Richard Moll tries hard, but effort alone does not a 'Sharknado' make
I am writing this review of Syfy's "Ghost Shark" because I want to get the name "Sharknado" in a headline for SEO purposes.
It's exactly this sort of blatant opportunism that would make me feel just a tiny bit unclean were it not for the simple fact that the only people with more invested in linking "Ghost Shark" and "Sharknado" in audience minds than online headline hounds are the good people at Syfy. "Sharknado" was a phenomenon that Syfy knows it can't regularly reproduce. The Twitter maelstrom generated by the "Sharknado" premiere was nice, but the word-of-mouth tsunami that followed and that generated the increasingly popular repeat airings and the very real injection of a nonsensical meteorological concept into the vernacular were the true achievements for Syfy. And just because "Ghost Shark" is no "Sharknado" in terms of genuine or guilty pleasure hasn't stopped Syfy from attempting chum up the waters in the hope that viewers will confuse the one with the other. Heck, "Ghost Shark" premieres on Thursday (August 22) night after yet another "Sharknado" encore.
As an occasional viewer of Syfy original movies, I can verify that there are tiers. "Sharknado" featured four or five vaguely familiar actors looking for career resuscitation and special effects of a caliber such that you were frequently able to tell what the CG blobs were supposed to be and what they were supposed to be doing. Over the course of the "Sharknado" running time, there were between five and 10 moments in which I laughed out loud, either due to sheer goofy inspiration or marvelous, fully committed awfulness.
You think that those expectations represent a low bar for achievement. You think that way until you watch the average Syfy original movie and realize how easy it is to fill 82 minutes with little more than a gleefully mutated title and hints at a plot to justify that title.
In the balance, "Sharknado" was somewhere in the vicinity of 50 percent great title and 50 percent execution, which is close to the Golden Ratio by Syfy standards. Anything more heavily weighted towards the title fails to deliver sustained buzz. Anything more heavily weighted towards execution costs more money than Syfy is willing to spend.
"Ghost Shark," in contrast, is probably closer to 75 or 80 percent "great title," with the execution lagging behind. That may not be better than some on the Syfy slate, but it's better than many and there are moments of fun here, even if they come way too early in the movie and set "Ghost Shark" up for a final act that fizzles.
[More after the break…]