Friday, December 27, 2013

Movie Review - Meltdown: Days of Destruction

Yesterday, I reviewed "Alien Uprising" and said it wasn't the worst of the movies I'm watching in this end of the year science fiction movie marathon. "Meltdown: Days of Destruction" is certainly worse.  I couldn't find a larger version of a poster so you'll just have to squint.

A big rock is whooshing through space, seeming headed right for planet Earth. Luckily a bunch of plucky scientists are sitting around with computers, aiming a nuclear tipped rocket at the rock. The chief scientist is worried. Apparently, the rock is actually going to miss Earth. He's afraid that hitting it with a 40 megaton explosion might be a bad idea. He tries to convince his boss that he should call off the denotation, that the company (this is apparently a private enterprise, not the governmnment) has demonstrated it's capabilities. But the scenery chewing boss is more concerned with giving the 'public' a big show. Of course, the bomb explodes, the rock splits up and one big piece, is now directly aimed at Earth. How big you ask? "Is as big as Iceland big enough for you!" exclaims the chief scientist (who's name, by the way, is Nathan). As luck would have it, the rock only grazes the atmosphere and skips off back into space. Whew!  Wait a minute, not so fast. Ignoring any sort of actual science, the story takes an ominous turn.  The rock pushes the Earth out of orbit and closer to the sun. Meltdown!

Meanwhile, back in the big city (Vancouver, standing in for the big city) Officer Tom (the studly guy on the poster) and his partner are on a stake out which unexpectedly turns into a gun battle. When they subdue the bad guys, there's a flash in the sky which they don't pay much attention to.

The next day, temperatures start to raise. "I thought it was April" says Tom's sweaty partner. On TV, they helpfully explain that there is an unexpected heat wave. CGI fires are breaking out all over the city, people are rioting, crime is up, power is out, it's crazy out there. Tom and his partner head over to the TV station where Tom hopes to get help from his television reporter girlfriend, Carley. I'm not sure what kind of help he was hoping to get but almost immediately they hear of yet another fire and Tom and his partner head out. A building is engulfed in flames with valiant firemen playing water on it. A crowd of angry people have gathered with buckets and are prepared to beat up the firemen to get the water. This is only a day after the bomb went off. How have things gotten so desperate so quickly. Well, the movie is only 90 minutes long so the director had to move things along.

Tom tries to break up the near riot, just as Carly arrives with a camera crew. Then the water from the hoses stops. Over the police radio they hear that the mayor is giving up and it's every man for themselves. Somewhere along the line, they picked up Nathan, the scientist, who just happens to be Carly's brother. He's got a friend who is flying down from an Arctic weather station to pick him up. He'll take them all. But first they have to pick up Tom's ex-wife, Bonnie, a doctor at the local hospital who we met earlier and their 17-year-old daughter, Kimberly. Kimberly is at home with her ex-con boyfriend CJ who is protecting her from looters just as the rest of the crew shows up.

Most of the rest of the movie concerns their slow-motion crawl across the city. Nathan is helpfully carrying a thermometer (It's now 121!). Carrie, seeing how Bonnie looks at Tom wants to have relationship talks every time she got a moment alone with Tom. Tom continuously sneers at CJ for having the effrontery of being his daughter's boyfriend, even though he seems to be the only one with any sense this group. They lose their car when it gets so hot that the gasoline in the tank blows up. Nathan get's kidnapped by some guys in a car that's been rigged so that the air conditioning is piped into the engine to keep it cool.

Nathan is kidnapped, of course, because he's got the friend with a airplane coming to rescue him. It's not clear how the bad guys knew about this or managed to arrange the kidnapping. The rest of the gang goes to a nearby police impound where Tom conveniently knows is a refrigerated truck. CJ, who may be an ex-con, but is apparently a master auto mechanic. He and Tom rig up the truck so that the refrigeration system cools the engine. CJ wants to tell Tom how much he loves his daughter but Tom isn't having it.

Anyway, they all finally get to the airport. Nathan is on the radio with his buddy to guide him to the airport. But it's so hot, his airplane explodes. Nathan manages to hide this fact from the bad guys when Tom and company arrive and get the drop on them. Nathan gets shot in the leg, CJ gets shot in the arm and the chief bad guy gets shot by Tom and the other bad guys run off.

In a scene that illustrates how slowly this movie moved (except of course for the Earth getting knocked from orbit), the chief bad guy lethargically hauls himself upright and carefully takes aim at the back of Tom's head. Carley sees him and yells "Tom!". Tom, as in a dream, turns around, takes aim and shoots the bad guy dead. OK, they are all safe, except that the world is burning to a cinder around them.

Earlier in the movie, Kimberly had asked Nathan how this happened. He explains about the rock, etc. She asks what can be done. Nathan says that maybe, the other planets, in some sort of solar system solidarity, would pull the earth back into it's proper orbit. How will we know? Kimberly sensibly asks. Nathan explains that so much moisture is being evaporated that when the temperature begins to return to normal it will start to rain. Perhaps the only bit of real science in the entire movie.

So our heroes are in the airplane hanger, contemplating their fate and attempting to treat several gunshot wounds when Kimberly perks up. She hears something! She runs out side! It's raining!  They all go out and dance in the rain (the sun is also shining brightly) and the credits roll.

You may recognize Tom as Casper Van Dien, from 1997's "Starship Troopers". He's worked a lot since then but in movies you never heard of like "The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation".  He did an OK job as the studly policeman. Carly was played by Stefani von Pfetten. She was actually pretty good but all she was really given to do was anguish over her relationship with Tom. In the midst of the end of the world. She hasn't gotten much work since then. Kimberly was played by Amanda Crew who has gotten a lot of work in little known movies. Ryan McDonell (CJ), Venus Terzo (Bonnie), and Vincent Gale (Nathan) have also had a ton of work. When you think about it, considering all the TV shows and how many movies are made each year. I guess there is plenty of work for actors like these. They are never going to be big stars but at least they have interesting jobs.

Next up" "Stranded" with Christian Slater.

No comments: