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'Sharknado 2: The Second One' is not as good as the first one (sorry)

Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) battles a shark on

Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) battles a shark on a New York City subway in "Sharknado 2: The Second One." Photo Credit: AP / Syfy

"Sharknado 2: The Second One" arrives in home theaters everywhere Wednesday night and a backlash -- har har -- seems inevitable. ("Har har" because, can there be such a thing as a backlash against "Sharknado?")  The reason is that Syfy couldn't possibly replicate the success of the first or at least replicate the conditions that lead to that success: Quiet summer night, five hundred channels, nothing on; Damon Lindelof had a Twitter account (and used it ...).

It was as if a million people on Twitter, casually trolling for a diversion, suddenly discovered the Disaster Epic -- or some monstrous bastardization of it -- in one blazing instant, all of them then turning to Syfy to prove their agility at clever one-off tweets that made fun of sharks and the tornadoes that spawned them.

"Sharknado" was essentially a flash mob event. You simply can't repeat those sorts of things, and when you try, failure is a given.

"The Second One" tries, by proceeding down what is probably the only possible avenue -- the spoof. The problem with spoofs, however, is that Syfy is essentially taking the original joke -- which wasn't meant to be a joke, which made it an even better joke -- and turning it into a series of more elaborate jokes, with more head-fakes, punchlines, sight gags and riffs.

Everything is meant to be conspicuously funny, or at least hold out the promise of being conspicuously funny, but that which is not funny then tends to occupy a special and unwelcome place in the film as dead space: Long, languorous chatty sequences without sharks, action or any reason for being, other than to fill time between commercials. Spoofs are fine, of course, and there are some great ones out there -- "The Second One" a in direct homage to "Airplane!," which itself was a send-up of that glorious '70s cultural excrescence, the disaster epic, as exemplified by films like "Jaws" and "Airport." 

The original "Sharknado" didn't consciously set out to make fun of disaster epics, but was instead a mock-serious execution of the disaster epic, based on the simplest of ideas: Sharks sucked up into tornadoes (and the resulting hell that would rain down on the good and unsuspecting people of Los Angeles). It worked because it was so outrageous and because it trod along that fine line that separates complete idiocy from complete hilarity.

 In other words, "Sharknado" took itself seriously. "The Second One" doesn't -- at all.

Don't worry, "'Nado" fans: There are a few good lines, a decent opening sequence, some amusing and appropriately gross sight gags. (Check back with me on your thoughts concerning Fin's touching ring ceremony.)

Best of all, it even makes fun of a pivotal scene in Damon Lindelof's "Prometheus." I'm not sure I should tell you exactly what it is, but it involves a giant rolling head, which directly and amusingly invokes the giant rolling spaceship in "Prometheus," which millions of fans gave poor Damon such a hard time over.

So "The Second One," in one key sense, is in homage to Lindelof, who got the "Sharknado" phenom going in the first place. Damon, by the way, is no longer even on Twitter. 


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