The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 5.19.14 Issue #307: Stonados (2013)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 05.19.2014
A look at 2013ís Stonados, two TV Quick Hits, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, Indy 500 picks and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #307: Stonados (2013)
MAYhem: Week 3
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has no idea what the heck is going on over there, Pat, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and seven, MAYhem continues with a look at the 2013 low budget natural disaster movie Stonados.
Stonados, directed by Jason Bourque, is one of the best low budget natural disaster movies of the last ten years. Much like the now classic Metal Tornado (check out my review of that movie here), Stonados takes a seemingly ridiculous premise and treats it seriously, resulting in a movie that's both entertaining and kind of terrifying. The plot gets a little sketchy at the end, but not enough to derail what ends up being a kick-ass movie watching experience.
The movie stars Paul Johansson as Joe Randall, a former Harvard weather expert turned Boston area high school science teacher and widower father who, after being asked by his old buddy and local TV weatherman Lee Calrton (Sebastian Spence) to help investigate a strange weather incident involving the destruction of Plymouth Rock (the "actual" Plymouth Rock), ends up chasing bad weather all over Boston as more and more weird stuff keeps happening. For reasons that are eventually explained, giant tornadoes are forming all over Boston and shooting out rocks, large and small, that eventually explode. As Joe and Lee track the tornadoes and come up with a plan of attack against them, Ben (the Cigarette Smoking Man hisself William B. Davis), a local lighthouse operator, watches bigger and bigger tornados form over the ocean (they start out as water spouts and gradually develop into monster funnel clouds). Ben is buddies with Lee and keeps them abreast of what's going on out in the ocean until a major storm surge destroys the lighthouse. And while all of that is going on, Joe is worried about his kids Megan (Jessica McLeod) and Jackson (Dylan Schmid), who keep getting into trouble and refuse to listen to him.
The movie moves along at a brisk pace and doesn't waste time with boring sub-plots. Ben the lighthouse keeper's story is kind of weird at first, as William B. Davis seems to be acting in a completely different movie from everyone else. The movie keeps cutting back to Ben and his pet parakeet, Ben closing his windows, and Ben looking out at the ocean with his trusty binoculars. He does get calls from Lee every so often, but they're always in conjunction with the other stuff that he's doing. It's almost like the producers picked Davis at the last second because the movie needed to have a lighthouse keeper and he was the only star that agreed to do it. It's cool to see C.G.B. Spender in the movie, though, so, in the end, Ben's separation from the rest of the main characters isn't that big of a deal.
I think you'll also be surprised at how incredibly devastating the carnage is. People and things explode when they're close to the exploding stones, and while we don't get to see flying body parts and blood spray everywhere when people explode or are crushed by falling objects they disappear. Their disappearance is jarring and kind of sad, even when it's just background actors minding their own business. You usually don't see that kind of thing in an up close way in these kinds of movies as the really bad carnage tends to be in wide shot form so we can see the overall devastation. You'll also notice that the movie uses practical special effects when it comes to the exploding stones. The tornadoes and whatnot are, as expected, CGI affairs, but the stones, while on the ground, are real things that the actors can touch. You rarely see that nowadays. I also want to commend the special effects team for coming up with some fabulous looking bits of CGI devastation, like the hole in the wall. It looks like a real hole in the wall (you'll know it when you see it).
I'm not fond of the ending, mostly because the solution to stopping the stonados is too easy. It's also kind of unbelievable to believe that the Federal Oceanic Agency, the government agency that Joe and Lee end up dealing with once they agree to work together, has access to the kind of equipment that Joe decides he needs for stopping the stonados. And Tara Laykin (Thea Gill), the FOA supervisor for Boston, wimps out at the end of the movie, something I don't think she would have done. Laykin, in her heart, is a relentless hard ass. Even in the face of total destruction at the hands of impossible super storms I don't see her holding back and apologizing. I mean, yeah, I can see her giving Joe a weak handshake as a kind of apology for not listening to him, but would she really almost cry while saying I'm sorry? I just don't buy it.
The cast is nothing short of top notch. Johansson is perfect as Joe Randall. You can easily see him as both a concerned father and as a man who misses his old lucrative career. He makes you believe that storm chasers based out of Harvard are a real thing. Randall also has superb chemistry with Sebastian Spence, who just kicks ass as Lee the weatherman. He's a smartass but he isn't annoying, and while he's always coming up with a new way to promote himself (he makes sure everyone knows who is risking his life out in the middle of the stonados) he doesn't come off as a douchebag. Lee is also the character who comes up with the name "stonados," which is just perfect (the moment he comes up with the name is hilarious). And Spence has great chemistry with Miranda Frigon, who plays Joe's cop sister Maddy. Lee and Maddy have history, and it's fun listening them bicker with one another about how ridiculous the situation they find themselves in is.
Jessica McLeod's Megan character easily could have been supremely annoying and one of those kids you want to see get crushed by a falling rock or car, but she's actually interesting and makes you feel her alienation and resentment of her father. She doesn't want to watch her younger brother Jackson but she does it because her sense of familial obligation is greater than her resentment against her father. And Schmid, as Jackson, is one of the least annoying little brothers in movie history.
I have no idea how successful Stonados was when it aired on the Sci Fi Channel or when it debuted on DVD, but I think a sequel of some sort is a good idea. Perhaps we should see Joe and Lee chasing storms in the Midwest, or examining volcanoes up close (Joe's expertise is in volcanoes). I know I would tune in to that movie. I think it would be a good idea to capitalize on Johansson's chemistry with Spence. Sci Fi could have a movie series on its hands with those guys. It really could.
Stonados is a great low budget natural disaster movie. A great cast, great premise, and outstanding special effects make it a must see. Be sure to see it if and when it shows up on TV again, or track it down on DVD. It's definitely worth it.
See Stonados. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: Hundreds, maybe thousands.
Explosions: Multiple large and small.
Doobage: A funnel cloud, woman sucked into a tornado, man crushed by falling rock, a great opening theme, a volcano high school science experiment, flip phone photos, more water spouts, a pocket magnifying glass, a parakeet, annoying teens flirting with one another, a megaphone, slow motion people walking, slow motion breaking glass, massive falling rocks, old woman crushing, multiple exploding rocks, internet research, a tour boat massacre, more people getting crushed by falling stones, exploding camera man, lighthouse destruction, key dropping, exploding car, stock footage of a college marching band, an alley filled with unexploded rocks, running to the basement, mid-air plane destruction, a high altitude bomb, a malfunctioning bazooka, a car bomb, and a great ending.
Kim Richards?: Big time.
Gratuitous: Plymouth Rock, climate change explanation, William B. Davis, William B. Davis owning a lighthouse, pocket magnifying glass, William B. Davis having a pet parakeet, Boston Bruins jerseys, old guy doing tai-chi, William B. Davis saying "damn" every third word, a guy saying "Stonados," Canadian announcer in Boston, the famous Boston Swan Boats, an outdoor football game that looks like it's being played inside, a high altitude bomb, a malfunctioning bazooka, a car bomb, and a great ending.
Best lines: "Plymouth Rock? Are you serious?," "This is incredible," "I've never seen condensation funnels form so quick before," "Joe, what are we doing?," "My God! That ain't good!," "How is a water spout hurling rocks?," "Let's hope that was the worst of it," "Stonados? Not bad," "Can you believe it? My car just got smashed by a snowball," "Boston is now experiencing a major tornado event," "We've got incoming!," "Why do people have cell phones if they don't answer them?," "Stonados? Well, I'll be damned," "Hey, do you want a hot dog? Or some chowder?," "Why is this happening again?," "Hey, guys! We need to get out of here!," "Okay. We're going to do this... as a family," and "You gotta be kidding me! Cheap ass government equipment!"
Next week: MAYhem concludes with Collision Earth (2011)!
*** The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
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And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- Pompeii: Paul W.S. Anderson's latest flick didn't make much at the domestic box office (I have no idea what it made at the international box office), but then that seems to be the case with his movies that aren't Resident Evil sequels. I didn't get a chance to see it in a theatre, but it didn't look terrible, so, yeah, I want to see it. Anyone out there see this? Anyone at all?
- 3 Days to Kill: Kevin Costner as some sort of international assassin? Directed by McG and written by Luc Besson? Two out of those three things sounds pretty awesome. I missed this when it was in theatres, too, but I thought it looked pretty good. Definitely going to check it out at some point.
- Raze: This dark, low budget action flick starring the Zoe Bell did get a small theatrical release not that long ago, so there's a chance some of you may have had a chance to see it in a theatre. I think it looks pretty cool, and, heck, I'm always in the mood to see Zoe Bell in anything. This could show up as part of August Awesome. Maybe.
- McCanick: The great David Morse stars in this low budget cop thriller that looks pretty dang cool and has one of the best movie titles of the last five years. I mean, am I the only one who looks at that title and thinks it's the name of a detective show from the 1980's? David Morse needs to do more stuff like this. The guy is awesome.
- Way of the Wicked: Christian Slater and the great Vinnie Jones star in this low budget bit of supernatural hooha. I like the title, and the trailer is kind of exciting, so based on that and the cast this is easily worth a rental. I just hope that the movie lives up to its title. And, yeah, Christian Slater needs a hit.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
- Criminal Minds season finale thoughts: I had no idea that one of the main cast members of Criminal Minds was leaving the show until I saw the preview for the season finale. And after the season finale, I was surprised that Jeanne Tripplehorn's Alex was the one leaving. I didn't think Morgan would be leaving as he's a popular character on the show. And Reid, even though he was shot and in the hospital, wasn't leaving because he, too, is an incredibly popular character on the show. It would have been shocking if Joe Mantegna had left, and Thomas Gibson sort of is the show, so he wasn't going anywhere without a series of commercials talking about Hotch leaving. J.J.? She already left once so that wouldn't have been as big of a surprise. And losing Kirsten Vangsness would have been incredibly sad (she's the light of the show, if you know what I mean. A show as grim as Criminal Minds can't spare any lightness). So that just leaves Alex.
Alex leaving? Why?
First off, Tripplehorn is a great actor and she fit in well with the other BAU cast members. Alex was uber smart so she could interact on Reid's intellectual level and she was world weary enough she could interact with Mantegna's Rossi and not look like a rookie (JJ has been on the show, more or less, from the beginning and she still looks like a newcomer). I didn't want to see her go. And second, I figured that Tripplehorn, a character actor, wouldn't want to willingly leave a hit show. I mean, a hit show that people like to watch? Why wouldn't you want to hold on to that gig for as long as possible?
I'm just glad that the show didn't kill Alex and allowed her to resign her position in the FBI. Perhaps she'll come back and do a guest star thing. Or perhaps she'll just leave for a bit, come back in mid-season, and become a regular again. That's what I hope, anyway.
The two part episode about a corrupt Texas town was decent. It was far more violent than I thought it would be. I didn't expect Uzis and seriously corrupt cops murdering other cops. And the bit in the hospital where Garcia shot the "nurse" that tried to kill Reid freaked me out. If that kind of thing has happened in that hospital multiple times, corrupt town or not, why would anyone allow it?
So, I guess we'll know who will be replacing Tripplehorn's Alex soon. Will it be Esai Morales? Someone else? Anyone out there know?
- NCISNCIS: Los Angeles thoughts: The NCIS season finale wasn't as depressing as I thought it would be. I knew it would be incredibly sad because the episode was going to be honoring Ralph Waite and his Jackson Gibbs character, but I didn't see the "finding out why Mark Harmon's Jethro Gibbs keeps making boats in his basement" thing or the bits about the cartel. It all connected brilliantly, though, and it was one of the best NCIS episodes made yet. It was also nice to see a TV season end without a major cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are cool, sure, but every season doesn't have to end in the middle of a major story.
NCIS: Los Angeles ended on a major cliffhanger, with Callen and Hanna trapped on a submarine rigged with explosives. How the heck is that going to work itself out? And what is this bullstuff with Hetty? Should we trust Miguel Ferrer's Granger? He hasn't been a trustworthy presence since he started on the show, and with the way he acted in Afghanistan with Kensi I don't see how anyone can trust him. I know I don't and I just watch the show.
So, how long will it take for Callen and Hanna to get out of the submarine and for the big exploding submarine plot to be foiled? Will it be an entire episode or will it be the first ten minutes of the start of next season? I can't wait to find out. I'll have to watch it a few days after it airs, though, since CBS has decided to move the show to Monday nights at 10pm. Will there be a three show crossover episode next season, starting with LA on Monday night and ending with New Orleans on Tuesday night?
Will the move to Monday night damage Los Angeles? Will people remember that the show is on Monday nights instead of Tuesdays?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Miranda Frigon
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Mischief Night: Malcolm McDowell stars/appears in this latest release from the fine folks at After Dark Films as part of its After Dark Originals line. I guess it's sort of a slasher movie, although who the heck knows? After Dark movies are always worth checking out. McDowell movies, too.
- Dangerous Men: This is apparently a low budget action flick made in Nigeria, something that you don't exactly see every day. And the fine folks at the Maverick Entertainment Group are releasing it, so you know, based on that fact alone, it's going to be interesting to watch. Rentable.
- Camp Blood First Slaughter: Oh, sure, we've seen this kind of low budget slasher movie before, but when has that stopped any of us from wanting to see another one? I know it hasn't sopped me. That DVD cover is kind of freaking me out.
- Vengeance is a .44 Magnum: It looks and sounds like an homage to low budget revenge thrillers from the 1970's, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. I'm hoping it's a good thing, as the world really doesn't need a bad homage low budget revenge thriller from the 1970's. Love the title.
*** The Big Question: What Should I Review in November ?
The "year of themed months" thing that I'm doing for The Gratuitous B-Movie Column has, for the most part, worked out. I've been finding interesting movies to include for each themed month and, most importantly, I'm not bored doing it. Every month except one is set up with a specific theme. I still haven't figured out November.
What the heck should I review in November? My first thought was to look at documentaries as there are several B-movie centric documentaries out there that I'd love to look at (like that one about the making of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Birth of the Living Dead).
But then a few weeks ago I thought about reviewing Troma movies, something I haven't done enough of (Troma is still a big deal in the world of B-movies). And then last week I thought I could do a month of movies from the 1990's (you know, "November: A Month of 1990" or something like that). Each idea has appeal, but I don't know which one to pick.
So which one should I pick? Should I do a month of documentaries? A month of Troma movies? Or should I do a month of movies from the 1990's? What do you guys think?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to the ultra right wing media machine, for losing its freaking mind over the kiss between soon to be pro football player Michael Sam and his boyfriend Vito Cammisano after Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. It was gross and disgusting and horrible and just another example of the "liberal" media forcing the homosexual agenda on America's children and why didn't the media talk about Tim Tebow's Christianity? And then the URWMM started overtly playing the victim card because, shockingly, people responded to its disgusting homophobia with extreme negativity.
No one is preventing anyone from saying or believing anything. You want to engage in rancid homophobia because Jesus tells you to? Go right ahead. You just can't be upset, though, when someone tells you you're wrong and a terrible person. Free speech goes both ways.
And then there's Robert Copeland, police commissioner of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, for calling President Obama the "N" word and then refusing to discuss what he meant by using it. Copeland is quoted as saying (I got this USA Today) "I believe I did use the 'N' word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse. For this, I do not apologize -- he meets and exceeds my criteria for such" and that's it. What, exactly, is his criteria for the "N" word? I think the world would love to know. I know I would.
Dude's a racist. Shouldn't he just embrace it?
And finally there's FXX, for cancelling Legit. I can't say that I'm surprised as FXX seems to be in the business of cancelling funny shows (look at what happened to Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell), but it still sucks. Legit's second season was nothing short of brilliant (the episode featuring Steve's bender after finding out his ex-wife is pregnant and getting re-married is a classic) and I was really looking forward to a season 3 (Steve enlisted in the army in the last episode. How funny is that?). Fox never should have moved Legit to FXX unless it was committed to actually supporting the show. Hopefully, maybe, Legit can find a home somewhere else. It deserves to live on.
Screw you, FXX. Did Legit have to go to make room for The Simpson's?
Indycar and NASCAR thoughts
Qualifying for the 98th Indianapolis 500 is over and, for the second straight year, Ed Carpenter is on the pole. Carpenter was the last of the "Fast 9" qualifiers on Sunday to go out and qualify and he just beat James Hinchcliffe for the pole. I didn't think Carpenter had enough speed on his first lap to get the pole, as each position is determined by the average of 4 consecutive qualifying laps. His last three laps were plenty fast, but I figured his first lap was going to be too slow to get the pole. The owner-driver did it, though, and it's a cool story going into the big race on Sunday. Will he be able to go from the pole to victory lane?
Juan Pablo Montoya, who just missed the top 9 on Saturday, turned in the fastest lap of anyone in qualifications. However, because he didn't qualify for the top 9 on Saturday he'll be starting 10th. Sunday will be Montoya's second Indy 500, and if he can maintain the kind of speed he showed in qualifying during the race he could end up winning his second Borg Warner trophy.
Kurt Busch, set to do "The Double" on Sunday, just missed the top 9 on Saturday, too, but managed to qualify for the outside of row 4 on Sunday. He was in 6th place with two hours of qualifying time to go on Saturday and managed to hold on to a spot within the top 9 until he was finally bumped into 10th. If he didn't have to leave for the Sprint Cup All-Star race and had been able to requalify he probably would have been able to stay in the top 9 and go for the pole on Sunday. Busch looked smooth on the track, both in time trials and in general practice, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's in the thick of things up front at the end. It's too bad for Indycar in general that Busch wasn't able to stay in the top 9 because his presence in the top 9 would have brought added exposure, which is what the series needs. Oh, well, maybe next year.
What the heck happened to Carlos Munoz? He was so fast going into the fast 9 and looked good in practice, but then he was just slow in his actual qualification. Three-time Indy 500 winner and tax cheat Helio Castroneves was slower than expected, too. I really thought that Castroneves would find the speed to make a real run at the pole. Will Power kicked ass on Saturday and again on Sunday, running way faster than I thought he would. JR Hildebrand, running Ed Carpenter's second car, did a great job making the top 9. Josef Newgarden did a great job, too.
The Ganassi cars seem to be lost. Scott Dixon was the fastest in the Ganassi stable but he didn't look comfortable in any of his qualifying attempts. Tony Kanaan looked lost, too. What the hell happened to Ryan Briscoe?
Simon Pagenaud, who qualified fifth, could be a threat to win. He was fast and steady and he looked confident with each lap. And Marco Andretti, as usual, was fast (he qualified 6th) and is always good in the race, at least for the first half of the race. Oriol Servia qualified 18th but could be a threat for the win (the guy knows how to get to the front at Indy).
Lots of people are impressed with rookie Jack Hawksworth. It was cool watching him go around the track with no fear, sure, but don't be surprised if he ends up in the wall after fifty laps. And Mikhail Aleshin, another fast rookie, could end up in the wall early, too, because he's too dang fearless.
So who the heck is going to win the 500? Who the heck knows? It would be great if Carpenter wins, but the field is so close and there are so many guys with good cars that anyone could realistically win. I'll list my top 5 picks and the guys I want to finish in the top 5, as I do every year:
Indy 500 top 5 picks
1. Ed Carpenter
2. Juan Pablo Montoya
3. Carlos Munoz
4. Tony Kanaan
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay
My Indy 500 Top 5 wish list
1. Ed Carpenter
2. Kurt Busch
3. Juan Pablo Montoya
4. JR Hildebrand
5. Oriol Servia
Indy 500 coverage starts at 11am EST on Sunday on ABC. And be sure to check out Carb Day on Friday, which is set to air on NBC Sports. We'll see the final practice for the Indy 500, the pit stop challenge, and the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race. There could be 15 cars in the Freedom 100, which would be a big field for the series. Remember the finish of last year's Freedom 100? Will we see that again?
Carb Day Friday! The 500 on Sunday! Fuck yeah!
Over in NASCAR, Jamie McMurray won the Sprint Cup All-Star race at Charlotte Saturday night. I was able to watch most of it (I didn't have to work and my cable didn't crap out on me) and, for the most part, it was a pretty good show. I still don't understand the point of the format of the race as most of it is meaningless, but it was great to see everyone driving like a freaking lunatic.
The Showdown on Friday night was a bit of a letdown as it was just a blah race. Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger, and Josh Wise advanced to the All-Star race Saturday night (Wise got in via the fan vote, which was a surprise because I didn't think Wise, a USAC badass, had much of a stock car fanbase). And the Truck race was a bore as there was never any doubt that Kyle Busch would win.
The All-Star race format needs to change to make it more exciting and meaningful. If NASCAR wants to keep the race in multiple segments then cars need to be eliminated after each segment to make the segments mean something. And keep the segments short, 10-15 laps max. My ultimate hope would be a one race, one segment format; 30 laps, winner take all, no bullshit. That'll never happen, though, as Fox needs to fill air time and the more segments the race has the longer it will go.
The Coke 600 in Sunday night. I think it starts at like 6pm EST or so. The 600 is always a wide-open affair, so I'm not even going to venture a guess as to who is going to win. It could literally be anyone. Will Kurt Busch, fresh off his first Indy 500, be a factor in the Coke 600?
I finally got a chance to watch a Nationwide race. The series was at Iowa and Sam Hornish picked up his third career victory, holding off a hard charging Ryan Blaney for the checkered flag. It was cool to see Hornish finally catch a break (he really deserves a full-time ride) and maybe this win will lead to something for him. I do wish, though, he would lay off the Jesus stuff. I mean, if you're going to do it just do it once. You don't need to do it multiple times.
The Nationwide Series races again on Saturday afternoon at Charlotte. The race, which goes off at 3:00 PM EST, will air on ABC. And then the Coke 600 will be on Sunday night at 6.
Anyone plan on watching the Grand Prix of Monaco? It'll be on Sunday morning on NBC at 7:30am. I may make an effort to watch that. It depends on how Saturday goes. I am not missing Indy, though. No goddamn way.
Man, Sunday is going to be a busy freaking day.
On June 30th he returns...
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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Paul Johansson- Joe Randall Sebastian Spence- Lee Calrton Miranda Frigon- Maddy Jessica McLeod- Megan Dylan Schmid- Jackson William B. Davis- Ben Grace Vukovic- Julie Ben Witmer- Jake Thea Gill- Tara Laykin
Directed by Jason Bourque Screenplay by Rafael Jordan