I’m back. Possibly. Anyway. On to Dinoshark, starring Eric Balfour. When I saw that it was starring Balfour (and to me, he is only “Balfour”), I got really excited. Then I realized that, if asked, I could not cite a single movie or show he’s ever been in. Even after checking his IMDB credits and confirming I have seen some of the shows, I have absolutely no recollection of his presence. But that excitement is why Balfour embodies the blog’s name.

There are two kinds of C-list actors: the ones who were famous back in the 80s or 90s, and the ones who are famous but you can’t name a single thing they’ve been in. Sure, there are the A-list actors who are slumming it, but where would a SyFy channel original be without at least one C-list actor?

I can tell you this much: Dinoshark needs Balfour. In fact, there isn’t enough Balfour, as far as I’m concerned. The movie’s biggest weakness is that the female lead’s subplot is much more Dinoshark-related than Balfour’s. His plot is mostly about his run-ins with the harbor patrol. She’s the one who actually researches the Dinoshark.

The one thing that sets this movie apart from the others is that is has more filler shots than any movie I’ve ever watched. Which is surprising, given what rich material they have to pull from. I mean, this is a movie about a prehistoric shark terrorizing Puerto Vallarta. And yet, for every character who is devoured by Dinoshark, there is at least a minute of stock footage leading up to it.

No, seriously. This is an actual scene from the movie.

I love that the Dinoshark doesn’t strike until you start to wonder to yourself, “Okay, what’s the point of all this stock footage?” He lulls you into a state of mild confusion and boredom – or, as I like to call it, the Dinoshark’s wheelhouse. Then there’s the fact that the cheery surf music suddenly switches to foreboding surf music. I didn’t even know foreboding surf music existed until this movie. Thank you, Dinoshark composers, for introducing me to this subgenre. I know what I’m adding to my workout mix.

So, a glacier calves and unleashes a baby Dinoshark. Three years later, it eats a guy diving up in Alaska, then heads south to terrorize Puerto Vallarta. Why Puerto Vallarta? Because it’s Balfour’s home town, and he’s just returned to live on some guy’s boat. Balfour’s triumphant return is celebrated by his friends Bar Owner, Rita the Hussy, and Bar Owner’s ladyfriend Carol, who kind of looks like Audrina from The Hills. But, more importantly, her acting is about on par with Audrina’s.

Unfortunately, Carol’s subplot has way more to do with the actual Dinoshark than Balfour’s does. It all starts with her creepy, sexual harassment-y boss who keeps asking Carol out, and at one point goes into the girl’s locker room of his hotel, checks out a teenage girl in a bathing suit as she’s leaving, then claims he can be in the locker room because, “I own the joint.” I’d like to think that, in addition to his date with Balfour-destiny, the Dinoshark is targeting Puerto Vallarta because he can’t stand blatant sexual harassment. Unfortunately, Dinoshark never eats Michael the Creepy Boss, because Balfour kills the Dinoshark first.

Carol has a creepy lunch with her Creepy Boss. He tries to convince us she’s actually a compelling or interesting character by way of blatant exposition: “You are one intriguing woman. Diving champ, Biology major, Princeton grad. It does beg the question, how did you end up working here?” See, you know she’s not going to be eaten because he uses more than one adjective to describe her.

He asks Carol out for a drink after the upcoming regatta, then claims he’s totally not sexually harassing her, he just wants to offer her a job as the hotel’s social director. Yes, because that’s what a diving champ, Biology major, and Princeton grad wants to do. This is his second brilliant idea – his first was his suggestion that, for the upcoming regatta, they hold the girls’ water polo match in the channel outside the marina. Carol’s main argument against it is that the channel’s not “suited” for water polo. She doesn’t bother to mention the strong currents, that the water’s too deep to stand in, or that they have to beware of Dinosharks. Diving champ, Biology major, and Princeton grad FAIL, Carol.

After telling her water polo team about the new developments in the match – inexplicably, none of them yell “Are you out of your mind?” and quit the team – Carol goes looking for her friend Rita the Hussy. Why do I call her the Rita the Hussy? Because that is the entirety of her character. In one of her two scenes, she sits there coquettishly then invites Balfour to “catch up on old times” despite having a boyfriend. So yeah, one adjective to describe her. Can you guess whether or not she bites it when she goes swimming alone?

Someone alerts Search and Rescue to the presence of the Dinoshark (because of the Worldwide Dinoshark Tracking System, I guess), and S&R heads out toward the reef where Rita the Hussy was eaten. Balfour happens to be in the same area, and he sees the Dinoshark take down the Search and Rescue boat.

We do get one last glimpse of Rita the Hussy – or, at least, Rita the Hussy’s upper body, as her top half has washed up on shore, complete with entrails. Remember: if we don’t see the entrails, they’re not really dead.

Balfour drinks with Bar Owner, who insists that Balfour just saw a shark. Balfour dead-eyes that “A shark does not eat a lifeguard boat. A shark does not have horns.” Okay, a) Goblin sharks have horns, and b) Sharks totally eat boats. Watch Jaws so you know what you’re dealing with, Balfour.

Carol shows up, worried because she can’t find Rita the Hussy. Fortunately, the TV wants to help, so it airs a story about the fatal shark attack deaths of two lifeguards and Rita the Hussy. Balfour says he’s going to find the thing that killed his friend, and Carol decides to go with him so as to fill the role of hussy left vacant by Rita the Hussy. They find an emergency beacon from the guy in Alaska. “Alaska? That’s a long way!” Carol surmises. With dialogue like that, I can’t imagine why the writers would need to tell us that she’s a diving champion, Biology major, and Princeton grad.

At home, Carol researches on the internet while dramatic music plays. She looks very intense, because thinking is hard. Not as hard as chewing gum and walking, but pretty hard. She finds the webpage of a Dr. Reeves, who has an entire page devoted to the Dinoshark, complete with a picture. Sometimes I exaggerate, but seriously, this is exactly how the scene goes down: Carol sees the picture, stands up dramatically to stare at the screen, then without looking away from it, pulls off her top to reveal a black lace bra.

I don’t even want to know.

Carol tracks down Dr. Reeves, conveniently located in Puerto Vallarta. He has an awesome office: one wall is a window into the dolphin tank, so dolphins are swimming in the background. Man, I’d never get any work done. I’d just taunt them with fish or pretend to throw a ball to see if they’d swim after it. Oh, right, Dinoshark – Carol shows Dr. Reeves the drawing from his website of the Dinoshark, and says it’s what her friend saw. Dr. Reeves says it’s just an artist rendering. This confuses Carol: “But it’s on your website.” So it must be real! Just like Bonsai Kitties.

Meanwhile, Balfour’s boat is being searched by harbor patrol or something and seriously, this has so little to do with prehistoric sharks, I just can’t bring myself to care. Several scenes later, he calls Carol to tell her the Dinoshark is in the canal. Yes, the very same canal that leads to the channel where the girls are playing water polo. Does it occur to Carol, at this point, to warn the water polo team? No, of course not. Instead, she and Bar Owner head off to help Balfour kill the Dinoshark, because that always ends so well.

They plan to corral the Dinoshark using pontoons, because sharks can’t jump out of the water. And even if sharks can’t, are you really going to hold Dinosharks to the same standard? This works about as well as one might expect, with the Dinoshark easily clearing the jump and eating a harbor police helicopter. Balfour and Carol take off after it. Of course, despite the head of harbor patrol knowing that there’s a shark in the canals, he still doesn’t pull a Chief Brody and close down the waterfront.

A family hikes along, and the little boy asks to play by the water. His parents warn him not to get wet, but no one thinks to warn him not to get eaten. The boy is playing by the shoreline when a crocodile surfaces. I was being facetious about the getting eaten thing before, but apparently “Don’t get eaten” actually needs to be stated. Or, parents, maybe don’t let your kid play by the crocodile-infested water. Fortunately, the Dinoshark eats the crocodile, because kids don’t get eaten in monster movies.

Balfour, Carol and Bar Owner cruise down the waterway, the actors doing their best to look concerned. So, they kind of look a little perturbed, like they just remembered they forgot to tell the PA “no onions” when he took their lunch order. They see an empty kayak with a bloody, severed head floating next to it. I can’t say for sure that the head is dead, though, because there aren’t any entrails. Balfour observes that, “At least they got their wildlife adventure.” Guys, Balfour’s kind of a dick.

It’s not until they realize that the Dinoshark is swimming straight toward the polo match (gee, y’think?) that any of them feel any sense of urgency. It still doesn’t occur to them to actually call and stop the match. The Dinoshark pulls one of the goalies under by her head – see above “Fail” graphic. The girls flee the water, and Carol jumps in to try to help. Bar Owner follows suit to … I don’t know, distract the Dinoshark? He quickly realizes this may have been an error, but before he can get out of the water, the Dinoshark eats him. You’d think that after eating half a water polo team, Dinoshark would be full, but this is the movie’s climax.

Carol gets a call from Dr. Reeves, who has determined that Dinoshark’s only weakness is its eye. Well, that and a good camembert. She and Balfour race off after the Dinoshark, who has headed out to sea again to feast upon a windsurfer, a boat full of tourists, and a jet skier. Among the tourists in the boat is the family whose son almost was eaten by a crocodile. Apparently, the Dinoshark was actually just biding his time, because not only does the Dinoshark flip the boat, but he eats the little boy’s parents in front of him. I think we just saw the origins of a new James Murphy, Cryptozoologist.

Balfour jumps onto the now-unoccupied jet ski and, with some rockin’ synth music playing in the background, heads to his showdown with the Dinoshark. The Dinoshark jumps out of the water, and Balfour flips the jet ski back to face it. He launches himself off the jet ski toward the Dinoshark and hurls a grenade at it.

No, seriously.

The jump.


The aftermath.

Balfour and the Dinoshark fall back into the water, and Balfour resurfaces, victorious and in slow-motion. He swims toward the little boy, and just when you think it’s the end of the movie, the Dinoshark reappears, gnashing his teeth. Carol, from a nearby speedboat, grabs a harpoon gun. She cocks it, aims, and takes her sweet time shooting it in the eye, because everyone else gets clever one-liners, dammit, and now it’s her turn to shine.

“Welcome to the endangered species list, you bastard.”

And with that, she slays the beast and it’s all over – or is it? We see the same shot as in the beginning, with the glacier of doom calving, and more baby Dinosharks swim toward the camera and into the arbitrary rating system.

Starring a true C-List actor: +25
Usage of entrails to show they’re really dead: +9
It’s called “Dinoshark”: +12
I was hoping for more dinosaur-ness: -14
Because “dinoshark” implies it’s part dinosaur, and not just “ancient shark”: -6
Way too much stock footage: -9

Even though the first time, it’s used in an unintentionally hilarious way: +3
Having the Dinoshark eat a boy’s parents in front of him: +11
Creepy Sexual Harassment Boss doesn’t get eaten: -5
Probably faces at least a dozen lawsuits following the water polo attack: +16
Carol takes off her top upon seeing the drawing of the Dinoshark: +26
Dr. Reeves helps me design my dream office: +8
Sets up a sequel: +2
Really, I think that one Dinoshark movie covered it: -3
The girl doesn’t want to kill the monster: -1
The girl is also a scientist, so she wants to anesthetize and study it: -1
She changes her mind after it jumps a pontoon and eats a helicopter: +7
No one suggests nukes as a way to kill it: -4
Balfour jumps off a jet ski and hurtles through the air, grenade in hand: +10
No, seriously, that’s his big plan: +12
And it kind of works: +2
But not really: -10
A new origins story for James Murphy, Crytpozoologist: +4
Puerto Vallarta, not Chicago: -60

Total: 44 out of 100

Best quotes:
Carol: This creature has been extinct for 150 million years.
Balfour: Well, I guess it didn’t get the memo, because that’s what I saw.

“Welcome to the endangered species list, you bastard.” – Carol, giving Dinoshark the memo.

Posted in Dinosaurs, Dinoshark, Eric Balfour, Made For TV Movie, Marine Biology, Prehistoric Shark, Roger Corman, Sea Monsters, SyFy Channel Original | Leave a comment

Fire From Below

Have you ever read an entire page of a book, only to realize that you don’t remember a single word? That’s what watching Fire From Below was like for me. Even as I was watching it, I recognized that I didn’t actually understand what was happening. Normally, disaster movies have gaps in logic or reasoning, but Fire From Below goes beyond the gaps in logic – it just doesn’t have any. The tag on the poster reads, “The Laws of nature have just been broken.” I now realize that the marketing team was trying to warn me.

Basically, after a group of miners strike … something, a sparky fire tentacle begins terrorizing a small town in Texas. It is apparently caused by the stuff they’re drilling for: a huge supply of a lithium isotope, the L-6 isotope. What is the L-6 isotope? I’m glad you asked. According to the “sexy” business lady over at Drake Industries, the L-6 isotope has huge potential to be used in long-running batteries and in alloys for plane bodies. There’s only one flaw: it is highly combustible with water. Yes, to you and me, this seems like a bad substance to tack onto an airplane, but Mr. Drake dreams big.

So that’s the major threat for this movie: the combustible L-6 isotope. I think. At some point, a dam almost bursts because I think the water gets too hot, or because fire is randomly shooting out of the reservoir, I don’t know. But the thing to take away from this is: the L-6 isotope is combustible.

This accounts for the fire tentacle that kills the miners in the first scene. Or, at least, it sort of accounts for it. They never really explain why the fire tentacle chases after people. That’s right. I said chases. There are several chase scenes in the movie with people running from a fire tentacle that’s right on their tail, weaving back and forth along dirt roads or over lakes.

For example, a group of friends out water skiing are chased by one of the fire tentacles. They try to outmaneuver it, but it follows them and then eats the boat, or whatever it is this fire tentacle does. I don’t understand the fire tentacle’s motivation. Why does it chase the speedboat? So it’s combustible with water. Okay. But it spends a lot of this movie chasing after things that aren’t water, like speedboats or Jeeps. Or, it surfaces in random spots, like when a guy goes into a clearing to pee, and then the fire shoots out of the ground and immolates him, then chases after his girlfriend when she tries to escape in a truck. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what warrants a fire tentacle and what doesn’t, other than, “Because we needed a chase sequence.”

Anyway, Kevin Sorbo is a brilliant seismologist who ends up vacationing with his fiancée in the very same tiny Texas town that is being plagued by fire tentacles. What a fortuitous and unexpected turn of events. I couldn’t tell you what his fiancee’s name is, and it doesn’t really matter, because I think she had all of ten lines, despite being in the entire movie. So, Fiancée and Kevin Sorbo enjoy the down-home charms of Tiny Town, Texas, until they go to Lost Lake and find a dead body. They head back into town to report the corpse, only to find that everyone in the town is dead, and it smells like sulfur. Normally, this would be the point where you would pack up your bags and leave town, but Kevin Sorbo and his hair are more heroic than you are.

An entire town dying warrants its being taken over by the military, and it is. Kevin Sorbo tells the army guy to fly in his team – two assistants who spend a lot of time being useless. For some reason, the army listens to him. This is unusual, given that normally, half a disaster movie is spent with the hero trying to get the government/armed forces to listen to him, despite being a genius and the top in his field. But even the army knows, when Kevin Sorbo asks for something, you give it to him.

After what is apparently a warp-speed helicopter trip to get Kevin Sorbo’s assistants, they all venture down to Lost Lake. It was totally normal (except for the dead bodies) the day before, but now, plumes of flames are shooting out of the lake. Suddenly, there’s a big earthquake, and the ground opens up underneath the two assistants and a sergeant. They fall into the cavern, and split off into their own totally different cave-exploring movie that involves acid burns and the sergeant being attacked by bats. Yes, that is the best part of the movie.

Basically, they’re walking through the (really well-lit) caves when a swarm of bats appears. He-assistant pulls she-assistant to the ground, but the sergeant isn’t so lucky. The bats swarm around him, and he screams like a little girl and tries to wave them off of him. Unfortunately, he does this while walking, and he walks right off a cliff. Unfortunately, they don’t show the sergeant-shaped hole in the ground, Looney Toons style.

Meanwhile, above ground, the fire tentacle is chasing the Jeep carrying Kevin Sorbo, his fiancée, and a military guy. Again, I don’t know why the fire tentacle can chase moving objects. I also don’t understand why it’s chasing them away from the water, when that’s what makes it combustible. I don’t think it’s reacting with water vapor in the air, because 1) then it wouldn’t be an individual tentacle, and 2) wouldn’t it just constantly be burning? Like I said, I seriously don’t know what’s happening in most scenes.

They drive into a barn, because apparently Kevin Sorbo has confused this movie with the far superior Twister. At this point, you might think, “Gee, Kevin Sorbo, risky choice going into a structure made entirely of combustible materials,” but he’s one step ahead of you. He’s figured out that the fire tentacles react with liquids (how?), not dry things like barns, hay, or the watering troughs used in horse stalls.

The situation in Tiny Town, Texas is getting worse, as a giant fire has broken out. The news reports that they show keep suggesting it’s terrorism, which is absurd, because this is a small town in Texas, not a major metropolitan city. The news continues to mention terrorism through the rest of the movie, I guess because it was the screenwriter’s attempt at being socially relevant.

Anyway, Kevin Sorbo and his fiancée are called to either the Pentagon or an office building, I’m not sure which. To the best of his ability, Kevin Sorbo explains what’s happening, but my eyes glaze over. Then he demonstrates how volatile the L-6 isotope is by pouring some water on it. Because it does not act consistently at any point in the movie, this time the L-6 isotope kind of ignites, but it doesn’t shoot out flame tentacles and kill everyone.

I have to say, this is not nearly as convincing a demonstration as when Josh Keyes lit a peach on fire. Actually, I’m surprised it convinced them of anything other than, “I bet Josh Keyes and his chiseled jawline would have already fixed everything.” I guess Kevin Sorbo can tell that he pales in comparison to Josh Keyes, so he decides that the best way to fix everything is to blow up the caves or something. I don’t know. I didn’t understand the logic at the time, and it hasn’t gotten any clearer with two days to think about it. The point is, everything can be solved by explosives.

So, Kevin Sorbo, the sexy businesslady from Drake Industries, and some military guys head into the caves to place a bunch of silver metallic cases throughout the caverns. Kevin Sorbo realizes that his two assistants are still down in the caves, so he goes to save them. He finds them by firing a gun into the air, which seems like a great idea in a cavern full of totally not flammable gasses. Kevin Sorbo and the assistants take off running as the fire tentacle shoots out of the mine. Somehow, despite only having 10 minutes to cover 30 minutes of cave paths, they manage to get to the cave entrance, only to realize that the water table has risen and the cave entrance is now flooded.

“Oh no!” you might think. “But the fire tentacles are drawn to water, and combust in water!”

Yes, with all the evidence we’ve been given throughout the movie, this would be the conclusion you would come to. However, you would be wrong. Instead, the fire doesn’t follow them into the water, or ignite the surface, or anything that would make sense within the rules they have created. So Kevin Sorbo and his assistants swim out and pop up in the middle of the Lake that was once on fire, but now isn’t, because I guess the explosions solved everything?

Seriously, I have no idea what just happened here. None. I even wrote quotes down, and I can’t remember who said them. I still don’t understand why the whole thing started in the first place, why the fire tentacles chase things, how the bombs fix it – yeah, you know what? Let’s just go to the arbitrary points system.

Arbitrary Points System:
Starring Kevin Sorbo, and it’s not made in the ‘90s: +22
It looks like it was shot in the ‘90s: +4
Fire tentacles!: +13
Wait, fire tentacles?: -11
Yes. Really badly animated fire tentacles!: +10
Not having as compelling a demonstration as Josh Keyes: -8
If it combusts with water, why does it chase cars?: -12
Not destroying Chicago: -34
A sergeant dies after being attacked by bats and accidentally walking off a cliff: +29
The news suggesting a large wildfire is terrorism: -4
Fire tentacle chase sequences: +6
While trying to escape the fire tentacle, Kevin Sorbo’s truck nearly collides with a motorbike. The biker wipes out on the pavement and is immediately immolated by the fire tentacles, but it’s okay, because the biker gave his life so that Kevin Sorbo could survive: -14
Using bombs to fix everything: +21
Not using nukes to fix everything: -14

Total: 18 out of 100

Best quotes:
“What are you doing in the women’s bathroom?” – Sexy businesslady
”My god … welcome to hell.” – She-assistant

Fire From Below Trailer

Posted in Fire From Below, Fire Tentacles, Kevin Sorbo, Made For TV Movie, Spontaneous Combustion | Leave a comment

Black Hole

Black Hole is the first movie that lets the blog live up to its name. It stars Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson as two scientists racing against time to stop both a black hole and an energy monster from devouring St. Louis.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking: “Yes, but does Judd Nelson do the fist thing at the end?” No, unfortunately, he does not. I understand if you don’t want to keep reading, but I suggest you continue, as this movie isn’t so different from The Breakfast Club.

The movie starts with the following information: “In 1999, a panel of nuclear physicists discussed the possibility that a heavy ion collider experiment could result in the formation of a black hole. After an extended debate, the panel decided that such a scenario was not just highly unlikely, but impossible.”

“Well,” you think, having read all that. “That was a surprisingly anticlimactic movie.”

But then! –

They were wrong.

And with those three words, you know that this movie is no joke. It’s rare that a movie flat-out warns you that nuclear physicists were wrong. But this movie goes there, and you have to respect them for that.

Buffy is running a routine nuclear collider thingy when something goes awry, and a small black hole forms in the collider. Two scientists go down to investigate and are attacked by an electricity monster named Shockey. He’s not given an official name in the movie, but “electricity consuming entity” is really wordy.

The Navy is called in – I don’t know why, but one of the gruff guys wearing all black says he’s Navy, so I’m going with it. The Navy drags Judd Nelson out of his house and to the ion collider facilities, because that’s where he worked before he became a drunk and his wife took their daughter and left. Or he became a drunk after that happened, and she left because he had a relationship with Buffy.

Sorry, I’m a little vague on the details. All you need to know is, he’s a drunk, and also, he looks like a mix between College Ted and Ted With A Goatee from How I Met Your Mother. No, really, check it out:

Sorry Judd’s a little fuzzy, had to use YouTube to get a picture. If you don’t see it, just trust me here.

Anyway. Ted Nelson and Buffy try to figure out what’s happening. They’re warned by the Navy guy that the President has authorized the use of nuclear weapons. They’re not actually sure what the problem is, but the President is totally ready to drop a nuke, if need be. And that’s what makes America great.

Shockey attacks, taking down several Navy guys in the process. He shoots tentacles of electricity out, but unfortunately, he doesn’t talk, so he can’t have a cool catchphrase like, “You’ve been Shockified!” The movie’s much better if you imagine he’s saying that whenever he electrocutes someone.

Shockey escapes from the facility, and the black hole keeps getting bigger. Ted Nelson realizes that there’s a correlation between the two, so he and Buffy decide to follow Shockey as he runs along electricity wires through the city. Shockey motors over to the electricity plant and starts feeding. You’d think they would have shut down the power plant by now, but apparently the government thinks stopping an energy monster is less important than people still being able to nuke their Hot Pockets.

Of course, if they had just shut off all the power, we wouldn’t have gotten to see the black hole devour half of St. Louis, as it proceeds to do. But, unlike most black holes, this one moves like a hurricane, leaving a path of destruction behind it rather than acting as a growing abyss, as one might expect. In fact, a news helicopter tracks it through much of the movie, hovering just overhead – it seems that black holes only suck laterally.

What I’m most impressed by is that the helicopter reporter correctly identifies the black hole, saying that, if he didn’t know better, he’d say he’s looking at a black hole. Remember this for when I finally post about Volcano: in St. Louis, a news reporter can identify a black hole as it plows through half of the city. In Los Angeles, reporters are mystified by lava.

In another unlikely turn of events, despite a black hole ravaging the city, everyone is shockingly calm. In fact, the only person who really seems to grasp the gravity of the situation is one Navy scientist guy who, upon seeing Shockey for the first time, randomly and hilariously vomits.

Upchuck has the worst luck of any character I’ve ever seen in a movie. Like I said, he randomly vomits in front of his coworkers at the sight of an electricity monster. Then, he sneaks off to the bathroom to regain his composure, only to be hit in the head with a falling metal grate. And finally, as he’s fleeing the facility because the black hole is growing, he’s sucked into it. No joke, in the span of maybe an hour and a half, the guy vomits, is knocked unconscious, and is then devoured by a black hole. Upchuck had a bad, bad day.

Ted Nelson devises a brilliant plan to lure Shockey into a storage container. Finally, he suggests they shut down the power plant. He figures that, if the black hole grows every time Shockey feeds, the only way to stop the black hole is to put Shockey back into it. He doesn’t explain his reasoning, but really, I don’t think we need to know it. I just trust that Ted Nelson knows what he’s doing.

Their first attempt to lure Shockey into the black hole involves trapping him in a storage container rigged up with electricity. Yes, his plan is to put a carrot in a box. But Shockey’s way too smart for that. He throws the storage container at the commandos, because that’s just how Shockey rolls.

The President has been itching to nuke the black hole since the earthquakes started (oh yeah, it caused like, eleven quakes in one day, but no one thought to leave the city until the mandatory evacuation order; although, if there are eleven quakes in one day, you should probably leave). So, the President wants to nuke St. Louis so bad that you have to wonder just what the city did to him.

But Ted Nelson, ever the buzzkill, thinks it’s a bad idea to drop a nuke into a black hole without knowing what will happen. Instead, he decides to rig up a generator truck and drive it into the black hole, with Shockey on board. Shockey takes the bait, and Ted Nelson cruises up to the event horizon of the black hole, then jumps out of the truck and holds onto the pavement due to his Spider-man-esque ability to cling to flat surfaces. The truck (and Shockey) go careening into the black hole, there’s a bright flash of light, and then the black hole is gone – as is Shockey.

St. Louis survives, minus one tacky “gateway arch.” Ted Nelson and Buffy get together. Everyone lives happily ever after, except for Shockey, who’s been banished to the outer reaches of the universe or something. There go my dreams of a sitcom about Buffy, Ted Nelson, and the wacky electricity monster that lives in their guest house.


If there’s a problem, we can nuke it: +35
Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson?: +14
No one said, “You mess with the bull, you get the horns.” -6
Not destroying Chicago: -40
Shockey is awesome: +7
Shockey doesn’t get a catchphrase: -2
Shockey would rock a catchphrase if he had one: +4
Blatantly disregarding nuclear physicists: +12
The black hole moves like a hurricane: +3
The reporter actually knows what a black hole is: +2
The reporter’s helicopter isn’t sucked into the black hole: -11
No dramatic montages: -4
It really felt like it needed a dramatic montage: -5
Buffy doesn’t really do much: -1
She didn’t really need to, Ted Nelson was enough: +5
No precocious children: +10
No negligent parenting: +12
No negligent parenting: -11
Upchuck’s inexplicable vomiting: +17
Poor Upchuck: -3
More movies need terror-vomiting: +5
No “It’s Shockey!” sitcom: -14
It lives on in my mind: +28

Total: 57 out of 100

“I bet, when you woke up this morning, you didn’t think you’d be driving a truck into a black hole, especially not with me.” – Buffy

“I feel like I’m in a stupid video game.” – Soldier as he’s lying in wait for Shockey

“This sounds awfully convenient to me.” – Navy Guy, about the theory that dropping Shockey into the black hole will get rid of both.

Posted in Aliens, Black Hole, Electricity Monsters, Judd Nelson, Kristy Swanson, Made For TV Movie, Nuke Solution, Shockey | Leave a comment

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Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus

My dear friend Christine has been harassing me regularly to cover this movie, which is absurd, since obviously I was going to. I mean, it’s called Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. I think that translates in Gaelic to “C-List Actors Save Us All.”

But, looking at this poster having now seen the movie, all I can feel is disappointed. The poster is like the box for sea monkeys. You think you’re getting a totally sweet sea monkey kingdom, but in truth, they’re just brine shrimp.

Maybe my expectations were set too high, or maybe they weren’t low enough. Regardless, it was just bad. Really, really bad. And boring. And nonsensical. But not even in the good way. In the lazy way, bad, boring way.

The movie stars serious actress Deborah Gibson. No, not singer Debbie Gibson. You must have confused the two, since their names are so very similar. But, if you’ll notice, there’s no way they can be the same person, since serious actresses spell their names with “-orah,” not “-bie.”

The government shoots a sonar missile thing into a glacier up in Alaska. The sonar breaks up the glacier (as so often happens), freeing the mega shark and the giant octopus from their icy prison. Debbieorah Gibson happens to be piloting a sub through those same waters, and she sees the shark and octopus break free to begin their reign of terror.

The first stop is the Kobayshi Subsea Drilling Platform, near Japan. Here’s all you need to know about that scene – it includes the following bit of dialogue, almost entirely without context. This makes it the best scene in the movie:

“Look, I understand, you’re upset. You’ve got a bunch of crazy palefaces pissing in your little pool. But here’s the thing: bigger things are going on here. Bigger than our own little problems. So I promise you, if we can just have a sense of humor about this – Look, the point is, as long as we have a sense of humor about this, everything’s going to work out. I promise.”

And then they’re eaten by a Giant Octopus.

Aboard a 747, an engaged couple is anxious because of turbulence. “We’re getting married in two days,” the man says. “It’ll be fine,” the stewardess responds. Way to doom the plane, guys. The pilot asks everyone to fasten their seatbelts. Engaged to be dead guy looks out the window and says “Holy shit!” as he sees a mega shark leaping toward them. The mega shark plucks it out of midair. Keep in mind, the mega shark is easily twice the size of the 747. I’m not sure how a prehistoric sea creature knows that airplanes are food, but I’ll just assume it’s that killer instinct.

Back at Point Dume, CA, Debbieorah Gibson is in trouble for stealing the sub, and is sent away from a beached whale by her boss. Before leaving, she notices something in one of the wounds, and disagrees with the diagnosis that the whale died from mechanical injuries – she thinks something organic attacked it. Later, she sneaks back to pull something spiky out of one of the wounds.

Debbieorah Gibson and her old professor analyze the shard she extracted from the whale wound, so we get a montage of their pouring brightly colored liquids from one test tube to another. They never explain how this helps them identify what the shard is, so let’s just call it Science! and be done with it. So, using the Brightly Colored Test Tubes of Science! they decide the shard is from a tooth that’s roughly 11 feet by 11 feet. The Irish Mentor’s theory is that it came from an old prehistoric shark, but his delivery is so nonchalant that it’s hard to be particularly concerned. I guess we’re supposed to care, though, because if it weren’t a threat, the movie would have ended here.

Instead, Japanese scientist Dr. Shimada shows up to talk about the attacks. He believes the attack on the drilling platform was not the work of a mega shark, but something else. They receive a DVD of the video from the minisub Debbieorah Gibson was piloting in the first scene. Dr. Shimada, Irish Mentor, and Debbieorah Gibson watch in horror as they see both the mega shark and the giant octopus frozen in the ice.

Now, lest you think this is just a movie about abnormally large sea creatures, the writers have a very important message they’re trying to convey. They do so with artful dialogue, such as when Debbieorah Gibson’s character says, “The polar ice caps are melting because of our thoughtlessness … maybe this is our comeuppance.”

I guess that’s supposed to be a bad thing, but personally, if all comeuppance can be meted out using mega sharks and giant octopi, that would be ideal, thank you.

A big US destroyer hunts the mega shark. After a showdown with the battleship, the shark stops screwing around and just takes a giant chunk out of it. Mega Shark has to be really hungry, given that he’s the size of two 747s and has been eating sardine cans of people.

So, at this point in the movie, here’s what we’ve seen of the mega shark: He’s eaten a 747 and a destroyer. As for the giant octopus, he’s taken down a drilling platform. They have yet to battle. They have yet to menace a coastal town.

I’m all for building suspense, but I’m just saying, if I’ve tuned in to watch a movie called Giant Shark vs. Mega Octopus, I expect to see some versus. Hell, I expect to see some Giant Octopus, and really, I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth of octopus.

Or, for that matter, my money’s worth of Lorenzo Lamas. Fortunately, they anticipated that I’d be hitting the Lorenzo-threshold (the point at which you stop watching because there’s no Lorenzo Lamas). Unfortunately, he’s playing a remarkably useless character.

Lorenzo Lamas has Dr. Shimada, Irish Mentor, and Debbieorah Gibson brought in to a government facility, at which point he basically says racist things and tells them to solve the problem. What kind of racist things? He gets charming lines like, “Don’t look so worried, you’re not going to Manzanar,” and “The limeys and the spics got that right. What? I’m an equal opportunity racist.” Yes, that’s the extent of his character. He’s a half-hearted racist. The man was designed by God himself to deliver cheesy science dialogue, but the best they can do is make him into this non-villain.

Debbieorah Gibson realizes that they can use pheromones to get the mega shark and giant octopus corralled into bays, then they can capture them. That’s right, capture. As Debbieorah Gibson puts it, “Yes, these creatures are a threat, but they also represent the most significant scientific discovery of our time. You can’t just annihilate that.”

Maybe it’s just me, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Mega Shark is double the size of a 747. Where the hell are they going to store it? How are they going to transport it? The damned thing eats aircraft carriers, I’m thinking it might be a little tricky to airlift it to Sea World.

And that’s the problem with this whole movie. I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to side with Debbieorah Gibson and her merry band of scientists, but they’re tree-hugging idiots. Have they never seen a monster movie before? The only time you save the menacing creature is if you’re only in the first act of the movie, so that it can break free and then you can kill it at the end. Saving the monster just means you’re going to kill it later.

Big shocker, their plan to lure the Mega Shark and Giant Octopus into San Francisco and Tokyo Bay (respectively) doesn’t work. We don’t get to see the destruction Giant Octopus wreaks, but Mega Shark inexplicably takes a giant bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge. Mega Shark has, at this point, eaten more metal and concrete than it has people, which makes me think he must have been very, very hungry 10 million years ago when there were no bridges and battleships to eat.

Debbieorah Gibson comes up with the genius plan to have Mega Shark and Giant Octopus battle each other. “Finally,” you would think, “they’ll fight and it will be sweet.”

It would be, if the movie hadn’t been made for roughly $30 and a sandwich platter for craft services. Instead, the fight consists of the octopus wrapping its tentacles around the shark, getting one of its tentacles bitten off due to poor placement, and then releasing the shark. The fight goes like that at least three times, but the octopus always seems to grow back its missing tentacles. I’m sorry, did I say “grow back?” No, I meant, “The budget was so small, they could only afford to CGI the one scene, so they had to reuse it three times.”

The fight ends with the two of them sinking down to the depths, presumably dead. How did they die? Well, unlike in nature, where most battles end with one animal killing and eating the other, in this world, animals just fight until they get really tired and decide to call it a draw, then die. Yes, that is how the much-hyped “Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus Thrilla in Manilla” ends. With the octopus and shark wrestling for three minutes and then dying. My dog and cat have more epic fights.


See? And at least here, only one of the two sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

And that, in sum, is why this movie sucks: all the things that should be awesome about it aren’t. There’s a mega shark! It has three big scenes. There’s a giant octopus! We don’t get to see it destroy Tokyo. Lorenzo Lamas stars! He shows up halfway through to play a sort of racist government official. Debbieorah Gibson stars! The only way she could sound less interested is if they hadn’t paid her. The mega shark and the giant octopus fight! For the last few minutes, and it’s super lame.

So, thanks, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, for being disappointing me beyond measure. You had your shot, and you blew it.

Arbitrary Points System:
Starring Lorenzo Lamas: +14
Wasting Lorenzo Lamas: -12
Starring a Mega Shark and a Giant Octopus: +25
Wasting a Mega Shark and a Giant Octopus: -20
Two awesome test tubes of Science! montages: +6
When they successfully create prehistoric shark pheromones, the liquid glows: +7
Yeah, they create prehistoric shark pheromones: +2
Debbieorah Gibson and Dr. Shimada’s lack of chemistry: -17
No, it’s really painful: -2
It wastes Dr. Shimada’s amazingly cheesy romantic dialogue: -4
Just like they wasted the Mega Shark and Giant Octopus: -5
Christine recommended it, and she’s one of my best friends: +25
The last scene, where Irish Mentor tells Debbieorah Gibson and Dr. Shimada that they’ve found more creatures frozen in a glacier: -2
No, seriously, how many are there?: -2
And since when are they experts?: -4
Oh god, are they really setting up for a sequel?: -8

Total: 3 out of 100

Best quotes:
Lorenzo Lamas: Now clearly we’re dealing with a menace that no one has ever imagined, much less counted on.
Dr. Shimada: Like Hurricane Katrina.
Lorenzo Lamas: Very good. And funny.

But every scientist faces something like this sooner or later. – Irish Mentor

Debbieorah Gibson: I feel like we just started getting to know one another.
Dr. Shimada: I know. All this darkness, you were the one ray of light.
Debbieorah Gibson: I just hope that –
Dr. Shimada: If it’s fated, we’ll see each other again.

Guys, use that line. Because it will work every time.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus Trailer

Posted in Deborah Gibson, Dinosaurs, Lorenzo Lamas, Made For TV Movie, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Megalodon, Prehistoric Shark, Sea Monsters, The Lorenzo Threshold | 3 Comments


The first thing you need to know about 2012 is that it is 160 minutes long – 2 hours, 40 minutes. So, brace yourself, because apparently, the end of the world happens in real time. Then again, if they had edited it down at all, Roland Emmerich would have had to cut out at least one “running in front of a natural disaster” sequences, and we all know how much he loves those.


The second thing you need to know is that humanity sucks. No, really. We suck. If there is one lesson that you can take away from this movie, it’s that mankind sucks, hard.

Warning – spoilers ahead. No, seriously. I’m spoiling this movie like Veruca Salt’s daddy.

Why does mankind suck? Because, upon the end of the world, 46 governments around the world band together to make eight ships that hold a total of 400,000 people. Yes, that’s right, out of the 6 billion or more people in the world, the best that 46 governments can do is save 400,000 people. Oh, and shocker, they’re the rich ones.

Thanks, guys. You only had four years and limitless resources to prepare with. Glad you all put so much time and effort into preserving the species.

“Okay, humanity sucks,” you’re probably thinking. “But tell us, how is the world going to end?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Remember how, in The Core, the earth’s magnetic field was destabilizing because the core stopped rotating? Well, this time, the neutrinos emitted by the sun during solar flares are acting like microwaves, causing the Earth’s core to melt, as it is wont to do. I’m sorry, did I say “wont?” I meant, “as it never, ever does, because the amount of heat required would be catastrophic, due to the immense pressure being exerted on it, but okay, sure, we’ll try it your way.”

But I guess “the core melted” is about as likely as any other explanation they could pull out, so sure. The core melts. As a result, the crust begins to slide around, causing cracks to form in the crust and volcanoes to erupt. But that’s not until after Los Angeles is hit with massive earthquakes, as we saw in the teaser that was released a month ago. You remember that one, right? Where John Cusack and his family outrun an earthquake wave in a limo? And then California slides into the ocean?

Yeah. That’s about as close to scientific realism as we’re going to get here. No, I’m serious. That’s the high point.

Anyway, the short version of the movie is that John Cusack is a failed writer with a hot ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and two children – Noah, his son who hates him, and Lily, his daughter who still wets the bed at 7 and really likes hats. Hot ex-wife is now living with a hotshot plastic surgeon named Gordon, so you know he’s going to be a tool, especially when John Cusack’s name is Jackson. I mean, come on: Jackson versus Gordon. Who are you going to side with at the end of the world?

So, Jackson is a failure and estranged from his children. He takes them camping in Yellowstone, and his son is all kinds of surly. With good reason, given that the first thing Jackson does is have his kids jump a fence to a site restricted by the government. Apparently, bad parenting is a recurring theme in disaster movies. They’re immediately picked up by the government. The lake Jackson was trying to take them to is gone because the ground under Yellowstone is heating up. This is not good, as Yellowstone is a supervolcano. No, in real life. It actually is. It can destroy us all just by sneezing.

After their government run-in, Jackson meets Woody Harrelson in what is his best performance ever. He’s a pickle-eating nutjob who lives in the woods and rants about the end of days on his radio program. Jackson actually listens to him after his kids have gone to sleep (and after his son insults him), and Woody tells him about 2012, and how the government is building space ships to protect the rich few. Jackson doesn’t believe him, but the audience knows that the crazy man in the woods speaks the truth.

Then California starts cracking in half. I think the most depressing thing about this future is that, if the press conference on the television is any indication, Arnold is still going to be our Governor. Also, apparently Obama is going to age into Danny Glover, but he’s not going to say “I’m too old for this shit” nearly as often as he should.

As punishment for re-electing Arnold yet again, California is wracked by a giant quake. Fortunately, Jackson has begun to believe Woody, and he’s on his way to save his family as all hell breaks loose. That’s when the totally awesome teaser sequence happens, and no, the effects haven’t gotten any better or more realistic since it aired.

Jackson has his family fly up to Yellowstone to get Woody’s map to the ships. Unfortunately, Woody is at the rim of Mt. Bighorn, waiting for the caldera to explode. So, Jackson and his seven year old daughter go to find him. Again, there’s that responsible parenting we all know and love. Woody’s on the rim of the caldera, broadcasting a rant about how he’s going to be standing there to see the end of the world. And, as Jackson tries to get Woody to tell him where the maps are, the caldera starts to erupt. Every bird in the damn thing takes flight, the ground warps, steam shoots out, and as Jackson takes off running to the RV again, the caldera erupts.

Jackson and his daughter then out-drive lava bombs the size of school buses. They get to the plane with the ash cloud hot on their tail, but Jackson has to run back to the RV to get the map. He riffles through all the maps, which, take them all, Woody’s not using them. But no, if he did that, he would have had time to escape the RV before a giant crack opened up under it. Instead, he takes his sweet time looking for the map, and a big crack opens under the RV, and the RV falls into the magma below. Somehow, though, John Cusack manages to climb back out. He and his family take off in a plane piloted by Gordon, but they’re enveloped by the pyroclastic flow. While watching the movie, I thought to myself, “Well, that was fast. I can’t believe they’re all dying in the first hour.”

But this isn’t reality. This is Roland Emmerich’s funhouse mirror of natural disasters, where volcanic ash doesn’t clog plane engines, and the superhot gasses of a pyroclastic flow don’t suffocate anyone who breathes it in. So instead, they emerge safely from the death cloud.

I should have known, though. The shockwave from the eruption was just a slight breeze, as opposed to the concussive force from a blast that big. To compare, trees 19 miles away were knocked down during the Mt. St. Helens eruption.

The ash cloud continues to haunt them, as it hits Las Vegas, their next stop. From that point on, the movie is about trying to get onto one of the giant ships that have been built. Jackson’s family joins forces with Yuri and his family. Yuri is a rich Russian guy who’s set to be on one of the ships. That’s all you’re going to hear about Yuri, because he didn’t serve all that much of a purpose.

“So, that’s it?” you’re probably wondering. “The world goes by supervolcano and ash cloud?” No, that would be far too logical. Instead, the tectonic shifting causes giant earthquakes around the globe, which cause huge tidal waves. Not the usual small ones that destroy small countries in the Indian Ocean. No, we’re talking about ones that wipe out real cities, like New York City Washington.


This is from The Day After Tomorrow. Just imagine watching this scene six times in a row, in different locations, and you know what the second half of 2012 is like.

Oh, and remember those posters with the USS John F. Kennedy crashing into the White House?

Yeah, that wasn’t exaggerated for the poster. Apparently the CGI wizards think that the USS JFK would dwarf the White House, when it’s only about 150 feet longer. But why go for realism when you can make it look like an aircraft carrier is destroying the Barbie Dream House version of the White House?

In the end, Jackson and his immediate family are able to make it aboard the ship, thanks to a Chinese welder who’s been working on the ships. I guess we’re not supposed to really care about the rest of humanity, who have just bit it hard, because at least we know that Amanda Peet and John Cusack’s progeny will live on.

There are other characters – the young geologist who is put in charge of knowing when the world is going to end, the moral and courageous President Glover who stays behind to die with the American people, President Glover’s hot daughter, and the evil Oliver Platt. But we’re not given any real reason to care about them, so we’re not going to touch on them at all, except to say that President Glover sucks.

Why does President Glover suck? Well, for starters, he approves the plans for eight ships that only house 400,000. Why do they only house 400,000? Because the rooms are suites. These are luxury ships we’re talking about here, and this asshole okayed it.

But hey, when the giant ash cloud hits, he starts feeling a twinge of guilt, so President Glover stays behind to give a national address. Gee, thank you, President Glover, for sticking around to die with the rest of us. Do you think you could have maybe, I don’t know, bothered to approve some plans that would fit a few extra people in? Or not brought every fucking animal ever along for the trip?

I’m just saying, giraffes are stupid. We don’t need to save giraffes. If they wanted to be saved, they could have built their own ships. I’ve seen Madagascar. They’re resourceful.

But no, President Glover is lauded for staying behind to die by being smacked in the face with an aircraft carrier, when really, he got what he deserved – to die painfully, like the rest of us. Except for the 400,000 with the biggest bank accounts, and Jackson and his family. We’re supposed to be happy they survived. Of course, it’s a little hard to be happy they lived when you realize that you’re one of the masses who would die painfully. Suddenly, I understand why people are killing themselves before 2012.

Arbitrary Points System:
Having a subway plunge into the abyss in LA: +6
Highly accurate depiction of why we can’t have mass transit: +2
Taking a 7 year old to the rim of a caldera that’s about to erupt: +14
Saying Chicago is going to be destroyed: +12
Not showing Chicago being destroyed: -40
Outrunning an earthquake wave in a limo: +30
Outrunning a pyroclastic flow in an airplane: +15
Outrunning an ash cloud in an airplane: +7
Okay, no more outrunning things, right?: +3
No, wait, there’s a giant wave coming: -30
Thinking they can refuel in Hawaii, an island of volcanoes: -27
Driving out of the back of an airplane onto a glacier: +18
Not incorporating water displacement, so instead there are just surges in water without shallow areas elsewhere: -10
Having a hot young geologist: +12
Pres. Glover never saying “I’m getting too old for this shit: -15
Jackson is an absentee father: -2
Wait, did you know he’s also a writer?: – 1
He’s an absentee dad, by the way: -1
And he’s a failed writer: -1
Oh, by the way, his book only sold 500 copies: -1
Coincidentally, it’s about the end of the world: -1
Another coincidence, the geologist is reading the book!: -1
California sinks into the ocean: +21
That makes absolutely no sense: -8
Woody Harrelson’s cameo: +33
Building giant ships with big glass windows and not anticipating debris: -4
USS JFK being eight times the size of the White House: +16
“Who cares? It’s not like anyone’s going to look up the actual dimensions.”: -2
White House: 912 ft., USS JFK 1,052 ft: -14
No one dramatically removes their glasses: -6
Attempting to explain the end of the world with science: +17
Failing miserably: -7
Leaving me without any sense of hope: -18
And making me kind of hate people: -3

Total: 15 out of 100

Best quotes: “Fly birdies, fly!” – Woody Harrelson
“I’ll be the last President of the United States of America. Do you know how that feels, son?” – President Thomas Wilson
“I wish we could prevent the coming destruction. We cannot.” – President Thomas Wilson, giving hope to the public

2012 Trailer

Posted in 2012, Amanda Peet, Earthquakes, John Cusack, Major Motion Picture, Roland Emmerich, Supervolcano, Tsunamis, Volcano | 2 Comments

2012 Photoblog

So, last night I went to see the seminal “Mayan Apocalypse” movie of our time (and no, Mel Gibson, I’m not forgetting Apocalypto).

I was so excited to see it, Scott and I dressed up in costume as our favorite natural disasters. I was a volcano, he was a hurricane.

His costume was just a sign that said hurricane with a cloud drawn around it. I told him that hurricanes aren’t just a bunch of clouds, but he said, “Whatever, I look like a jackass, you owe me.”

We got there three hours early because I wanted to make sure we had the best seats. I know they were already reserved, but I just wanted to be safe. So, to kill some time, we went to the restaurant inside the theater.

I got several compliments on my volcano hat. No one complimented Scott on his costume, probably because it was inaccurate.

The Arclight Cafe has really good calamari. Or, as I called it, Calamari OF DOOM! I might or might not have made screaming noises every time I ate a piece.

Finally, at 10:45, we were able to go into the Cineramadome. Here I am getting my ticket ripped. I had planned on saving my ticket whole, but some sacrifices have to be made.

Yay, popcorn!

I reserved a whole row of seats for friends who might want to come along, but no one RSVP’d. That’s okay, though, because it just meant I had a whole row to myself.

Here’s Scott eating popcorn in costume before the movie. We finished the whole thing by the time the movie started, because we were sitting in the theater for 45 minutes. It was totally worth it, though.

2012 was epic. By epic, I mean really, really long – 2 hours and 40 minutes. My post on the movie itself will be up soon, but the demand to see the volcano hat was so high, I figured I’d do two separate posts. Check back again later for my full post on 2012.

Posted in 2012, Arclight, Calamari of Doom, Photoblog, Volcano Hat | Leave a comment