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Case Number 12314

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Dark Storm

Lionsgate // 2007 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 2nd, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson's Uncle Herb used to say "When a dark storm is comin', get the cows in the barn and button your pants because the cheese is about to fly upside down." Uncle Herb has some mental problems.

The Charge

Armageddon is on the horizon.

Opening Statement

Stephen Baldwin stars in this disaster movie with a physics lab twist. Yee-haw.

Facts of the Case

Dr. Daniel Gray (Baldwin) is a member of a crack team of scientists screwing around with dark matter and attempting to harness it for God knows what. The shifty project lead, however, fully knows what he wants to use the technology for, and that's to sell to the highest bidders and turn into a cataclysmic weapon of mass destruction.

When the bad guys make off with the super-secret dark matter-harnessing weapon, Gray and his cohorts are dispatched by the U.S. government to track it down. Along the way, Gray gets intimate with some special effects and turns into a superhero that can throw balls of lightning at people and turn his eyes blue.

The Evidence

The hardest reviews to write are about films like these, endeavors that aren't really train-wrecks, but not very compelling either, just utterly mediocre. So I'm going to give it the old college try and try to squeeze out a fair number of words, but no promises on the quality and/or insightfulness of those words.

Okay, that's one paragraph down. Dark Storm brings nothing new to the table, except for the nature of the disaster, this dark matter thing. I've never seen anything tackle this, though I'm doubtful the hard science matches up with the screenplay. Having this bluish-gray energy swarming around and raining down lightning bolts and super-smog is pretty cool, but the requisite of course is capable visual effects work to make the pain and suffering believable.

Needless to say, this low-budget sci-fi saga doesn't have the resources to pump out mind-blowing CGI, but the effort put forward by the animators wasn't a total disgrace. Economy and obvious, sure, though there was enough mayhem going on to make the craziness stick. I liked the expansive shots of the storm clouds and the lightning looked fine and when the dark matter fog enveloped people and structures and disintegrated them, that wasn't too bad. Ironically, the effects stumbled most when normal things were animated, like a helicopter (yikes) or a satellite (double yikes).

The movie goes beyond the traditional "Holy @#$% we're all going to die!" approach of typical disaster movies by giving Stephen Baldwin's character some neat-o superpowers. They're obviously tacked on to give the flick some nerd cred, but I didn't mind. Dudes getting smacked in the face with balls of visual effects is usually agreeable, and despite Baldwin lollygagging through the runtime, it was entertaining enough to watch him turn into third-string Superfriend.

Anything else you need to know about this sci-fi movie of the week? Corny, but sporadically fun visual effects and a portly Baldwin shooting lightning out of his fingers. If that sounds like a fun time for you, by all means.

The extras-free DVD sports a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer often besieged by a grainy picture and a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround audio track.

Closing Statement

Anything else you need to know about this scifi movie of the week? Corny, but sporadically fun visual effects and a portly Baldwin shooting lightning out of his fingers. If that sounds like a fun time for you, by all means. I told you these reviews are hard to write.

The Verdict

Look, whatever man.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 75
Audio: 80
Extras: 20
Acting: 65
Story: 65
Judgment: 66

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Action
• Science Fiction

Distinguishing Marks

• Trailers


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