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Seattle Superstorm DVD Review

Seattle Superstorm DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Seattle Superstorm
Movie & DVD Details

Director: Jason Bourque / Writers: David Ray, Jeff Renfroe

Cast: Esai Morales (Tom Foster), Ona Grauer (Lt. Commander Emma Peterson), Jared Abrahamson (Wyatt Foster), MacKenzie Porter (Chloe Peterson), Martin Cummins (Jacob Stinson), Michelle Harrison (Dr. Carolyn Gates), Jay Brazeau (Dimitri Kandinsky), Matty Finochio (Ben Jefroe)

Original Air Date: March 13, 2012 / Running Time: 88 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned
DVD Release Date: August 27, 2013 / Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Seattle Superstorm from Amazon.com: DVD Instant Video

Disaster movies tend to bring destruction to major cities around the world: New York, London, Paris, San Francisco.
But look past mainstream Hollywood and you'll find Seattle Superstorm, a Syfy original movie that raises more questions than it answers. The biggest one: who out there is old, stupid, or sheltered enough not to notice or mind that movies today are generally a lot better produced than this?

Former NASA scientist Tom Foster (Esai Morales) and military intelligence official Lt. Commander Emma Peterson (Ona Grauer) are three weeks into their relationship and already talking marriage, but things aren't so rosy between their respective teenaged kids from previous marriages. Tom's son Wyatt (Jared Abrahamson) is into powerful cars, while Emma's daughter Chloe (MacKenzie Porter) is all about the environment. This blended family-to-be suddenly finds more pressing matters at hand when explosions break out in the market where they're shopping.

This blended family to be (Jared Abrahamson, Esai Morales, MacKenzie Porter, and Ona Grauer) braves an apocalypse in the form of a "Seattle Superstorm."

The official report is that a meteor was shot down by a guided missile, but those with clearance like Tom and Emma know that the mysterious intrusion could very well have been bioterrorism, a weapon of mass destruction, or some kind of extraterrestrial attack. Tom coolly identifies the threat as "a biochemical agent that's engineered to behave like an organism." It's triggering a superstorm centered right in the Seattle area but holding disastrous implications for all of mankind.

Evidently, the world has no better line of defense than the Fosters and Petersons. Emma is quick to reach for her gun when her power-tripping supervisor (Martin Cummins) is reluctant to authorize her recommended course of evacuation. She's also quick to draw on Dimitri Kandinsky (Jay Brazeau), a jovial biochemist for the Soviet Union in the late 1960s who has no difficulty strolling in with a Geiger counter to access evidence and recognize the nature of this catastrophe.

Despite these great minds hard at work, it's 16-year-old tree-hugger Chloe who wisely notices the unusual lack of rain and hypothesizes that a triggered downpour could quickly eradicate the smoke-producing, fast-spreading contagion.

Curiosity quickly mummified the muffin man's hands and that's no joke. Emma Peterson (Ona Grauer) is a "draw first, ask questions later" kind of Lieutenant Commander.

Devoid of personality and chock-full of exposition, Seattle Superstorm is a movie that's tough to imagine being genuinely enjoyed by anyone. It sports weak acting from the entire cast (which outside of the once-promising Morales is no-name) and even weaker visual effects. The CGI is as crude as it would be, given the apparent shoestring budget and the whole thing is poorly executed.
It's not just the prominent, regularly scheduled commercial breaks. It's touches like repeatedly being treated to unknown citizens dodging around lightning, yet the Space Needle's extensively-foreshadowed destruction, the cover art's central image, barely occurring in view. Director Jason Bourque, a man with an astonishing 15 years of credits to his name, makes time for some unlikely wisecracks and future family bonding in an effort to humanize these characters. But there's nothing human about facing impending doom with such atrocious, forced banter.

As terrible as Seattle Superstorm is, it's somehow entirely unaware of that, giving it none of the camp comedy value of knowingly outlandish Syfy productions like the recently trending Sharknado. Is it any surprise that this movie wasn't even shot in Seattle, but in nearby Canada, where tax breaks are easy to come by?

VIDEO and AUDIO

Seattle Superstorm hits DVD alone with very average picture and sound. There's nothing in the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen video that seems better than mediocre and nothing in the movie to make you wish it looked better. Always having a digital appearance, this production suffers from some jerky video and always subpar visual effects. Sound is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Stereo 2.0. The default former doesn't offer anything special, mostly feeling like plain stereo surround save for a couple of potent effects. The DVD loses points for using closed captioning instead of subtitles.

For now, the movie is called "Seattle Superstorm", but in a few years, you may be calling it Oklahoma City Thunder. A character takes a beating in the Seattle Superstorm DVD's main menu montage.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The DVD's only extra is a Seattle Superstorm trailer (1:49).

The disc opens with trailers for fellow schlock Super Eruption and Metal Tornado, neither of which is accessible by menu.

The action-scored menu plays clips inside a generic action movie border. The black keepcase holds no inserts, but is joined by a glossy slipcover repeating all the same artwork below with no perceivable difference.

Though Chloe (MacKenzie Porter) loves the environment and Wyatt (Jared Abrahamson) digs gas-guzzling cars, the teenaged future stepsiblings manage to put aside their differences when faced with apocalypse. Tom (Esai Morales) and Dimitri Kandinsky (Jay Brazeau), just the old Soviet scientist Seattle needed, test Chloe's heavy water theory with a spray bottle and a piece of the highly reactive specimen.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Joyless, ridiculous, and so very stupid, Seattle Superstorm is a movie that makes you appreciate your lack of filmmaking experience. After all, you and I could make a movie like this,
but why would we spend even a month of our lives on such an endeavor, only to be met with derision and apathy? Is there really that much money to be made in Syfy broadcasts and the ever-declining home video market? Maybe not. Is there any chance that this filmography addition leads to more and more fulfilling work? Apparently, yes. In the year and a half since this debuted, the adult leads have gone on to "Magic City" and Elysium, director Borque has remained steadily employed in television, and he's even reunited with one of the writers for another doomsday movie.

Still, not everyone emerges from this telemovie unscathed. Anyone unfortunate enough to watch this will be filled with regret for spending an hour and a half on such a worthless, amateurish production. Don't go down such a road, not with the wealth of better disaster movies out there that you can view or revisit.

Buy Seattle Superstorm from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed August 25, 2013.



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