The Syfy network debuts its latest feature tonight: “Seattle Superstorm.” No, it’s not the Sue Bird story. It’s a science-fiction movie about a UFO-induced storm that socks it to Seattle.
I watched a preview of it yesterday at Emerald City Comicon. I’m still left wondering exactly why Syfy chose to show it in Seattle. I guess they figured Seattle folk would be on the edge of their seats as the drama unfolded.
Instead the crowd laughed at the cheap special effects, the geographical errors, the (unintentional) comedic dialogue and the hammy acting.
But I can’t blame the actors. They had lines like this to work with:
Actor One: “We’re looking at a super storm hitting Seattle.”
Actor Two: “Wow, that super sucks.”
The movie begins with people running in terror from clouds. It looked like just another day in Seattle to me but apparently the town was filled with tourists from Tucson. At the time of the screening the weather outside the Washington State Convention Center was much worse than what we were watching.
We then flashback nine hours to a remote arctic radar station manned by a dude who is dressed like a fisherman. While having an internet sex session with his girlfriend he sees something incoming on radar and calls…the Navy. Yes, apparently our military budget is cut so thin we rely on crabbers to notify the government of UFOs.
The Navy (which consists of just one guy in a control room. Hey, actors are expensive) determines it’s headed for Seattle and launches a missile to blow it from the sky – which, happily for us, occurs right over Pike Place Market.
That’s where we find Esai Morales looking like he’s in pain. I was unsure if it’s because of the perfunctory family strife his character is in or if he’s just finally read the script and is wondering if it’s too late to break the contract.
Morales and his fiance (Ona Grauer) and their kids are trying to blend their families. His boy and her girl don’t like each other. This has something to do with the girl being pro hybrid cars (she’s from Seattle) and he’s against them (he’s not.)
The UFO is split in two with one half hitting the market (which now has somehow become a modern building) and the other half hitting the Sound just a few feet off the waterfront. The two kids are trapped behind a wall of flames six inches high. Thankfully, Morales arrives with a fire extinguisher.
At one point two characters go over a checklist of just what this UFO could be: meteorite, manned probe, missile, aliens. I’m sure this was a verbatim transcript from the writers’ meeting when they were daring each other to come up with the most ridiculous storyline ever pitched to Syfy. And this is the network that brought you, “Mansquito.”
Grauer is some sort of scientist/military officer/FEMA official who tries to take command of the situation but is thwarted by her superior who also is of that career combination (plus demented villain.) The character is called Stinson which he helpfully spells for the media during a news conference in which he lies and refuses to answer questions. You practically expect him to rub his hands together and cackle, “Release the hounds!”
Until Stinson gets his comeuppance (which he does in spectacular fashion) he has the best lines in the movie usually ending with, “You heard me. Now do it!” or some sort of threat delivered with the business end of a pistol. The audience roared whenever he opened his mouth.
At one point Stinson wants to nuke Seattle. Grauer offers up a Stryker Brigade from JBLM. He turns her down. Finally she says, “You cannot wipe out Seattle!” Stinson replies, “It’s my city, it’s my decision.”
Stinson for Seattle mayor!
The problem is that this UFO is sending up a cloud of smoke that’s turning into a big freakin’ storm. It also moves, relocating itself just off Bainbridge Island so we can see the beautiful Seattle skyline in the distance. Oh, but the steaming UFO is about to open an even bigger can of whip-ass on the Emerald City.
This being Seattle the Space Needle is a central character. Much foreshadowing of the looming tower takes place which, in a disaster movie, can only mean one thing.
The audience got a good laugh when the iconic tower finally came tumbling down after being hit by lightning. I had no idea it was so fragile. But then this is a SUPERstorm. Even more funny was that it seemed to fall nearly intact on some seedy part of Los Angeles. I guess the producers last visited Belltown in 1983.
The two kids try to escape the scary clouds by driving through alleys. I didn’t see one rat or urinating bum. Clearly, those scenes were not filmed in Seattle. Meanwhile, Morales is using scientific methods he learned from a Kansas school textbook or in a magic shop to come up with some interesting “facts” about the goo oozing from the crater. Trust me, it’s not worth repeating.
Back at the Pike Place Market everyone seems to have forgotten that a UFO just crashed through the roof and floor of the building. The G Men have all gone to lunch – probably at Ivar’s. Only a lonely cupcake seller is left there. He touches the goo coming from the UFO despite my screaming at the screen, “Haven’t you seen ‘The Blob?’ You never touch goo from a UFO!” Needless to say, this goes very, very badly for him.
The good news is that there’s one less cupcake shop in Seattle.
At that point my sides were so sore I had to walk out. You’ll just have to tune in tonight to see whether Seattle makes it or not.