Frenzy (2018) Film Review

SyFy movies have a history of having the most absurd ideas. With movies about sharks in tornadoes, ghost sharks, sharks with multiple heads, SyFy is not afraid to execute an idea regardless of how silly it may be. By SyFy standards, the concept of “Frenzy” sounds crazy. It is a shark movie without any gimmicks. “Frenzy” proves that an outlandish premise is not necessary to make an interesting shark movie.

The sharks in “Frenzy” have no special powers or unique qualities. They are just swimming around in the ocean, as sharks do. When a plane crashes into the water, the passengers must do whatever it takes to survive. At its core, “Frenzy” is about the struggle of being stranded at sea. Sharks just happen to be an unavoidable threat for these characters.

Throughout the ninety minute run time, “Frenzy” stitches a strong story together by regularly jumping from events happening out at sea to flashbacks. Usually providing a lengthy backstory is something that SyFy movies should avoid, but that is due to the caliber of acting in those movies. The actors in “Frenzy” provide solid performances that illustrate the desperation the characters are going through at sea. Flashback scenes are cheery, but each character has a distinct personality instead of portraying a stereotype. The acting makes it forgivable that shark scenes take a while to appear, but when they do, they are that much more suspenseful.

Discussing the plot in further detail would provide too many spoilers. Even though the premise is simple, “Frenzy” is better than many SyFy channel movies because of how great the acting is. I hope we see more movies like this in the future.

Santa Jaws (2018) Film Review

santaJawsPosterThis Santa is not handing out lumps of coal. He is coming to town and is eager to devour you and your entire family. He is Santa Jaws. Now that the Sharknado series is coming to an end, “Santa Jaws” is a missed opportunity by SyFy to create an annual Christmas event. Why is this movie premiering in August? While unusual for being a shark-themed Christmas movie, “Santa Jaws” also combines elements of fantasy that are typically absent from shark movies. Instead of focusing on these fantasy aspects and providing a jolly good time, “Santa Jaws” makes the worst mistake that a SyFy movie can make and spends too much time on dialogue.

The premise of this movie sounds familiar. A teenager wishes to be alone, away from his family on Christmas. Actually, this is where the similarities to “Home Alone” end. His wish backfires when he unknowingly brings his comic book, Santa Jaws, to life when he starts drawing with a magic pen that he receives. The comic features a shark wearing a Santa hat and Christmas lights wrapped around its body.

We are introduced to the comic book right away. The first two minutes of this movie are actually portrayals of panels from the comic and I wish the entire movie matched the craziness of this scene. Someone pulls a shotgun on a Santa threatening to push a lady into a docking bay with a shark. It is exciting, but does not set the tone for the rest of the movie which is more lighthearted.

The magic pen is underutilized. It is established that the pen can create money, women and cars. One attempt to to kill Santa Jaws is made by drawing a spear into his body, but the pen misinterprets the drawing and the shark ends up receiving a horn instead. It baffles me that the pen wasn’t used to draw insane weapons. Imagine if there was a ray gun that could turn Santa Jaws into a moose. Just toss realism out of the window when you have a pen that brings drawings to life.

Speaking of realism, while trying to find out where this movie was filmed I discovered that apparently the comic book store featured in this movie, Big Easy Comics, is actually a real store in Louisiana. I wonder if the store agreed for filming to take place there just so they can brag that they were featured in a movie regardless of how small the audience may be. It doesn’t seem like the easiest way of promoting a store.

Maybe this is the start of a new trend for shark movies on SyFy where they combine sharks with a holiday or season. Could we possibly see “Spring Sharkers”? “Santa Jaws” offers a couple of unique moments such as a shark getting stabbed in the eye with a candy cane and a montage featuring the song “Ave Maria”, but these scenes are too short compared to the amount of excruciating dialogue that it is difficult to recommend this movie.

Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018) Film Review

deepBlueSea2PosterIt took 19 years, but “Deep Blue Sea” has received a sequel. Overshadowed by the release of “The Meg”, SyFy kicked off Sharknado Week this Sunday night with the television premiere of “Deep Blue Sea 2”. The sea is deep. The sea is blue. There is an underwater facility that gets infiltrated by sharks. Imagine “Alien”, but with sharks and nowhere near as suspenseful or good.

I would make a joke about how while underwater, no one can hear you scream, but a guy yells at a shark while diving and repels it. I would also like to point out that the same character drinks a vial of undisclosed liquid which causes his vision to temporarily fade into what I can only describe as a low-rate version of the intro from Breaking Bad. I found it funny, but I don’t think it is done for laughs. As far as shark movies that air on SyFy go, this is a solid choice. The main problem that “Deep Blue Sea 2” suffers from, aside from not having anything to do with the first movie, is that it has to live up to the scene in “Deep Blue Sea” where Samuel L. Jackson gets eaten by a shark. How do you top that?

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016) Film Review

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens cover“Sharknado: The 4th Awakens” had me wondering how it was possible to top sharks in space being sliced in half by laser swords. The answer is to provide ninety minutes of nonstop action. Despite the Star Wars pun in the title, the latest entry in the Sharknado franchise still takes place on Earth. There are still new ways that sharks can wreak havoc and even more absurd ways to kill sharks. Did you know it is possible to blow up the Grand Canyon? This movie gets crazy in a fun and cheesy way. Prior viewings of the other three Sharknado movies are required to get the most enjoyment out of “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens” as there is continuity between the movies that will make the plot easier to follow. Fans of Sharknado will find a lot to like here.

This movie takes place five years after the events of “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!”. A company has developed a way to stop all forms of tornadoes. I was worried when the camera panned to a research facility as it is always a boring plot device in Asylum movies. Luckily, not a lot of screen time is spent on the research facility. What we do get to see is some Iron Man-like propulsion devices and mech suits that foreshadow some of the crazy weapons that will be seen later in the movie.  The movie wastes no time getting to the action, even using a Star Wars crawl at the beginning as exposition.  The protagonist is still Finn Shepherd who just seems to have no luck with experiencing good weather conditions. While he is at a Shark themed hotel in Las Vegas a tornado forms. All of the technology developed to stop tornadoes cannot prevent this one. The tornado reaches the hotel and creates a sharknado. This happens about five minutes into the movie and the action does not stop from there.

If there is one complaint I have about the beginning of the movie, it is the opening credits. “Sharknado 3” ended on a cliffhanger that left the fate of one character in jeopardy. The name appears in the opening credits, sort of ruining the mystery. Also, this character was featured in the trailer. It could have possibly been a clone as cloning people does not seem like a far-off reality in these movies, but after watching this movie, I can confirm that it is not a clone. I get why the name has to be included, but considering that continuity is something Sharknado movies try to focus on, I would have thought there would be more secrecy about this character’s outcome.

Once again, there are plenty of celebrity cameos. A quick Google search will bring up a complete and in-depth list, but one cameo that sticks out is Steve Guttenberg. He makes a reference to “Lavalantula” which confirms my suspicion that the universes of Lavalantula and Sharkndo are connected. Ian Ziering’s cameo in “Lavalantula” was not enough proof for me at the time. While on the subject on cameos, it is baffling that Alfonso Ribeiro did not make an appearance. Maybe what I should be wondering is why Alfonso Ribeiro keeps appearing in commercials as a stunt driver for the movie.

Anyways, “Sharkndo: The 4th Awakens” delivers on what makes the other Sharknado movies entertaining to watch, absurd action. Can the magic be repeated with the next installment? I hope so.

Shark Night (2011) Film Review

“Shark Night” sure does sound like the title of a SyFy channel movie. This movie was actually released in theaters as “Shark Night 3D”. So there must be a lot of blood spewing action if “3D” was added to the title, right? Not with a PG-13 rating. The action is toned down to the point that there is hardly any to watch. “Shark Night” attempts to have a compelling story, but it just doesn’t work that well. If you want a good shark movie, look somewhere else.

This movie starts off with a scene that shows some college-aged people getting attacked by a shark at a lake. This looks promising, but it is just a ploy to get some sharks on the screen. It has no impact on the story at all. It takes a solid thirty minutes before anything remotely exciting happens.

“Shark Night” follows a group of Tulane University students that go for a trip to a girl’s house on a lake. There is a driving montage, a trip to a store and and a boating montage. Not a lot happens. This would be slightly more acceptable if the characters were likable, but they are just annoying stereotypical college students. When a shark finally appears at the lake, instead of there being a sense of peril, I thought to myself good riddance.

After the shark attack, the story takes a turn when the ex-boyfriend of one of the girls shows up. It becomes apparent that he cannot be trusted and is out for revenge. Also, there is a sheriff that wants to make shark snuff films. This detail is revealed just as abruptly in the movie. The intricate plot that this movie is trying to establish could have worked if the characters were stronger. It still would not have been very good, but it would have been better.

“Shark Night” is a bad movie. There should be a movie called “Shark Knight”. Imagine how fun that movie would be. A shark with a suit of armor!

Ozark Sharks (2016) Film Review

The best SyFy channel movies are the ones that do not take themselves seriously. “Ozark Sharks” is an over the top movie that tells the simple story of a family camping trip to a lake gone horribly wrong. There is hardly a break from the action. Every scene is moving the plot forward to finish the task at hand which is to kill all of the sharks at this particular lake. “Ozark Sharks” may not be an amazing name for a movie, but it is a SyFy channel movie that should not be missed.

Surprisingly, the strongest aspect about this movie is its characters which actually have identifiable personalities. Their personalities may not be particularly original, but they help keep the movie engaging when there are not sharks on the screen. The family consists of a father, a mother, a grandmother, a daughter and a son. The standout character in this family is the teenage daughter who behaves like Daria Morgendorffer, a bookworm that plans on reading throughout the entire family vacation. She goes from being unenthusiastic about the trip to a shark killing machine. She is played by Allisyn Ashley Arm who is apparently a former Disney Channel star that appeared in “So Random!” and “Sonny with a Chance”. Maybe “Ozark Sharks” just has better actors/actresses in comparison to the other movies featured during Sharknado Week. I mean, the mother, played by Laura Cayouette, appeared in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” and “Django Unchained”.

The family is assisted by a crazy, old shopkeeper that is over-prepared for everything. His solution to keep mosquitoes away is to shoot them with a shotgun before they have the chance to touch his skin. He has a warehouse filled with weapons that might as well be for the zombie apocalypse. There are massive shotguns, pitchforks made from machetes and a ninja sword with two blades just to name a few of his weapons. This family is going to need them all because killing sharks isn’t easy. The variety in weapons makes the shark kills unpredictable. Sharks are killed with flare guns, fireworks and even a wood chipper. It is a lot of fun to watch.

“Ozark Sharks” is a fun movie. The tone of the movie is generally lighthearted, well as lighthearted as you can get for a movie where sharks tear people’s limbs off. This is how SyFy channel movies should be. You would think at this point these movies would have taken a message from the success of “Sharknado” and just be as crazy as possible and deliver as much action as possible. This movie certainly took that message.

Planet of the Sharks (2016) Film Review

My imagination went wild when I heard the title “Planet of the Sharks”. Was there going to be talking sharks? Was there going to be sharks that live on land? That seems like it would require more production values than SyFy channel movies are capable of. With that title, I surely would have expected sharks. “Planet of the Sharks” is a contender for the SyFy channel shark movie with the least amount of sharks.

“Planet of the Sharks” takes place on an Earth that is entirely covered by water. Villages have somehow been constructed on top of the ocean using wood. Where did the supplies come from? After seeing a village get destroyed by sharks, we are introduced to a research facility crew that will be the main focus of the movie. Even in a reality where everything is destroyed, the Asylum just had to include a research facility. Ugh.

So these researchers are developing a laser to shoot that will fix the Earth’s weather conditions and create land masses. The crew needs a few more supplies to finish the laser and seeks help at a village called Salvation. This village is led by a woman that follows tribal rituals. She offers supplies on the condition that the four hundred people living there are escorted somewhere safer. A deal is made and she gets a couple of villagers together so that they can play music and dance. The village is then attacked by sharks and destroyed. I guess everyone living there is now dead.

At this point, the movie becomes difficult to understand. The research crew wants to blow up a volcano so they send someone in a helicopter to get to an underwater volcano. The helicopter is destroyed in the air by a shark. So now they have to find a way to bomb a volcano and fire a laser and everything will be saved. Does that sound exciting? It isn’t. Eventually things got so boring, I began wondering when the last time I saw a shark was. This is inexcusable for a shark movie, especially one called “Planet of the Sharks”.

It is said in the movie that the sharks can communicate electromagnetically. The sharks, or maybe just one shark, it is not really clear, have blue lines across their faces that are reminiscent of the box art of “System Shock 2”. This is an aspect that I wish “Planet of the Sharks” had focused more on. Then it would really seem like sharks have taken over the world.

The plot of this movie is difficult to follow, the acting is terrible and the action scenes are not exciting. There are no redeeming qualities to “Planet of the Sharks”. Avoid this movie.

Ice Sharks (2016) Film Review

“Ice Sharks”. What happens on that one? Sharks swim through ice. It’s a shame that there are only three scenes where that actually happens. When sharks cut a circle in the ice that sends a research facility one hundred feet deep into the ocean, “Ice Sharks” becomes a movie about escaping and getting to safety. The sharks still pose a threat, but there is nothing special about them. There is nothing special about this movie.

When Asylum movies incorporate a research facility into the plot, you should be mentally preparing yourself for boring dialog. “Ice Sharks” is no exception. The first half of the movie, the half before the research facility sinks, is mostly dialog. There are a couple of action scenes outdoors, but they go by way too quickly. Going outdoors does very little to alleviate the boredom. The harsh weather conditions of the Arctic results in having to stare at a lot of gray. The sterile research facility has more color.

This movie has a logic flaw with regards to swimming in the Arctic Ocean. Near the start of the movie, a researcher is attacked by a shark and falls into the water. He makes it out and is rushed back to the research facility to prevent hypothermia. Further into the movie, once the facility is underwater, hypothermia appears to no longer be an issue. The researchers swim in the ocean with only one worry, sharks.

“Ice Sharks” should have focused more on sharks that can swim through ice. The movie starts off boring and gets slightly less boring. It is not the worst Asylum/SyFy channel movie I have watched, but I would not recommend watching it.

Dam Sharks! (2016) Film Review

The creators of “Airplane vs. Volcano” are back with a movie for Sharknado Week. “Dam Sharks!”, or according to IMDB, “Dam Sharks”, is a SyFy channel movie about sharks that use human bodies to build dams. This sounds like a crazy idea and would be even crazier if it was not revealed that the dams are mostly constructed with wood with human remains stuffed between the gaps. Still, there are dams and there are sharks. That’s all that the movie really needs. There is no need for unnecessary dialog. As far as SyFy movies go, you can do much worse.

“Dam Sharks” feels like two movies that are awkwardly joined together. Half of the time is spent focusing on a park ranger who is trying to get rid of sharks inhabiting a river after seeing a scuba diver get torn to shreds. The other half of the movie is about employees from a company taking a day off of work to do some team building exercises in the wild. These scenes are campy which makes them easier to watch, but I do not want to watch employees shoot paintballs at each other, I want to get to the shark action. The characters are forgettable except for one guy that is so cool that he has to take off his sunglasses to reveal his sunglasses. Eventually, the plots cross paths once the employees decide to go rafting.

The shark action in “Dam Sharks” is absurd and that is the way it should be. Sharks routinely appear to jump twenty feet into the air to kill people at the water’s surface. The plan to get rid of the sharks is to destroy the dams. I don’t quite understand how destroying the dams will kill the sharks, but it’s probably best not to question it. Also, the park ranger must be terrible at her job. How can so many people be killed in that river without her or anyone else noticing? Anyways, the plan to destroy the dams is to do it Sharknado style and blow them up. That sounds like a great plan. Taking a boat in shark infested waters to get to the dams, not so much.

This may be the first movie to use the term “Sharknado Week”. While I would prefer not to hear the term in any of these movies again, I enjoy that it is self-aware and does not try to take itself too seriously. In the end, “Dam Sharks” does not live up to the legacy of “Airplane vs. Volcano”, but it is still more entertaining than most SyFy channel movies.

Share Music from Spotify using Facebook Messenger…Again!

Multiple sources earlier today were reporting on a new Facebook Meesenger feature that allows users to easily share songs and playlists from Spotify.  This is a new feature?  I have conversations in Facebook Messenger from four years ago that are integrated with Spotify’s messaging features.

Okay, so maybe it is a new feature for the Facebook Messenger mobile apps, but why is it executed so poorly?  The feature is buried within a menu to view more options in a conversation.  How often do people bother to look at those options?  Sending music is straightforward which is great.  Just type what you are looking for and hit send.  Opening the messages is trickier than it needs to be however.

Spotify on Facebook Messenger

Album artwork is on full display when a message is sent.  It looks nice, but it is just an image.  Tapping on the artwork enlarges it instead of launching the Spotify app.  Users need to press the button that says open to listen to the song.  I guess that makes sense, but it is such a small area to tap.  Good luck trying to listen to music on your computer, that button is missing entirely.

Sptofy messages on a desktop
Spotify is just text, the album artwork is just an image. How do I listen to it?

What happened?  It seems like a glaring oversight to reduce functionality in a desktop browser.  The messages I sent from Spotify four years ago have the songs sent as links in my Facebook inbox and can be opened on just about any device.  This should be the case with the feature that just rolled out.

I shared a song to someone on my Facebook friend list using the Spotify desktop client tonight.  The song did not appear in his Facebook inbox.  Maybe that functionality was removed like most of the other Spotify related features on Facebook.  What happened to the music notes next to names on Facebook Messenger to let you know when they were listening to music?  How about that Open Graph app that tracked listening activity?  Actually, that doesn’t matter since it was an inferior version of