November 24, 2008

The Suck Zone


You know, I have developed something of a taste for truly awful made-for-tee-vee tornado disaster movies. I rejoiced in the terrible Night of the Twisters. I howled at the pathetic Atomic Twister. But last evening I wasted two perfectly good hours absolutely F-5'd by what has to be the single worst twistah flick ever made: SciFi's NYC: Tornado Terror.

The "plot" involves the formation of an upper atmosphere monstah storm - akin to Jupiter's Red Eye - over Noo Yawk City. (Why does it form, you ask? All together, now: GLOBAL WARMING!!!) Anyhoo, the effect is to start screwing with the weather directly beneath it. First it's incomprehensible wind-shear encountered by aircraft. Then it's clusters of cute n' cuddly little dust devils that suddenly morph into ginormous ice-spewing tornadoes. (It occurred to me that Kurt Vonnegut might want to call his copyright lawyers.) The set piece of the thing is a twistah that comes out of nowhere and rips the arm off the Statue of Liberty.

Combating this freakish weather, which will only get worse if somebody doesn't DO something, are a husband and wife meteorlogical duo. They have a much healthier relationship and steadier career paths than Bill and Jo Harding, both working for the Mayor. Despite, the collective skepticism of their boss and the entire Fed'ral guv'mint, they know - they KNOW - that the only thing that's gonna stop this behemoth is a cloud-seeding program developed by a whacked-out 'Nam vet who lives in Joisey. (The guy spent his time fighting the 'Cong by making it rain on them. Really. And in a nice dig, he gets to put in a line about how he'd like to make it rain in Baghdad.) Of course, the Mayor and the NOAA people try to do it their way first, but of course, only wind up making things worse. (Curiously, though, the actual twisters disappear about half way through the movie. The big climactic danger scene involves lightning instead. Lots of lightning. Big forks of it and eeeeeevil little balls that wander through hallways seeking whom they would fry.)

Oh, there are a couple little subplots as well: The niece of the weather chick and some hunky firefighter (who also seems to have earned a Masters somewhere) get caught in a tunnel when Lady Liberty's arm comes tumbling down. After wandering around for a while, her aunt and are rescued. Oh, and the weather dude doesn't want children at the beginning of the story, the sole source of friction between our heroes. At the end, he does.

And how does the end turn out? Is there some particular climactic weather event? Some veritable F-6 Middle Finger of God fixing to charge straight into Midtown? Nope, the army vet dude shoots off his rockets, and the weather duo, looking at their computer monitors, exclaim in relief, "Oh, the system's moving away! Hooray."

And that's pretty much it.

As for production quality, let's just say that cast and dialogue merited each other. Cardboard meets cartoon balloons.

Oh, one other point: The very first victims at the beginning of the flick are a curly-haired little boy and his rich black father. Their private jet gets caught in sudden clear-air turbulence and splashed into the harbor after the boy calls Mom to tell her he's being brave. Later on, a couple of professional dog-walkers meet up in Central Park. Tying their charges to a pole, they sneak off for a little canoodling behind a wall. There is a sudden collective yelp. They look around and discover, to their horror, that the pooches have been sucked right out of their collars and blown away.

Note to SciFi: Killing off cute children, successful minority dudes and pets is not going to win you any viewer sympathy. What the hell were you thinking?

All in all, if you're looking for some truly sucky entertainment, look no further because This Is It.

Posted by Robert at November 24, 2008 01:19 PM | TrackBack

Sounds like someone saw the Statue of Liberty decapitation scene from Cloverfield (or Escape From New York) and said "how can I rip this off without being too obvious?"


Posted by: Jay Tea at November 27, 2008 05:59 AM