Director: David Michael Latt
Stars: Brittany Murphy, Eriq La Salle, Bruce Davison
I didn’t really want to review another Asylum film again so soon – didn’t even want to watch one. While there are a few fun Asylum films out there, a vast majority are just so underwhelming and dull that it’s a tough chore to make it through one. Rarely does a bad one come along that’s campy fun. Mostly their bad ones are just irritating. I had recently made it through 2012: Ice Age, Mega Piranha, Dragon and Almighty Thor (review still pending on that last one). I was not in the mood at all to sit through another Asylum film for awhile. But Netflix demanded that I endure Megafault because it was going to expire from their instant queue in just a few days. Begrudgingly, I gave into Netflix’s whims and watched this fucking thing.
In case the title hadn’t made it obvious, this movie is about earthquakes so of course the movie opens with an earthquake. Eriq LaSalle (TV’s ER) plays Boomer, a man who works for some construction company or engineering company or land surveying company (its never really made clear just WHAT the company is) in West Virgina. They set off some dynamite charges in the craggy mountians (West Virgina actually doesn’t have craggy mountains) which causes a super earthquake. The construction/engineering/survey crew/team is consumed by a fissure in the Earth. Boomer outruns the earthquake for awhile (because you know, you can do that – outrun an earthquake!) but is eventually swallowed by the Earth.
Then cut to some sort of earthquake convention in Washington DC that’s being led by Dr. Mark Rhodes who’s so devoid of character an emotion they might as well have cast a cardboard cut out of a human instead of Bruce Davison. Why bother spending money to hire a decent character actor if you’re not going to give him a character to play? Anyway he introduces Dr. Amy Lane whose played by the late Brittany Murphy. It’s quite sad, actually that this was her last TV appearance – one of her last roles in general – and she’s just phoning it in. Of course this is more the fault of the script rather than Brittany Murphy’s fault as there is no character to this character – just empty lines and the personality of a dead tree. Anyway, she’s giving a speech on earthquake preparedness when – surprise – EARTHQUAKE – the same one that ate Boomer in West Virgina.
Amy investigates the epicenter of the quake in West Virgina and happens to save Boomer from the wreckage he was in. The two of them, with the help of old Dr. Rhodes, set out to stop this earthquake – because one can stop the shifting of massive tectonic plates! This earthquake – this Megafault (yes they actually call it that, several times), meanders across the country, hitting up historic places like Lexington, KY, Davenport, IA, and Denver, CO for instance. Brittany Murphy actually speaks a line to the effect that there are NO FAULT LINES in Colorado. There are! There’s fault lines all over the country, but even then – she uses this as a rationale that this is no normal earthquake and can therefore be stopped. Seriously?! Two tectonic plates are drifting apart and Brittany Murphy can stop this?! NOBODY CAN STOP THIS! This movie makes me realize that anyone associated with the production really had NO IDEA what an earthquake is or what causes it. Some of the actors do and you can tell that they are biting their tongues and forcing themselves to coldly read the empty lines written before them.
So, how does one stop a this massive afront to logic, this megafault of logic? Why, just set off some bombs along another nonexistent fault line. In fact they actually launch a missile at the earthquake to stop it. Because in this land of bad make believe, earthquakes can be stopped with weapons! This missile is actually called a Tectonic Weapon. Seriously. I started at the screen for the last 30 minutes of the film with a “Are you fucking kidding me” look. I suppose that, in this world of fantastical garbage, one can stop a tsunami by firing a rifle at it! I’m not asking for an interesting storyline with a film called Megafault, but I am at least asking for some coherence, some sign that this wasn’t written by a toddler! Remember the 1974 film Earthquake? It was about an Earthquake in Southern California and how the people affected by that quake try to survive. Earthquake was a shitty movie and at times extraordinarily campy. However, it stayed within the realm of ACTUAL LOGIC! Megafault could have done the same thing. It could have added some semblance of rational thought into why an earthquake is tearing the world apart and how people struggle to survive through the event instead of stopping it. The movie had me going, somewhat, until they SHOT A FUCKING MISSILE AT THE EARTHQUAKE!!
I am often able to give The Asylum the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the quality of their movies. They intentionally make B-movies on a limited budget – its what they are known for. The Asylum is not in the business to enlighten – only to entertain and there are many times where they successfully do just that. Megafault didn’t entertain me, however. The easiest set-up for a B-movie is simply: this happened because it happened. When you try to create bullshit scientific explanations or improbable solutions to those problems – you venture further away from what makes a B-movie entertaining and more into what makes a film a piece of shit. When the premise of the film is: “A giant earthquake is spreading across the country and killing everyone,” you stick to that premise. Have some protagonists and some “earthquake fodder,” kill them all off in creative ways – the earthquake wins. B-movies succeed because the audience isn’t emotinally vested in the fate of the characters – doesn’t want to be. The audience wants to see them all die. That’s why the zombies always win in any zombie film, why the killer never dies in a slasher film, why the alien cannot be defeated in an alien movie, because we want to see these characters die! Megafault‘s megafault is that it couldn’t keep it simple. What would have been an entertaining B-movie about survival turned into an irritating movie about science. This is actually a huge fault with a lot of films from The Asylum, they play it too safe and timidly let characters make it through to the end even though there’s no reason they should. Trust me, when it comes to watching a B-Movie the thrill of watching a character die in a surprising and creative fashion far outweighs any feeling of relief that they survived. The lesson to be learned here is to KILL YOUR CAST!