ORBzine - Disaster 2008 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

2012 (2009)

2012 It has been a few years since Sci-Fi uber-hack Roland Emmerich (now devoid of sidekick Dean Devlin) has landed us with a mega-budget disaster film like Independence Day Or Godzilla . But while the CGI SPFX have gotten even more OTT, the formula is pretty much the same.

Scientists Jimi Mistry (The Guru) and the Operative from Serenity discover that the Earth's core is heating at a rapid rate, due to solar radiation. When informed, unlikable bureaucrat Oliver Platt ( Three Musketeers ) and US President Danny Glover ( Predator 2 ) decide to do something about it.

By the year 2012, failed novelist John Cusack ( Identity ) tries to bond with the children from his failed marriage to Amanda Peet . He discovers from paranoid conspiracy theorist Woody Harrelson ( Zombieland ) that the world is about to end, so he must get his family to safety (it is a relative term).

By incredible coincidence the lives of the central characters all somehow overlap. But that is another cliche of the disaster movie genre. The SPFX are great, but this is basically a very formulaic film. There are some nice touches of irony, but when all is said and done it is still incredibly predictable. To say more would risk spoiling certain non-surprises.

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Alone in the Dark (2005)

Alone in the Dark This is based on a video game and directed by Uwe Boll . It starts with scrolling text and a voiceover that provides background exposition. It goes on ten times longer than it ought to. It is not even necessary - the director should have used the rule Show, don't tell. However, apparently the test-audiences found the film confusing.

Tough-guy Christian Slater ( Hollow Man 2 ) and scientist Tara Reid have to save the world from invisible monsters. Stephen Dorff ( Blade ) helps. There is no characterisation or originality, although there are some Well-directed but unbelievably OTT action scenes.

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Ba'al: God of Thunder (2008)

Baal: God of Thunder Some archaeologists uncover an artefact from the cult of Baal, Sumerian god of thunderstorms. Unfortunately this unleashes Baal, and he starts a super-storm. The archaeologists go on a quest, and every time they uncover one of the four magic amulets Baal becomes stronger.

Weather scientist Lexa Doig teams up with the US Military to fight the super-storm.

This may have been written as a big-budget blockbuster, with exotic locations like Turkey in mind, but it was filmed on the cheap in Canada - and it shows! All the money went on the (quite decent) CGI SPFX and the one recognisable star. There are few extras and very limited locations. But it is a relatively pleasant way to waste a couple of hours, as long as you do not expect too much.

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Battlefield Earth (2000)

Battlefield Earth This starts with a gratuitous intro text, explaining the Alien Invasion and the fact it is now the Year 3,000. This is also explained in dialogue!

Humans have been reduced to the Stone Age. The hero is captured (nice stunts and SPFX). The Alien security chief (John Travolta - Face Off ) has some terrible scenes. The aliens are a mining corporation!

The hero is Barry Pepper - you will not recognise his name, this film did not help his career much. He gets enslaved, but he is very rebellious. Travolta chooses him for language training. Unlike John Connor, the hero does not mess about.

The climax involves cavemen flying thousand-year-old harrier jump-jets. There is also a planet-killer nuke.

Plot holes aside, the ending is well shot. This film actually had promise.

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Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men This is as horrid a dystopia as one might wish to see. The story is set eighteen years after a flu pandemic sterilised every woman in the world - much like a certain evil plan in Stargate SG-1 . This time, fear has caused reactionary fascist governments to take over. With an aging population, Britain has decided to expel all asylum-seekers. The people live in fear of the fascist regime, more convincingly than in V For Vendetta .

Clive Owen ( Sin City ) is hired by former GF Julianne Moore to help escort a woman to safety. The girl they are helping is ... pregnant!

Our merry band of do-gooders are pursued by terrorists and fascists. Michael Caine ( Dark Knight ) pops up as a helpful old hippie.

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Dark Angel AKA I Come In Peace (1990)

Dark Angel: I Come In Peace No, not the Jessica Alba TV show. This is a 1990 movie, also known as I Come In Peace.

Dolph Lungren ( Universal Soldier ) is a rogue cop, after the drug lord who killed his brother. He teams up with by-the-book FBI Agent Michael Benben (Dream On).

The cliched buddy-cop-duo, clad in 1980s apparel, roam the mean streets of Houston. Their target? A murderous drug-dealing ALIEN, who looks like a seven-foot-tall albino with long hair and Predator -style weapons. The Alien's Calico (a 9mm pistol) seems to fire 40mm grenades!

This is actually quite a decent film. Cliches abound, but it is well-shot and the acting is well above average. It is well-meaning fun, well-cast and with excellent action scenes.

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District 9 (2009)

District 9 (2009) This starts as a documentary set in an alternate world, where Aliens landed on Earth in the 1980s. They did not land in Los Angeles like in Alien Nation , but in Johannesburg, where they have been allowed to build a shanty town. The Apartheid system takes on as new look when you use it against non-humans.

The protagonist is a middle-management Afrikaner (Sharlto Copely - Powers ). He is put in charge of the clear-out of the slum, transferring the aliens into a new concentration camp. But during the clear-out he gets infected with an alien fluid that causes him to metamorphose.

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Virus (1999)

Virus It all starts when a Russian space station sends a signal to a research vessel. Apparently hostile aliens can travel as energy bursts, like in The Astronaut's Wife .

Eight days later an American salvage ship discovers the Russian vessel adrift in the Pacific. Captain Donald Sutherland ( Don't look Now ) is going insane, while Jamie Lee Curtis and a Baldwin brother try to survive. Marshall Bell ( Total Recall (1991) ) is an old sea dog. Cliff Curtis ( Hercules: The Legendary Journeys ) rounds out the cast. He is tragically under-used, but this is one of the few roles in his career where he gets to acknowledge his maori heritage and to play someone who is not a villain.

The research vessel seems to be abandoned. However, the Americans discover a survivor ( Joanna Pacula ) who provides them with some exposition. The scenes between her and the female lead, who is closer to an action hero than a traditional final girl, actually make this film pass the much-vaunted Bechdel test.

The ship has been taken over by an alien life form, an electronic entity that acts like a computer virus. In a great play on the meaning of the title, the Artificial Intelligence regards humans as a virus and intends to exterminate them. This concept was echoed the following year as a main theme in the film The Matrix .

The ship was equipped with a number of workshops, and the A.I. uses them to construct killer robots. Despite officially being an unarmed vessel, the ship also has a pile of AK-47s and RPGs aboard. Many explosions ensue.

This was written by Chuck Pfarrer (Navy Seals) and produced by Dark Horse. It can be dismissed as a mediocre attempt in an over-used genre, with no real originality. At its most basic level it is just popcorn entertainment, although it places the emphasis on action-packed set-pieces rather than suspense so it can be categorised as Tech Noir rather than Horror. The director worked on a couple of James Cameron projects, and this effort suffers in comparison to them. It had potential but is actually quite unmemorable.

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Heatwave Movies

Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961) This is a black and white disaster movie, made in the UK. The USA and the USSR both stage massive nuclear tests at the same time. This is enough to knock the Earth out of its orbit, and it slowly spirals towards the sun. The protagonist is a journalist who is kept informed by the office know-it-all, Leo McKern ( The Prisoner ).

In a scene that must have brought back the audience's memories of World War Two, citizens line up to receive their ration of water. If the government was run by sensible people, they would have instituted a daytime curfew so as to minimise water loss. They would also be able to use solar stills to recover water.

When the Press announce that the end of the world is nigh, the general population starts to panic. The Government declares martial law, enforced by a policeman who looks like a young Michael Caine ( The Prestige ). A group of teenagers have decided to start the 1960s Free Love movement a few years early, and start a scene that could have eneded up like A Clockwork Orange .

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Fireball (2009)

Fireball (2009) Rookie arson investigator Lexa Doig and acerbic FBI Agent Ian Somerhalder ( Vampire Diaries ) take on a pyrokinetic supervillain named Tyler Draven.

The scientific explanation of the villain's superpowers is ridiculous - apparently a bad batch of steroids mutated his DNA or something. But the visuals of the film are quite impressive, considering its low-budget Canadian TV origins.

The killer's motivation is a bit convoluted. On one level, he is the victim of failed science and only wants revenge on those who destroyed his life. But in case we find him TOO sympathetic, it is also implied that he was a bad guy before the experiments. In other words, the film-makers want him to look like a two-dimensional villain.

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Fire From Below (2009)

Fire From Below (2009) A villainous mining company CEO starts excavating radioactive lithium. It explodes, causing a fireball that chases a waterskier across a lake like the scene in Jaws 2 .

Luckily, earthquake scientist Kevin Sorbo ( Hercules: The Legendary Journeys ) is honeymooning in the area. He discovers that it is about to go critical, and cause a thermonuclear explosion. He has to enter the mine network and save some survivors before the final evacuation.

This was written by Jim Wynorski , then produced and directed by Andrew Stevens . Anyone familiar with these names, regularly involved in B-Movie efforts, will know exactly what to expect.

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Firequake (2014)

Firequake (2014) Lady scientist Eve Carter ( Alexandra Paul ) oversees the mining of a highly explosive substance that will provide a new source of energy. Unfortunately it is highly volatile, and goes critical. The result is a massive earthquake, with fire erupting from underground.

Eve is pursued by her violent co-worker, who frames her as a patsy for his own mistakes. Not only is she on the run, branded an eco-terrorist, but she has to deal with her stroppy step-daughter.

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Fire Serpent (2007)

Fire Serpent (2007) In 1966, a meteorite lands in Minnesota and causes a forest fire. After the blaze burns itself out, a firefighter takes the opportunity to make out with his girlfriend. This section seems well-shot, but when the girlfriend gets possessed by a spirit and shoots fire from her eyes, the story has taken a turn for the worse.

In the present day, the next generation of firefighters is busy dodging the press. Jake (Nicholas Brendon - Buffy ) sees his best friend and comic relief Dave suffer a horrible fate. The fire seems to have alife of its own.

A federal inspector, Andrews ( Sandrine Holt ), arrives to investigate the blaze. Secret Agent Cooke (Robert Beltran - Star Trek: Vgr ) is sent from Washington DC to oversee the investigation. Their suspect is the firefighter who survived the 1966 blaze ...

This is actually a pretty well-made film, with suspenseful scenes and conflicted characters. The subplot, about the near-religious obsession people have about the subject, is well done. Unfortunately the movie is let down by the main plot itself, which is about a fire-spirit which possesses people and makes them shoot fire from their eyes.

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Fire Twister (2015)

Fire Twister (2015) Firefighter Casper Van Dien ( Starship Troopers ) has to stop a tornado that is made of fire. Unfortunately he has been framed as an arsonist and accused of creating the fire twister himself.

The real villain is a corrupt oil magnate. The tycoon sends out a team of gun-toting mercenaries to kill the hero and his companions.

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Heatstroke (2008)

Heatstroke DB Sweeney ( Strange Luck ) and his team of plain-clothes Special Forces goons (including the compulsory blonde bikini babe) are on Hawaii, hunting for aliens monsters that give people nightmares and cause Global Warming.

The creatures, who stalk their prey using imitation Predator heat-vision, turn out to be CGI lizard-men (like cheap-looking velociraptors).

This is a cheap and nasty SciFi channel effort. All the more shocking to discover that many of the behind-the-scenes people previously worked on Farscape , possibly the best science fiction TV show ever made.

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Heat Wave (2009) AKA City on Fire

Heat Wave (2009) Kate Jansen ( Jamie Luner ) is a climatologist who experiments using drone planes in an attempt to seed clouds and artificially create rainfall. She seems to be having an overly-familiar relationship with her workplace assistant. Luckily the assistant is a woman, so this avoids the #MeToo accusations.

California is having its worst heatwave in centuries. To make things worse, there is a methane explosion at a fossil fuel drill site. The CEO, a JR Ewing wannabe named Roy Rogan (Bobby Ray Shafer - ), tries to cover it up.

Kate may be in good shape due to her regular jogging sessions, but she is not the type for derring-do. Instead of overcoming physical obstacles, she has to face obstruction from her office micro-manager Oliver (Ted Monte - Solar Destruction ) and a rival scientist named Charles Covington (Jake Thornton - ) who is renting the lab next door. These are nasty man-splaining men, so our lovely lesbian is clearly in the right - even when she is wrong.

The Governor's top fire-fighter, Edd Dobbs (Greg Evigan - Tek Wars ), has a few scenes when he offers to help out. That said, he really does not do much either. In fact, this may have been made on the ultra-cheap - with stock footage of real forest-fires - but there is very little to it.

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Night of the Big Heat (1967)

Night of the Big Heat (1967) Godfrey Hanson (Christopher Lee - Dracula ) visits a remote island and conducts scientific experiments, as if he was looking for a weird monstrosity. Dr. Vernon Stone (Peter Cushing - ) is more suspicious of Hanson. than of whatever is killing off the locals This setup is a lot like the previous year's Island of Terror (1966) , which was set on an island on the West of Ireland and not the North of Scotland. The big difference is that this is set in an unnatural heatwave that has given every male character comically excessive armpit-stains.

This movie focuses more on interpersonal drama than the other one. The landlord, Jeff Callum (Patrick Allen - ), has other things to worry about. He is a novelist, and has asked his publisher to send a secretary to transcribe his next book for him. Unfortunately this leads to the arrival of Angela Roberts ( Jane Merrow ) - with whom Jeff previously had an extra-marital affair. Can he keep his wife from finding out?

Instead of draining the victims of their bones, the monsters basically cook people to death. This is because they are aliens that want to un-terraform the planet, making it suitable for full-scale invasion and colonisation. There is actually a good reason that they did not start on the equator, where it is the hottest on average. The UK government has a deep space radar telemetry station on the island, and the aliens focused on the Earthlings' radio beam to mark their destination.

Director Terrence Fisher seems to have learned from his previous effort. This time he only shows the monsters in the climax, instead preferring to create suspense by only showing the victim's fearful reactions.

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Scorcher (2002)

Scorcher (2002) US President Nelson (Rutger Hauer - Blade Runner ) sends scientist Dr Matthew Sallin (John Rhys Davies - Raiders of the Lost Ark ) and action hero Ryan Beckett (Mark Dacascos - The Crow: Stairway to Heaven ) to Los Angeles.

They must detonate a nuke on the San Andreas fault in order to prevent tectonic shifts from destroying the human race. But while all the nice people have been evacuated from LA, there are enough violent scumbags left to generate a few action scenes.

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Solar Attack (2006) AKA Solar Strike

Solar Attack (2006) NASA boss Joanna Parks ( Joanne Kelly ) discovers a satellite has been destroyed in orbit. Nearby, a space launch is planned by Lucas Foster (Mark Dacascos - The Crow: Stairway to Heaven ) - a billionaire who has his own spacecraft. Yes, this guy is basically Elon Musk - a decade before Musk became a household name. Naturally for this kind of story, Foster's launch all goes badly wrong too.

The solar storm has unfortunate consequences. US Navy Admiral Lawrence (Stephen McHattie - ) has lost contact with a couple of nuclear submarines. If the cold war is warmed up enough, the subs' captains might decide to launch without proper authorisation.

President Ryan Gordon (Louis Gossett Jnr - Alien Mine ) tries to keep things under control.

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Freeze-wave Movies

100 Degrees Below Zero (2013)

100 Degrees Below Zero (2013) Volcanoes all over Europe have multiple simultaneous eruptions - Hekla, Etna, Santorini. The resulting smoke clouds will cause nuclear winter, which means a new ice age.

Jeff Fahey ( Lost ) wants to save his twenty-something son and daughter who are trapped in Paris. He calls in a favour from his old army buddy (John Rhys Davies, fulfilling the same role he had in Pompeii Apocalypse ).

Our hero decides to drive his car through the Channel Tunnel, despite the risk of earthquakes!

The brother and sister have a weird incesty vibe going on between them. This is not helped by the fact that the sister, despite being as slender as an actress, wears a skimpy skin-tight tee-shirt that shows off her surgically-enhanced chest.

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10,000 Days (2014)

10,000 Days (2014) Earth has spent the last 27 years in a new Ice Age. William Beck (John Schneider - Smallville ) keeps a group of survivors in an observatory.

Remy Farnwell (Peter Wingfield - Highlander: The Series ) leads a rival group of survivors. His people are more nomadic, while Schneider keeps all the warmth and comfort for himself.

The climax is somewhat open-ended. Presumably because of the made-for-TV budget and the lack of a proper ending this was probably intended as a pilot for a TV show that was never commissioned.

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2012: Ice Age (2011)

2012: Ice Age (2011) This has nothing to do with the big-budget disaster movie except the title. And at least the big Hollywood studios could not copyright a year associated with ancient Mayan mythology.

Multiple eruptions in Iceland move a massive glacier south, freezing the USA. Patrick Labyorteaux (JAG) tries to get his wife and kids from Wisconsin to New York City. This would be problematic even at the best of times.

Will a glacier bury NYC, reducing it to the landscape in Day After Tomorrow ?

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Absolute Zero (2005)

Absolute Zero (2005) Scientist Jeff Fahy ( Lost ) works for a company run by the techie from Stargate SG-1 . They go to the South Pole and investigate global warming.

Back in Miami, Dr Fahy discovers that his best buddy married his ex, Erika Eleniak . And as if the love triangle was not cliched enough, Eleniak has a daughter to look after. This gets worse as the disaster happens, so there is an extra quota of false jeopardy.

The Earth's magnetic poles are going to shift - like in The Core . The result is that The Day After Tomorrow scenario comes to pass - the Equator is reduced to polar temperatures almost immediately, and Miami seems to bear the brunt of it.

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Age Of Ice (2014)

Age Of Ice (2014) An American family are holidaying in Egypt. Unfortunately a climate disaster happens, and the desert freezes over. The family use trains, planes and automobiles to escape the extreme weather event. Their young son is more trouble than he is worth, being rude to helpful strangers and always falling whenever it is time to run away.

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Apocalypse of Ice (2020)

Apocalypse of Ice (2020) This is yet another cheap-looking disaster movie by The Asylum. Tom Sizemore ( ) is the only recognisable face, and predictably he spends all his scenes sitting down in one location.

This is set in a world beset with a deadly plague. Well, it came out in 2020AD so this was in the zeitgeist back then. A pair of scientists have created a cure for the plague. However, before they can mass-produce it the world is hit by another great disaster.

The other great fear of the year 2020AD was Climate Crisis. Unfortunately this movie seems to have taken its science from The Day After Tomorrow . For some reason, the glaciers have begun to melt. One scientist blames hikers who may have caused a forest-fire, thus letting the Fossil Fuel corporations off the hook. Anyway, megatons of fresh water hits the frozen north. Instead of just destroying the Gulf Stream and leaving the British Isles at the same temperature as Siberia, the fresh water flash-freezes and creates an expanded icecap.

The vaccine scientists have to flee as far south as Ecuador, almost on the equator itself, in order to be safe from the new Ice Age. Luckily there are no other cars on the roads, perhaps because of the plague but most likely because The Asylum made this on a shoestring budget.

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Arctic Apocalypse (2019)

Arctic Apocalypse (2019)

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Arctic Blast (2010)

Arctic Blast (2010) Jack (Michael Shanks - Stargate SG-1 ) is a meteorologist based in Tasmania, Australia. The poor man is getting divorced, although the problem was his career choices. His estranged wife is unhappy about having had to move house six times in the previous twelve years. His boss (Bruce Davison - X-Men ) is not much better.

A solar eclipse causes a blast of cold air that threatens to cause another Ice Age.

This is yet another eco-disaster, made on a limited budget in Australia. The one thing that sets it apart is the fact that the director is Brian Trenchard-Smith , the antipodean action-adventure expert.

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The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) Climatologists Dennis Quaid ( Dragonheart, Inner Space ) and Ian Holm ( Fifth Element, Lord of the Rings ) discover that climate change will happen harder and faster than anyone ever expected. US Vice-President Kenneth Welsh ( Twin Peaks ) denies there is any danger. Typical anti-American propaganda, of course - I mean, would any senior US politicians actually disclaim Climate Change?

Jake Gyllenhall ( Donnie Darko ) is trapped in NYC when it gets flooded and frozen. His dad must lead a rescue effort ...

Roland Emmerich delivers his regular bi-annual sci-fi epic. The climate change issue angered certain elements of the USA, although the fate of New Orleans has made it seem frighteningly real!

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Hypothermia (2010)

Hypothermia (2010) Michael Rooker ( Walking Dead ) goes ice-fishing with his wife, grown-up son and the son's fiance. They do not catch any fish, as if an apex predator has eaten everything in the lake.

What starts as a promising suspense film is let down by a poor rubber-monster pay-off. A bit like Jeepers Creepers , really. The director should have remembered how successful Jaws was, using the monster itself very sparingly.

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Ice Soldiers (2013)

Ice Soldiers (2013) Back during the Cold War, around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis (see X-Men: First Class ), a secret Russian plane crashed in Canada. Aboard were a trio of super-soldiers who look like Dolph Lungren's character in Rocky 3.

Fifty years later, a US expedition comes to find the bodies. (Dominic Purcell - Legends of Tomorrow ) has a personal motive, while Colonel Trump (Michael Ironside - Smallville ) and his colleagues use the expedition as a cover for finding a new oilfield.

Unfortunately the super-soldiers have been hibernating in the snow for five decades. What could have been suspenseful, like The Thing , is cut short by lots of off-screen (it cuts the cost) violence. Our hero must team up with a friendly Native American (Adam Beach - Suicide Squad ) and go after the Ruskies before they kill again. And again. Basically, it boils down to a straightforward action picture.

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Icetastrophe (2014) AKA Christmas Icetastrophe

Icetastrophe (2014) AKA Christmas Icetastrophe Victor Webster ( Mutant X ) and a couple of his co-stars from Continuum are all that save this effort from B-Movie oblivion. Webster and his son (Richard Harmon - The 100 ) live in a small town in northern Canada. It is about to get the coldest winter ever, as a strange meteorite lands nearby. Luckily, Astro-physicist Jennifer Spence is on the way to rescue everyone. Well, that is the plan.

The meteorite was split into two halves in a mid-air explosion. One half is super-cold, and creates and expanding wall of cold. Luckily this unscientific phenomenon only moves at running pace, so you can keep ahead of it in a fast car or a speed-boat. In reality cold does not exist, it is merely a loss of heat, but these movies have nothing to do with actual science. Our heroes have to reunite the hot part of the meteorite with the cold part, so that the temperature is equalised.

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Polar Demon (2010) AKA Frost Giant AKA Arctic Predator

Polar Demon (2010) AKA Frost Giant AKA Arctic Predator 1825, northern Canada. A meteorite crashes to Earth. It is investigated by HMS Fury.

Flash forward to the modern day. Treasure hunter Dean Cain ( Lois & Clark ) is looking for the wreck of the HMS Fury

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Post Impact (2004)

Post Impact (2004) This is set in a world where meteor Bay-Leder 7 (presumably named after two disaster movie directors) struck Earth in 2012 and started a new ice age. Col. Preston Waters (Nigel Bennett - Lexx ) gives POTUS some exposition about a satellite that was designed to provide Earth with solar energy. The good news is that the satellite can still be activated. The bad news is that the ground station is in Berlin, which is frozen by the expanded polar ice cap.

Waters leads a team, including Capt. Tom Parker (Dean Cain - Lois & Clark ) - former commander of the US embassy's security detail, whose personal agenda is to locate his wife and kid who he had to leave behind in Berlin. The team's second in command is Sarah Henley ( Joanna Clark/Taylor ), formerly of the British SAS. Yes, sometime between 2004 and 2012 the SAS started accepting women.

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Sub Zero (2005)

Sub Zero (2005)

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Winter Soldier AKA 2307: Winter's Dream (2016)

Winter Soldier AKA 2307: Winter's Dream (2016) This is set in the year 2307. Earth is three centuries into a new ice age, which will last another million years or so. The human race consists of 2109 people in a city of tunnels ten metres under the frozen sands of Arizona.

A raspy voice-over narration provides the necessary exposition. Normally this is intrusive and annoying, but this movie makes it work. It is reminiscent of Rorschach's intro to Watchmen (2009) , itself a reference to the Film Noir genre of the 1930s. Yes, the film expertly establishes its theme and tone from the beginning.

The human survivors have created a slave race of humanoid workers. Naturally, some of them escaped and went on a kill-crazy rampage. The protagonist is brought out of retirement to hunt down the murderous replicants. Yes, the basic plot is the same as Blade Runner . However, these runaways are not hiding inside the human city. The protagonist is given a team of bad-ass psychos and sent on a mission deep into enemy-held territory. This is all very generic, but the noirish feel makes it most reminiscent of Apocalypse Now . Certainly we get a feeling that the the humanoid leader will get a face-to-face confrontation in the climax. Not a cheesy James Bond-style expositionary monologue scene, but a though-provoking Roy Baty/Colonel Kurtz one-on-one.

The team start with a bonding scene like in Predator . Then they lose their transport and get isolated – yes, like in Aliens . The story continues predictably, but it only steals from the best. It seems more like a western at times, which – like the men-on-a-mission movie – is a subset of the Quest story.

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Disaster Remakes

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) Jennifer Connolly , scientific expert in alien biology, is called in by the MIBs when a UFO is detected entering the solar system. The UFO lands in Central Park, and Klaatu (Keanu Reeves - The Matrix ) gets out. Secretary of State Kathy Bates and slimy Political advisor Kyle Chandler ( Early Edition ) take over and decide to subject the alien to extreme rendition ...

Connolly and Klaatu go on the run together. They seek out alien scout James Hong ( Big trouble in Little China ) and human scientist John Cleese ( Life of Brian ).

The original story dealt with the Cold War and McCarthyism. This time it is about Environmentalism and anti-terrorist paranoia. It seems that GWB's refusal to sign the Kyoto protocols has come to the attention of the Alien Empires. Klaatu's mission is to act as judge, jury and executioner for the entire human race!

Colonel Robert Knoeper ( Hitman ) does his best to deal with Keannu's bodyguard, a huge alien robot. Unfortunately the robot unleashes a massive nanite swarm that threatens to destroy the entire human race!

The climax is at Central Park, and seems more than a little reminiscent of Cloverfield !

  • Day the Earth Stood Still (1950s)
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    The Invasion (2007)

    The Invasion (2007) Nicole Kidman is a psychiatrist, treating paranoid Veronica Cartwright . Anyone who has seen Ms Cartwright's previous sci-fi films (including the original 1979 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers ) will know she is never paranoid without good reason. Yes, this is the THIRD remake, not counting the original source ( The Puppet Masters ) or excellent parody The Faculty .

    As Kidman feels the creepiness ramp up, she takes her son to live with her ex-husband - creepy US Government Official Jeremy Northam ( The Net ). He was probably creepy BEFORE he became a pod person, which is the only explanation possible.

    Now Kidman must try to survive in a city full of pod people. Her only helpers are a couple of other doctors - BoyFriend Daniel Craig and his token ethnic best buddy Jeffrey Wright. Yes, they are better known as Bond and Leiter in the rebooted Casino Royale .

    The old cliches are continued. Male protagonists usually go back for the damsel in distress. Like Ellen Ripley, Kidman goes back for the child ...

    The Pod People manage to bring about world peace. It is a wonderful idea, but is the cost too high? The ending, entirely unconvincing as it is, gives us something to think about.

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1950s)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1979)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1990s)
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    Terminator Franchise

    Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

    Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Arnie’s back - again! Skynet has its third crack at John Connor. It sends back the T-X ( Kristanna Lokken ), which has some shapeshifter abilities but also some solid ones. The best of both worlds, perhaps, although the T-1000 was probably the best anyway.

    The Terminator (Arnie) is sent back to protect John (Nick Stahl - Sin City ) and his wife to be ( Claire Danes ). Of course, she does not know about the Terminators, or the fact that she is on the hit-list of a robot from the future, or that she and John are meant to fall in love ...

  • Terminator, The
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • Terminator 4: Salvation
  • Terminator 5: Genisys
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    Terminator 4: Salvation (2009)

    Terminator 4: Salvation (2009) John Connor (Christian Bale - Batman begins ) is a junior leader in the Resistance. There are so many survivors from the regular military that he is still a junior man. But Skynet still has plans to kill him, no matter what.

    After a raid on a Skynet facility, one man escapes alive. He tries to seek out the Resistance, so he can join up and help humanity fight back. He treks across California, dodging robotic attackers in an effort to find John Connor. He is joined by the compulsory kick-ass babe ( Moon Bloodgood ), perhaps the most blatant cliche in the entire film.

    This was directed by McG In an attempt by him to become a more respectable mainstream film-maker. The result isn’t entirely terrible. It is let down by a poor script as much as anything. The casting is not the best, either.

  • Terminator, The
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  • Terminator 5: Genisys
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    Terminator 5: Genisys (2015)

    Terminator 5: Genisys (2015) This is supposed to be a return to the old Terminator films that we loved, but it is a sad mish-mash of the best ideas from different parts of the franchise. Also it is PG-13, so there is the bare minimum of violence, nudity and swearing.

    The story starts with the events of the first film, as told from the perspective of greasy grungy PTSD-ridden Kyle Reese (now looking like buff male model Jai Courtney from Divergent ). Somehow the Somewhere in Time photo of Sarah Connor in the jeep survived burning up, and that is the first clue something is different. John Connor’s wife is also missing, so evidently the events of Terminator 3 & 4 are being ignored altogether. Also, in a strange crossover Matt Smith ( Dr Who 2005 ) is visible in the crowd scene - and he plays a vital role to the plot.

    Reese finds himself in an alternate 1984. He is chased by a T-1000, but saved by Sarah Connor ( Emilia Clarke ) who has lost four inches in height, but since the actress is playing ten years younger than her real age the shortness works to her advantage. Like John Connor in Terminator 2 , Sarah’s father figure was a friendly Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

    By destroying the Terminator pieces in 1984 they destroy the Terminator 2 Timeline. The next step is to steal an idea from Sarah Connor Chronicles (which itself negated the Terminator 3 Timeline) and time-jump forward to destroy Skynet. This means John Connor will be removed from that timeline, but nobody cares. Also, Reese has learned that Skynet has changed. It is not the Cold War AI that controlled nuclear weapons. Its new plan is to release an online Operating System that will link every cell-phone in the USA. This might in itself accidentally cause The Singularity, but it is not explained how this would create a nuclear apocalypse.

    The movie’s one original idea is to cast JK Simmons (Jonah Jameson in Spiderman ) as a good guy for a change. Also, it is nice to see Sandrine Holt cast as a SFPD detective, although she does not have any actual dialogue.

  • Terminator, The
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  • Terminator 4: Salvation
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    Terminator 6: Dark Fate (2019)

    Terminator 6: Dark Fate (2019) This is yet another soft reboot of the Franchise. The previous storylines destroyed Sarah Connor and her son John. This time it is only John who is written out unceremoniously.

    The intro begins after the events of Terminator 2 . Sarah Connor ( Linda Hamilton ) takes her son John to safety in Guatemala. After all, central America is south of the Brandt line and thus lacks the electronic infrastructure that Skynet needs to track them. Somehow a Terminator manages to locate them ...

    The main story picks up a couple of decades later. It concerns a young woman ( Natalia Reyes ) who works in a car factory in Mexico City. It seems that the mechanisation that affected the USA in the 1980s has now progressed south of the Brandt line, as the factory is beginning to install robots and replace cheap human labour. Ironically, this film was mostly shot NORTH of the Brandt line - in the hi-tech European Union countries of Spain and Hungary.

    A couple of time portals open nearby, depositing naked visitors from the future. One of the newcomers, Grace ( Mackenzie Davis ), is female. Not feminine like in Terminator 3 , but more butch and androgynous. The other is a Latinx male, who blends in well with the Mexicans. Their missions is the car-factory worker.

    As always in sequels, the ante is upped. The new Terminator comes in two pieces - a T800-style solid metal endoskeleton and a T1000-style liquid metal shapeshifter. The human protector is an actual cyborg - a cybernetically enhanced human. This allows for a lot more CGI-intensive action scenes that are cartoonishly overblown. When the audience does not care if the characters live or die, the result is merely comedy instead of tragedy.

    The good guys make their way north, from Mexico into Texas. To do this they must cross the USA's heavily-defended southern border. The Terminator infiltrates the US Border Patrol, which allows for a politically topical situation as the good guys are menaced by a controversial real-life Agency.

    Nature abhors a vacuum. Just as humans will inevitably create an AI which destroys their entire civilisation, so will a human arise who can inspire the Resistance. Instead of John Connor, trained from birth to be the ultimate military commander, this time it is a tiny little Latina woman with no observable skills or talents. Nobody points out that, even if Legion is successful in killing her, a new leader for the humans will arise anyway. And since the current leader of the future is barely talented, the bar has been lowered to such a level that practically anyone could fill her shoes.

    What puts this above the average is the B-story, probably due to the participation of original creator James Cameron . Sarah Connor pops up to help, and an elderly T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwartzenegger - Conan The Barbarian ) lends a hand. We see some real acting here, as Connor tries to cope with the loss of her son and the T-800 explains how it became more human after spending decades living as one. The scenes with the veteran actors put the newcomers to shame.

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    Aliens/Predator Franchise

    Prey (2022)

    Prey (2022)

  • 2000
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    Predator 2 (1990)

    Predator 2 (1990) LAPD detective Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) investigates a series of mysterious massacres. Everyone thinks they are linked to a drugs war between Puerto Ricans and Rastafarians, but Glover knows different. He realises there is an invisible alien slaughtering heavily-armed gangsters.

    Gary Busey ( Lost Highway (1997) ) leads a team of Men in Black who are conducting an investigation of their own. This was originally meant to be Arnold Schwarzenegger repeating his role from the original. However, Glover's team includes a couple of former Arnie co-stars - Bill Paxton ( Terminator, Aliens ) and Maria Conchita Alonso . Robert Davi ( Goonies ) and Kent McCord ( Battlestar Galactica 1980 ) also round out the cast.

    The result is a great hybrid - a good action cop film, and a good monster movie

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    Predators (2010)

    Predators (2010) Stone-cold mercenary Adrien Brody ( The Village ) wakes up in free-fall over an unknown jungle. Luckily someone has strapped a parachute to him. When he lands, he discovers that he is not alone. He teams up with other unwilling parachutists, including an IDF/CIA sniper ( Alice Braga ), a Mexican Cartel enforcer (Danny Trejo - Machete ), a Death Row inmate (Walton Goggins - Hateful Eight ) and a harmless-looking doctor (Topher Grace - Spiderman 3 ). But after they stop fighting among themselves, they discover they are being hunted.

    This is a generational improvement on the original Predator movie. Instead of one Classic Predator, the team are being hunted by a trio of Super-Predators.

    The cast is outstanding, all playing their usual niche roles. Adrien Brody is incredible as an action hero, relying on his Oscar-winning talent rather than on weight-lifter muscles. And Laurence Fishburne ( Event Horizon ) has a scene-stealing cameo.

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    The Predator (2019)

    The Predator (2019) There are so many things that are wrong with this film, it is difficult to know where to start. Let us look at the title. There are actually TWO Predators in this movie. A better title might have been Super Predator or Predator Killer.

    This was written and directed by one man, usually a sure sign of a second-rate film. What makes it so incredibly disappointing is that the man is Shane Black , a thirty-year veteran who worked on the original movie back in 1987. It has got to be the worst thing he has ever made.

    The original Predators would deliberately visit war zones, where they could indescriminately kill armed combatants. This time the Predator's starship crash-lands - but as luck would have it, the US Army's greatest soldier (Boyd Holbrook - Logan (2017) ) is on a mission nearby. In a twist, one of this movie's Predators is apparently a rebel who has come to save the human race. This good intention does not prevent it from killing almost every human it meets.

    A hot lady scientist ( Olivia Munn ) is recruited by Jake Busey ( Starship Troopers (1997) ) to investigate the Predator. When it escapes, she sets off in sole pursuit. The official MIB hunt is led by Treager (Sterling K Brown - Supernatural ).

    The super-soldier is victim of a cover-up. He gets put in a mental health facility with the likes of Thomas Jane ( Deep Blue Sea (1999) ) and Alfie Allen ( Game of Thrones ). They promptly escape from a top-security military bus, and go on the run together.

    The super-soldier sent the Predator's helmet to his son (Jacob Tremblay - Extraterrestrial (2014) ), who by yet another incredible coincidence is an autistic super-genius. He lives with his mother ( Yvonne Strahovski ), who only gets a couple of scenes - and not one with the female scientist. Yes, the movie does not manage to pass the Bechdel test. Do not worry, this is still not the worst of its failings.

    Treager has his own security unit, presumably the best of the best. They are either active-duty military in a Tier One Special Forces unit, or private contractors who were hand-picked due to prior service in such a unit. Anyway, the Section Eight team slaughter the Seal Team Six guys. This is murder, treason and incredible stupidity because they should team up against the common foe - the Predator!

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    Aliens vs Predator (2004)

    Aliens vs Predator (2004) Weyland (Lance Hendricksen - Terminator ) and his sidekick (Colin Salmon - The World Is Not Enough ) hire a group of unknown actors to explore a pyramid that is concealed under the Antarctic ice. Unfortunately, it was built by the Predators - and they have returned, to use it for an Alien hunt!

    The Aliens are unrealistically overpowered, especially compared to the comics. Against them are dumb and weak Predators and some equally unimpressive humans. Disappointing, to say the least!

    The Final Girl is Sanaa Lathan , who is a talented actress but she is not exactly the new Sigourney Weaver . She is backed up by the nerd (Ewan Bremmer - Exodus: Gods and Kings ) and the muscle (Tommy Flanagan - Westworld: S3 ).

  • Aliens vs Predator 2
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    Aliens vs Predator 2: Requiem (2007)

    Aliens vs Predator 2: Requiem (2007) This takes off where the previous film ended. The Predator ship crashes in Colorado, and the Predalien and facehuggers attack the local humans. It turns out that the Predalien is female, and thus can impregnate victims ...

    On the Predator homeworld, a veteran Predator receives the ship's last transmission. He decides to take on the Predalien and its Xenomorphs single-handedly. Not only does he have cool hi-tech weapons, he also has the ability to head-but his way through concrete walls.

    The humans are a motley bunch of newcomers, but they are more normal and likeable than the crew in the previous films. There are few stereotypes, and no unrealistic feel-good escapes. This is much closer to real horror than most mainstream films these days - it is like something from the Seventies.

    Reiko Aylesworth is a US Military helicopter pilot, just home to see her family after a tour of duty. She is no Ripley, unfortunately. She gets to do a bit of shooting in the climax, but the central protagonist is an ex-Con named Dallas.

    Avid fans should watch out for the final scene, which introduces Ms Yutani ( Francoise Yip ).

  • Aliens vs Predator
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    Prometheus (2012)

    Prometheus (2012) In the year 2093, Last Girl Elizabeth Shaw ( Noomi Rapace ) and her BF Logan Marshall-Berman ( ) are archaeologists searching for traces of Ancient Astronauts. They get corporate sponsorship from the Weyland Corporation, which sends them on a starship to a distant planetoid. They want to find The Engineers, a race of giant genetic engineers.

    The Weyland Corporation, as always, has a secret agenda. David the Robot (Michael Fassbender - Haywire ) seems nice and helpful, but can he be trusted? His boss, ice princess Charlize Theron , may even be a robot herself. Captain Idris Elba ( Thor ) and the rest of the cannon-fodder seem just along for the ride.

    The astronauts discover the alien outpost, filled with vats of Mixmaster - a toxic chemical from the Tremors TV Show . This turns any life form it touches into a Dia Noga or other hostile life-form. In fact, the best film to compare this to is the recent prequel to The Thing . The difference is, that film actually tied up loose ends while this just makes more.

  • Aliens vs Predator
  • Aliens vs Predator 2
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    Alien: Covenant (2017)

    Alien: Covenant (2017) This is the long-awaited follow-up to the critically panned effort Your Highness . Danny McBride and James Franco are back again, this time as the sloppy, slapstick crew of a starship. There is no other explanation, because there is no way that a real-life team of space explorers would ever act in such a careless manner.

    The ship's crew are a cast of virtual unknowns. All the previous films had a cast of recognisable faces. Even Alien: Resurrection had the templates for the main characters in Firefly . However, this effort actually takes known actors and makes them bland and unrecognisable. The First Officer is Billy Crudup ( ), while the Final Girl is Katherine Waterston - unrecognisable after her recent turn in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them . The one exception is Walter the Wobot (Michael Fassbender - X-Men: First Class ).

    The command crew are all hooking up with each other. While it may make sense for colonists to be in stable long-term relationships before they try to establish a colony on an unknown planet, but in this case it means that EVERY SINGLE TIME they do the wrong thing and endanger the entire mission for the sake of their spouse.

    The survivors encounter a survivor of the previous film Prometheus . Everything continues in a very predictable manner thereafter.

  • Aliens vs Predator
  • Aliens vs Predator 2
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    Alien: Romulus (2024)

    Alien: Romulus (2024)

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