Having now watched “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!,” which premieres Wednesday on Syfy, I find myself in the position of having to write about it. And I am not sure which is worse, really, or even how to proceed — what standards to hold it to when an utter lack of standards is its raison d’etre.
There is a line of defense the movie throws up, a sort of camouflage, in which the purposely bad is blended with the actually bad, that makes the critic want to pack up his typewriter and repair despairing to the bar.
Let us entertain, for the sake of argument, the idea that Anthony C. Ferrante and writer Thunder Levin are masters of subtlety and that they have played here a conceptual prank of an exquisitely high order, a satirical triple bluff whose indistinguishable likeness to meretricious garbage is, in fact, the very signet of its cleverness and quality.
Notion entertained. Moving on.
Compared with what now seems the relative purity of the original “Sharknado” — just another entry in Syfy’s ongoing canon of self-knowing, semi-parodic C-pictures — and the celebratory victory lap that was “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” the new entry feels tired and cold. Not even the destruction of Washington, D.C., the set piece that fills the James Bond-ish, pre-credits opening, is much fun.
Ian Ziering returns as the chainsaw-wielding hero, along with Tara Reid as his formerly estranged wife, now with bionic hand and pregnant with their second child. Cassie Scerbo, a bartender in the first film, is back as a shark-tracking road warrior, assisted by Frankie Muniz as her lovestruck assistant. To him falls my favorite line, “Biometeorology is not really an exact science yet.”
They are joined by Bo Derek as Reid’s mother and David Hasselhoff as Ziering’s father, both of whom are famous for running on a beach; each has an air of being slightly stunned, as though being let out into the light for the first time in a while, though the Hoff comes around eventually to treating the film as his own starring vehicle.
And yet to warn you off seems pointless. You are going to eat this bag of candy if you want to, no matter what’s in it or what I say. You won’t care that much of the time it shills for NBCUniversal and Comcast products and personalities, with the “Today Show” cast back from “Sharknado 2" to Greek-chorus the action and much of the action set at the Universal Studios theme park in Orland, Fla.
Given the raised profile, much of it feels surprisingly cheap and inept — and not ironically cheap and inept, but thrown together, indifferently constructed from a script that could have been written in less time than the movie takes to watch. (The opening credits are the cleverest thing in the film.) Even the sharks, falling from the sky to dispatch or be dispatched with a pounding, gory dullness, seem somehow beside the point.
The amateur-hour feeling is heightened by the great number of cameos, a bizarre and strangely unimpressive agglomeration that includes Jackie Collins, Lorenzo Lamas, Lou Ferrigno, Anthony Weiner, Jerry Springer, George R.R. Martin, Penn & Teller, Grant Imahara and rich guy Mark Cuban, doing what amounts to a Bruce Campbell imitation, as the president of the United States, with Ann Coulter as the vice president.
Some will not be eaten, but none will emerge unscathed.
‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!’
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Rating: TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14)