I’ve seen a lot of Syfy original movies over the years. Giant monsters, natural disasters, unnatural disasters, different kinds of unnatural disasters happening all at once, and so on. End of the World is definitely one of my favorites, which isn’t to say it’s a good movie so to speak. It’s just one of the best Syfy originals yet made. The one I would rank over it is Sharknado, and oddly enough these two films have a lot in common.
The story is that a massive electromagnetic wave is making its way through the solar system towards Earth, and hurdling balls of electromagnetic energy at the planet, destroying electronical equipment and vaporizing people on the spot. Fortunately, a couple of sci-fi movie store owners have been preparing for every possible apocalypse scenario, using their film inventory as the basis for their numerous contingency plans. Thus, Owen (Greg Grunberg; Heroes) and Steve (Neil Grayston; Eureka) believe they have everything under control when the sky starts to fall. Loading up into their surge protected van, they set out to find Dr. Walter Brown (Brad Dourif; Lord of the Rings), a science fiction author who believes he knows exactly how to prevent the world’s destruction.
The film is a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys disaster movies of any kind. In addition to its own conventional disaster movie structure, the writer and director seemed to have a lot of fun working in as many disaster movie references as possible. Even if you’re not familiar with the movies referenced, it’s still fun to watch Owen and Steve get excited when something they’re experiencing syncs up with one of their favorite films. It’s best to just let the references wash over you and not struggle too hard to figure them out.
Owen and Steve are really what make this movie great. They are leaps and bounds ahead of any character I’ve ever seen in any Syfy original movie. It’s fun to see characters who care so passionately about something, and their love of Science Fiction giving them an in to this world is much more interesting to me than the countless Syfy Originals where some stuffy scientist gets around to saving the world after 30 minutes of exposition about why the world is ending in the first place. Steve and Owen are forced to be adaptable, brave, and pushed well outside their comfort zone in their quest to save humanity.
There are definitely times when character and stakes are sacrificed for jokes, which is the worst part of End of the World. It’s hard for us to care about the world ending when our heroes sometimes don’t care enough to not be constantly joking around and making references to obscure movies. But, mostly, the humor works really well, and is organic to the characters.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is not as well-rounded as our heroes. The archetypal douchebag Max (Mark Hildreth), and the nagging lifeless love interest Selina (Caroline Cave) don’t lend much to the equation. Selina does prove useful in the end, but it’s a long road to get there, and it doesn’t justify her lack of character early on.
Available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment on March 10.