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It's hard to say which was more toxic: the magma or the camera work in
Endless dart-in's, dart-out's, dizzying pans, rapid-fire jump-cuts, unnecessary point-of-view changes, and so on. It was like some two-year-old kid was playing with a video-cam. Irritating in nature, devoid of purpose, it has become a pandemic in made-for-TV flicks.
Once the bumbling camera movement has you popping sea-sickness pills, the movie introduces you to the same old assembly-line stereotypical characters rehashed on a hundred other made-for-TV flicks. You've got some Einstein-wanna-be scientist causing the menace, a bunch of blue collar heroes that are the only ones who want to save the city, a female scientist that discovers the problem but nobody listens, politicians who are breaking the law and not listening to reason, dimwits in an anti-terrorism unit, and a few extras whose only reason for existence is obviously to be victims. Two of the above serve as the obligatory divorced couple rekindling their romance while people get zapped by lava all around them.
Most imbecilic scenes: some magma burps a skull out, landing near some horrified witnesses, it's still (no, I'm not kidding) smoking like a piece of burnt toast. A guy opens a door, and lava pours out, like storage out of an over-filled closet. A fisherman catches a fish and says--oh never mind; you'd never believe it, anyway.
Anyone with an IQ over 30 would detect about a zillion scientific plot holes. If you want serious fare, skip this movie. If all you want is a cheesy disaster flick, with a lot of unintentional camp, then this one will fit the bill. Just be sure to have sea-sickness pills close at hand.
Someone should write a book on how to make a Sci-Fi original movie. And
Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York could be chapter one.
First question to the film makers: there were two fairly good Hollywood volcano movies in the 1990s. They weren't classic suspense / disaster films, but they had some ripping moments, good popcorn stuff. Did you really decide to make DZ:ViNW inferior to those films in every category? I mean, it must have been a conscious decision because that is the end product. It succeeds on not a single level.
Second question: since you have no inkling of how to build suspense, can't you admit that to yourself and give yourself an education; couldn't you at least hunker down with a dozen Hitchcock films and study how a master does it? He doesn't hit you over the head with LOTS of shouting of inanities ("It's going to blow," "We've got to get out of here," etc.) or have music hitting EVERY SINGLE MOMENT with some scene-to-scene scoring? Music is a spice, not the whole meal. DZ:ViNW's use of music is like chewing gritty pepper.
Did I mention "hitting"? My eyeballs were hit and hit and hit again with the most "look at me" use of photographic annoyances extant. Jiggle zoom in. Jiggle zoom out. Jiggle pan. Jiggle. Jiggle. Jiggle. And do it all every single second. It doesn't look like hand-held, either. It looks like the camera was attached to a rock polisher, a cake mixer, a pile driver whatever was handy that could make the viewer queasy, annoyed, and distracted. So much for mounting tension.
And the poor actors (actually some pretty good actors). This brings me to question three: why not make it a silent picture since you have no ear for dialogue or how people actually speak and act in dramatic situations? Seriously, the best actors in the world can't make lead look like diamonds. Of course, caring about these actors in their roles is a joke. No matter how close they are to searing death, no matter how precarious their emotional circumstances, I could only chuckle.
To summarize: DZ:VINW is really no worse, no better than the other under-shoe feculence of the Sci-Fi Channel (not counting it's rather good series, Stargate and Battlestar).
I'm sure the film makers are nice people and will do good work elsewhere. But there's something about the Sci-Fi Channel that contractually forces talent to make dreck.
This is about a group of underground tunnel workers in NY who come
across some molten lava while digging a new sewer. There's also a mad
scientist who's conducting experiments in geo-thermal power which
involves digging deep into the earth and using the heat to power a
generator or something. That's what causes the volcano to start
erupting. The woman who comes to investigate for the government just
happens to be the ex-wife of the tunnel digger, and of course we run
through the usual cliché of them disliking each other and then getting
back together over the course of the movie. There's also a lot of time
spent as some federal bureau comes in, shuts down the work of our
heroes, and blames the whole thing on terrorists. Yes, someone has to
stand in the way of our heroes doing what must be done, if for no other
reason than that it's in the handbook of required clichés for disaster
Overall, it's just insanely cheesy and silly, with lines like "They're screwing with the pressure of the Earth's crust". Another scene involves lava erupting out of a guy's house and killing 70 people, but the authorities are apparently too stupid to notice the lava (I would think it would be painfully obvious), so they think it was a terrorist bomb. I also got a kick out of how a wood frame house could contain molten lava - until the guy opens the door! The special effects are funny throughout the whole movie, it adds a certain B movie charm I suppose. I especially liked the part where a single pistol round is all that's required to reroute the lava from one tunnel to another. The acting is pretty spotty, the evil genius guy is prone to scenery chewing, and one of the female characters manages to pull off Mexican, Italian and Czechoslovakian accents over the course of her performance. The two main characters turn in good enough performances.
I say this is not too terrible - for a disaster movie - because there's no sappy melodrama involving kids, pregnant women, sanctimonious paramedics, or inner city gang members. There's no speech by the black or female president at the end saying "we should have listened to the environmentalists". And best of all, there's no little girl looking at a bunch of people covered in volcanic ash and saying "Look mommy, they're all the same color". Oddly enough, for a disaster movie, the "special" effects actually serve as a backdrop for the story, not the other way around. But still it's just so tiresomely predictable that it's hard to make it through to the end.
I've got to give Sarah Watson credit. She wrote a screenplay and
somebody apparently paid good money for it. With that aside, let me say
that this isn't a B-movie. It isn't even a C-movie. It may be the
world's first D-movie.
Absolutely every character in this movie is an idiot. All the women act like little girls. One of the characters (a man, of course) is shot in the arm. After climbing a long ladder, he comes to a short ladder and says, "I can't climb it with my injured arm." Really? You did a pretty good job a few steps back. I've climbed ladders with a full bucket in one hand.
No use going into all the stupid, idiotic, irrational, unsafe, self-serving...did I say idiotic yet?...things the characters do.
Avoid this movie. It has no redeeming value and Ms. Watson ought to be ashamed of herself...all the way to the bank to cash her check.
This is the worst type of filming I have ever seen in my entire life.
The person who filmed it kept zooming the camera in and out like they
were investigative reporters. If you feel you wish to watch this movie,
I would strongly suggest saving yourself the 97mins of your life and do
something more productive. My personal rating for terrible acting and
garbage filming: one(1) out of ten(10).
I had to sign up just to make a comment regarding this movie because I definitely wasted my money and my time on it and here I am doing what I can to save others the time and grief. Good luck! sorry if you feel in any way this is spam but I don't feel to write anymore things in relation to this crap movie. If I get banned/blacklisted, at least it will be for a good cause to warn others before hand!
Its kind of a cross between "Volcano" and "Armageddeon". A volcano erupts in a major city and the fate of millions lies in the hands of a team of ditch-diggers. This movie was just plain awful, even for a Sci-Fi movie. The special effects were pathetic and the acting was even worse. The very plot of the movie is lost on me and the movie is just impossible. I am a huge fan of B-movies and I am very entertained by some of the worst movies of all time. This movie, however, is just plain stupid. I expected more out of Michal Ironsides (Starship Troopers) and Alexandria Paul. The cast was decent, but the plot, special FX and acting were terrible.
While the plot of the movie wasn't bad and almost plausible, the camera work was extremely distracting and a bit annoying. The camera person seemed to zoom in and out and all over the place for no apparent reason. Saw something similar to that camera work during the 1989 earthquake of Northern California while attempting to film the World Series. Enough to make one motion-sick. Too bad since the acting was okay and the general theme wasn't bad. Special effects were acceptable. The movie was entertaining as far as disaster movies go. Probably wouldn't see it again but worth a peek if you can get past the camera work.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Such was the question occurring to me as I struggled through yet
another disastrously ridiculous SciFi Channel disaster movie. Do they
intend for their homegrown movies to be so cheap, so silly, so patently
obvious in what passes for plot? I have watched half a dozen of these
"SciFi Channel World Premiere Event" movies in the past year and each
is uniquely, achingly bad in its own right. Disaster Zone: Volcano in
New York, however, brings bad into a new light.
Every hackneyed device of disaster movie development is employed to predictable, hackneyed affect: the hero, a burly tunnel digger, leads his crew of rough-but-capable misfits (Local 147 "Sand Hogs") in a daring race against the volcano to save New York City from certain incineration by lava. Along the way, he encounters his bitter ex-wife, a USGS PhD who, apparently, is woefully unfamiliar with the indications of volcanic activity and must be convinced by Mr. Sand Hog that what has been happening across the city is not actually terrorism. Throw in some incompetent DHS and FBI investigators; an incredulous mayor and his scheming, corrupt deputy; a female Sand Hog whose daddy was a legend among Sand Hogs; a foreman who is overly safety-conscious, except when he's not; and the unfortunate but gruesome deaths of several supporting "color" characters and you've got your standard disaster movie fare, all dressed up with nowhere to go except straight down the tubes.
As seems to be the new standard, the volcano is not itself the "enemy," typically the case in classic disaster movies; no, the volcano is the unfortunate result spawned by a greedy (read: evil) scientist of the "mad" persuasion who has drilled a 7-mile deep hole beneath Manhattan into the Earth's molten core so as to capture the thermal energy and make bazillions of dollars. Really. Greedy, Evil Scientist guy has been able to pull this off with the help of the Deputy Mayor, who has greased palms all over the city in order to keep the drilling secret until such time as the thermal energy could be captured and the resulting power plant used to "open franchises" the world over. Oh, and make Greedy, Evil Scientist guy and Deputy Mayor filthy, stinking rich.
Once Mr. Sand Hog has convinced Dr. USGS that there really is a volcano developing beneath Manhattan, it is up to Local 147 to stop it. Of course. With just 5 guys, two of whom die in the process. C'mon, you know how this goes: the greedy, evil scientist guy dies, the safety-waffling foreman dies, the homeless guy dies, the black guy dies, the Hispanic pyromaniac dies in a column of lava, the female Sand Hog survives and Mr. Sand Hog and Dr. USGS get back together and suck face as the credits roll.
In the 50s and 60s, we were subjected to horror movies populated with monsters created from nuclear testing. In the 70s, disaster movies became an art form, with man struggling - often in futility - against the ravages of nature: no way did George Kennedy try to stop that 1975 earthquake, but he sure managed the aftermath really, really well. We would see disaster as the result of man's folly - think "The Towering Inferno" for example - but also as the quirky acts of nature they are. There is no moral imperative in an avalanche: the best one could be accused of is getting what's coming to them for being in the wrong place, against instructions.
In these modern disaster movies, we are treated to scenarios in which garden variety pests (bees, bats, locusts and the like) become monsters created out of genetic engineering or toxic waste dumping, or the very planet itself rebels against its victimization at the hands of mankind, specifically, Greedy Evil Scientist guys and their investors. That the Department of Homeland Security plays so prominently in this story is, I think, indicative of the scare level living just below the surface of the American consciousness. Perhaps we can console ourselves with thinking that we can have some control over terrorism when faced with the towering realities of volcanic activity. How much more helpless can a person be than in the face of a volcano? Instead, as the FBI and DHS chase their tails around looking for bogeyman "terrorists," science and tunnel workers overtake and control nature. One wonders if the SciFi Channel folks intended for this to be the moral of the story: terrorists, we can't catch 'em but, boy howdy, we can put a hurt on a natural disaster! One doubts that such a "lesson" is the purpose here, as it seems very little in this TV movie is planned out that well. The clichés are working overtime, the special effects aren't, and you and your sweetie can project the plot line almost to a certainty. There are no surprises in Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York, except perhaps your own surprise at your willingness to waste two hours of your life on such dreck. Not a bad way to snozzle away two hours on a bitterly cold Saturday night, but those are two hours of your life you will never get back. If you must watch this movie, invite some friends over and make it a party.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie isn't as bad as it first seems. This movie has all the elements of a fine disaster movie; inept Government officials, unjustly ridiculed hero, the evil psychologically challenged scientist and the sniveling bureaucrat trying to cover it all up to save his own butt. It goes through the predicted path of catastrophe that gets our hero fired and ridiculed by the people that should be the ones to listen. Amazing that no one actually investigates the deaths by inspecting the death scene. When confronted with an explanation the mayor turns to the sniveling underling who happens to be in league with a complete nut of a scientist intent on bringing Geothermal Energy to New York City, a good cause but a bad concept by doing it in the heart of the city. The science if very fuzzy so don't expect any "A" from a Geology teacher as the vulcanology is about as good in this one as in other volcano movies. The threat of terrorist is also the great concern and the official is a complete clown seeing terrorist under every bed which is completely unreal and stupid. It added nothing to the story at all and only seems added to create the typical hate Bush Hollywood mania. When our hero goes to confront the investigators from the United States Geological Service about lava in the tunnels he was working in, who does he find, non other but his former wife. Actually this is the best parts of the show because Matt (Costas Mandylor) and Susan (Alexandra Paul) actually works well together and has very good chemistry. At least they are of the same age group and not 20 yrs in age difference as has been done recently in Sci-Fi Channel movies. The supporting cast is good and it has one always impeccable gem in Michael Ironside that plays the demented scientist Doctor Levering. Ironside has played so many great roles as the bad guy. This particular role is one of a scientist that has finally gone over the edge after he observes his project literally blow up in his face. The predictable Mayor that when confronted by reality wants to see the geologist that warned of the disaster (A. Paul) and has the sniveling underling arrested. There is a final attempt to stay the disaster by the sandhogs by diverting the lava into the underground tunnels of NYC which saves the city. Of course there are also the predictable losses of hero support lives in the final battle with the lava. Also there is the inevitable fight between our hero and the crazed scientist in the tunnel. Overall even with the predictable ingredients, characters and crummy science I enjoyed the movie. It wasn't a riveting epic by any means, but it wasn't a complete waste of time either.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film has no redeeming value. It's just plain awful in every
respect: story, screenplay, direction, acting, jiggly camera work,
annoying score, common sense, etc., etc., etc. The Disaster Zone IS
There's really nothing I could do to spoil this flick. It reeks. But here's just one "spoiler" to illustrate the inanity and nonsense that awaits those dumb enough to watch it:
* 100 homeless people are found dead in Central Park. They died from inhaling poisonous gases generated by the underground volcano.
* Workers and scientists travel through subway tunnels and other confined spaces - within sight of flowing lava!! - with NO breathing apparatus whatsoever. They chatter amongst themselves and rarely even cough. In real life, they would all be DEAD within minutes.
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