Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
James Van Der Beek
What's it about
A military science compound has created technology that can be used to manipulate weather. A shady general has plans to weaponize the weather and use it against their Middle-Eastern enemies. A scientist involved in the project decides the blow the whistle and finds himself being chased by a bunch of government types. Meanwhile, weather patterns are becoming more and more destructive because the machine’s glitches haven’t exactly been worked out.
Is it good movie?
THE STORM debuted on NBC in two parts as part of their so-called “Survival Sundays” trend. Coming fast on the heels of Roland Emmerich’s latest buffet of destruction, 2012, the concept behind THE STORM is pretty similar: bad weather threatens to destroy the world. Of course, the special effects in 2012 are more spectacular because of a budget in the $200 million range. THE STORM is more modest, and thankfully not as silly as I was expecting. The story focuses more on the government conspiracy, as our hero outruns the bad guys and tries to make the truth public before the egomaniacal military and political types end up wiping out many innocent people.
That hero is Dr. Jonathan Kirk (James Van Der Beek), who finds himself in a moral dilemma when project overseer Robert Terrell (Treat Williams) wants to push ahead with “Operation Rainbow”, despite some serious kinks in the software. Dr. Kirk leaves the lab and contacts a TV journalist that he shares a past with, played by Teri Polo, hoping to get a primetime spot to spill the beans. But Kirk finds himself on the run, framed for a murder he didn’t commit, and with few people to trust.
The cast is pretty decent for this type of thing. Van Der Beek acquits himself well as the idealistic young scientist. The supporting cast is populated with familiar faces, although some of them come and go very quickly. John Laroquette makes a welcome appearance as Polo’s boss. Luke Perry shows up as a scientist who may be either a help or a hindrance to Dr. Kirk. The general hoping to use Operation Rainbow against foreign enemies is played by David James Elliott, from TV’s “Jag”.
By all accounts, THE STORM is clichéd, filled with wooden dialogue, and follows a predictable arc. However, I really didn’t mind the thing. The pace is mostly brisk and there are moments of levity in the script that rise above most TV-movie fodder. The true villain of the piece is Treat Williams, however, and not the titular storm. The special effects are passable – some even quite good – but there are surprisingly few stormy sequences showing panic and destruction. For that, you can still head out to the theatre and see 2012.
The real killer of THE STORM is the length – it clocks in close to three hours. Like Emmerich’s disaster films, it introduces a bevy of characters, some of which aren’t needed and don’t factor in much at all as the movie reaches its climax. But director Bradford May (a TV veteran) is more than competent when it comes to keeping things moving, and the concept behind the “weather machine” in the film is actually interesting. Not that the implications of such a thing are explored too much – but THE STORM is still a decent time-waster and diverting enough to make you overlook its utter predictability.
Video / Audio
Video The film is presented in a fairly sharp Widescreen
Audio Dolby 5.1
THE STORM admittedly bested my low expectations. It's a decent little yarn if you don't mind recycled material, but don't expect anything great.