BUY FROM AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Rhi Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 188 minutes
The movie title ‘Asteroid’ was already taken.
Starring Billy Campbell, Christopher Lloyd, Marla Sokoloff, Stacy Keach, Michael Rooker, Ernie Hudson and Jason Alexander
Written by Alex Greenfield
Directed by Ernie Barbarash
In this sprawling epic slice of Americana, the end of the world is nigh and it’s up to two groups of scientists to stop the sky from falling. But wait! As if that wasn’t enough to get your hearts pumping, we also have the story of a crazy cop’s bloodthirsty quest for revenge on his partner AND the story of a family trapped in a hospital trying to find one another again. AND HOLY SHIT, Christopher Lloyd is in it, too.
I am not a professional screenwriter, but I believe there is something akin to ‘thematic relevance’ that one strives for in a screenplay. Thematic relevance for this review will be: everything has a reason for being there. It’s what helps bring two stories together long before the characters ever meet up. Call it buddy cop syndrome, whatever. ‘Meteor’ is lacking in thematic relevance, and often times the screenwriters are just pulling shit because they have to fill in three god damn hours of television. Here’s a hint: if you are not directly involved with the destruction of whatever planet killing rock is heading our way, I am suddenly less interested in your story. Exceptions are made if there is no focus on stopping said mondo-destroyer, but ‘Meteor’ has its cake and it really, really wants to eat it, too. And like indulgent parents, we let it eat that cake until it becomes big and bloated. So instead of one movie about a race against time to stop a killer rock, we get about four movies that are all over the place.
And oh man, those stories are ridiculous. It’s like somebody got a case of redbull, watched all the Tarantino movies back to back and somehow accidentally put ‘Armageddon’ in and said ‘Holy shit, I just had an idea!’ First, there are the two storylines that belong in a movie called ‘Meteor’: there’s the government task force with Jason Alexander and Ernie Hudson, and there’s the fringe scientist, Christopher Lloyd, who has the data said government task force requires. That doesn’t sound so ridiculous does it? But unfortunately, the way things work in real life is not how they work in the movie. In real life, Christopher finds a land line and calls Jason Alexander and boom, problem solved.
But, as has been established, real life sucks. Needing material, the writers send Chris Lloyd’s faithful, smoking hot assistant Imogene (Marla Sokoloff) on a trans-national hunt for, essentially, a fucking phone. Nor is it any simple ‘oh, I’ll just go across the Mexican border like drunken frat kids after a weekend of partying’, no, she is besought on all sides by criminals (whom she later dispatches herself with no moral consequence or baggage), cops, elements, burning trucks and every other thing in the Screenwriter 101’s Guide to Giving Your Characters Shit. She even runs out of gas, and I am sad to say, the film-makers use that plot device twice, both when women are driving. Cliche after cliche abound. And not even disaster movie cliches, like the standoff in a marketplace for food, but boring cliches like the crazy cop who seeks revenge and the good cop trying to stop him. There is no originality on display here at all, just take an asteroid movie and cut out parts, mix em back together and voila.
Let’s get back to ridiculous storylines. How about the town of Taft, CA where Stacy Keach rules with a measured hand as the sheriff. Taft is our window into the shit going on in the world. There are bitter rednecks, some race relations, Stacy Keach being awesome and of course, the sub-sub story of the doctor mom and her kid stuck in a hospital trying to dig their way out. Most of the other sections have people going somewhere, so the illusion of forward momentum is retained, but here, anytime the film focuses on the parental excavation exploits, the movie comes to a halt and you’re just dying to know what Ms. Rack the Whoop Ass Dispensing Astronomer is up to next.
Still not ridiculous enough? Then here’s the one for all the pesos: crooked cop, played by Michael Rooker, is hell bent on destroying his partner’s life by killing his daughter and his grandfather (who happens to be Stacy Keach). Ridiculous. Though it is more exciting than watching people dig through rubble, it has nothing to do with anything related to the asteroid. If you cut this part out, you would not miss a beat. Thankfully, Michael Rooker is the only one who knows what movie he’s actually in and hams it the fuck up. He doesn’t just kill people, he KILLS people. He kills people just for looking at him funny. He kills one lady because she was annoying. She was, but I don’t think she quite deserved the exit offered her, Mr. Rooker. But thank you for being enjoyable to watch, because Billy Campbell is not given anything to work with at all.
In fact, everyone is let down by the script because frankly, no one would do the stupid things these people do. The names make a go at it. Ernie Hudson plays tough black military commander with aplomb. Even Jason Alexander is half-believable as the bitter scientist. There’s no George Costanza in him at all. Not too shabby for what is clearly a paycheck gig.
The effects are surprisingly decent for a made for tv movie. When showing things in space, they’re fine and while they lose a little believability when they enter the atmosphere, they’re not terrible as to take you out of the film entirely. No, the soldiers carrying shoulder rockets blowing meteors out of the sky does that. Hilarious. The film-makers also blew their financial load on getting big names to appear because when things blow up on the ground, we barely see it. We’ll see a meteor streaking through the streets of New York and then cut away to a man on the sidewalk falling down as the camera shakes. Hilarious? Oh yeah.
‘Meteor’ is a lot of things: ridiculous, long, poorly acted, overacted and surprisingly earnest. Everyone is playing this straight (Rooker excluded) and that’s where half, if not all the comedy comes from. If you have four hours and a ton of pot and six friends, this movie is amazingly funny. It has it all: giant rocks, scientists, hot women, Michael Rooker being fucking crazy, Christopher Lloyd playing the same character he has since BTTF and a shocking amount of non-asteroid related violence. It’s still a bad movie (when your entire plot hangs upon someone finding a phone between Mexico City and Los Angeles, you’re a terrible person), but as with all bad movies, there are some things to enjoy.
The best joke is on the cover. Christopher Lloyd gets third billing. He is in for about…20 minutes.
The film is on one DVD, but is divided into two parts, one for each night of its original airing. It looks good, not shot like a television show and the 5.1 is crisp. But that running time…3 hours, 8 minutes. That hurts. There are a few SyFy looking made for tv movie trailers but nothing else. Damn shame. I would’ve loved to have seen a making of, especially the writing process.
Sadly, no preview for ‘Impact’, the other asteroid movie. It’s like Armageddon/Deep Impact all over again! Maybe we’ll get two Scottish highlander movies next.