'Sharknado 3': Has the fun gone out of the franchise?

The third 'Sharknado' movie premiered on Syfy on July 22, with stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid returning, and cameos by such personalities as Al Roker, Matt Lauer, and 'Game of Thrones' writer George R.R. Martin. A fourth movie is already planned.

'Sharknado 3' stars Ian Ziering.

A third installment in the “Sharknado” movie series premiered on July 22, on cable channel Syfy.

The original “Sharknado” film aired in 2013 and starred Ian Ziering of “Beverly Hills, 90210” as Fin Shepard, a bar owner who must step up in defense of his California town when a tornado picks up sharks. (I didn’t really need to explain a sharknado to you, did I?) Tara Reid of “The Big Lebowski” co-stars as his ex-wife. The film did fairly well in the ratings when it first aired, but when Syfy decided to air the movie again the same month, buzz over the film caused an increase in ratings from the first airing. When the movie aired a third time, it did even better in the ratings and the movie was screened in some theaters.

The 2014 film, “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” performed incredibly well ratings-wise, with the film taking the title of the most-watched Syfy original movie ever.

In addition to its ridiculous plot twists – in the first movie, Ziering’s character, Fin Shepard (yes, that name is correct), escapes from inside a shark using a chain saw – the movies became notable for their cameos, with reality star Kelly Osbourne, YouTube star Wil Wheaton, comedian Judah Friedlander, and NBC fixtures Matt Lauer and Al Roker, among others, appearing in the second film.

One thing Syfy has done well is get fans involved with the creation of the films. The network asked fans to submit ideas for the title of the second movie over Twitter and a planned fourth film will involve even more participation from fans. The character of April, portrayed by Reid, was in peril at the end of “Sharknado 3” and viewers were soon informed that only they could save her. “Now's your chance to be part of 'Sharknado' history," a voiceover said. "You decide if April lives or April dies… Her fate will be revealed in 'Sharknado 4.' Because we're not done yet.” Fans can tweet their choice or vote on the Syfy website.

However, some felt the cameos in the third “Sharknado” movie were a bit much and that product placement was nearly overwhelming. One critic wrote that the “flurry of familiar faces seems more forced than funny” and that an extended segment that takes place in Universal Studios Orlando (Syfy is owned by NBCUniversal, which also owns the park) causes the film to “serv[e] less as a comedy than as a travelogue for Universal Studios Orlando.” Another reviewer agreed, writing that “much of the time [the film] shills for NBCUniversal and Comcast products and personalities.” 

Nevertheless, that fourth movie is on its way. Earth can apparently never truly escape the menace of airborne sharks.

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