Disaster Wars: Earthquake vs. Tsunami (2013)

aka “Stormageddon” (which will get us loads of hits, because it’s also apparently a character from Doctor Who).

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When we reviewed “Captain Battle: Legacy War”, I dismissed the filmmakers as having contempt for their audience, and that they should be banned from ever getting anywhere near a set ever again. But, keep swimming in the fetid pool of low-budget cinema, and you encounter the same names, so that’s how I found myself watching yet another David Palmieri masterpiece, whose day job is grip / gaffer for “CSI” and occasional big-budget Hollywood films.

This one put me on the back foot, though. The first person we see is ISCFC Hall of Famer Reggie Bannister (the “Phantasm” series, “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp”), in charge of some mini-submarine which is doing something science-y. Luckily, the film quickly establishes its garbage bona fides by throwing in a guy on the surface who’s in charge of the winch cable. Pick the weirdest thing about him? It’s a tie between his complete indifference to the presumably incredibly expensive submarine he’s the lifeline for, and the fact that the boat that’s supposed to be their lifeline is tiny, has one guy on it and the winch is the same one that your average fisherman would use. Oh, and it’s supposed to be sat above some deep trench, when it’s obviously about 20 feet off the shore.

Sadness reigned when Reggie and his crew died, seconds after setting off a pulse – part of the experiment. This triggers an underwater earthquake which triggers a huge tsunami, and it’s heading right for the west coast of the USA. Turns out it was done deliberately, so a billionaire with a bunch of satellites could sell the solution (firing lasers into the ocean) to the US government and make a ton of money. Yes, really. While you’re guessing if his plan works out for him or not, I’ll move on.

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I try to give the super-low-budget films an easier ride when it comes to technical shortcomings, maybe a little with narrative shortcomings, but with some films literally all they are is a catalogue of mistakes, stupidity and laziness, and I would be remiss in my duty as a reviewer if I didn’t gleefully mock them all.

The tsunami wipes out Hawaii first, after they’re given about 30 seconds warning. This is the first of many, many timeline problems with the film, where short conversations will start in bright daylight and end in darkness; where the bad guy’s ship is apparently an hour or so tsunami-speed away from the coast of California, but a film crew can get to and from him with no problem almost instantaneously; and so on. I would find myself going “well, that wouldn’t work because…” and then stopping several times, because it’s just a futile exercise. I even started wondering if this was an elaborate joke at our expense.

No-one’s in a hurry. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, the biggest tsunami in the history of the world is due to hit California in 4 hours (at the beginning of the movie), and everyone just seems happy to have leisurely conversations, to stroll not run anywhere, and generally not to worry. This, admittedly, isn’t helped by the editing, where absolute nothing scenes are stretched to unbearable length – the crazy scientist with the plan that just might work is shown for what seems like an eternity, drinking a cup of coffee. My notes have “SPEED UP PLEASE” underlined and circled several times.

Last in this cavalcade of incompetence is under the heading “locations and general technical”. The military go to pick up a scientist to help them combat the tsunami, but he’s got no idea why, despite remembering later on. If you were a government specialist, wouldn’t someone mention this to you? Like, to give you clearance or something? The secret underground military base they take the scientist to is…I really can’t believe this isn’t a joke…on a normal city street, with a single wrought-iron fence guarded by a local police officer. The nerve centre of the base is a table, with the Vice President, two army guys, an army gal, a secretary and the scientist sat round it; the big computer screen is clearly a green-screen effect, and a bad one at that, because whenever the camera moves the graphics stay in exactly the same place.

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The sole half-decent actor is sadly subjected to a spot of general technical incompetence too. Jenny Allford is a regular in grade-Z cinema like this, despite being a bit too good for it all. She’s the villain’s assistant / lover, and in the time it takes her to walk from one side of his tiny boat to the other, she’s managed to change bikini from white to a sort of leopard-print. I feel sorry for her, as she’s obviously only there to be eye-candy (during a “press conference”, the screen is half taken up with the reporter in the middle distance, half with an extreme close-up of her ass). Well, I feel sorry for everyone who agreed to be in a film like this, but especially the women who are glorified props.

I could go on, but there seems little point. I beg you, dear reader, to avoid this film, and if there are any pyromaniacs reading this, I’ll send you the film company’s address and a box of matches. It’s another one of those films where the only question you’re left with is why? Why bother making any of this? Can they possibly have watched the final edit of this film and gone “yes, this is as good as we could have made it”? Who aside from a mug like me is spending money on this film? Is it a front for money laundering, because it can’t possibly be an attempt to make a good film?

Rating: thumbs down

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One thought on “Disaster Wars: Earthquake vs. Tsunami (2013)

  1. Pingback: Jersey Shore Massacre (2014) |

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