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armaggedon as brought about by a great red spot
on March 18, 2014
It's too bad. Somewhere in America's heartland three students serving high school detention (and one other student who's just there to do a story for the school newspaper) were maybe on their way to bonding like them kids from The Breakfast Club. But then that monster electrical storm got brewin' and devastatin' and there went the off chance of being serenaded by Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me." My guess is that the kids' detention project of cleaning up the gym for next Monday's science fair is gonna to have to wait a second.
The film alerts us that, uh oh, Jupiter's notorious zit - the Great Red Spot - has suddenly vanished. And here on planet home, reports rage on of unexplained weather disturbances, of storms volatile enough that they'd already laid waste to chunks of the eastern seaboard. New York, Boston, Washington DC... they're obliterated.
Only one scientist seems on the ball. A particle physicist named Carolyn (Erica Cerra) has put two and two together and added it up to "Oh, sh--!" Carolyn's been eyeing a potential scientific breakthrough, this discovery courtesy of a high school girl's science project. This girl, Megan MacGregor (Luisa D'Oliveira), happens to be one of the three teens serving detention. Carolyn theorizes that the girl's invention attracts "destruction particles" (or x-bosons), which is unheard of as these particles can only be found on gas giants... like Jupiter dunh-dunh-DUNH!). Off Carolyn flies to the "dull end of nowhere," as her colleague dubs Heartfield, Midwest America. But what can a smalltown girl's school project do against the Great Red Spot, now relocated to Earth and about to trigger a nuclear genesis - that is, alter solid particles into gases? This is not good as much of the stuff on Earth is made out of solid particles. This may be the worst detention ever.
Luckily, we have several Syfy veterans on the job. If anything can avert doomsday, it's gotta be a crew composed of Eureka's Deputy Jo Lupo, The X-Files' Asst. Director Skinner, and, um, Rory's dad from The Gilmore Girls.
Once in a while a Syfy Channel Original Movie goes off the reservation and startles its audience by not sucking too much. Space Twister - a.k.a. Super Storm; a.k.a. Mega Cyclone; a.k.a. Big Wind (okay, that last one's fake) - was surprisingly watchable. Sure, it wanders eagerly into speculative science - the existence of x-bosons has yet to be truly proven - and the plot coasts down that familiar road. But the acting performances are decent and the visual effects may be the best I'd seen from a Syfy production in ages (or ever?). It has to be a nice change of pace for Erica Cerra who steps away from playing the brawn on Eureka to here taking on a more cerebral role. It's great to see Mitch Pileggi, as well. True to his sci-fi street creds, his character - Megan's ex-R & D rocket scientist - is tough as nails. In one scene he gets shocked and plummets off a lofty windmill but then gets up and shakes it off after a minute.
Plot holes? Yep, of course. I'm no science geek so I won't even broach the veracity of the messed-up meteorology posited here. ***And maybe a SPOILERS alert now for the rest of the paragraph*** I do question Mitch Pileggi's decision to keep on climbing up that windmill even after multiple tremors. I question the late (and very convenient) introduction of that experimental rocket sitting in the barn. And I guess we're left to assume that the dispersal of the local storm, in fact, reflects dispersal on a global scale. They sure didn't show that onscreen (yay, crap budget). Maybe the biggest neg for me is that Will's (Brett Dier) parents hadn't a clue that their son was a genius. This long-held obliviousness makes me think less of David Sutcliffe's and Leah Cairns' characters. Still, overall, Space Twister slides over to the watchable side by virtue of earnest acting, decent production values, and a general damping down of hokey elements. And if you're a fan of Smallville, you may get a small thrill when you recognize Gunter MacGregor's farm as the same location set as the old Kent farm.