Syfy: Monday 2 November, 2pm
Looking more than ever like Dolph Lundgren’s skinny kid brother, Casper Van Dien lends pearly-white teeth but precious little conviction to his role as a former firefighting hero being targeted – for no readily apparent reason – by a big bad oil coporation. Casper’s among the ecology group attempting to hang a gobal-warming banner on an oil silo outside Los Angeles.
But the silo contains an experimental synthetic fuel and it’s about to be blown up by mercenaries employed by Synco Corp’s crooked boss, Joe Regalbuto. Who’s quick to put the blame on Casper’s ‘eco-terrorists’ when the explosion unleashes a pillar of fire – a swirling, twirling, fiery spiral, the best that CGI can buy. And, boy oh boy, it’s headed for downtown LA.
“That thing could hurt a lot of people,” says Casper, calmly considering his options while being shot at by the incompetent goons on Synco’s payroll. “We’re gonna hunt that thing and kill it!” Dialogue that turns to ash in actors’ mouths is possibly the least of this feeble pic’s problems.
Laughable FX, villains who are even worse shots than Stallone and Banderas in the awful 90s hitman flick Assassins, endless cutaways to close-ups of people reacting to a flaming twister that we can see isn’t really there. Make no mistake, a script this pathetic gets the performances it deserves. The general level of incompetence extends to TV news straplines: “Synco employee speakes out” ‘reades’ one.
Aside from a couple of gory deaths and a female reporter being bludgeoned by a golf club, this Canadian TV movie is PG fare all the way. A long time ago, in a century far away, Casper Van Dien starred in a sci-fi classic called Starship Troopers. Now he seems happy to lend his name to shoddy productions so staggeringly bad, they defy rational explanation. The executive producer? Casper Van Dien. Okay, he didn’t write the script. But you’d have to wonder if he actually read it.