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The Nature Unleashed Collection—Earthquake

Directed by Tibor Takacs

Written by Andy Hurst

Starring Fintan McKeown, Jacinta Mulcahy, Michael Zelniker, Zoe Thorne

Produced by Jamie Brown, Michael P. Flannigan, Robertas Urbonas

Rated R

**

Now here’s an idea that MTI probably should have passed on.

I don’t deny that the disaster picture was a big deal back in, oh, 1999, when “Titanic” came out. I don’t deny that mountainside disasters were huge back when Stallone did “Cliffhanger.”

And I can’t help but notice that “Avalanche” and “Ice Queen” had fantastically similar scenarios, especially given that they have release dates of about a month separating them.

But the “Nature Unleashed” collection, featuring “Earthquake” and “Avalanche” (which are entirely too similar titles for their own good) just aren’t all that good to begin with.

So what we have here is, in “Avalanche,” the Cussler brothers start their own business ferrying skiers up the side of a mountain in Russia, and due to the carelessness of one of their clients, an avalanche buries a small village. And yet despite this, the Cussler brothers, who should be as popular as Typhoid Mary, manage to convince most of the residents of another nearby village to hide in an old abandoned mine to save themselves from yet another approaching avalanche. Which DOES show up, and also buries another village, along with a newly-developed hotel and nightclub. The Cusslers must then save the people buried therein.

And in “Earthquake,” an engineer by the name of Josh goes to Russia to inspect a nuclear reactor with a possible leak. For some truly baffling reason, his ex-wife works there and lives nearby with their kids. An earthquake strikes—an 8.2 magnitude earthquake that does very unpleasant things to the Russian nuclear reactor.

First off, it’s a bad sign when you release two movies about a month apart that take place in the same location. That’s right—“Earthquake” and “Avalanche” alike both take place in Russia. They both involve mountains (quite possibly the SAME mountains), and they both involve extremely unlikely national disasters that take place therein.

Even worse, “Earthquake” and “Avalanche” both suffer from the same sins—a heavy-handed environmentalist agenda easily on par with the “Captain Planet” cartoons of the early-to-mid-nineties. Check out the dominant themes: Tourism causes global warming. Nuclear reactors are unsafe. Capitalism threatens mankind! It’s everywhere, folks, and with the “nature unleashed” collection, we get a good up-close look at the concept.

And yet, after watching “Avalanche”, I was forced to admit that “Earthquake” was probably the better of the two. I’m not sure just why…maybe it’s the difference between getting hit in the balls with a twenty pound sledgehammer and getting hit in the big toe with a squeaky mallet—one just hurts less.

The endings are, in both cases, happy, smarmy, hackneyed and truly second rate.

The special features include Spanish subtitles, trailers, audio options, and interactive menus in both cases.

All in all, wugh. This is just awful on so many levels it’s hard to describe them all. Between the heavy-handed plotlines, the lousy scripting, the fact that they could well have been shot within fifty square miles of each other on the same set by the same crew, and not to mention some truly bad examples of acting, the Nature Unleashed Collection is so much environmentalist garbage.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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