Friday 11 January 2013

Meteor Storm

Watch the Syfy Channel for long enough and you’ll likely end up writing your will, kissing your loved ones goodbye and then getting very, very drunk.

That’s because their film output almost exclusively features doomsday scenarios where the Earth is faced with imminent destruction by a natural disaster of some far-fetched description.

Over the years, this enterprising channel has churned out just about every possible permutation on a disaster movie genre. From tornados, floods, ice ages and earthquakes to brimming volcanoes, there isn’t an apocalyptic set-up that hasn’t been exploited to instil some end-of-days’ anxiety in to the long-suffering viewer.

Having thus exhausted all earthly possibilities, the geniuses behind Meteor Storm (2010) turn their gaze to the stars for inspiration. And for this particular movie, camera-friendly San Francisco has become the target for the titular deluge of space rubble.

But as destruction is wrought on the city, the scientific and military bigwigs tasked to deal with the crisis quickly realise there’s an even bigger problem: the bothersome meteor storm is merely a prelude to a jumbo-sized space rock that could send the entire human race the way of the dinosaurs.

Will homo sapiens become extinct – or will a way to avert disaster be found? Frankly, a way to avert disaster will in all likelihood be found.

Having made so many of these doomsday films, the Syfy Channel has by now finessed a basic story template into which any new disaster can be simply inserted. It’s a one-story-fits-all approach to movie-making.

So imagine the audience’s lack of surprise when the film’s heroes turn out to be an estranged husband and wife who, in having to work together to save the world, decide that ‘Hey, if we can save the planet, maybe we’ll save our relationship as well’. Maybe they’ve seen Twister…

And if these loathsome lovebirds weren’t enough to contend with, they predictably have some irritating progeny whose only role is to put themselves into entirely avoidable jeopardy.

Michael Trucco looks as interested as I was watching
Also phoning in a performance is the obligatory minor character who, for no obvious reason, can’t help but be obnoxious and callous. Yes, he does suffer a fatal asteroid-related accident. I know, what were the odds?

And yet, despite being the product of a well-oiled story machine, this is a strangely tame effort. Oddly, for a film first and foremost about the end of the world, the meteor storm only ever feels like a minor inconvenience in the lives of the characters.

Mom and Pop, for example, seem more concerned about their daughter‘s new boyfriend than the end of civilisation. Well, what’s the fate of six billion people compared to whether your little girl’s been playing hide-the-salami with the school football captain?

The whole film seems bone-achingly tired, wearily trudging through the genre tropes with the enthusiasm of a condemned prisoner thrown a shovel and told to start digging his own grave.

Against such a depressing backdrop, I was in desperately hoping the helicopter explosion might in some small way redeem the film. Unfortunately, I was cruelly wrong.

What happens is this: trying to figure out why the meteors are exclusively targeting San Francisco (other than a mediocre filming budget), a bunch of boffins head off in a chopper to take samples from the fallen space rock. As they fly back to base, they’re hit by some astrological debris and crash-land.

Or at least that’s what I think happened, because all this occurs off-screen. Presumably as a result of budgetary constraints, the viewer only arrives at the scene after the helicopter has crashed – having been first filled in on events via a radio report.

We do at least arrive in time to see the chopper smouldering whilst the occupants are pulled from the fuselage. Conveniently, after everyone has made it to a safe distance the helicopter explodes.

Artistic merit

Truly abysmal. The helicopter doesn’t explode so much as become obscured behind a curiously green-hued CGI smudge. It’s so brief, you can only assume that even the filmmakers were embarrassed by the utter poverty of their efforts.

Exploding helicopter innovation

As loathe as I am to give this film any credit, this is still the first known destruction of a helicopter by a meteor.

Do passengers survive?

Yes. As the helicopter crash-lands prior to explosion, there’s time for all passengers to be rescued.


In an otherwise turgid production, I did enjoy the gung-ho General in charge of the military response. He spends the entire film demanding a full-scale nuclear assault on the meteor, repeatedly barking: “Get me a missile firing solution now!”

His rabid aggression reminded me of George C Scott’s bonkers Commie-hating General in Cold War classic Dr Strangelove. It’s almost as if he believes the whole situation has been cooked up by the Russkies and, were you to cut open the meteors, a hammer and sickle would run all the way through them like a stick of communist Blackpool rock.


Where to start? The acting? The script? The direction? The special effects? Every aspect of this film is uniformly awful.

Favourite quote

“Gentlemen, it’s my theory that the entire Bay Area was created by an asteroid strike from millions of years ago.”

“That may explain the Bay Area’s historically bad cell phone coverage.”

Interesting fact

Not that interesting, but Meteor Storm shouldn’t be confused with Meteor Apocalypse released in the same year.

Review by: Jafo