The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 5.12.14 Issue #306: Super Cyclone (2012)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 05.12.2014
A look at the 2012 natural disaster flick Super Cyclone, a TV Quick Hit about the network up-fronts, a new B-Movie Babe is named and a new Douchebag of the Week, and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #306: Super Cyclone (2012)
MAYhem: Week 2
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that thinks a dog with a chainsaw is pretty terrifying, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and six, MAYhem continues with a look at the 2012 disaster flick Super Cyclone, written and directed by Liz Adams.
Super Cyclone (2012)
Super Cyclone is one of the worst low budget natural disaster movies I've ever seen. Outside of having some decent special effects and a good main cast, the movie has almost no plot, no story, and is essentially just a series of connected scenes where stuff happens. No one really has a character to play. I spent most of the movie trying to figure out why no one is allowed to act. When we see someone on screen he or she just shouts out orders, "scientific explanations" on what's happening, or tries to explain the major danger that's coming, either from the killer storm or from the debris caused by the killer storm. Very little of it is ever all that interesting.
The movie stars Ming-Na as Dr. Jenna Sparks, a NOAA scientist working with the U.S. Marines who is charged with investigating a major catastrophe on a deep sea oil rig that has malfunctioned for some reason. Working with Dr. Sparks is Dr. Percy Cavanaugh (Andy Clemence), a medic and some other sort of scientist, and Travis Verdon (Nicholas Turturro), a structural engineer who works for the oil company that owns the oil rig. Verdon is actually the first main character we see in the movie, as we see him rescue his uncle and other oil workers who are caught in an explosion caused by the oil rig's drill. As we slowly find out from the two scientists and the engineer, the oil rig's drill went too deep and opened a hole in the ground that allowed magma to come out. The magma super heats the ocean water and then, in tandem with the sky, creates a massive cyclone off the coast of California. The cyclone then grows and grows and becomes a "super cyclone" that threatens to destroy most of California.
So some stuff happens, Dr. Sparks and company end up moving from the collapsing oil rig to the mainland where they deal with nasty hail and fiery debris and just general wreckage. Things start exploding, the state government panics, and the Marine in charge of California's response to the ongoing disaster, Colonel Lee Chadwick (Darin Cooper), tries to figure out what to do next. The super cyclone has disrupted most of the state's cell phone coverage and the Colonel is unable to contact Dr. Sparks and her team in the field. While all of that is going on, oil rig leader Gary Winters (Dylan Vox) and his right hand man Engineer Alex Rowell (Jonathan Le Billon) try to hold the oil rig together. They evacuate the rig of most of its workers and then try to keep people from falling into the suddenly boiling ocean water below.
So then a bunch of people die, Dr. Sparks and Verdon finally get back to the Marine base Camp Pendleton to confer with Colonel Chadwick (Dr. Cavanaugh is sucked down into a sinkhole), and, with the help of the nerdy Dr. Flynn (Mitch Lerner), come up with a scheme to launch a missile into the center of the ever growing cyclone. When that plan doesn't work, they decide to send a boat into the main cyclone area in order to cool down the area in the seabed where the magma came out. Or something like that.
There's just way too much talking about nothing in this movie. Every five minutes or so one of the characters, usually Ming-Na's Sparks, tries to explain what's going on via dense scientific jargon that sounds awful. None of it makes any sense. And the discussions on the oil rig between Winters and Rowell are even worse than that. They're always trying something new or coming up with some new approach that is never given a chance to pan out because, as far as I can tell, they never actually implement their new plan. Why aren't there any quite moments where we're allowed to get to know Dr. Sparks or Verdon or anyone else? Why does the movie constantly move at such a break neck pace? The movie doesn't become more exciting because of it; the movie instead just drags on even more.
I'm also confused about what's actually happening. The stuff on the oil rig is incredibly confusing (is the super cyclone next to the rig or is it miles away? Why does the sky dark in some rig scenes but not dark in others? And why wasn't the rig completely destroyed once the super cyclone grew to be the size of a skyscraper? And what exactly are Winters and Rowell trying to do? And why the hell do they commit suicide at the end of the movie by jumping into the boiling ocean? What exactly are they accomplishing? Did they know that they were committing suicide?
And then there's Dr. Sparks' and Verdon's trek onto the mainland. What the hell are they doing? Are they simply trying to get to the Marine base? And why are the Marines handling this oil rig operation to begin with? Why wouldn't the President declare a state of emergency in the state of California? Why wouldn't the governor bring in the National Guard to help keep order? And, again, why aren't there any moments where Dr. Sparks explains herself and what she's doing working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration? And who the hell is Verdon? Why does his uncle work on the oil rig?
The special effects are pretty decent. There's a nice scene where the main characters try to escape from falling flaming debris and the scene where Dr. Sparks sends a fighter jet into the super cyclone is pretty cool to look at. And the sinkhole scene where Dr. Cavanaugh dies is kind of nifty (that hole really looks like it goes on forever). I just wish more care had been directed towards the script so the cast could have an actual story to act in. I mean, I sort of get the overall earnestness of the characters to stop the super cyclone, but why can't the characters have a story to act in, too?
Ming-Na tries very hard to make you care about what her Dr. Sparks is trying to accomplish but all she really gets to do is explain what's going on "scientifically" and then shout out instructions. And Nicholas Turturro tries hard, too, but all he really gets to do is limp around from scene to scene (I'm going to assume that he naturally walks with a limp and his walk in this movie isn't the result of an incident in the lower level of the oil rig). And Darin Cooper, as Colonel Chadwick, goes from being incredibly concerned about Dr. Sparks because he believes in her to not believing a word she says. He also doesn't seem to be all that concerned about having to lead the response to the super cyclone. I guess that's because he doesn't have a command center to operate from (how do you even do one of these movies without a command center filled with computers and big screens and whatnot? Isn't that a requirement?).
Super Cyclone isn't very good. In fact, it's terrible. It should be better. It has all of the tools necessary to be better. So what the heck happened? Why isn't it better?
Avoid Super Cyclone unless you absolutely have to see it. I have no idea why you would need to see it (perhaps you're writing a series of themed reviews for the internets?).
You have been warned.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: Hundreds, maybe thousands.
Explosions: Multiple large and small ones.
Nudity?: None. It's not that kind of movie.
Doobage: Multiple explosions, magma, a giant fireball, total island destruction, fake lightning, people outrunning a sudden giant fireball in slow motion, a shaking helicopter, big waves, a boiling ocean, lots of yelling, a gross leg burn, a flying car, very cool low budget super cyclone special effects, a capsizing oil rig, more explosions, massive hail, flaming debris falling from the sky, a very destroyed truck, vent closing, a small fire extinguisher, the total evacuation of southern California off screen, a two-man special ops team, battery charging, CGI water, dam busting, granola bars, stock footage of flooded streets, exploding road, a giant sinkhole, guys falling into boiling water, Coast Guard ship destruction, choking, potential suicide, CGI jet fighter hooey, a liquid nitrogen plug, an old guy with only two fingers on his right hand, a rainbow that isn't a rainbow, and an awkward hug.
Kim Richards?: Implied.
Gratuitous: Magma, Camp Pendleton, Ming-Na, Nicholas Turturro, fake lightning, lots of yelling, outrunning the storm, "emergency dumps," a small fire extinguisher, charging laptop batteries, granola bars, exploding road, CGI jet fighter hooey, releasing liquid nitrogen, a rainbow that isn't really a rainbow, and an awkward hug.
Best lines: "This must be a big storm if they're sending in the big boss," "We got a punch through with methane!," "Cyclone?," "Don't let me lose my leg!," "God! They're boiling alive! Bring them back!," "This storm, it's moving way too fast!," "A super cyclone is coming! Millions of people are going to die!," "We may be able to use my nano technology research to stop the storm," "Sir! I got some strange images from NASA!," "The car is one fire! The car is on fire! Stop the truck! Everything is on fire!," "The dam is breached, sir," "Where is my damn team?," "This is just pre-storm turbulence! The storm hasn't even hit yet!," "What's going on with that tree?," "You synthesized a super volcano?," "Bring in the generators!," "Is this over? Is this really over?," and "It's a person!"
*** Next week: MAYhem continues with Stonados (2013)!
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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- I, Frankenstein: I missed this when it was in theatres, which is annoying to me personally as it was one of my must sees for 2014. It also bombed at the box office for some reason. I really thought more people would check it out as it had that Underworld look to it and those movies made oodles of money. I'll definitely get a chance to check it out now. All I'll have to do is buy the DVD. And I will. Very soon.
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters: This is the American version of the 1956 original featuring Raymond Burr. I'm going to assume that this DVD isn't packed with extras similar to the Criterion Collection version that was released of this and the original Japanese version not that long ago. If you're into extras and whatnot get that version. If you just want the American version of the movie on DVD get this one.
- Poseidon Rex: Director Mark L. Lester, of Commando and Armed and Dangerous, Class of 1984, and Showdown in Little Tokyo fame, is apparently now in the low budget monster movie business as he made this movie. It looks pretty good, and if I do another month of monster movies in 2015 Poseidon Rex could show up on the review list.
- Special ID: The great Donnie Yen stars in this action flick that sees him infiltrate a ruthless crime syndicate for some reason. It doesn't really matter why, though, does it? Just as long as Donnie gets to kick some ass.
- Compound Fracture: This low budget horror flick stars Derek Mears, Tyler Mane (he also co-wrote the screenplay), Leslie Easterbrook, the Daniel Roebuck, and Todd Farmer, so based on that list alone it's worth checking out. Plus, take a look at that DVD cover. Am I the only one freaked the heck out?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits: Cancellations and Pick-Ups
The broadcast networks have finally released information in regards to what they're keeping and what they're getting rid of. Most of the internets is pissed with NBC because it decided to get rid of Community. I've never seen the show so I have no real opinion one way or the other. I'm personally pissed with ABC for cancelling two great comedies, Trophy Wife and Super Fun Night. I sort of understand why Rebel Wilson's Super Fun Night was thrown overboard as it was kind of weird and didn't really fit in with the other comedies on the network (it was a bad decision to put it on after Modern Family). But Trophy Wife? That show had all kinds of potential and was always funny. Why did it have to go?
Over on CBS, Robin Williams' show The Crazy Ones was given the boot, along with Bad Teacher (it didn't even get a month despite having decent potential), Friends with Better Lives (it was terrible), and Intelligence. Intelligence was cool and could have gone on for a long time, but for whatever reason it didn't work for audiences. Will CBS move Hawaii Five O back to Monday nights after the whole "limited season" thing tanked?
NBC decided to cancel Revolution, a show that I quit watching after three episodes. It was just too complicated. Dracula is gone, too. But Hannibal will be around for another season, and it sounds like Parenthood will be back for one more season. I wish I had kept watching that show. I watched the first two seasons and liked it quite a bit but, mostly for time reasons, I gave up on it. Critics continue to love the show, so will it now get some awards recognition since it's ending, or will it be passed over again for shit like Mad Men?
Fox cancelled Dads, which was a funny show that just needed a little tweaking in order to be a great show. Almost Human was a great show that should have been given a second season. What the heck is Karl Urban going to do now?
ABC cancelled The Neighbors, a show that I didn't really care for but probably could have survived if it had not been moved from Wednesday nights. I was surprised by the cancellation of Suburgatory. I didn't like that show, either, but I thought it had a big enough audience to warrant a fourth season. Will the show's reruns move over to ABC Family?
On the pick-up front, CBS will have a third NCIS and a second CSI (well, it's a fourth CSI but since Miami and New York were cancelled the new CSI: Cyber is officially the new CSI 2). Katherine Hiegel will be returning to TV with a show that will likely be cancelled quickly. Kate Walsh is set to star in some sort of judge comedy that could last a full season before being cancelled. The new Debra Messing show, The Mysteries of Laura, looks kind of interesting. And Constantine, yet another DC Comics inspired comic book show, is set to air on Friday nights where it will be paired up with ongoing hit Grimm, a show I really need to check out (when the heck is it going into syndication?). Constantine looks good, but I have a feeling that it will go away quickly. I just don't have much hope for it ratings wise.
Secrets and Lies, starring Ryan Phillipe on ABC, will last two weeks, maybe three. Agent Carter looks great and will probably do about as well as Agents of SHIELD, which is to say okay but not great (unless the show tanks big time ABC will keep that show on no matter what. It has far too much invested in Marvel to let it go). Selfie on ABC will be cancelled immediately, and American Crime will likely bomb after two weeks. A to Z on NBC has a sort of shot of lasting a season, but then I thought The Paul Reiser Show would last longer than two episodes so what the hell do I know? Red Band Society could end up a hit as it sounds just weird enough to make people want to tune in.
And why the hell is NBC moving The Blacklist to Thursdays? Why would you move your biggest new show away from the timeslot that helped make it one of your networks only real hits? I hope it works out on Thursday nights. It's such a good show. I don't want it to go away. And why is CBS dragging its feet with How I Met Your Dad? Is it on the schedule or not?
I'm going to assume that every network's schedule will be released this week at some point. I think I also need to start watching more shows on the CW. I don't want to lose all of my nerd credibility by not watching the new The Flash. And I really need to start watching Arrow.
I need more time in the day to do all of this stuff. I really do.
I also want to say that I'm slightly more optimistic about the upcoming fall TV season than I was last fall. Only slightly. About 85% of the new shows this fall will be cancelled as opposed to 90%.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Ming-Na
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Wrestlemania XXX: Wrestlemania DVD's are always worth getting, and this one appears to be no exception. Lots of people are definitely going to want to pick this up to see, with their own eyes, The Undertaker lose at Wrestlemania. I know I didn't think it would ever happen. WWE DVDs in general are usually worth getting, so there's that, too.
- The Zombinator: The immortal Patrick Kilpatrick appears in this low budget sort of found footage genre mash-up of action, horror, and zombie movie. At least that's what the trailer and the plot description over at imdb seem to indicate. You would think, though, that with a title like The Zombinator that the movie would actually be about a zombie cyborg or something like that.
- Panic Button: This is apparently some sort of well regarded British thriller about people trapped on an airplane having to do nasty things because of whatever. That kind of movie always has the potential to be a classic.
- LA Maniac: This movie was originally titled The Los Angeles Ripper, but for whatever reason its name has been changed to LA Maniac, presumably to ride the coattails of the Maniac remake starring Elijah Wood. The fine folks at Troma are releasing it, so you know that even if the movie stinks the DVD itself will be cool.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to the U.S. Supreme Court for its ruling last week in regards to prayers at official government meetings. The court ruled that it was fine with the idea of public government meetings, large and small, opening with a prayer because of America's rich religious history, completely ignoring the idea that the government shouldn't be in the business of promoting any one religion over another, which is what the town council in Greece, New York was doing even if it didn't mean to do it. So don't be surprised if this ruling then leads to cases in which public school teachers, principals, and other people deliberately push their religion onto others because of America's rich religious history. I give it five years before right wing Christianity is everywhere.
Everywhere. Ginsburg needs to retire, the President needs to appoint a young liberal judge before the Republicans take over the Senate, and then a Democrat needs to win in 2016 just in case some other Supreme Court judge decides to retire. At this point it's our only hope. And the Democrats need to make everyone aware of this. It's the reality of what we're facing. It really is.
Up next is the ultra right wing media machine, for trying to blame Hillary Clinton for the recent kidnappings in Nigeria. President Obama was blamed, too, but former Secretary of State Clinton was blamed because she didn't declare the terrorist outfit responsible for the kidnappings, Boko Haram, a terrorist organization, as if that designation would have stopped the kidnappings or anything else from happening (current Secretary of State John Kerry designated the outfit a terrorist organization not that long ago and it didn't stop anything from happening). But then that's not the point of the assault. Since Clinton is the current designated Democratic Presidential nominee front runner for 2016 everything bad that happens will somehow become her fault regardless of what it is. Everything. And it'll be relentless.
Do you think the Democrats will eventually speak up and make everyone aware of this?
Ha. Yeah, I know. Ridiculous.
And finally there's Media Matters for America, for not immediately accepting its employees wish to unionize. As the Huffington Post reported, MMFA has apparently decided to ignore its employees' wishes to form a union and force a secret ballot vote which will give MMFA management time to bully people into voting against the union. For a liberal progressive outfit to deny its employees the ability to unionize is nothing short of despicable. Hopefully company founder David Brock isn't the one behind this and MMFA does the right thing and simply accepts its employees' wish to form a union. MMFA does great work and is too important to be destroyed by this kind of bullshit.
Come on, Media Matters. Don't fail. Don't.
Indycar and NASCAR thoughts
The first ever Indycar race on the reconfigured Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course was an absolute disgrace of an event. It produced the first standing start crash in series history that took out three cars and apparently injured the mayor of Indianapolis (he was the ceremonial starter and was hit by debris from the crash on the front stretch), it injured James Hinchcliffe, and it produced almost no actual; side-by-side racing. Yes, the restarts were sort of action packed, but once the cars got strung out in the middle part of the course it was follow-the-leader "racing" similar to what we saw when Formula One was competing at Indy (the race also reminded me of the last race Indycar staged in Japan on the Motegi road course where it looked like the cars were moving in slow motion). And while it was cool to see Simon Pagenaud win the race, the event as a whole was boring as fuck and shouldn't be on the schedule in 2015. It will be back, though, as Indycar CEO Mark Miles told Racer Magazine that it will.
The series continues to have issues with restarts as no one seems to understand the "restart zone" concept that the series has come up with. Graham Rahal blamed the confusing restarts on Indycar's alleged desire to "be like NASCAR" (if only that were true. We'd still have double file restarts if it were true). Indycars accelerate quickly and they can't be bunched up, whiners like Graham claim. It's bullshit, of course, as Sprint Cars and Supermodifieds accelerate quickly and they're able to be bunched up, single and double file, on restarts. What's Indycar's excuse?
Make it simple. Get rid of the restart zones. When the green flag comes out, go. That's it. No bullshit. Just go. Give the starter the ability to control the start of the race. Why is that so hard to do?
Practice for the Indy 500 started yesterday and, I guess, will be going on all week to some extent. Qualifying starts next weekend. ABC will have coverage of qualifying for two hours both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. ESPN's internets outfit will cover the rest of qualifying. Hopefully the new qualifying procedure actually produces something worthwhile and the new "Fast 9" thing will make the pole run exciting.
I can't wait to see Indycars at speed on the oval. I need to get that fucking Grand Prix out of my head. It really was that goddamn bad.
Over in NASCAR, Jeff Gordon picked up his first Sprint Cup win of 2014, holding off a hard charging Kevin Harvick for the checkered flag. I was surprised that Gordon didn't get caught up in lapped traffic at the very end as it looked like he was slowing down just enough dealing with them to have Harvick blow right by him at the start/finish line.
Despite the rain delay and the lights issue I thought Saturday night's race was one of the better Sprint Cup races in recent memory at Kansas. I don't know if it was the "night race" aspect of it or if the new cars are getting better on the "intermediate" tracks but I was entertained for the most part throughout the race, even in the middle when it started to drag (NASCAR needs to look into shortening these 400 mile races on 1.5 mile tracks down to 300 miles). What the heck happened there with Justin Allgaier and David Gilliland? Was it AJ Allmendinger's fault? Did he cause the accident? Why did Allmendinger get loose? Was it a side draft thing?
Danica Patrick had a good day at Kansas, qualifying in the top ten and running up front for most of the race. She ended up finishing seventh, her best career Sprint Cup finish. What was so different about Kansas as opposed to the other 1.5 mile tracks on the schedule that Patrick just bombs at? I don't think she was ever in contention to necessarily win the race, but it was good to see her finally have some good luck and finish on the lead lap, especially after she tanked at Talladega, a race she was expected to be in the thick of things up front. Will she be able to duplicate this success at Charlotte, the next track on the schedule?
Kyle Larson had another great day, finishing 12th after running in the top ten several times. Will he get a Sprint Cup win before his Rookie of the Year rival Austin "rich kid" Dillon? It sort of looks that way. But where will Larson pick up his first win? A super speedway? A short track? Will he shock everyone and win on a road course?
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is showing unbelievable consistency this year. He always seems to be in the top ten or near the top ten this year (he finished 6th at Kansas). His Daytona 500 win guarantees his spot in the Chase, so is he working on being consistent as that will be the most important thing in the Chase? That's what it seems like is happening. Will he still have luck on his side, though, in those last ten races of the season?
Kurt Busch, who is gearing up for his first Indy 500, had a terrible day, finishing 29th. His brother Kyle also had a crappy day, never really finding the necessary speed to be up front. And what the heck happened to Matt Kenseth? He finished 10th, sure, but he usually does pretty well at Kansas and is in the hunt for a win. He led a few times but he was never really a threat. Again, what the heck happened?
The Camping World Truck Series raced on Friday night, which surprised because I don't remember seeing it on the schedule. Anyway, Kyle Busch won that one. Dominated the day. I saw like five minutes of it. I do know that the Trucks do race at Charlotte this Friday night, along with the Sprint Showdown event that will feature Sprint Cup drivers not yet eligible for the All-Star race on Saturday night. I'm not quite sure the All-Star consi is running the day before the All Star race. Is it because NASCAR has figured out how to make the All-Star race last like four hours instead of the usual three?
Next weekend is a busy one. Trucks and the Cup consi on Friday, Indy qualifying and the All-Star race on Saturday, and the second day of Indy qualifying on Sunday along with the Nationwide series from Iowa. Who the heck is ESPN going to have as the lead commentator at Iowa as Allen Bestwick will be in Indianapolis hosting Indy time trials?
Two weeks to go.
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 3
- Lizardman: This low budget monster movie looks ridiculous, sure, but then lots of great movies look ridiculous. Hopefully Lizardman rocks because I want it to rock. Anyone else with me? I mean, come on, look at that trailer.
- Hazard Jack: The great David Worth is behind this low budget slasher flick, which looks absolutely insane. Gross, too (and I mean that in a good way). Don't be surprised if this flick shows up in this column in October as part of the The 7th Annual The Gratuitous B-Movie Column October Slasher Movie Celebration. There are still a few slots left.
- Crook: The great Adam Beach stars in this low budget Canadian ensemble crime movie. I'm surprised it hasn't received some sort of big city theatrical release as it has that genera; feel to it. Am I the only one who sees that? And has anyone out there seen this?
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Ming-Na- Dr. Jenna Sparks Nicholas Turturro- Travis Verdon Andy Clemence- Dr. Percy Cavanaugh Darin Cooper- Colonel Lee Chadwick Jonathan Le Billon- Engineer Alex Rowell Dylan Vox- Gary Winters Anna Maria Demara- Sgt. Major Ramona Peters Steve Hanks- Captain Worley Mitch Lerner- Dr. Flynn