The West coast of Northern America suffers an unprecedented series of major earthquakes in a matter of days, puzzling seismologists, including Dr. Jordan Fisher's team. His maverick assistant Samantha Hill comes up with a theory, which they confirm on site, that a deep tectonic rift links them and is likely to sink most of California into the Pacific. The only imaginable countermeasure are subterranean nuclear explosions. Three succeed, one rather causes a new problem. Meanwhile federal and other authorities as well as various people wrestle with side-effects like landslides and cope with a huge refugees exodus.
Directed by: John Lafia
. Starring: Kim Delaney
, Fred Ward
, Ivan Sergei
, Dulé Hill
, Beau Bridges
, John Schneider
, Kaley Cuoco
, Rebecca Jenkins
, David Cubitt
, Brian Markinson
, John Cassini
, Kim Hawthorne
, Jill Krop
. Music by: Lee Holdridge
Well, what can I say about this load of rubbish that hasn't been said already? Perhaps one thing is that I was hoping for a decent made-for-TV movie, and only stumbled across this by luck (or bad luck, depending on which way you look at it!) as I just happened to spot it in a TV guide. Unlike the large amount of advertising this seemed to get in the US, there was practically nothing here (it was first shown in the UK on the 22 May). That was probably because it was awful!
I have seen my fair share of made-for-TV-movies, none of them classics, but some pretty good, like The Great Los Angeles Earthquake. Call me naive, but that was 14 years ago, and I was hoping that, following all the advances made in special effects since then, these would have been put to good use to produce really good effects, which was the main reason why I wanted to watch this. After watching the first 10 minutes of this, I was very disappointed.
In fact, it seemed to take a step backwards, actually make that several. The effects of the Seattle earthquake were pretty lousy, and that bloke on the BMX, what was he thinking, trying to beat the fall of the Space Needle? It seems obvious that he was made to do this for dramatic effect, but all I was thinking was - why not just turn and go off to the left or right of the path of the falling tower, and miss it completely? I also got really annoyed seeing things shake frequently in isolation to most other things in the background, like in Seattle I saw numerous glass-covered buildings with no sign of even a solitary shattered window. I have a keen interest in things geological, including earthquakes, and glass is usually one of the first things to break.
Then there was the train. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That was hilarious - as if a crack resulting from the earthquake would appear on the same lines of a railway track, and then follow the train and swallow it up, and then stop as soon as the train had gone. Statistically, the chances of that actually happening must be billions and billions to one. It looked really fake too, and not even one tree had fallen either, which made it even more unrealistic. The fact that there were no shots of the train driver or passengers being worried rammed the cheapness of this film sharply home - some scenes like this would at least have added a bit of tension and reality. Much the same could be said of the Golden Gate Bridge scene - in Superman this scenario was done really well, but here it looked like a plastic bridge was just being pulled apart by unseen hands.
Fortunately for me, I had recorded it and so after watching the first 45 minutes to give it a chance and see if it improved, I fast-forwarded to all the quake scenes, just because it would've been too painful to watch the bad acting and witness the awful dialogue, like when one of the President's advisers informed the Pres that there had been a quake in Seattle, the Pres asked how bad it was, and the adviser could only say the Space Needle had collapsed - nothing about casualties, monetary damage etc, which are obviously more important than a landmark in this context. Also one line emitted by the helicopter pilot as he saw the GG Bridge collapse "This is unbelievable, I'm seeing this with my own eyes and I can't believe it!" I mean, come on, that's just awful - give a monkey a typewriter and it could probably come up with better lines.
I also found it extremely hard to care about any of the characters, especially that really annoying teenage girl - granted she was fit, but as soon as she started talking, I just wanted a crack to open up and swallow their car, just like the train scene, anything to stop her moaning endlessly. I thought the performances were all wooden, as if the actors didn't really care and were just sleepwalking their way through. Don't get me started on the seismic 'lab', which for one thing seemed to shake whenever there was a quake, despite the fact that the locations of the quakes were hundreds of miles apart - if the lab was in San Fran, it wouldn't have been affected by the Seattle quake. Why no seismometers either? And the magnitude of a quake doesn't climb slowly, it happens almost immediately. Since when were fault lines 700 miles deep too - they are only as deep as the crust, which at its deepest is about 60 miles thick.
Lastly, I found it strange how the Pres and staff seemed to rely on news broadcasts for their information - just a tad unrealistic. The second part hasn't been shown yet, but from the comments I've read about it, it seems like it will be more of the same. It would've been better if there were loads more silly 'so bad it's good' moments, but it was just boring, annoying and dire. I'm not holding my breath for the concluding part.
Review by Andrew Hunter from the Internet Movie Database.