Sharknado 2: The Second One – while promoting their new ‘How to survive a Sharknado’ book, Fin and his ex-wife April get caught up in an even bigger storm in New York City. Due to the runaway success of the first movie everyone wants a bite: it’s cameo city with a distracting number of ‘famous’ people clambering over each other for lines and gory deaths; the camera lingers on extras that feel like crowbarred in Z-list celebrities; and more cynically, some big brands have waded in NY Mets, Subway, The Today Show… On an unrelated note, an extremely large proportion of the cast have wrinkle-and-expression-free crazy facelift faces. It’s not all bad though: the effects have improved big time, the action is far more outrageous, and it feels more ambitious than the original – pushing the ‘Sharknado‘ idea further, and getting more mileage out of the concept. Despite continuing to break almost every continuity rule known to cinema – it’s surprisingly fun to watch and has a few laugh-out-loud moments, like the absurd shark info graphics on weather reports. Sharknado 2 is still a SyFy straight-to-dvd ‘film’ – the DVD even opens with a ‘Stonado’ trailer (replace hungry sharks with exploding stones!) – but it’s bigger, better, dumber, funnier, and more enjoyable than its predecessor.
B-movie Score: 7/10
– Home Run
– Bat Impalement
– Chainsaw’d in half
– Machine Gunned
– Angry Mobbed
– Super-Soaker Flamethrower
Big Man Japan (大日本人 Dai Nipponjin): every time a monster appears and threatens the nation, ‘Big Man Japan’ is called upon to fight it off. A mockumentary superhero movie like no other, this is part monster-fighting CGI and part humdrum, everyday issues of an off-duty superhero – wage concerns, pension problems, the effects on your family – all quite quirky and different. There’s a few really gutsy / interesting lines, one in particular about Japanese people not being “anti-American”, but being brought up ‘a little bit like that’ – very interesting, and something that’s very rarely addressed in other movies. There’s a streak of very bizarre – absurd – humour that runs through the movie. There’s not a lot of laugh out loud moments, (mostly very, very low-key, mumbly, superdry dialogue) but when they pop up, they are really funny. The films looks like it’s heading towards a classic showdown, when it – for no apparent reason – changes into an Ultraman / Power Rangers type TV show spoof; which doesn’t really match the rest of the movie and feels like a stupid way to end it. The premise is completely brilliant, but instead of doing it justice, the film feels like it’s concentrating more on it’s genre-ending message that Japan doesn’t really want to tolerate any more monster movies.
Sympathy for Mr Vengeance: A deaf guy must secure a kidney transplant for his dying sister, two tales of vengeance on a grand scale follow. While this is hardly the most uplifting story in the world the way it’s presented, and the way in which it develops, elevates this far beyond your average drama. It’s very well-shot with smart, striking visuals that intensify the story. The editing and lighting are very also slick – one scene with Song Kang-ho stands over an autopsy table and his skin goes from natural to red as a rib cage gets cracked open is is more unsettling than full-on gore. There’s some absolutely riveting, unforgettable scenes throughout, particularly towards the end when the story spirals into poetic tragedy. It’s also very smart, with some black humour and witty lines – one punchline about a crash is delivered about 40 minutes after the set up, unfortunately it would be lost on some. It’s raw, powerful, and there are a few scenes of no-holds-barred violence, but don’t let that put you off. The biggest selling point is the powerful story and how it’s told, piece by piece – very little is explained at the time but all key plot points are be added to later in the film. As part of the Vengeance trilogy (alongside Oldboy and Mrs Vengeance) it kicks off the set in style. Great film with great performances all round.
Note: In January 2010 news of a Warner Bros re-make was in the works, I just hope it folds like the Oldboy project.