It’s the End of the World as We Know it

Supervolcano and End Day are currently available on instant Netflix.

Supervolcano

 

Supervolcano (2005) – TV-PG

This explosive docudrama imagines what would happen if the supervolcano on which Yellowstone National Park sits erupted.”

Standard advice to people was that they store enough food and water for three days. Today is day three.”

Other than die-hard doomsday fans, I am unsure who this is made for. I will say that I was thankful that this wasn’t an Asylum production. In some ways, it is anti-Asylum. The special effects however are exactly what you would expect from Asylum – namely serviceable but about a decade behind current norms. This is intercut with a fair amount of actual volcano footage.

Supervolcano is listed as a BBC series but it is actually only an hour and forty-five minutes total, broken into two parts. The first part gives us an overview of Yellowstone, an introduction to our scientists, a fair amount of discussion of other volcanic events, and the growing threat of an eruption. The second part is obviously the eruption along with the aftermath.

While the special effects are nothing to write about, the scenarios are handled in a fairly realistic manner and the graphics support that. It doesn’t try to stuff every possible type of volcanic activity and phenomena into one movie (Dante’s Peak) and it doesn’t use man-made landmarks for sensationalism (Volcano).

This is done as a docudrama so don’t expect it to focus on individual stories of heroism. If you want that, wait for San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson. While they get some things right, I did have to laugh when they mentioned evacuating the President to a bunker in Florida. As anyone who lives in Florida knows, the water table is high enough to prevent basements in most areas, much less a bunker. Also BBC, no one in the US would give a distance in kilometers.

Acting is of course way better than anything the Asylum has ever put out but that is not saying much.

End Day

End Day (2005) – Not Rated

A fictional scientist travels from London to New York experiencing a multitude of doomsday scenarios, about which various experts provide commentary.

Another disaster docudrama from BBC, End Day is less than an hour long. In this time, writer and director Gareth Edwards constructs a series of disaster scenarios and links them in Groundhog Day style. A scientist wakes up in the morning and, during the course of trying to get from London to New York, encounters a disaster. He then wakes up back in his motel room and the day starts again with a different disaster encountered. Edwards even acknowledges his source by having Groundhog Day listed on a marquee. These are Edwards first writing and first directing gigs. He has gone on to write and direct Monsters and to direct the most recent Godzilla.

The disasters are all quick and dirty since each is only about ten minutes long, and that includes the repeat scenes of the scientist trying to get to New York. The first does not fit the doomsday storyline but is just a story of a tidal wave striking the East Coast, New York in particular. The others are potential doomsday events, leading up to our scientist arriving in New York to start up a Hadron like collider.

Both Supervolcano and End Day are strictly for those of us who are fascinated by the apocalypse. There are no characters to care about, no jaw-dropping special effects, and probably no particular extra knowledge to be gained.

Godzilla WYSIWYG

I took my wife to go see Godzilla this past weekend and then went again with my daughter on Monday.

Godzilla

 

Godzilla (2014) – Rated PG-13

The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

You’re not fooling anybody when you say that what happened was a “natural disaster,”. You’re lying! It was not an earthquake, it wasn’t a typhoon! Because what’s really happening is that you’re hiding something out there! And it is going to send us back to the Stone Age! God help us all…

Clearly an executive saw Gareth Edwards’ 2010 film, Monsters. He wanted that film, only he wanted Godzilla in it. Lo and behold, Godzilla 2014 was born. WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get. This Godzilla film is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a melding of Monsters with the Godzilla franchise.

Unfortunately that is not always a good thing. As with Monsters, the humans are the focus of the picture. While this is good from an audience sympathy perspective, it is terrible from a desire to see monsters smashing scenery point-of-view.

Instead of a normal three act structure, Godzilla consists of two parts. The first half deals with humans and no monsters at all are seen. Yes, opening credits aside, Godzilla neither appears nor is even discussed for almost the first half of the movie.

This is a shame because the trailer basically lies. It not only gives you the impression that there is plenty of monster violence but also that Bryan Cranston is the star. Bryan Cranston is easily the best actor in the film but his screen time is very limited. I think he is just an excuse to tide you over until monsters show up.

Unfortunately our lead actor is Aaron Taylor-Johnson. While I didn’t think he was bad in Kick Ass, he is absolutely terrible here. You know you have a problem when not one but two (not especially good) child actors are better than you. Ken Watanabe looks pained at every ridiculous line he has to utter.

The script is an utter mess, jumping through various logistical hoops to get Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) into every scene, from Japan to Hawaii to California. When his son is not with him to be placed in peril, another child is separated from his parents just so Ford can rescue him.

The second half features plenty of wonderful CGI and rock ’em, sock ’em monsters. This assumes you have managed to stay awake through the first part. Gareth Edwards has a lot of wonderful visuals. He also loves reflections in water, glass, mirrors, and visors. The monster action is seen up close (though not as close as Pacific Rim), in fog and smoke, via telecast, from overhead, etc.and is very inventive.

While the movie is a mess, has terrible acting, and is downright dull for the first half, I still really enjoyed the second half. Just concentrate on enjoying your snacks during the first half.