Directed by: David Michael Latt
Starring: Brittany Murphy, Eriq La Salle, Bruce Davison, Justin Hartley, Paul Logan
Mockbuster producers The Asylum proudly proclaimed that their Syfy original movie Megafault is their biggest production to date. What you have to keep in mind is that that’s not really saying much at all. Sure, there are a couple of recognizable names in this one, along with very many explosions, but it’s still a bargain bin production.
Brittany Murphy stars as seismologist Dr. Amy Lane. We first meet her in the midst of giving a speech about how we are ill prepared for earthquakes. At that very moment, a big earthquake hits. Oh, the irony!
Parting from her husband and little daughter, Dr. Lane is flown by helicopter to the epicenter of the quake, which is a mining field in West Virginia. There she finds and rescues a miner named Boomer (Eriq La Salle), whose car was dragged down into a crack in the ground with him still inside. Boomer is feeling bad as he believes he triggered the quake when he set off some explosives, but Dr. Lane assures him it wasn’t his fault (pun not intended). New tremors occur, and a massive crack in the ground – the megafault of the title – starts eating its way across America. Something must be done.
Meanwhile, Amy’s husband and daughter are being flown home to Colorado when the quakes knock out the airport beacons. Apparently this also affects the pilots’ eyesight, as the plane immediately collides with another one and crashes to the ground. Mister and Little Miss Lane unsurprisingly escape somewhat ruffled but otherwise unharmed. They catch a ride from a tanker truck, never bothering to mention that they just survived a plane crash. Then they get chased down the road by the suddenly appearing megafault, while stuff explodes all around them.
Dr. Amy Lane does a remarkable job of not appearing to worry about the fate of her loved ones, focusing instead on how to stop the megafault in its path. Apparently, the way to do this is to use some kind of beam from an orbiting satellite to freeze the groundwater, thus triggering a second quake that will somehow neutralize the first one. To our immense surprise this fails, and now the megafault is headed towards a dormant supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park. The new plan is to blast a trench the size of Grand Canyon into the ground in order to…oh, who cares? It’s not like any of this is believable anyway.
Whatever hopes might be kindled by the presence of the aforementioned recognizable names are quickly dashed. Brittany Murphy, who despite her surgically enhanced lips manages to look like the world’s first 15-year-old seismologist, seems to have lost most of the talents she evidenced in 8 Mile. Eriq La Salle mainly looks kind of dazed. Bruce Davison, of X-Men fame, spends most of the movie standing around staring at monitors and looking worried. As for the rest of the cast, the less said the better.
Storywise, this is one preposterous movie. To criticize a movie like Megafault for bad physics is, of course, besides the point. But here we get to witness a rapidly expanding faultline that actually seems to hold a personal grudge against the main characters, mercilessly chasing them whenever the opportunity presents itself. I’m sure a third of the running time is devoted to Eriq La Salle trying to outrun the monster crack.
While most of the action gets old pretty quick — we’ve seen it all before and much better done — there is one moment I will take with me from this film. That’s when, for some ill-explained reason, magma comes to the surface in a small Wyoming town. Initially, the townspeople, played by extras who have a hard time walking down the street in a credible way, don’t notice that it’s hot enough to cause buildings just behind them to burst into flames. They’re pretty much oblivious – until their shoes melt. Then, suddenly, they all catch on fire! It’s a sublimely ridiculous sequence.
As for the visual effects, they are more or less what you could expect. Not the worst I’ve seen, but certainly not very convincing either. Noticeably present, primarily during the finale, is the Asylum trademark of using the same effects sequence several times, hoping (or maybe just not caring) that no-one will notice.
But the main problem is that despite several lengthy action scenes featuring lots of driving and screaming and many, many explosions, the poor plotting, dialogue, characters and acting make Megafault rather boring. Lord knows I’ve got nothing against bad movies, but when you consciously choose to make a bad film, as opposed to trying to make a good film and failing, the results are rarely that fun to watch. From what I’ve seen of their production, The Asylum falls into that trap.
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