movie kind of spoiled it by showing April in her training montage while the post credits scene set up a fifth movie, which was announced shortly after the 4th one premiered.

Every time I watch this movie, I find myself going back and forth on how much I like it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie as much as the others, but it’s hard to tell if it was just that I liked certain parts as compared to the movie as a whole. The acting was good, with Ian Zeiring (Fin) and Tara Reid (April) doing good jobs in their roles. David Hasslehoff (Colonel) and Ryan Newman (Claudia) did a good job reprising their roles, while I loved the addition of Gary Busey as April’s dad and Masiela Lusha as Fin’s cousin Gemini. The story was interesting and I loved the fact that they set it 5 years after the last movie, to help explain whether April lived or died, but I honestly felt like there were other aspects of the plot that felt like they used various cultural references to joke about the fact that the main plot was pretty weak. The special effects were pretty good and they did have some very funny scenes in it, with the scene where Fin gets swallowed by a shark and the whole shark swallowing shark aspect until one gets swallowed by a whale still makes me laugh. All told, this is fun to watch but the sum of the various parts don’t quite add up to a great movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 17th, 2017 Movie – Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

sharknado 3

My apologies for being late with today’s post. I had to go in to work early today and spent 75% of the day in one meeting after another. Not exactly the best way to start off the day. So now I get to come home, fairly exhausted, and try and finish watching today’s movie (because I managed to watch a little bit of it this morning) and write up my review before I pass out on the couch. I know, this is not exactly a funny or endearing story about today’s movie. Well, to borrow the tagline from yesterday’s movie, Shark Happens. Now, onto today’s movie, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!.

The plot: Fin Shepherd is racing through the streets of Washington DC until he is met by a pair of Secret Service Agents, who are there to take him to the White House. As he is en route, Fin calls April, who is pregnant and currently in Orlando with her mother May and their daughter Claudia. As the car gets stuck in traffic, Fin chooses to get out and continue running to the White House, where security stops him until White House Chief of Staff Gary Martin Hayes shows up and escorts him inside, where President Marcus Robbins awards him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At the banquet afterwards, Fin is making the rounds, stopping to say hello to his brother-in-law Martin, who is there as a guest, when he is surprised to see the Mayor of New York City there, who awards Fin with a golden chainsaw for his efforts in saving New York. Stepping outside, Fin checks some weather data he asked for and when the President joins him, Fin says he can sense when a sharknado is going to form and says that DC isn’t safe. Fin and President Robbins head back inside just as a sharknado forms and begins attacking DC. As the storm hits the White House, Martin manages to save Vice President Sonia Buck, while Fin and President Robbins are forced to shoot their way out after all of the President’s Secret Service are killed. As they make it outside, the storm suddenly dissipates and before Fin can wonder about it, he and the others quickly lift up a fallen flag to kill a shark that is falling towards them. With flights grounded in DC, Fin rents a car and starts driving to Orlando, calling April and Claudia on the way to tell them he will be there tomorrow. April, Claudia and May are at Universal Studios Resort and May for Claudia’s birthday and May gives Claudia some money as she leaves to go have fun with her friend Jess. Claudia is met by an employee and given VIP passes that allow her and Jess to skip to the front of the line on rides but Jess sees a boy, Chad, that she starts flirting with so Claudia ends up riding on the roller coaster with his friend Billy but as she leaves the roller coaster, Claudia accidentally forgets her phone. Meanwhile, Fin is driving when he encounters a dense fog and as people start running out of the fog in a panic, he realizes the fog is actually a “fognado”, with sharks swimming inside. As Fin fights off a shark that smashes through the window, an armored RV shows up and two masked people emerge, with one fighting off the sharks while the other takes out the fognado. As the fog clears, one of the people approaches the car and takes off the mask and Fin is surprised to see that it is Nova. As the two talk, Nova introduces Fin to her partner, Lucas Stevens, and she explains that the collect all the data they can on the sharknadoes in order to be better prepared, showing him a dead shark and explaining that they are finding birds in their stomachs now as well as ice crystals in their blood, indicating that they are staying in the atmosphere longer and able to survive. Nova asks Fin to help her but Fin says he can’t as he needs to get to Orlando, and Nova is upset to learn that he and April are back together and having a child but offers to give Fin a lift there. Lucas is upset at first but Nova tells him that they have been tracking the storm’s epicenter and it has been heading south so it is on their way. In Orlando, April and May are discussing baby names when a shark lands in a nearby pool. April goes to save a lifeguard, with her robotic hand able to turn into a chainsaw, but May stops her from doing so. Fin calls to check on April after hearing about the entire East Coast of the US is in jeopardy and April is not surprised to learn that Nova is with him. After hearing about the shark attack, tells her to get Claudia and get somewhere safe, then tells Nova that they need to hurry but they find the bridge is washed out. Since they are near Charleston, Fin tells Lucas to head towards the Charleston Air Force Base, where General Gottlieb, the base commanding officer, is a family friend. After being cleared to go inside, Fin talks with Gottlieb, who agrees to let him take their training plane to Orlando and Nova tells him that she can fly, as Fin’s son Matt had trained her how to fly before he deployed. As Fin and Nova get in the plane, a sharknado hits and Lucas heads towards the Beast to take car of it but he is severely wounded by sharks, which bite off one of his legs and arms. Crawling towards the fail safe device on the roof of the Beast, he loses his other arm and leg and is forced to hit the button with his chin, blowing up the RV and dispersing the sharknado. Nova sees what happens and cries out but Fin tells her that they have to leave or else Lucas would have died in vain. As they make their way towards Orlando, Nova asks Fin how he handles dealing with the sharks and he tells her he thinks about his family, which includes friends like her. As they pass over Daytona, they see a sharknado forming over the Daytona 500 and they use the extra fuel tank as a means to destroy the sharknado, or at least kill the sharks, but once they succeed, an errant shark hits the plane and they end up crashing into a lake but emerge unscathed (and without their clothes (seriously R.A.F.)). They head into the park to try and find April and Claudia, just as more sharks begin falling from the sky and attacking people. Meanwhile, April uses a tracking app to track Claudia’s phone to the roller coaster, and goes with the operator, Bruce, to see if she is stuck in the cars. Elsewhere, Claudia, Billy, Jess, and Chad are riding the “Disaster” ride when Chad is killed by a shark, while Jess gets killed as they run from the ride. Fin uses his app and meet April on the roller coaster but they find no sign of Claudia. Bruce realizes that they are talking about Claudia’s phone, which he hands to them, but a shark ends up killing him and activating the roller coaster. Fin is trapped in one of the cars and ends up flying off the course and crashing into the “Twister” ride, where he kills another shark before leaving. Fin meets back up with April and May, and they are then joined by Claudia, Billy, and Nova. Seeing the sharknado approaching, Fin has them all take shelter inside the Universal Globe, which is sent rolling around by the sharknado before landing on a nearby tower. Everyone is ok except for May, who had hit her head during the globes’ spinning, and she is taken away in an ambulance. Nova shows Fin and the others Lucas’ theories on dispersing the merged sharknadoes and rather than using several nuclear explosions, he chooses to call his father, Colonel Gil Shepard, and try to get him to use his contacts with NASA to help. Fin heads to the diner that Gil owns and works on convincing him to help by launching a space shuttle and detonating the fuel tanks to create a column of heat big enough to destroy the sharknadoes. As the sharknadoes form a massive storm wall that ranges the entire East Coast, Fin and Gil get ready to board the shuttle but April, who didn’t know Fin was going on the shuttle, pleads with him not to go but the sharknado destroys the gang plank and April is forced to board the shuttle with Fin. With more sharks falling, the national guard works on keeping the sharks away from the shuttle and when two guardsmen are killed, Claudia and Billy take up their weapons and start killing the sharks while Nova uses a jet to help clear a path. As the shuttle goes to launch, Claudia and Billy head back inside mission control but Billy is killed after he pushes Claudia inside to avoid a falling shark. The shuttle launches and they detonate the tanks but it does not dissipate the sharknado wall. Gil then says he has a Plan B, and heads towards a nearby satellite, which is a cover for part of the fabled Star Wars program, planning to use the laser to vaporize the storm wall. When they are unable to remotely activate the satellite, Gil does a space walk to the satellite in order to manually reboot the system and fire the laser. The laser succeeds in destroying the storm wall but Gil tells Fin that they only have enough fuel to either come get him, or enter re-orbit, but not both. Suddenly, some sharks that were blown up into space by the laser begin attacking the shuttle, and Fin works on killing them but one of the sharks swallows April, while a second one destroys the shuttle. Fin ends up swallowed as well but as the shark drops back to Earth, Fin is able to punch a hole into the charred flesh and use his emergency chute to safely land. Crawling out of the shark, Fin sees more sharks falling from the sky and hears a chainsaw coming from one of them. Heading towards the shark, Fin reaches inside to pull out April and instead sees his new born baby emerging from the shark. Fin grabs his baby, then pulls April out of the shark as well and the two hug each other and their newborn son. Claudia and Nova come running up to them and Fin introduces them to the baby, calling him Gil after his dad. They all look up towards the sky and Fin throws a salute at the moon, where unknown to them, Colonel Shepard has managed to make it to the moon’s surface. Fin looks for his dad’s wings that he had given him before they left and April sees them nearby and goes to pick them up when a piece of the shuttle falls towards her and as they all scream out, the debris lands on top of April as the screen goes black and the word “Fin?” appears on the screen.

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! met with negative reviews from the critics, holding a 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! bites off more than it can chew, leaving viewers with an overlong mess that isn’t even bad enough to be good.” Once again, the movie featured several references to Jaws, but also had people make references to what they are most well known for, such as Lou Ferrigno telling someone “Don’t make me angry.”, or George R.R. Martin being killed next to a bride during a wedding. Sharknado 4 was announced during the premier of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and fans were asked to use Twitter to vote on if April would survive for the 4th movie, using the hashtags #AprilLives or #AprilDies to cast their votes.

The Sharknado movies are still a lot of fun to watch, but I will admit that this one was a little lacking compared to the previous one. The acting was good, with Ian Ziering (Fin) and Cassandra Scerbo (Nova) doing a good job reprising their roles, while I actually liked Tara Reid (April) in this outing. Ryan Newman did a good job in taking over the role of Claudia Shepard, while David Hasselhoff and Bo Derek were great playing Fin’s father Gil and April’s mother May respectively. The story was honestly a little weak, as I felt like they could have done a better job in setting things up instead of just blatantly making it a doomsday scenario almost right from the start. The cameos definitely added a lot of humor to the movie; either by who they were or what they were doing in the movie, or an inside joke or reference to previous roles the people had. The cliffhanger at the end was actually a good way to keep people invested in the franchise, as I don’t recall as much hype over this movie compared to the previous two. The special effects were pretty good and I liked a lot of the shark scenes but there were definitely a couple of times where they looked too fake, with sometimes it being really funny, such as the guy being eaten by a shark hanging from a sign thinking it was the fake shark for the Jaws photo op, but a few times the fakeness hurt the scene. Still, everything together added up to a solid entry in the series and is well worth watching and laughing at.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 16th, 2017 Movie – Sharknado 2: The Second One

sharknado 2

When word of mouth causes a made for TV movie to get more viewers each time it aired, the idea for a sequel made perfect sense. After the success of Sharknado, I could hardly wait for it to occur. Then they announced the title and tag line for the movie, and it honestly felt like they were going to do a good job of keeping the advertising simple and letting word of mouth generate the buzz, which worked because I knew a lot of people were going to be tuning in to watch it. As for me, I did what has since become a tradition and went to my friend Emily and Mark’s house to watch this movie when it debuted and I was not disappointed in the least and quickly went online and pre-ordered it as soon as it became available to do so. So let’s get down to business with today’s movie, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

The plot: Fin Shepard and April Wexler, who are attempting to work things out after the events of the previous movie, are flying to New York for a book signing of April’s book that she wrote about the sharknado. As the plane starts to hit some rough weather, Fin sees some sharks flying through the sky and thinks he is seeing things at first. After a shark takes out one of the engines, the pilots start descending to a lower altitude only to have more sharks attack the plane. Several passengers are killed as sharks make it inside the plane and both of the pilots are sucked out of the cockpit when a shark breaks through and attacks one of them. Fin heads to the cockpit to try and land the plane and April follows after him but when the plane door is blown off it’s hinges, she is forced to grab onto to a nearby strap to keep from being blown out of the plane. The sky marshal goes to help her but ends up trapped by a food cart and, seeing a shark approaching April, throws her his gun to defend herself but the shark bites off her hand. The sky marshal is eventually able to pull April back in the plane while Fin manages to land the plane in New York. Downtown, Fin’s sister Ellen Brody and her husband Martin are there with their kids and arrange to meet at April and Fin’s hotel that night before they split up; with Ellen going to Liberty Island with their daughter Mora while Martin is going to a Mets game with their son Vaughn. Meanwhile, Fin is interviewed after the plane lands and he tries to warn the city about the coming storm but the police don’t seem to believe him. After accompanying April to the hospital, Fin is told by her doctor that she is stable and should make a full recovery. Fin heads to her room and they talk for a while before seeing a news report about the storm approaching New York. At Liberty Island, Ellen and Mora meet up with Ellen’s friends Polly and Chrissie, who ask Ellen about Fin and tell her about the plane crash. Ellen calls Fin and he tells her that she has to get off the island and when Mora can’t reach Martin, Ellen asks Fin to go get him and Vaughn, saying she had sent April a ticket for him. Fin agrees to go and kisses April before he leaves and hails a cab, where the driver, Ben, recognizes Fin and asks him some questions about being swallowed by a shark. Back at Liberty Island, Ellen, Mora, Polly, and Chrissie notice hundreds of sharks swimming in the waters around the island and when the ferry gets there, they quickly board it. Fin arrives at the ball park, with Ben giving him his card in case he needs another ride, and he heads up to find Martin and Vaughn when he runs into Skye, his old girlfriend who was at the game with Martin, Vaughn, and their friend Brian. Skye kisses Fin but he pulls back and tells her he is back with April and she apologizes. Fin heads to their seats and tells Martin and the others that they need to leave before the storm hits but Brian refuses to leave, believing that this is a simple rain delay. When an announcement comes over the loudspeaker that the game is cancelled, the crowd boos in disappointment but when a sharknado appears heading towards the stadium, they all quickly flee the stadium and head to the subway station. AS the train leaves the station, two subway workers are heading into the sewer tunnels to shut off the valves so the tunnels don’t flood but one is killed by an alligator and the second is killed when the tunnel floods, with a shark killing the alligator. The flood hits the subway and sharks begin attacking the cars, with one killing Brian, but Vaughn hits the emergency brake and they are able to get everyone off the train before the flood waters push it down the tunnel. Heading back to the surface, they manage to get a ride from Ben, and Fin asks him to take him to a hardware store but the one Ben knew was closed so he takes them to Times Square, where they split up to find weapons and supplies for Fin to make bombs. Meanwhile, Chrissie is killed by a shark on the ferry and as Ellen, Mora, and Polly disembark and start heading to the hotel to meet the others, they are forced to run as the head of the Statue of Liberty is broken off by the storm and comes rolling down after them. After managing to avoid the rolling head, they keep making their way to the hotel, eventually grabbing some bikes so they can move faster. Back at the hospital, the patients are being evacuated to the basement as a sharknado heads towards them but April, after helping a scared girl to the basement, leaves the hospital to go find Fin and the others. Back at Times Square, the group meet back at Ben’s cab and head for the hotel but before they get there, the streets end up flooded. Using Ben’s tow rope, they throw it over a traffic light so they can use it to swing across to the hotel. Martin, Vaughn, and Sky make it safely across but Ben is killed as he tries to swing across, dragging the rope into the water with him. Martin says he will try to find some more rope but Fin says there is no time, and proceeds to jump on the sharks’ backs to make it across (prompting Martin to joke about him jumping the shark). Heading inside the hotel, Fin tells Martin and Vaughn to wait in the lobby for Ellen and the others while he and Skye head up to the roof and try to destroy the sharknadoes. Ellen and Mora reach the hotel but Polly, who had lagged behind them, is killed when a whale shark falls on her. Fin and Skye reach the roof and use a slingshot to try and destroy the sharknadoes before they merge but the sharknadoes are too cold. He decides to make a bigger bomb but all that does is cause the sharks to catch fire and he and Skye are forced to leave the roof and head back downstairs. Meanwhile, the lobby becomes flooded and Martin, Ellen, Vaughn, and Mora head up the stairs to escape the rising water. They meet Fin and Skye partway up and are forced to use the fire escape to get away from the danger on both fronts. They leave the hotel, where they are surprised to see April in a fire truck there to pick them up. The group heads to the empire state building, where the Mayor and Fire Chief have a command center made ready and hand him a chainsaw to use. Seeing that the merged sharknado is about to converge with a third sharknado, Fin decides to blow the Freon tanks atop the Empire State building to try and freeze out the sharknados and Skye goes with him to help. When they reach the observation deck, Skye goes to make the connection as Fin prepares to use the lightning to trigger the explosion. As a shark starts to fall towards him, Fin can’t get the chainsaw started but he is saved by April, who had Vaughn make her a make-shift handsaw gauntlet for her injured arm. When Skye is finished, Fin tells her to get April out of there while he triggers the explosion but the cable becomes disconnected and Skye is forced to hold the cable in place. The explosion occurs and Fin and Skye are thrown into the air, with Skye being killed by sharks, but the massive Sharknado is broken up, with the crowd below grabbing any weapons they can find to deal with the falling sharks. Fin uses his chainsaw to kill some of the sharks near him as he falls but when it is knocked from his hand, he grabs a chain and usesit to snare aThe popularity  shark and ride it down to the observation deck. As more sharks fall towards him and April, he looks for a weapon and notices the dead shark by April is the same one that bit off her hand. Reaching inside it’s mouth, he grabs her severed hand and uses the gun it is still holding to kill the falling sharks. Afterwards, he takes the ring off the severed hand and asks April to marry him again, which she happily accepts as the crowd below celebrates their victory.

Sharknado 2: The Second One met with mixed to positive review from the critics, holding a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The schlock factor for Sharknado 2: The Second One is not as entertaining as its predecessor’s, though fans of the brand will likely enjoy it.” There were numerous nods to other movies throughout the film, primarily Jaws, Airplane, and Star Wars, while the original film’s popularity allowed The Asylum to use numerous people in cameo appearances as well. In it’s initial airing, it garnered 3.9 million viewers and prompted Syfy and The Asylum to almost immediately make plans for another sequel.

All the craziness from the first movie was amped up in the sequel and it paid off in a fun way. The acting was great, with Ian Ziering doing a great job as Fin, while Mark McGrath (Martin), Vivica A. Fox (Skye), and Kari Wuhrer (Ellen) doing good jobs in their roles as well. Tara Reid (April) didn’t seem as bad in this one as she was in the first movie but I have to admit that her screaming was just awful. The story was great, basically using the same concept from the first movie but doing a good job of trying to show how the tornadoes were forming with the different weather and pressure systems converging on New York City, while doing nothing to explain all the sharks (because where would the fun be in that). I also liked all the nods to the various movies that were used, as well as the cameos, but some of the funniest cameos were the ones that hinted at the actor’s previous roles; such as Robert Hays being the pilot (a nod to Airplane) and Judd Hirsch driving a cab (a nod to his character in Taxi). Even the short bit with Jared Fogle sitting underneath a sign for Subway while eating a Subway sandwich was pretty funny. The special effects were a little better than the original movie in regards to the sharknadoes, though I didn’t honestly see much improvement in the sharks themselves. Still, this movie was a lot of laughs and definitely something worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 15th, 2017 Movie – Sharknado

sharknado

Ahhh, the movie that quite literally took the internet by storm…well, Tweet storm that is. I don’t know if anyone would have predicted that the simple, yet ridiculous, premise of sharks in a tornado becoming a smash hit but that is exactly what happened. When word of this movie first came out, I had several of my friends asking if I heard about it. As a matter of fact, I had heard about it and couldn’t wait to watch it. Unfortunately, I ended up missing it’s initial airing but caught the repeat airing the following week and knew that I had to own this movie. So let’s strap in and have some fun with today’s movie, Sharknado.

The plot: In the pacific ocean, Hurricane David causes a large water spout forms, picking up a pod of nearby sharks and causing them to go swirling around in the water. Off the coast of Mexico, a fishing boat is catching sharks to collect their fins for shark fin soup, which the captain is making a deal to sell to an Asian restaurant, when the storm hits them and everyone is killed by the sharks in the storm as the boat is picked up by the water spout. In Los Angeles, Fin Shepherd and his friend Baz Hogan are walking along the beach and while Baz hops onto a ski-doo, Fin, a former champion surfer, goes surfing. When Fin gets knocked off his board by another surfer, he sees a shark swimming up behind her and tries to warn her but she is knocked off her board and eventually killed. As more sharks, driven there by the storm, close in on the beach, more people are attacked as lifeguards call out for people to get out of the water. A shark attacks Baz, biting into his leg, but Fin is able to save him then pilots the ski-doo back to the beach, where they are met by Nova, a waitress at Fin’s bar. After Baz is taken care of, Fin, Nova, and Baz head back to the bar, where Baz is telling George, a regular at the bar, about what happened. As Fin watches news coverage of the storm, he decides to call April Wexler, his ex-wife, to check on them but April is dismissive towards his concerns and refuses to let him take their daughter Claudia out of town. As the storm gets worse, Fin decides to close the bar and tells everyone to go home, arguing with Nova who refuses to leave Fin. When a storm surge sends a shark flying into the bar, Nova kills it with a pool cue and Fin grabs some weapons for him, Baz, and Nova while George grabs his bar stool as they leave. The storm sends more sharks onto the board walk as the nearby ferris wheel breaks free and smashes into a building. After the initial surge has finished, Fin decides to go check on April and Claudia and Nova, Baz, and George go with him. As they make their way towards Beverly Hills, they see the streets are flooding and sharks are swimming in the waters. Deciding to head onto the highway, they are forced to stop and help some stranded motorist that are in danger from the flooding and shark infested waters, where George ends up being killed when another surge washes over him, carrying more sharks with it. Fin continues on to his old house and when he knocks on the door, April refuses to let him in but when a shark burst out from a manhole, Nova quickly shoots it, then everyone quickly heads inside. Once inside the house, Fin calls out for Claudia, who is shocked to see him there and doesn’t want to leave when he tries to talk to her. April’s new boyfriend Collin shows up and chastises Fin for being there saying April and Claudia’s safety is no longer his concern, then mocks him about sharks being in the area. When a sudden wave floods the house and sends a shark through the window, Collin is killed despite Fin, Baz, and Nova trying to save him. They eventually manage to trap the shark long enough for Nova to kill it but when a second shark appears, they quickly head up the stairs. Claudia tells Fin that Matt, his son, is in Van Nuys attending flight school and Fin is upset that they never told him about it, due to Collin’s insistence that it was none of Fin’s business. Fin distracts the shark so that everyone can get out, then quickly joins them and they drive off as more waves destroy the house. As they head towards Van Nuys, Claudia listens to the emergency radio in the car, which is giving more details about the storm and the sharks being reported flooding the city. Seeing a school bus trapped with the shark filled water rising around it, Fin stops to help them, though April argues that he should be more concerned with his own children. Driving up to the overpass above the bus, Fin uses some rope from his jeep to rappel down onto the bus, where the driver and children inside cheer his arrival. Fin yells for another rope to be dropped down, and uses it to have the children pulled up onto the bridge, followed by the bus driver. Fin climbs back up last, cutting the rope to keep a shark that was tangled in it from attacking him, and when he reaches the top, Nova hugs him, causing April to feel jealous. After paramedics arrive to check on the kids, the winds pick up, blowing the Hollywood sign off the mountain and killing the bus driver with the letter H. Fin and the others continue towards Van Nuys, stopping to get a new car when a shark lands on the roof and tears into it. Reaching the flight school, they find Matt and the rest of his class hiding in a make shift shelter and the instructor is killed by the winds while everyone else manages to survive in the shelter. After the winds die down, Fin leads the others to a nearby hardware store and they proceed to arm themselves with supplies. Matt comes up with an idea to drop bombs into the three tornadoes, breaking up the tornadoes and killing the sharks inside them. Fin and April try to talk Matt out of it but Matt says it is the best way to save everyone and Nova agrees to help him. As Matt and Nova prep the nearby helicopter for their plan, Baz comes up with his own plan and builds a massive bomb and attaches it to the Humvee, along with some smaller bombs, planning on driving into the tornado and blowing it up. Matt and Nova manage to blow up the first two tornadoes but Baz and Matt’s classmates are killed by the sharks falling down from the sky. Fin, April, and Claudia head to a nearby retirement home, helping the elderly residents take shelter from the storm. When the third bomb does not destroy the tornado, Matt and Nova try to come up with a new plan when a shark grabs onto the helicopter. Nova manages to knock it loose but ends up falling out of the helicopter, where a giant great white swallows her whole, while Matt loses control of the helicopter and ends up crashing. Fin races out to check on Matt and after finding him ok, tells him to head to April and Claudia. Fin then gets into the Humvee and drives it towards the tornado, lighting a bomb before hitting the nitro and jumping out of the car. The Humvee is sucked into the tornado and explodes, destroying the tornado and sending sharks falling from the sky. Fin races back to check on the others and sees Claudia, who had gone to find him, in the path of a falling great white. Grabbing a chainsaw, Fin pushes Claudia out of the way and leaps head first into the shark. April, Matt, and Claudia stare in horror at the shark until they hear the chainsaw still running and see the blade emerge from the shark’s stomach. Fin emerges from the sharks stomach with Nova and as April and Claudia check on Fin, Matt goes to Nova and performs mouth to mouth, reviving her. As the group surveys the damage from the storm, April kisses Fin while Matt and Nova seem to be getting closer.

Sharknado surprisingly blew the critics away, holding an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” Proudly, shamelessly, and gloriously brainless, Sharknado redefines “so bad it’s good” for a new generation.” The movie was a top trending theme on Twitter during it’s initial airing so subsequent, prompting Syfy to re-air it two additional times, each time generating more viewers and increasing it’s popularity. With everyone talking about the movie on Twitter, some sites jokingly discussed what you should do if you were ever caught in a Sharknado, while others were quick to point out that such an event would be impossible to occur. The movie’s popularity prompted The Asylum and Syfy to quickly announce plans for a sequel; which ended up becoming a franchise as there have been 4 sequels to date with plans for a 5th one underway.

This was such a ridiculously fun movie to watch, despite the one problem I had with it. The acting was pretty good, with Ian Ziering (Fin), Cassandra Scerbo (Nova), and John Heard (George) doing good jobs in their roles, though Tara Reid (April) was a little annoying. The plot was incredibly simple and to be honest, makes you wonder why nobody ever thought about using it before. The only problem I really had was that the actual Sharknado’s really didn’t appear until the last part of the movie, while the majority of the movie was mainly flooded streets and storm surges bringing sharks onto land. The special effects were actually a lot better than I thought they would be and the sharks looked pretty good, though there were some occasions where they were a little too ridiculous (such as the giant one that swallows Nova and Fin leaps into). All told, this is a lot of fun and only sets the stage for more ridiculousness in the future movies.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 14th, 2017 Movie – Sharkenstein

sharkenstein

Ahh, time for a good old fashioned independent movie. Now I first saw this movie popping up on my recommended list on Amazon and I placed it in my cart just on a whim. I had already bought a movie from the same production company earlier in the year so I knew exactly the quality of movie I was going to be getting with this purchase. Now let’s see how bad of a purchase I made in my quest to get more shark movies as I watch today’s movie, Sharkenstein.

The plot: Along the German coast in the middle of WWII, an SS officer heads to the lab of a German scientist who is doing research on the brain and heart of Frankenstein’s monster. When the scientist refuses to hand over his work, the officer kills him and his assistant, then takes the brain and heart back to his sub, then heads towards America with it. Years later, Katzman Cove Harbor Patrol officer Duke Lawson radios command to ask for news about some missing boaters before he heads out on patrol, and is told that some life vests were found washed up by the tide. Meanwhile, a monstrous shark, that is stitched together from pieces of various sharks, is swimming in the ocean and leaps onto shore to kill a woman walking along the surf and later, a fisherman on the dock. Elsewhere, Madge, Coop, and Skip are heading to Katzman Cove for their vacation when Coop tells them he about the reports of missing boaters and sunbathers, but Skip refuses to let that deter them from having fun. As he is going on his patrol, Lawson thinks back to how a friend had shown him where the pieces of various sharks had washed up on the shore and he tries to make sense of what is going on. In a secret lab, Klaus, a nazi scientist, orders the patchwork shark to return to his lab, as he rants on bringing a 60 year old project into the 21st century and how he will make mankind beg. Back at the cove, Madge, Skip, and Coop head to the boat they rented and meet Hoskins, their captain/guide. Hoskins takes them out to the lake but after a few hours, Lawson shows up and tells them to head back to the harbor as a safety precaution. Back at the lab, Klaus feeds the monster shark and says he has to conduct one last test before they start the final phase of their plan. Lawson arrives at the scene of the fisherman’s death, where all that are left are the man’s feet, and orders a team of divers to investigate the area and see if they can find anything underwater. The monster shark kills the divers, then kills some more people before Klaus orders it to return to base. As they are heading back to the harbor, Hoskins hits something with the boat and damages the propeller. as he works on fixing it, Skip and Coop convince Madge to swim over to a nearby island and explore it. While they are gone, Hoskins continues working on the boat when the shark strikes it, then leaps out of the water to kill Hoskins but Hoskins is able to move out of the way. Madge, Skip, and Coop explore the island and when they come to a “No Trespassing” sign, Madge wants to head back but Skip and Coop convince her to keep going. They soon come to an old house sitting over the ocean and as they head inside, they feel the floor shake as underneath, a metal gate swings close when the monster shark swims inside it’s pen. As the three continue to explore the house, they see the monster shark and are quickly captured by Klaus. Klaus tells them that he will let them live if they help his experiment. He explains that he pieced together the greatest shark, using parts of known man-eating sharks, and then plans on placing Frankenstein’s monster’s brain and heart inside it to make a Frankenshark, before then using the process on another creation but using Hitler’s brain. As Lawson goes looking for Hoskins and the others, Klaus begins the surgery to place the brain and heart into the monster shark. Using the lightning from a storm that has occurred, Klaus is able to reanimate the organs and then detains Madge, Coop, and Skip until he figures out how to use them next. Klaus begins communicating with Sharkenstein and orders it to attack the boat and kill Hoskins. When Sharkenstein causes the boat to explode, Klaus gets angry at the unwanted attention it is causing and tells it to return to the house. When Sharkenstein starts refusing to follow his orders, Klaus tries to shock it into submission but Sharkenstein kills Klaus, then proceeds to bring the house down into the water. Madge, Coop, and Skip swim out from the wreckage but Shakenstein kills Coop, while Lawson is able to rescue Madge and Skip. As they head back to the dock with Sharkenstein in pursuit, Madge explains what is going on. They reach the dock and Sharkenstein jumps on the dock after them but when some lightening hits it, it mutates into a more humanoid form as the three quickly run from it. Sharkenstein heads inland and attempts to eat a cow but the farmer shoots at it, driving it off and it ends up killing Coop, who had left Madge and Lawson. As Madge and Lawson go to hunt Sharkenstein down, they see a mob being led by the farmer hunting Sharkenstein and Lawson says they should move away from the mob. Sharkenstein comes across a photographer taking pictures of his model and kills the photographer, then rapes the model, before killing two members of the mob hunting it. Meanwhile, Lawson and Madge head to the old lighthouse, where some dynamite was stored, and they plan a trap for Sharkenstein. Lawson cuts his arm to lure Sharkenstein towards them, then has Madge take cover as he leads it inside the lighthouse. The mob shows up and, seeing Sharkenstein trapped inside the lighthouse, set it on fire, despite Madge warning them not to. They soon see Lawson struggling with Sharkenstein on the roof and he tells them not to worry about him and kill Sharkenstein as the dynamite in the lighthouse explodes and kills them both. The mob are happy to see Sharkenstein dead but Madge says that Frankenstein’s heart and brain can never be destroyed and leaves the mob and heads down to the dock and sits down in one of the fishing chairs, just as a new Sharkenstein leaps out of the water at her.

Yup, this was a great idea but a bad movie. The acting was not the best, with all of the actors lacking some sort of fluidity in saying their lines, making it seem like they were reading their lines off of giant cue cards behind the camera. The plot was actually pretty interesting, and the reason I bought the movie in the first place, as the idea of Frankenstein being made into a shark just sounds like a fantastic movie idea. The special effects were pretty terrible, as in they were laughably bad, but that is what made the movie somewhat entertaining to watch. Definitely not something that many people will want to watch but worth watching for die-hard fans of B-movies.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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action, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

August 13th, 2017 Movie – Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre

sharkansas womens prison massacre

Admit it. The second you saw the title for today’s movie you immediately thought it was either going to be a soft-core late night skin flick or nothing more than a bunch of girls running around with next to no clothes on. Well, when I first heard about this movie, and that Jim Wynorski was the director, that was pretty much my first thoughts. Well, if you were thinking the same thing, you weren’t that far off on the second one but there are no sex scenes so this can’t be considered a skinamax type movie. In either case, this fits into a couple of niches for me, shark movie and Wynorski film, so let’s see how much fun we can have with today’s movie, Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre.

The plot: At a women’s prison in Arkansas, Sarah, Michelle, Anita, Shannon, and Samantha are being transported by two prison guards, Carl and Mike, for community service work when they hear some explosions from a fracking company. The explosions accidentally opens up an underground cavern and unleashes a strange breed of shark, which can swim in freshwater as well as burrow through the ground. When the two explosive operators decide to cut across the swamp into town to get a drink, their truck becomes bogged down in the swamp. As the driver tries to get the truck free, the other man notices the shark rushing towards them and points it out just as it strikes the truck, sending them flying. Meanwhile, Detective Kendra Patterson and her partner Detective Adam, are searching the river for some criminals and head to shore where they see evidence of people being there. The two split up two look for signs of the criminals but Adam quickly goes to get Kendra and brings her to a camp site, where someone had been torn to shreds. Hearing rustling underneath a nearby canoe, they flip it over to find an old man lying in shock and repeating “shark” over and over. The prison van gets to their destination and Carl tells the women that they need to get the stumps in the area cleared and they get to work. When Samantha cuts her arm, she asks Mike if she can wash it off in the stream, promising to make it “worth his while” later that night. Mike agrees and she heads down to the stream to wash off her arm but the shark smells her blood in the water and charges through the swamp to kill her. As the day draws to a close, the girls head back but when Samantha is found to be missing, Mike goes looking for her only to find her bloody shirt while Michelle sees a nearby tree covered in blood. Heading back to the prison, Carl is talking to the warden on the phone and explaining the situation when they lose signal. Seeing a woman with a broken down car waving them down, Carl orders Mike to pull over and offer help but the woman, Honey, pulls a gun on them. After collecting their guns, Honey has Carl open the door so the women can get out, and it is revealed that Anita is Honey’s girlfriend. As Honey and Anita try to figure out what to do with the other girls and the two guards, Sarah decides to join up with them and they tell her to keep an eye on the guards as the guards get in the back of the van and Honey drives it away. Elsewhere, Adam and Kendra are driving along when they hear a report about the escaped convicts, just as they are passing near the area they were last seen. Honey keeps driving until they reach a second van, where Honey tells the other girls to change their clothes. When Sarah and Michelle begin fighting, Mike uses the distraction to make a run for it. Honey follows after him and manages to shoot him in the arm but when she closes in on him, Mike hits her with a rock and keeps running. A wounded Mike stumbles through the swamp and manages to find an opening for an underground reservoir but as he starts drinking the water, the shark appears and kills him. Meanwhile, Honey heads back to the van and they continue driving until they reach a cabin, and Honey tells them that they will be waiting there for a while, then tells Anita to tie up Carl so they can use him as insurance. As everyone settles in for the evening, Michelle and Shannon convince Sarah that they can’t trust Honey and Anita, as they might kill them just to make their getaway easier. The next morning, Sarah heads outside and sits on a tree that had fallen over a nearby stream when she sees the shark approaching. She quickly gets off the tree and onto shore but when it starts burrowing through the ground after her, she tries running for the house but gets attacked. As Michelle goes outside for a smoke, she sees Sarah’s body at the foot of the stairs and calls out for the others. Honey has them all go searching the area, including Carl, to find any clue as to what happened to Sarah and Shannon eventually finds her missing leg. When they examine the leg, they see a shark’s tooth in it and Carl comments on the recent furrows near the stream, saying whatever killed Sarah made those tracks. After they bury Sarah, they are surprised by Professor Orville and his assistant John Raden, who say their vehicle was eaten by a mutated prehistoric shark. At the house, Orville and John says he believes that recent fracking must have opened a pathway from an underground ocean to the surface, allowing the shark to reach the surface. Honey decides that they are going to get out of there and gives Michelle the keys to go start the van but when Michelle is hesitant to step onto the ground, Honey grabs the keys and goes her self. The shark suddenly starts burrowing towards her and Honey tries shooting it as she heads back to the house but the bullets don’t seem to faze the shark and it ends up popping the van’s tires as it burrows by them. Back inside the house, Michelle and Carl are trying to figure out a plan when Michelle stumbles upon a cache of guns, and quickly hands one to Carl. After confronting Honey and Anita, who quickly surrender to Carl, Carl and Michelle arm everyone and they head outside only to learn that there is more than one shark burrowing around in the ground. The group proceed to make a dummy and fill it with gunpowder, then use some of Carl’s blood to place on the dummy to attract the sharks. When the sharks get close to the dummy, Honey shoots it and blows it up, then they all run out the back towards a nearby cave. When Orville falls and injures himself, John is killed by a shark when he tries to lure it away from him. Meanwhile, Kendra and Adam have tracked the van Honey rented and reach the cabin but as they decide how they want to handle things, a shark attacks their car and they quickly leave the area. Inside the cave, Orville is leading the group through the cavern but when Honey and Anita start to cause trouble, Carl informs them that they don’t have any ammo in their weapons, with Shannon’s gun also being empty. As the girls dejectedly follow Orville, Michelle thanks Carl for trusting her with a loaded gun and he tells her to keep it quiet. As they continue into the cavern, they come to an underground river with daylight shining through on the far side, so Carl decides to grab a raft that they had found and use that to help cross the river. Carl, Michelle, Shannon, and Orville go to get the raft but Orville is killed by a shark. Back outside, Kendra and Adam figure out what the group had done at the cabin and Adam pulls up some geological maps on his iPad and directs Kendra to an opening to the cave system. Back in the cave, Carl heads across the river first, with a rope tied to the raft so the girls can pull the raft back for them to cross but as Michelle, Shannon, and Honey pull the rope, Anita sees that Carl had left his gun leaning against the cave wall and quickly grabs it. Michelle and Shannon head across first but as Anita and Honey make their way across, Anita pulls out the gun and begins firing at the others. Shannon is shot in the throat and killed but Anita ends up falling into the river and killed by a shark, while the raft is popped, sending Honey tumbling into the water as well. Carl and Michelle head outside and when Michelle goes to hand Carl her gun, Carl tells her to keep it, choosing to let her escape and be with her son instead of having more time added to her sentence due to the escape attempt. After Michelle leaves, Carl sees Kendra and Adams approach and he tells them that he is the only one left alive. Elsewhere, a shark is seen burrowing around near the state border while back in the cave, Honey is shown to have survived and made it back to the far side of the underground river.

This was a pretty ridiculous movie to watch but it did have it’s funny moments. The acting was ok, with Dominique Swain (Honey), John Callahan (Carl), and Christine Nguyen (Michelle) doing pretty good jobs in their roles. I honestly thought the little side story with Traci Lords (Kendra) and Corey Landis (Adam) made no sense and seemed to be there just to add time to the movie. The story was interesting, with the idea of fracking releasing the prehistoric sharks from an underground ocean being a nice idea. The shark design looked pretty good and I liked the small spikes all over the shark’s body that were supposed to help the shark burrow through the ground, as that had been used in other movies, most notably in Tremors. The rest of the special effects were a little less to be desired, but they actually made for some funny viewing at times. Probably not what you were expecting but it can be fun to watch.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

July 24th, 2017 Movie – Serenity

serenity

I think that just about everyone knows who Joss Whedon is by now. Even if you were not a fan of his shows, you have at least heard of his TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel, though more people might know him as the director of The Avengers and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. In 2002, Whedon had another show that some people might not know about called Firefly. Unfortunately, it aired on Fox and they did not know quite where to place it in their line-up, putting it on Friday nights and eventually cancelling it before it’s first season finished airing. However, the show had developed a massive following and, with the massive sells of the Firefly DVD as proof that there was consumer interest, a movie was green lit. So lets see how the final adventures of the Serenity’s crew fare as I watch today’s movie, Serenity.

The plot: By the 26th Century, Earth had become so overpopulated that humanity was forced to find another planet to live on. They eventually found a new solar system and used terraforming to make the planets habitable. The central planets formed the Alliance and set about rules for all of the planets in the solar system but the outer planets value their independence and a war is fought over it. Some time in the future, River Tam is being experimented on and the Alliance scientists are trying to turn her into a psychic assassin but River’s brother Simon manages to sneak into the facility and break her out of there. Later, a man known as The Operative is examining the footage of the Tams’ escape and when the lead scientist arrives to question what he is doing, The operative replays the footage of the scientist saying key members of the Alliance had seen the project. The Operative says that it is possible that River had telepathically learned classified information from those members and his job is to ensure that nobody else learns it, then proceeds to kill the scientist and his guards for allowing it to happen. Meanwhile, Simon and River have taken refuge on the cargo ship Serenity, where Simon earns their keep by serving as the ship’s doctor. When they land on a planet to rob an Alliance payroll, Simon is upset that Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is taking River with him but Mal insists that he needs her due to her telepathic abilities. Mal, River, Zoe, and Jayne leave Simon, Wash (Zoe’s husband and the ship’s pilot), and Kaylee (the ship’s mechanic) on Serenity and head into the town to rob the payroll. As Mal and Zoe are in the vault, River has a vision of the Reavers, a savage and cannibalistic group of people that attack the outer planets. Mal tells the vault guard to get everyone inside the vault and seal it so they stay safe, then he and his group get on their mule and head out of town. A Reaver ship follows after them but Wash brings Serenity to them and they are able to board it on the run, killing the one Reaver that manages to get on board. As Mal and the others recover, Simon punches Mal for putting River in danger and tells him that they will be getting off at the next port and an angered Mal agrees to it. When they reach the next port, everyone leaves the ship, with Simon and River going their own way but Kaylee, who likes Simon, doesn’t like it and argues with Mal about this. As Mal and Jayne go to meet their contact and get paid for the payroll job, River walks into the bar and sees a commercial playing on the TV, causing her to whisper the word “Miranda” before she begins attacking the patrons of the bar. As Mal and Jayne try to stop her, River knocks out Jayne and goes to shoot Mal when Simon appears and says a phrase that causes River to fall asleep. Mal grabs River and takes her back onto Serenity and, after securing River into a room, grabs Simon and demands answers from him. Simon starts to explain what happened to River and Mal is upset that he had spent 8 months on the ship and never told anyone about what could happen. Realizing they need to find more information, they contact a hacker called Mr. Universe, who tells them that the video never made it to the news and was accessed by the military. Reviewing the footage, they see what set River off and Mr. Universe discovers a subliminal message hidden in the commercial which was intended to trigger River’s response. Mal and the others head to Haven, where their friend and former shipmate Shepherd has set up a community, and while they are resting there, Mal speaks to Shepherd about their situation and Shepherd warns him about what the Alliance will do. Mal receives a communication from Inara, another former shipmate and whom Mal has a romantic interest in, and even though they know it is a trap, Mal and the others go to save her. Mal manages to sneak into where Inara is but he encounters The Operative, who attempts to reason with Mal into giving River to him. Mal refuses and they start fighting but before the Operative can kill him, a flash grenade that Inara had secretly lit goes off, allowing Mal and Inara to escape. They make it back to Serenity and use decoys to keep The Operative from being able to track them. As they are flying back to Haven, Jayne argues with Mal about why they are keeping River on board the ship. When everyone goes off to separate areas of the ship, Jayne heads to River’s room to kill her but she knows he is coming and knocks him out. As the others search for River, she knocks out Simon so he can’t put her to sleep, then heads to the bridge. Mal finds her there and tries talking to her as she goes looking through the ship’s navigation system and she stops and points to a planet, calling it Miranda. Mal has the others join them on the bridge, while River apologizes to Simon for knocking him out, and they discuss Miranda, finding it odd that there doesn’t seem to be any record of it in the Alliance database. Mal suggests going there to investigate but Wash and Zoe point out that Miranda is in the heart of Reaver territory. The group heads to Haven to come up with a plan only to find that Haven has been razed. Mal manages to find Shepherd and calls for help but Shepherd dies before Simon can get there. Realizing that The Operative is attacking anywhere where they had hidden before, Zoe says to warn their friends but they find that they have all been killed. As Mal stares at the screens, The Operative comes on and says that Mal left him no choice, angering Mal. Mal orders the others to take some of the bodies and tie them to the ship so they can disguise themselves as Reavers and head to Miranda, though the crew is unhappy about doing it. They manage to make their way through the Reaver fleet and land on Miranda only to find that it has been terraformed and populated at one point, but all of the people are now dead. Following a beacon signal, they find a transmission from an Alliance scientist, who says that the chemical they used in the air to pacify the population made it where they stopped doing anything, including eating or anything necessary to live. However, a small percentage of the population had the opposite effect, making them more violent and crazed, and Mal and the others realize that the Alliance had created the Reavers. Mal decides to take the video and have Mr. Universe broadcast it to everyone and contact him to arrange it but unknown to them, The Operative was at Mr. Universe’s home and after he finishes speaking with Mal, The Operative kills Mr. Universe and has the transmitter destroyed while he prepares to ambush Mal and the others. Knowing that the Alliance will be waiting for them, Mal fires on the Reaver fleet as they leave Miranda, getting them to chase after them. When the Serenity emerges from the ion cloud above the planet, The Operative has his fleet target it but they are surprised when Reaver ships appear after it and they are forced to fight them. The Serenity makes it through the fleet in the confusion but a Reaver ship follows after them and causes them to crash. They manage to survive the crash but Wash is killed by the Reavers and Mal orders everyone to leave the ship. They make their way inside and Zoe tells Mal they will hold off the Reavers while Mal goes and gets the video to Mr. Universe. Mal heads to Mr. Universe’s chamber to find it trashed but Mr. Universe left a message with his sexbot, which tells Mal he had a back-up transmitter that is ready to transmit. Mal heads down to the back-up transmitter but unknown to him, The Operative, who was forced to eject from his ship as it was destroyed, had followed him and hears the message as well. Meanwhile, the Reavers start to attack the others and Zoe and Kaylee are injured, forcing them to fall back behind some blast doors but they don’t seal all the way. When Simon is shot, River goes through the opening and seals the blast doors, throwing Simon’s medical bag through before it closes, and then proceeds to fight with the Reavers. Mal reaches the transmitter but is attacked by the Operative, who attempts to paralyze Mal so he can kill him but Mal manages to get the upper hand and breaks the Operative’s back, then makes it so he has to watch as he plays the transmission that tells the entire solar system about how the Alliance made the Reavers. Mal rejoins the others and when he asks about River, they are surprised to see the doors open and River standing there, having killed all of the Reavers. Suddenly, the wall blasts open and Alliance soldiers arrive and threaten to shoot them but The Operative orders the soldiers to stand down. Sometime later, Mal and the others hold a funeral for Wash, Shepherd, and Mr. Universe then get to work repairing the ship. As they prepare to leave, Mal is approached by The Operative, who says he can’t guarantee that the Alliance won’t come after them, as the video weakened the Parliment’s power but did not remove it entirely. Mal heads up to the bridge and gets in the pilot’s chair, with River acting as his copilot, and they take off to their next adventure.

Serenity met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.” The movie takes place 6 months after the final episode of Firefly and a three issue comic mini-series, written by Whedon, was released in the summer of 2005 to bridge the gap in the story. Despite the strong following, the movie did not do so well at the box office, earning $38.9 million off of a $39 million budget.

If you are a fan of the show, you will enjoy this movie. Even if you aren’t a fan, if you are a fan of sci-fi movies, you will probably like this movie, but just not understand as much of what is happening. This is a pretty good movie all told. The acting was good, with Nathan Fillion (Mal), Summer Glau (River), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative) doing great jobs in their roles. Whedon did a good job in writing the plot so that you could follow along without having any previous knowledge of the show, while adding some elements that would appeal to the die hard fans. The special effects and fight scenes were pretty good, especially the fight scenes with River, as they utilized some of Summer Glau’s abilities as a former ballerina into her choreography. A fun way to end a TV show and a fun movie to enjoy.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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