When Time Ran Out... (1980)
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- 2/5 STARS -
The operator of a tropical hotel conceals the mounting threat of the island's active volcano when his laissez-faire partner and a renegade oilman start asking questions. When the volcano finally blows its top, a small group of hotel residents make a dangerous trek to higher ground, but not all will survive as the peak spews smoke, fire, and lava across the island.
This relaxed disaster movie signals the end of the first Golden Age of Disaster movies. It is appropriate, then, that it was produced by Irwin Allen and recycles a variety of cliches that spanned the seventies. When Paul Newman and Jacqueline Bisset start sipping wine on the beach with the volcano in the distance, for example, we know to start counting the minutes until the mountain blows.
With both Paul Newman and William Holden playing roles very similar to those in "The Towering Inferno", it isn't difficult to draw parallels between the two movies. "The Towering Inferno", however, was a unique project involving a joint venture between two studios, a huge budget, an all-star cast, and a blockbuster script culled from the best elements of two popular novels. Does When Time Ran Out represent what we should expect from Irwin Allen when all of the cards AREN'T stacked in his favor?
When Time Ran Out harkens back to the drama-heavy days of the original Airport, with a web of infidelity that will make your head spin. Battle lines are quickly drawn between the defensive developer of the island (Franciscus) and a renegade oil driller (Newman) who believes the mountain is, as he puts it, `a powder keg.'
Occasional visits to the volcano's crater provide distraction while the relationships between the characters are cultivated for the disaster. The oilman stirs up trouble when he wants to see for himself that the mountain is safe before drilling in a high-pressure oilfield. However, it's just ridiculous to think that his inspection would involve stepping into a laughable protective capsule and being lowered inside the smoldering volcano. Naturally, the capsule--with a glass floor!--experiences a series of unexplained malfunctions that send him hurtling towards bubbling lava at the bottom of the crater.
It's the kind of special effect that Irwin Allen was famous for from his television days on The Time Tunnel and elsewhere. But the silver screen requires a much greater level of believability than is needed by television. When Time Ran Out contains some of the worst effects in the history of the genre--images which aren't even acceptable for the SMALL screen. What happened to the Master of Disaster?
When Time Ran Out is heavy on talk before the volcano erupts, but the runaway action we were expecting during the buildup simply never arrives. Only two action sequences occur with the Newman followers, and they both involve a large group of people taking a very long time to cross a treacherous path to safety. It's a snooze-fest all around.
The special effects are ho-hum, even though Irwin Allen attempts to diversify the experience with flaming meteors fired from the volcano and a tidal wave that inexplicably levels part of the same island whose shock wave created it! They're not enough. Most of the visuals are clearly pre-existing volcano footage placed on a chroma-key in front of the actors. And the rest of the eruption footage appears to be poorly executed post-production animation.
The lush tropical setting is a refreshing change of pace for most disaster movies, and Jacqueline Bisset and Paul Newman try their best to keep things classy. But an unnecessary cock fight in the village and a preposterous laboratory perched on the rim of the volcano immediately suggest that this movie needs a dose of reality--and adrenalin. The first Golden Age of Disaster Movies closes with this whimper as `time runs out'-- on the genre.
Exciting film about a volcanic eruption threatens a Pacific island that packs blasts , thrills , overwhelming scenes of blowing up , suspense , excessive talking and turns out to be slightly entertaining . Allen's shameless rehash of all his disaster film clichés set on a Pacific island in which time never seems to run out , as a video version runs 141 minutes . Disastrous catastrophe movie in which lacks characterization , being an immense bore . Lousy screenplay by the prestigious Carl Foreman and Stirling Silliphant ; both of whom were presumably well paid . This formula intrigue movie belongs to catastrophe genre of the 70s , being the undisputed king , ¨The towering inferno¨ along with ¨Earthquake¨ , ¨Two minutes warning¨ and many others ; this formula disaster movie was widely developed by Irwin Allen , previously winner of numerous Oscars for ¨Poseidon¨ until the failures as ¨Beyond Poseidon¨, ¨Swarm¨ and this ¨When the time ran out¨ , retitled ¨Earth's final fury¨ . Filmed at the height of the disaster genre from the 7os , this entry in the spectacular series profits of an all-star though really wasted and a suspenseful final that takes place at a bridge surrounded by molten lava . The bridge was 30 feet above the stage, with smoke bombs and light flashes used to simulate the lava. Main cast carries out average acting such as Paul Newman , Jacqueline Bisset and William Holden , he was hospitalized for six days during production to treat his alcoholism after director James Goldstone convinced producer Irwin Allen that Holden was a danger to himself and others in the cast. Furthermore , a top-notch secondary casting such as Valentina Cortese , Barbara Carrera , Veronica Hamel , Alex Karras , Burgess Meredith , Red Buttons , James Franciscus , Pat Morita and Ernest Borgnine . Ernest Borgnine claims in his memoirs that the reason why the film's special effects were so cheap looking was that the huge amount spent on location shooting absorbed what was usually spent on FX. Many actors were all under contract with Irwin Allen, and appear in this film to void their contracts.
Colorful and gripping photography in Panavision by Fred J. Koenekamp . Intriguing and thrilling score by Lalo Schifrin in his usual style . This big-budgeted disaster movie was middlingly directed by James Goldstone ; this was final feature film of Goldstone . He was a director and writer, known for Scalplock (1966) , ¨Jigsaw¨ ,¨A Man Called Gannon¨ , ¨They Only Kill Their Masters¨ , ¨Red sky at morning¨ , ¨Winning" or "500 miles" and ¨Swashbuckler¨ . Goldstone was also an ordinary TV movies director and subsequently made another catastrophe film , Roller-coaster (1977), much better than the disastrous and monumental bore ¨When time ran out¨ .
There are a lot of familiar faces in the cast and they do a good job. This is my favorite Paul Newman movie by the way. (But to be honest I don't watch many Paul Newman movies.) Edward Albert is also great in it, and even though his role is too small, he does get to be heroic but don't blink or you will miss those moments. The women aren't given too much to do but aint that always the way it goes. Sigh again... I did like Veronica Hamel's little bitty role. She was classy but stupid. Should have hooked up with Edward Albert.
This movie is a great soap opera with love, betrayal, danger, greed, and a dastardly villain. Oh, and the way some of the characters die is kinda funny. Sort of like every other disaster movie from the 70's and early 80's. So cut it a little slack why don't you.
Hollywood first realized the merits of multiple plot movies with the introduction of "[Vicki Baum's] Grand Hotel", circa 1932. This pattern has since been followed many times, usually successfully. Examples: "Stagecoach", "The Bridge of San Luis Rey", "Airport", "[Arthur Hailey's] Hotel", "Lone Star", "The Big Chill" and "Matewan". I believe that those responsible for "When Time Ran Out..." also did an excellent job of multiple character development and I loved every minute of it.
i've been laughing out loud just reading the forum about this catastrophic masterpiece. i almost forgot some of the gory details (including the science lab perched at the edge of the volcano lip).
i saw it as a teenager behind the iron curtain, freshly dubbed into czech in the early eighties. it was such a treat i had to go see it twice.
are you guys sure this movie was intended to be taken seriously?
(well, i used to think the independence day was a subtle spoof that made fun of self- declared u.s.a. greatness, but people are telling me otherwise. i still enjoy it, though.)
The plot - what there is of it - centers around a resort hotel located close to a picturesque, and supposedly dormant volcano. The hotel is owned by successful businessman, Shelby Gilmore (William Holden), and his greedy son-in-law, Bob Spangler (James Franciscus). Gilmore is openly disapproving of Spangler, since he suspects that Spangler has only married his daughter, Nikki (Veronica Hammel), in order to become his business partner, and get his money. Gilmore's disapproval is justified by Spangler's affair with native Iolani (Barbara Carrera). The other natives of the island, those who don't work at the hotel, seem to spend their time either cockfighting, or drinking at a bar owned by Sam (Pat Morita) and Mona (sheila Allen, Irwin's wife, a little nepotism here?). Gilmore is interested in Kay Kirby (Jacqueline Bisset), who is in turn interested in oil driller, Hank Henderson (Paul Newman). When the ground starts rumbling during drilling, Henderson suspects their may be a problem with the supposedly dormant volcano, so he goes to talk to the scientists who work at a lab precariously perched on the lip of the volcano. While there, Henderson goes into the volcano in a gondola to inspect it, and nearly gets dropped into the lava. Somehow, he is able to see that eruption is imminent, even though the head of the lab, John Webster (John Considine), doesn't. Spangler doesn't want to cause a panic, or lose money, so he refuses to evacuate the hotel. While Henderson and Kirby are on a picnic, the volcano blows up, causing a tidal wave which wipes out half the island, including the cockfighting population. The hotel guests are in a panic when Henderson and Kirby arrive back there, as the volcano is spewing lava bombs at them. Once again, Spangler refuses to evacuate, and encourages the guests to sit tight. A small group, which includes a private eye (Ernest Borgnine) and the thief he is trying to catch (Red Buttons), and a retired high wire walker (Burgess Meredith) and his wife (Valentina Cortese), decides to follow Henderson to higher ground to get away from the lava, and we follow them for most of the rest of the movie, with a break to watch the hotel get destroyed by a surprisingly accurate lava bomb.
Clear as mud, right. The writers tried to cram so many subplots into the movie that the result is a tangled mess. It's hard to tell who is who, much less who is involved with whom. And that makes it hard to develop a sense of concern about their well being. You watch so many gratuitous characters die throughout the course of the movie that you are too numb to react to the deaths of the important ones. Simplifying things somewhat would not only have shortened a movie that seems tediously long, but it would have helped to keep the viewer focused on the important characters.
The writing also has a contrived feel to it, relying so heavily on clichés that it becomes unintentionally comical. We have not one, but two love triangles. In addition, we have a noble thief, who helps the cop out when he becomes disabled. Then there's the rickety bridge over the river of lava, which, of course, gives way before everyone gets over it. There are two deaths by falling into the lava, one by heart attack, and one by falling onto hard rock. There are two foolish children who become so frightened that they run away, and must be rescued. And there just happens to be an aerialist around when you need one. All in all, it adds up to a bit much to swallow.
The science of the movie is laughably bad. Oil is unlikely to be found near a volcano, active or dormant, and you wouldn't drill near a volcano, because the release of pressure would cause the volcano to erupt. A volcano is not a mountain with a shaft in the top that leads down to a lake of lava. If a fissure like that opened up, the volcano would simply erupt because the pressure forcing the magma up would be greater than the pressure holding it down. If the volcano caused a tidal wave, chances are it would head away from the island, rather than heading back to it. And then there's the lab at the lip of the volcano. Who in their right mind would build a lab in such a place, much less work at it? Volcano observatories are usually safely away from the lava flow, not right in the path of it. It just doesn't make sense.
The effects were horribly cheesy, and the cinematography was just awful. Who thought it would be a good idea to have an actress in a red dress fall into a red river of lava? All you see are her head, hands, and feet while she tumbles into the lava.
With the kind of star power assembled in the cast, one would think that the acting would at least be decent, but in truth, the entire cast seems embarrassed to have been involved in the project, delivering their lines with a kind of sheepishness that makes the movie seem all the more embarrassing.
All in all a bad movie, but oddly enough, it can be enjoyable if you're willing to suspend disbelief to a great degree, and lower your expectations. If you don't take it seriously, it can be an amusing little diversion.
Still, you can't say that Allen doesn't try his best it's just that the budget (or lack of it) lets him down this time around. The volcano itself is a silly little miniature, the rivers of lava are back-projected nonsense, and the final 'disaster' scene at the hotel is so poor as to beggar belief. Even ignoring the below-par special effects, this film takes the biscuit. Although it's notably shorter than the likes of THE TOWERING INFERNO, it takes half the running time for the volcano to actually blow, and until that point we have lots of cheesy dialogue scenes involving romance between uninteresting characters.
Thankfully, things really get going once the disaster hits home as Allen throws tsunamis, explosions, cliffslides and whatnot into the mix. Twinkly-eyed Paul Newman is on hand, thankfully, to take charge and act all manfully, although he's up against a scheming James Franciscus as the island resort's owner who'll stop at nothing to protect his investments. Also caught up in the mix are the usual stereotypes: doting (or should that be dotty) old timers (step forward, Burgess Meredith); hard-timers (Ernest Borgnine in his umpteenth disaster outing), youthful beauties (Barbara Carrera and Jacqueline Bisset, the latter looking a bit off) and even a few ethnic types too (Pat Morita, going Chinese). Much of the resultant running time follows Newman's group as they scramble for safety, evading dangers along the way.
It's no surprise as to who lives or dies, but the 'obstacle' scenes are great fun, especially the extended 'bridge crossing' which makes up the film's climax. And I'll never tire of those ultra-cheesy 'falling into lava' shots which are repeated at various intervals. It's just a shame that the volcano itself only has coming of a cameo appearance in the movie, and that the characters are never menaced by ash clouds or falling lumps of pumice now that would have been something to see!
Absolutely NOTHING makes any sense. Action sequences are so poorly
executed, you wonder if perhaps they hired brain-damaged high school
students to do most of the work.
Some favorites, not already mentioned:
The ranch-hand must ride on the outside of the helicopter. Dumb enough, but why
then fly DIRECTLY over the mouth of the volcano? You must be kidding.
-And when the guy predictably falls, we first see him fall backwards away from the 'copter, but them the immediate cut-away shot shows him clearly falling in a FORWARD roll. oops.
I also enjoyed seeing telephone poles fall over without anything hitting them, and as they fall over they don't looked cracked at all, just perfect horizontal bottoms that weren't really even in the ground.
Some guy's whole back catches on fire, and he rolls around for about ten
seconds. when they finally put out the flames, only a small part of the top of his jacket is scorched.
two people are flying past the smoking volcano in a helicopter. It suddenly
explodes with a loud crack and flames. Neither person reacts at all.
You could go on and on and on. Every few seconds there's another blatant goof or monumentally stupid scene.
You know, if someone made an edited DVD of this, with all the boring "personal interaction" scenes deleted, and ran a commentary along with the action, this would be possibly the most hilarious movie ever put out.
Irwin Allen's other four 1970s disaster feature films began with some powerful theme music from John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith or Jerry Fielding but WTRO's Lalo Schifrin score is surprisingly low-key. This describes the film itself: it mostly lacks that Irwin Allen gusto seen in his past work! The theme music says it all!
The gusto finally appears for a while when Paul Newman/James Franciscus go down in that craft to the very centre of the volcano. This scene alone makes the whole film worthwhile: very well done and full of suspense! All the scenes with William Holden and uncomfortable Franciscus together are well played.
But this is sounding like a too positive review and I have to tell it like it is: What has happened to screen favourite Burgess Meredith? He looks and talks like he has just walked out of a retirement home! Just two years before this he appeared in Irwin Allen's The Return Of Captain Nemo looking and sounding a lot younger and more full of energy. I hate to say this: but I feel uncomfortable watching him in this film. I am guessing he had a contract with Irwin and he was required to do this film if he wanted to or not. Paul Newman ("that volcano movie was my worst movie") was in that situation I am told.
If you viewed WTRO in 1980 or 1981, give it another chance in this century, it has actually improved over the years. In the 1990s we got two more volcano disaster movies - Dante's Peak and Volcano - both are good but perhaps a little too perfect with all that CGI all over the place. The less perfect effects work in WTRO is actually more pleasing to the eye as we all know some of it was done with REAL explosives...not computers!
I wish Irwin ended with Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979) but When Time Ran Out is not too bad at all!
Paul Newman heads the cast, and has a red tinge to his cheeks throughout which may either be sunburn or embarrassment. He is the chief oil driller on a volcanic Pacific island who suspects that a catastrophic eruption is a matter of days away. However, the island relies on its tourist industry, and business bigwigs like William Holden (great actor, never more wasted than he is here) won't heed the warnings and insist on keeping people on the island. The eruption arrives, as anticipated by Newman, and the tourists are left to run for their lives from its clutches. Newman finds himself leading one group of evacuees, made up of the usual clichéd characters. The group includes some great stars, like Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Burgess Meredith and Jacqueline Bisset, but anyone with a brain can figure out with a degree of certainty which ones are going to make it and which are doomed.
The action is marred constantly by terrible special effects. The actors are critically defeated by banal dialogue and actions. The suspense element of the film fails also, because it takes way too long to get going and is thoroughly predictable once it finally kicks into gear. There really is nothing positive to say about this film at all, except that it was so bad that it virtually single-handedly ended the disaster genre once and for all. If nothing else, we should thank the cast and crew for that small mercy at least!
The most notable feature about this movie is in the credits. Gayle Kananiokalapontigay's name takes two lines.
The movie is another Irwin Allen disaster - all the way around.
What agents got Paul Newman, William Holden, Jacqueline Bisset, Red Buttons, Ernest Borgnine, Burgess Meredith, James Franciscus, Barbera Carrera, Veronica Hamel, Edward Albert and Pat Morita into this loser?
And the writing? What writing? Carl Foreman and Stirling Silliphant should have had their names removed to save some embarrassment.
A bag of fish left in a car trunk in Sylmar would smell better than this stinker.
The story is stupid. A volcano settles scores and rights wrongs. Except it didn't destroy the master print copy. The acting is wooden, with bad, cliche lines just being spoken. And there's not one shred of excitement or danger at the climax. Just 20 minutes of watching 10 boring people cross a footbridge over a lava bed that poses no real harm.
Somehow Allen got this financed, and nobody read the script. At least I hope that's what happened. Otherwise some people would do anything, and I mean anything, for money.
When Time Ran Out, everybody fled the set.
Even if you've got five million hours left to live, don't waste one second on this piece of junk. Unless you're an insomniac. Even then, you will sleep, but your stomach's gonna churn with this garbage in it.
As an independent filmmaker myself, check out www.lcafilms.com for more information, I've always loved the big disaster movies of the 70's: THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, THE TOWERING INFERNO, EARTHQUAKE, and yes, even the likes of THE SWARM and WHEN TIME RAN OUT. Irwin Allen had a knack for getting big name stars to appear in his movies and it's sad that this great storyteller, who was once considered the King of Hollywood, was pushed down to the bottom of the barrel. He probably saw WTRO as the film that could relaunch his career but sadly, that never happened.
I don't agree with this trend Hollywood is going through right now where they feel the need to remake every other movie that has been made already but there are a few exceptions. I can't wait to see POSEIDON, Wolfgang Peterson's remake of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. What Peterson did was what needed to be done. He got an all-star cast for today, just like Irwin Allen did back in the 70's with all his disaster movies. I would love to remake WHEN TIME RAN OUT today, avoiding so many clichés and bad special effects the original had but I love the premise.
Imagine yourself and your significant other, on holidays on a tropical island and while there, an inactive volcano suddenly erupts and you have a choice. Either stay at the hotel and pray to God the lava won't come your way or trek across the perilous wilderness, hoping that you will be safe on the other side of the island. It's a wonderful movie premise and that's probably where he got all the actors to sign off. I really enjoyed WTRO for the kind of movie it was and especially because of the all-star cast it had. There's only one filmmaker today who seems to be able to gather all-star casts for his movies and that is Uwe Boll.
Unfortunately, his movies seem rushed and the actors always appear to be walking through their parts. They obviously got paid well and that's about it. I would love to remake THE TOWERING INFERNO today and have an all-star cast playing lead roles to supporting roles. It would be great to see the likes of Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson, Michael Douglas, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kate Capshaw and many others in a disaster movie today. If I get my way, you just might!!!
But this film may have killed the disaster film genre. Might have had a lot to do with the death of the big budget soap opera as well. At least it got a lease on life on television during the eighties.
Bad guy in this film is James Franciscus who thought it would be a grand idea to build a resort hotel on a small Hawaiian island with an active volcano. Great tourist attraction. He's not happy just growing sugar cane like his dad did and becoming filthy rich. He wants to become richer and he does become filthier.
He marries Bill Holden's daughter, Veronica Hamel, to get to Holden's money. Holden is a Conrad Hilton type hotel magnate.
Meanwhile another Franciscus enterprise is an oil well which Paul Newman has brought in. All their drilling is giving the volcano an upset tummy.
Of course we've got some grand soap opera type romantic conflicts. Newman and Holden over Jacqueline Bisset, Franciscus stepping out with Barbara Carrera on Veronica Hamel with Edward Albert objecting big time. Dynasty can't hold a candle to this bunch.
Irwin Allen ripped himself off also. The characters that Burgess Meredith and Valentina Cortesa play are an Italian version of who Jack Albertson and Shelley Winters played in The Poseidon Adventure.
Newman, Holden, Red Buttons, Ernest Borgnine all veterans of Irwin Allen disaster films from before just go through the motions here.
What did they get out of it? A big paycheck and a Hawaiian vacation. That's probably reason enough to do this film as time finally ran out on the disaster film.
Not coincidentally, "When Time Ran Out" answers to ALL the above trademarks and thus ranks as the ultimately clichéd disaster flick. This shouldn't come as too much as a surprise as the film was released in 1980, which is more than half a decade after the disaster movie hype was at its peak. Paul Newman stars as the robust macho workman Hank Anderson drilling for oil on a Pacific island that is particularly famous for its tropical holiday resort run by the stubborn and obnoxious island patriarch Brian Franciscus. Everyone's victorious when Newman and C° hit the black gold jackpot, but he warns about the oil's pressure causing the island's volcano to regain activity. Almost everybody disregards Hank's warnings, even when the volcano does erupt and spits out flaming balls of fire. Anderson eventually gathers a small group of intelligent people to flee towards higher grounds, but the majority of tourists and workmen stupidly remain at the resort to await a certain and painful death.
"When Time Ran Out" is a bad movie mainly because the characters are walking, talking caricatures and never cease to take really stupid decisions. Take Brian Franciscus, for example. He refuses to leave or even stop the drillings because he desperately wants to prove to his father that he's a successful businessman and resort owner. But his father is dead and all that remains of him is a stern portrait on the wall. The tourists are even worse. Franciscus initially assures them the volcano will not erupt. He was wrong. Later on, he assures them the volcano won't be spitting out any fireballs. He was wrong again. Finally he claims the volcanic lava will never reach the resort and these idiots still believe him! Wouldn't it be smarter to stay close to the guy who has been right about the volcano since the beginning? I guess not, since only the actors with a slightly bigger paycheck accompany Paul Newman on the perilous journey across the island. I didn't think it was possible, but the script becomes even dumber from then onwards. There's a tidal wave approaching the island even though it should go the other direction and into the ocean and Newman's group shrinks in number due to some textbook clichés like steep rocks and ramshackle wooden bridges over lava rivers. If all this isn't trite enough for you just yet, we still have some additional clichés on sale, like the elderly who sacrifices his life to rescue a child, the triangular relationship between the hero, the millionaire and the hot rebellious girl and the ridiculously abrupt ending. There is one remotely ingenious sub plot that is worth mentioning, however. Ernest Borgnine plays a cop indiscreetly following around a fraudulent banker, but during the environmental disaster they become close friends and dependent on each other. In conclusion: "When Time Ran Out" is literally a disaster of film. It's a volcanic eruption of derivative ideas, predictable moves and cheesy effects. But, on the other hand, I didn't get bored for one second throughout the entire 121 minutes of running time and that alone might be worth a recommendation!
Let's begin with the special effects, shall we? According to IMDb, When Time Ran Out... was filmed on a budget of over 20 million dollars. You will have a VERY hard time believing this after witnessing the not-so-special effects presented here. They could not possibly have cost more than a few dollars. For the daytime shots, the volcano is a painting matted onto the frame, with black diesel smoke being emitted from behind it. During nighttime, the volcano is shown via stock footage, which doesn't even resemble the original volcano seen during daytime. And don't even get me started on the climactic scene in which the resort explodes in a massive fireball. Let's just say I've seen more convincing special-effects in episodes of Bewitched.
The script? Horrendous. From dialog to storyline, the script is riddled with clichés and fails to deliver anything even closely resembling quality entertainment. I actually cringed when some of the characters delivered their lines. Try not to laugh as Holden spouts lines such as "Nicki dear, we have to get out of here, the volcano's pouring lava this way!". James Franciscus's overblown dialog is particularly amusing ("There's not going to be any evacuation!!"). The scene that takes the cake for being the most cringe-worthy is the beach scene with Newman and Bisset. This scene will have you searching frantically for your remote to hit fast-forward.
As many other users have already said, the plot recycles ideas from many of Allen's previous disaster movies and relies HEAVILY on clichés. And since the budget for special effects was clearly non-existent, the director opted to film endless footage of actors reacting to off-screen calamities while blaring melodramatic music in the background. In fact, about half this movies running time is composed of actors making faces into the camera. The scene in which the all-star cast journeys to the other side of the island by car is particularly noteworthy. It consists of 10 full minutes of actors sitting in cars, staring into space or at each other, while trying hard not to actually say anything. Somebody actually got paid to write this?
As you may have already guessed, many aspects of the movies storyline are utterly absurd. Here are a few examples that will have you roaring with laughter or just leave you scratching your head
1) There is a laboratory perched right ON THE LIP of an ACTIVE volcano. Who would spend millions of dollars to build this?! As expected, the place is vaporized when the volcano erupts.
2) The volcano will occasionally spew meteor-like lava balls which only hit the luxury hotel. Furthermore, the lava balls do only minor damage while the all-star cast is in the hotel, but when they have reached a safe location the lava balls cause the entire hotel to explode, killing everyone inside. Very inconsistent.
3) The volcano creates a tidal wave which comes TOWARDS the island. It ravages every part of the coastline except where the luxury hotel is located. How convenient.
4) The all-star cast is forced to cross a rickety bridge over a river of what is apparently cold lava (a scene that takes a FULL 20 MINUTES to complete). Anyone who took high school physics class would know that the bridge and anyone/anything on it would be incinerated by the heat radiating from the magma but clearly logic is not a concern in this movie. Why they have to cross the damn thing is never explained either. Action for the sake of action I suppose. Once they cross it, they walk a few feet to a cave where they hide out for the rest of the movie.
5) Jacqueline Bisset adopts a completely different hairstyle midway through the film. Just how long did the production stall on this thing?!
The acting in this movie is appalling. Newman barely acts and looks extremely uncomfortable just being there. Bisset fails spectacularly at trying to act sexy (it looks more like she has gas) and the way she delivers many of her lines is awkward. Holden, a legendary actor, gives what is no doubt the worst performance of his career. Franciscus overacts to the point of insanity and the rest of the cast is not even worth mentioning. They're just a bunch of television stars who are used to appearing in crap like this.
The cinematography is pathetic. Our director, James Goldstone, has seemingly achieved the impossible: making a tropical island look ugly. Seriously, this movie has almost no visual appeal to it, making it all the more painful to endure. It's also blatantly obvious that many of the "outdoor" scenes were filmed on a sound-stage.
Shockingly, When Time Ran Out was nominated for an Academy Award (for best costume design anyway). Despite the (undeserved) nomination, this movie is not recommended unless you are looking for a few unintentional laughs. The only good thing that can be said about this travesty is that it (mercifully) ended the "disaster movie craze" of the 1970's. For that reason alone, this movie gets 2 stars instead of 1.
The actors who signed up for this debacle should have known better.
The behind-the-scenes crew must've kept their mouths shut while filming the Irwin Allen production, knowing that the final product was going to be garbage.
There must have been a conspiracy within the Costume Design branch of the Academy Awards for nominating this and "The Swarm" two years earlier for the bland clothing right off the store shelves from Sears or K-Mart (or whatever store that was close to the Warner Brothers' Burbank studios lot or on location in Hawaii).
And I'm not going to discuss the poor blue screen effects, the cheap miniature effects or the actor's laughable reaction shots.
While writing this review, I realized that "When Time Ran Out" and "Airplane!" were both released in 1980. I guess it speaks volumes when a silly but unintentionally funny disaster movie was a flop and a silly but intentionally funny disaster spoof was a hit.