The Asylum // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 3rd, 2009
A crack in the world has started...we have 24 hours to stop it.
Brittany Murphy (Girl, Interrupted) and Eriq La Salle (E.R.) team up to fight a big-ass earthquake. Fans of Brittany Murphy, Eriq La Salle, and earthquakes won't want to miss this.
Little did anyone know, but a humongous faultline runs right up the crotch of America, and it's ready to rip. As terrain is warped, buildings fall, and mountains collapse, the Army rushes to figure out a way to keep the titular megafault from completely destroying the continental United States.
The head honchos for whatever bureaucratic cluster-F is tasked with anti-earthquake measures call in the best seismologist around, Dr. Amy Lane (Murphy). She teams up with an earthquake cowboy (La Salle) and the race is on to blow up caves and stop the fault line from advancing. Meanwhile, Amy's husband (Justin Hartley, Smallville) and daughter run away from low-grade special effects.
This is a SyFy disaster movie, so right away you should know what you're getting yourself into. There's nothing you haven't seen before in other disaster movies. Heck, as far as I'm concerned, nearly all of the parts in the world-ending genre are interchangeable. The onus then rests on the special effects to deliver a memorable catastrophic outing. Isn't that what these movies come down to, the believability of the chaos unfolding before your eyes? If you don't buy that cities are actually falling apart and there's real danger for our heroes, it's a tough sell.
To no one's surprise Megafault doesn't have the juice to meet these admittedly high standards. Even Hollywood Nuke-the-World disaster flicks with nine-figure budgets tend to be desensitizing, monotonous affairs, so how's a comparatively micro-budgeted attempt like this supposed to compete? The answer: it doesn't. All pretense of tension and terror evaporate at the first signs of the poorly rendered CGI-faultline and even poorer-rendered everything else (helicopters, avalanches, exploding RVs). Despite the shortcomings of the visual effects, the filmmakers are intent on saturating the film with them, ensuring the majority of these 90 minutes are spent wrecking stuff.
Setting aside the underperforming spectacle, what's left in Megafault? Not a whole heck of a lot. Murphy doesn't quite convince as a brilliant seismologist, but she gives it her all. I can't say the same for La Salle who looks completely bored, which is surprising considering the sheer amount of explosions and property damage transpiring around him. Hartley gets a few action-y scenes in an also-ran subplot, which is victimized by some awful scripting. So, wait, a petroleum tanker truck can outrun an earthquake? Of course it can! Just like the Army can precisely set enough explosives to create another Grand Canyon to stop the megafault in two hours!
The DVD isn't bad, sporting solid tech specs: a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and loud 5.1 surround mix. The extras: cast and crew commentary, and a brief making-of featurette.
How lame is this movie? On the back of the disc Amazon.com is quoted as such: "entertaining, a great time." Yeah, that's a user review.
Guilty. There is plenty of fault to be found here. Bada-bing!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: The Asylum
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated