Category 7: The End of the World [Blu-ray]
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CATEGORY 7: THE END OF THE WORLD
As a deadly Category 6 storm descends upon the Earth, unleashing violent winds, hurricane force pressure, and devastating tornadoes, officials scramble to pinpoint the cause. Though global warming is suspect, beautiful but discredited scientist Faith Clavell (Shannen Doherty, Mallrats, TV's Charmed) realizes that something else is triggering the extreme weather. Teaming up with storm chaser Tommy Tornado (Emmy® nominee Randy Quaid, Brokeback Mountain, Elvis) and Judith Carr (Gina Gershon, Sinatra, Face/Off), head of FEMA, Faith realizes they must enter the storm itself if they hope to stop it. While the country is at its most vulnerable, the government becomes aware that it is the target of a terrorist organization. Now, it's not only man against nature, but man against man as an intensified Category 7 approaches...
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A mid 2000s disaster film sporting quite a few well known names, this is a surprising watchable if predictable outing. Having lots of recognisable actors was a big plus for this film which is actually a two-part mini series. As you would expect, the first half shows you lots of storm action and the accompanying devastation. There is also reasonable introduction to the large cast and a decent job is made to link them all together. The second part continues with lots more storm activity but the cast know what it is they need to do and work to defuse the storms. There are quite a number of sub-plots ongoing which actually increase the watchability of the production rather than getting in the way.
The biggest issue I found (if this really is an issue) is that the whole thing is exhausting to watch - the pace never lets up and there always seems to be some new disaster just around the corner. In this respect it's probably best to watch it in two sittings, and the production is nicely split to let you know when to give yourself a break.
There are loads of digital and practical special effects on display and for a made-for-TV production they're not bad.
The Blu-ray disk is a big of an oddball. The picture gyrates from fairly clear to horribly grainy but it is usually quite bright and there is intense colour. The sound has loads of options. While the box says there are Dolby Stereo and PCM 2.0 tracks there is also a stock-standard Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS 5.1 (not uncompressed). I ended up choosing the DTS option - even though it is compressed it gave me the surround effects that were not available with the PCM 2.0.
For a made-for-TV production this is a pretty good effort and reasonable entertainment.
Second, a good many people, going by the Amazon reviews, didn't much like this TV film. I found it reasonably entertaining, given the limitations of the 'made for television' product. Admittedly, I did watch the two separate parts on different nights; I would recommend you do the same. Given the time spent on the various subplots, common to all disaster movies. that is the best way to reduce or eliminate the lack of really superfilmic (to coin a term) content. Now if they had shown the world coming to an end......
Key characters, contrary to some of the review comments, perform to the level one expects from made for television productions (admitting that there are exceptions who can deliver first class performances); Gina Gershon's looks raise her a notch above the rest, with Swoozie Kurtz doing well as an evangelical's wife, although holding her superior talent in check as the role demanded. The plot has a good deal more padding than it needs, presumably to extend the length as television time-demands probably required. Tightening up the script (blue penciling a good deal) would have helped the presentation but there is that need for two episodes. I rerun a number of his older TV series, so I haven't seen Robert Wagner in anything new since his work of the early 80's. In this one, dating from 2005, he sure did well-preserved and very authoritative as a Senator. He didn't have much to do, but did add class to the production.
With reservations, I do recommend this film as a successor to the Category 6 by the same producers. Randy Quaid's character has come back to life in this one, not very credibly if you saw the last one; he gets another chance to do his "follow them anywhere" storm hunter once more.
At any rate, I missed the super storms that can be made with super budgets, but found this one sufficiently entertaining to warrant watching it.
The saving graces of Category 7 are superb performances by Tom Skerritt and Sebastian Spence, bigger and better city-eating storms, and being given the answer to the question left dangling at the end of Category 6 (the storms do continue world-wide and the reason why is discovered and applied successfully, albeit after much silly political wrangling).
Beyond these three things, this sequel disappointed me in every other aspect. The many (*too* many) ridiculous mini-dramas were annoyingly distracting rather than adding any amount of depth to the storyline. The performances of the majority of actors cast left much to be desired. And I think that Tornado Tommy (Randy Quaid) held together much better in Category 6 ... that fantastic twister ride he took last time apparently dropped him in Oz and scrambled his brains but good. He'd have been much better off remaining happily ensconced in Munchkinland, in my opinion.
Okay, Category 7 continues the story begun in Category 6. That would be the main reason to see it and why I watched it (though I ended up impatiently sighing my way through a whole lot of stupid sub-plots waiting for the grounding appearances of Tom Skerritt and Sebastian Spence <g>).
Not the worst movie sequel I've ever seen, but most definitely quite far from the best.
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