Monday, August 3, 2009
I just couldn't wait. I love disaster movies. Or used to. NBCs miniseries "Storm" was pretty bad, though. Starring former Dawson's Creek hottie James Van Der Beek, playing stud-disguised-as-geek per usual, I hung in there for part I, mostly because I could relate to a scientist that resembled Elvis Costello meets Ken. Or at least, wish I could. Complete with thick black rim Buddy Holly glasses, James really knows how to stand out in the crowd when the LAPD gets after him big time.
Van Der Beek's geek, Dr. Kirk Haffner, gets to play a smart pawn to Treat Williams over-the-top and out-to-lunch defense contractor wannabe, whose idea of national defense is to blow up the atmosphere. Never mind General So-and-So is totally in his pocket on this one, along with two really dumb young scientists who must have skipped class a lot, but sure know how to push those buttons.
Complete with kewl 1950s retro FX, Dr. Kirk has come up with a way to control the weather, which the DOD has big plans for, weapons-wise. And Treat Williams corporate killer won't take no for an answer. This guy wants that Blackwater contract bad, it seems--bad enough to kill all those unpatriotic people who question his judgement--people like Dr. Kirk, who suddenly thinks maybe he shouldn't be doing this kind of thing.
Meanwhile, Kirk's scientist sidekick has already blown open Pandora's hard drive and fired up those weather satelites big time, and blown some big holes in the ionosphere, letting in a lot of electricity. Or something. Really, really bad weather results, which of course nobody can control except maybe Dr. Kirk, but meanwhile he is on the run, because he's been framed.
Treat Williams and his expected gang of bad cops and generals are trying to kill Kirk for being, well, reasonable, and asking questions like, "Are you sure it's a good idea to um, destroy the atmosphere?" So most of the next hour or two of this four hour extravaganza will consist of chase scenes. They look like loops, actually, to save money. The same chase scene over and over-- of Kirk running down a blind alley. Did you ever notice how, in movies, the hero always runs straight down the middle of the street or alley, chased by speeding SUVs or cop cars, and he or she never, ever, thinks to, maybe, dodge to one side or the other?
So the chase is on, and every time, he is cornered by six cop cars, and every time, manages to escape once again by, um, running away. Only to be recognized instantly, by the next six cop cars, and get chased all over again. Tiring, really. I think it's those Buddy Holly glasses. They kind of stand out.
As always, there are subplots, of course, to this human interest story that should be about global warming and, well, isn't. There's the nice hispanic EMS tech, whose pregnant wife is, well, pregnant. LA is falling down around his ears thanks to killer lightning and stuff, but he's got plenty of time to drive her around, take her to the hospital (oops, false alarm) then back home, then around some more, in his ambulance, for which there seems to be little need, otherwise. Sure, an accident here, a fallen down building there. No big deal. Then there's the black National Weather Service guy, who's totally clueless. Why are there snowstorms in Honolulu? You got me. But he does want to get back with his girlfriend, the Miami bartender. Very human.
Then there's the female cop whose boss is in cahoots with the NSA and FBI who are trying to kill Kirk, which seems to her to be a bit excessive. Meanwhile, when things get really bad in Part II, the baddies decide to let Kirk fix the busted atmosphere first by reversing all that electricity back to wherever it came from. Too bad he can't reverse all those dead people, though. Still, with his looks, if anyone can do it, it'd be Dr. Kirk.
The other Hollywood convention I love and this movie totally has, is that no matter what kind of disaster it is--earthquake, typhoon, comet, meteor, tornado, volcano, tidal wave, etc. it always manages to take direct aim at poor old Los Angeles. I mean, what are the odds, in a world this size? So of course a direct hit of every kind of bad weather that ever existed is heading straight for L.A., and the pregnant EMI driver's wife has unwisely taken shelter with grampa in the basement of their valley ranch house which, for some reason, is filling with water (unlike, say, the L.A. River), and of course, in a wild coincidence, the wind has blown the bookcase over to exactly block the basement door, while meanwhile the bartender just has to go outside in the middle of 150 mph winds to see what's up, despite horizontal debris blowing past the size of truck bumpers (and will actually include truck bumpers). After ignoring Weather Man the whole show, this part has a nice touch to it. Girlfriend is willing to go back to Weather Boy if he'll drop everything and come hold her hand in her hurricane-beseiged bar in Miami (he's in L.A., remember). Which he somehow does, even though both cities are in the middle of a Category 5 at the time. Hey, love conquors all, I guess.
Anyway, EMI guy gets home in time, pregnant girl has her kid in the wet basement, grampie is rescued from somehow getting himself trapped underneath the water heater (it's sort of like going out into the garage and somehow the car falls down on you while you're walking by). Exciting stuff. All 40 minutes or so of it (to balance out the car chases).
Oh, there's also the two bad guys with a really bad black SUV who machine gun everybody in sight, in order to protect National Security. The cute female cop gets them, in the end, by being a much better shot than them, even with them having AK47s and MAC 9s against just her and her .9mm police special.
Everybody's happy in the end, except the bad guys and all the dead people, and the insurance companies and FEMA, I suppose (though they aren't mentioned), since America and the World are pretty much trashed, and of course Treat Williams isn't happy at all because he doesn't even get his surefire no-bid defense contract for his really good weather weapon! Neither is the general very happy, since he's about to be arrested. So they'll get theirs. And the way Female Cop is looking at Kirk, James Van Der Beek is going to get his too. But then, what else is new?