Sharknado with spoilers. Sharky says, “yes!”

Sharknado Poster

Sharknado Poster

Sharknado Poster

This review was originally published on The Geek Girl Project.

*Warning Spoilers : Warning Spoilers*

Sharknado is so over the top it’s actually charming. The people involved almost screwed up and made a good movie. It starts with the promised Sharknado. Yes, it actually does and they don’t save it for the end where we only get to see a brief glimpse. This movie doesn’t restrict itself to the Sharknado, we get waterspouts, a hurricane, flooding, exploding cars, and even nitro burning Humvee; oh yes. They are generous with the special effects. Sadly this includes the blood and guts but that’s thankfully not the only effect they have so it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the movie.

The movie starts of, opening scene, with a waterspout sucking up a bunch of sharks that normally don’t school together but who am I to quibble about such a small detail. Then we cut to a fishing boat where they’re harvesting shark fins for a Japanese buyer. So now we have the setup: Airborne sharks who are angry.

This is a promising start for a creature feature. Then we cut to Santa Monica for some gratuitous T&A. Granted this is an unfortunate staple of the creature feature but Sharknado hits it once, checks it off the list and moves on. They hit all of the expected tropes of the creature feature and I get the feeling it’s more out of a sense of staying true to the genera than because they think this is how a movie should be made.

You would think sharks seeking vengeance for the harvesting of their fins (a barbaric practice as the fin alone is taken and the whole rest of the shark is thrown back into the ocean to die a slow painful death) would head to the country where their fins are a product. Then again filming in Japan is probably outside the budget plus they wouldn’t get to film the “California girls” in their skimpy swimsuits.

Anyway we meet our two main characters, Fin (Ian Ziering) and Nova (Cassie Scerbo). We also meet a surfing buddy of Fin’s who has an Australian accent plus an old washed up surfer named George (John Heard). The party is complete. Wait I spoke too soon. Oh and news stories about a hurricane that is battering Mexico are all over the airwaves. They keep the news stories going throughout the movie and it is a good way to keep the viewer up on plot points without having some guy standing around explaining everything.

The hurricane moves north and we get sharks eating surfers and swimmers, then tossed through windows and swimming in flooded streets. Fin has an ex-wife and daughter he’s worried about so the four load up in an SUV and head for Beverly Hills to check upon them. This would swell our party to 6 minimum, with a possibility of 7 if the ex-wife’s boyfriend is there. Everyone knows only two people ever make it out alive in one of these movies.

Off to LA we go where there are reports of sharks falling from the sky and swimming in the streets. Also these sharks are eating everyone they can. They’re coming up from the sewers and out of runoff pipes (yeah they’re big pipes). The sharks aren’t just swimming out of anyplace they can they’re being rocketed out like they’re being shot from a cannon. I dare say we are looking at high velocity sharks, also apparently jumping sharks.

I’m going to have to say that I won’t feel badly if his ex-wife gets eaten. There is no excuse for cutting a caring, non-abusive parent out of a child’s life. Sure she probably doesn’t deserve death by shark, or death at all but it’s wrong to cut a supportive parent out of a child’s life.

I will have to say that the writers did a decent job with the characters. They’re pretty well written. I liked the heroes. I was sorry when octopus hands George got eaten. Fin puts his life on the line to rescue a bus full of children from death by shark despite his ex-wife urging him to just drive on and think about himself, even using her own daughter as leverage. She does not get eaten, although I confess I was rooting for the sharks when it came to this ex-wife.

It does beg the question, what’s he doing with rescue gear, mountain climbing equipment in his SUV but details, right? I will say that the flying sharks in Sharknado are n where near as fun as the ones in the Doctor Who Christmas Carol.

Sure you have to forgive a certain disregard for physics, marine biology and science in general to enjoy Sharknado but c’mon, you’re watching a movie called Sharknado. Also since Asylum does a lot of the original ScyFy movies I get to see the same actors in different roles. I kind of like this. I like seeing familiar faces in the movies. But I digress.

Surprisingly more than two people survive and the hero doesn’t get the girl. In fact a shark eats the girl. No I’m not giving everything away because some of the twists in this movie are just too fun. I have to say that the writers, the director, the actors and everyone involved really did their very best to slip up and make a good movie. There were unexpected surprises, a plethora of different ways for people to die, which is horrible but it’s a creature feature, and a ton of special effects. It had better editing than The Lone Ranger and was overall, for what it was, a better movie. Sharknado was a bit gory but fun. K.

The Lone Ranger A Mostly Spoiler Free Review

The Lone Ranger movie poster

The Lone Ranger movie poster

The Lone Ranger movie poster

Let’s be honest here. I went into the theatre expecting a “play it safe” middle of the road movie that wouldn’t tax my perceptions or ask anything of me. All I expected was a lightweight summer entertainment movie. I was entertained. I was also pleasantly surprised.

While the basic movie is exactly what one would expect of The Lone Ranger, the writers and directors took it above the midline in several directions consistently throughout the entirety of the movie. The humor was well placed and well paced.

Johnny Depp as Tonto is brilliant and brilliantly witty. Unlike Jack Sparrow, the swashbuckling captain of the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean, Tonto is actually broken. It would be easy to dismiss Tonto as yet another quirky Depp character but there are significant differences. Jack Sparrow is always three to five steps ahead of everyone else. Tonto is mentally traumatized. Jack Sparrow has an effortlessness about him that makes it clear he’s actually in complete control of himself. Tonto is deliberate, lacking the effervescent nature of Jack Sparrow. Tonto’s wit is dry and understated. As for the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland that character was supposed to be mad and enjoy it. Tonto wasn’t mad.

It’s a good thing that Tonto is funny in this movie because there are some really dark moments and dark themes. There is the horror of what the settlers really did to the native people of America as well as the arrogance and implicit racism of referring to someone whose culture is different as a savage. The film takes this issue head on without beating it to death. I think it was deftly handled and adroitly illustrated.

The Lone Ranger, John Reed, (Armie Hammer) starts out as an almost stereotypical city slicker. He’s educated, genteel and has ideas about how the world should work that are correct in theory but don’t work out so well in practice. His brother Dan Reed (James Badge Dale) is the head Texas Ranger and good hearted while still understanding how things really work. He deputizes his brother as a ranger also.

A love interest (Ruth Wilson), potential love triangle is thrown in because there has to be a girl. This is one of the sub plots I felt the movie could have done without. The hero doesn’t always have to get the girl, and it doesn’t make him gay if he doesn’t—and so what if he was gay? Does it really matter all that much?

With the exception of the love interest, most of the other women in the movie were background extras. There was the train car full of church going women and the towns folk but they were really there as props. Well, except for Madam Red (Helena Bonham Carter) and her working girls. The madam has an ivory prosthetic leg that has a concealed shotgun in it. You know how this went down. Some idiot is sitting in a conference room with a bunch of other men brainstorming for ideas. Finally he says, “Oh! Oh! I got it! Let’s have a whore with a prosthetic leg that’s…wait for it…a SHOTGUN!” And all the other men agree because it’s cool, right? And then, to show what decent guys they are they give her a tragic backstory so she can help the Lone Ranger and Tonto get the bad guy later on in the movie. Actually I kind of liked her. She was spunky and well played.

Ok so there were some flaws. But they did not take over the movie. If the director (Gore Verbinski) and writers had committed to the Lone Ranger rather than hedging their bets with a retrospective type introduction, a few break-in scenes and ending, it would have been a far better movie. It’s a shame they didn’t trust the material. The 1933 fair scenes could have been cut entirely and they never would have been missed. They added nothing to the plot, the emotional connection (such as it was) or the overall story. They felt like an escape clause.

The dynamics between the Lone Ranger, Tonto and Silver are brilliant. Tonto is a world wise soul with a dry wit and a clear sense of what is going on. He also has an innate sense of what motivates people. John Reed, who becomes The Lone Ranger, has clearly led a sheltered life up until this point, is idealistic and determined to make the world conform to his vision of how things should work. Silver, the horse, is clearly the smartest one of the bunch.

John Reed becomes the lone ranger by the sheer fact of surviving an ambush. The main villain, Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) is probably certifiably insane and viciously mean too. Let’s just say that cannibalism is not something one would expect from the Lone Ranger serial of one’s youth. Thankfully they don’t show it, they just strongly imply it.

Tonto brings up the Windigo legend and it plays well throughout the movie. That a silver bullet is the only thing that can stop the Windigo, for example, is a brilliant explanation for why The Lone Ranger uses silver bullets. It was genius to show Tonto making silver bullets out of the badges of the fallen Texas Rangers. There was emotional power in that concept. I will say that while Tonto’s revelation at the end made sense and hinted at a healing within his broken psyche, dropping the Wendigo legend was kind of a shame. I liked it and they could have gone farther with it.

Themes of corruption in government, betrayal, greed and corporate malfeasance are the backbone of the plot and the forces against which the Lone Ranger and Tonto must stand. Corporate greed and lies lead to a terrible act of genocide in the movie. One of the things that struck me was how close to actual history the movie strayed in some scenes. What happened to the native peoples was an atrocity and this movie does not shy away from that. Nor does it shy away from how the most bigoted people, the cruelest people are sometimes the ones who pay lip service to god the loudest. While I’m sure it was true to history, hearing someone about to commit genocide ask for god’s help was unsettling at best. I doubt god is going to help with something like that.

There is a surprising depth to this film beneath its humor. Also the use of the traditional Lone Ranger theme music was a pleasant surprise. The use of the iconic music was almost a distraction but it played well into the overall tone of the movie.

Overall I found The Lone Ranger to be a decent movie that made no promises it didn’t keep in the end. It stayed internally consistent and while I might quibble with some choices, they did make sense for the characters involved. I would say The Lone Ranger is a delightful movie but not for young children. There are some dark themes and scenes in it. It needed the humor Depp brought to his role as Tonto; otherwise it would have been oppressive.

The Lone Ranger won’t change your life and it’s not the next summer blockbuster but it’s good solid entertainment. K.

News for M31 Publishing and War In Flesh

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

As you may have noticed I’m trying to expand M31 Publishing into a real, and interesting, Blog. I love science fiction, comic books, games of all kinds and a lot of things. I already have my tickets for Pacific Rim–the wait is KILLING me! Tomorrow I’m likely to drink some amazing beer and see The Lone Ranger (I know I shouldn’t want to see it but I kind of do). Thanks to my ties to The Geek Girl Project I’ve got an in with Titan Comics and thanks to Bob Eggleton I’ve discovered In Saturn’s Rings which I will keep track of and update you on. So check out www.M31Publishing.com for updates on all of this and War in Flesh as well as Second Chances and other books I’m working on.

What I’m finding is that people love to read about my garden. That works out well for me because I love to write about it.

I’m still publishing movie reviews on The Geek Girl Project. I’m reviewing the old Godzilla movies as well as doing a monthly series of movies called K.’s Guilty Pleasures. For all those old (and new) budget movies or just blockbusters that didn’t bust the block.

War In Flesh is coming along slowly but very well. I feel the stuff I’ve written since I rebooted it is very good. I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to really get some serious work done on it. I’m having more ideas for Second Chances too and I’m torn between working on War In Flesh and Second Chances. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. In The Flesh is available for your kindle on Amazon. K.