Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A little bit of my soul asplodes...

So, I have chronicled how Wonder Wife and I have been dipping from the well of disaster mivies on Netflix with Exploding Sun and Ring of Fire, and we tried again last night with CAT. 8 starring the often very good Matthew Modine. The quality curve dipped downward sharply.

A secret government project to harness solar energy and use it to alter the Earth's magnetosphere to combat global warming gets weaponized in an even secreter government project. The initial test of the weapon goes awry and spits some solar energy back into the sun. For some reason, this causes solar flares, falling satellites, and eventually a coronal mass ejection so colossal that it will strike Earth, cause a Category 8 event - the destruction of planet.

The film's title conceit encapsulates how bad it is. It is announced in the White House situation room as the threat rises from a Category 5 (major loss of life disaster) to 6 (breakdown of fabric of society and technological infrastructure) to 7 (loss of all human life) and so on, but we never feel it. The global catastrophe is presented by people reading reading emails and a few wide matte shots of cities. That's it. Even the local disaster (the film is centered in Boston) takes place off-screen and only the aftermath is shown. This is the most boring disaster film since The Swarm in 1978, which had South American killer bees destroy a nuclear power plant and the audience didn't get to see it explode.

Modine sleepwalks through his role as a disgraced solar physicist who can somehow deduce a solar flare from a small earthquake and spotty cell phone coverage and who is the only one with the know-how to Put Things Right (because he developed the program before it was weaponized and he left it because he is a bit of a peacenik). He seems to convey only one attitude, whether dealing with his ex-wife's new husband, his daughter's boyfriend, or the end of life on earth: mild annoyance, with a bit of peevishness thrown in. The rest of the cast might have been recruited from a high school drama society, for all the emotion and authenticity that they invest their roles with.

After an exciting stint sitting in a cell for a good third of the movie and some pulse-pounding cable-attaching (really, that's the climactic set piece), the scientist and the boyfriend save the world. But is it over? The daughter's heirloom compass is going crazy and the Secretary of Defense, angry that the scientist has saved the world and made him look bad, has the scientist kidnaped by special ops guys. Looks like we'll have to watch the second half of this mini-series to find out how the story ends!

I am trying to convince Wonder Wife that that's not going happen. This movie was beyond enjoyably bad and well into life is too short to watch bad Matthew Modine pictures territory.

I think I'm done.

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