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After a series of small tremors in Los Angeles, Dr. Clare Winslow, a local seismologist, pinpoints the exact location and time of when the long awaited earthquake--"The Big One"--will strike southern California. With this information, she must battle city officials to release this information to the general public. Also, she hopes that her family is out of harms way when the quake strikes. Subplots show how other families and people cope with the the tremors that strike before the impending "Big One." Written by
John R. Price <email@example.com>
Forget for a second that the acting and the dialogue are not exactly first-rate; this isn't Shakespeare or Spielberg. This 1990 made-for-TV film does focus on an all-too-plausible disaster for those of us, like myself, who live in Southern California--a cataclysmic earthquake tearing the region apart.
Irritating subplots aside (Robert Ginty's greedy developer engaging in what I'd call "Quakegate"; Joe Spano's emergency management chief torn between Ginty and Kerns; Richard Masur's Geraldo-like tabloid TV reporter), THE BIG ONE is just too effective in its depiction of destruction on a scale not seen in a long time. Kerns' performance as seismologist Claire Winslow is clearly modeled off of CalTech scientists Lucy Jones and Kate Hutton. The film's science is also pretty straight-on, especially when one realizes that the quakes that have shook up Southern California since the 1971 Sylmar event have not occurred along the dreaded San Andreas Fault but on faults of which little or nothing is known about.
So whatever plot pratfalls it has, THE BIG ONE still works as an ultimate science fiction/disaster movie, at least from the science angle.
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