Superstorm artwork

Sara Hughes -
Nicola Stephenson

Dan Abrams -
Chris Potter

George Katzenberg -
Tom Sizemore

Lance Resnick -
JR Bourne

Munish Loomba -
Cas Anvar

Holly Zabrieski -
Jana Carpenter

Dead Set
Surviviors (2008)

Episode 1

In the wake of yet another disastrous season of tropical storms, the US department of commerce comes to the pre-eminent meteorologists in the country and asks them to come up with ways of avoiding the storms, or lessening their impact at least. With the most up to date predictive computer packages and some old ideas, they come up with a couple of options. The first is the seeding of a hurricane with particles that will weaken its power by disrupting its airflow. Of course, if they get it wrong they might just end up making a bad storm even worse.

Weather control, is it possible? It's a currently hot question considering the weather pattern disruption that is predicted under the global warming doomsayers opinions, so an intelligent and exciting examination of the subject is both timely and likely to sell to audiences.

Sadly, although SUPERSTORM is intelligent (well informative anyway) it isn't very exciting. The early part of the plot is the 'let's gather together a team of top scientists' bit familiar from films like THE CORE and SPHERE and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and then they bitch and snipe at each other for the rest of the time before a last minute plane flight into the heart of a CGI hurricane.

You'll probably learn a lot about the history and techniques considered for weather manipulation (especially if you watch the accompanying series THE SCIENCE OF SUPERSTORM), but you won't engage with the characters who are barely sketched in beyond their caricature headlines. So we have the brilliant, but conservative head scientist, the pushy bitch with a history, the arrogant computer geek and the manipulative politico running the whole show. Their relationships and history strain neither belief nor attention span. If you can't guess who's had who and who doesn't get along in seconds then you might even enjoy this.

The truth of the matter is that the director doesn't even believe in his material. The editing is MTV on acid with changes in angle, colour, clarity and format rattling around so abruptly that it just distracts from what is being said, which is probably what it was meant to do as the dialogue is neither original nor clever nor worth listening to. The cast can't do anything much with it and most of them don't really try.

If CGI storms are your thing, then you get to fly around in, through, under and above all manner of them, but again with random changes in the speed and pictures so that even this majesty gets lost in the cutting.


Episode 2

Following the failure of the seeding experiment in the first episode and the loss of the plane crew, the team is pretty shaken and the project stalling, but a huge storm is heading for Miami and the powers that be want to see some action for their money. The team come up with sending a weak weather system artificially induced across the country to impact on the hurricane and deflect its course. Unfortunately, when the numbers don't add up, they decide not to go ahead. Their political masters, however, take the data and go ahead on their own, leaving a more powerful storm heading directly for the city of New York.

The plot of the second episode is more interesting than the first because it is less about the weather and more about the characters. They are still as thin as the average sheet of cardboard, but they have more to say and the political aspects of what they are doing raises more interesting questions than the simple, 'can it be done?'

The whole question of the weaponising of weather control is actually an interesting one and the machinations of the the political figures in having to play off the needs of one part of the country against the other are believable enough to be chilling, but not much else is.

The whip crack 'go to a black and white closeup for no reason' editing is somewhat toned down, but there's still too much of it and the constant whizzing through the same CGI hurricane as serial simulations are run is just plain annoying.

The death of New York has been done so many times that you can't help but wish they'd picked somewhere else (is there no originality out there), but has just enough of a lure to bring us back for the final episode.


Episode 3

With the hurricane bearing down on New York, the team take the decision to recreate the initial seeding experiment that killed one of their number. The seeding will alter the course of the storm, taking the worst away from the heart of the city, but it will now hit in Long Island, the home of the Stormshield HQ.

The last episode is about tension and action. Or at least it ought to be. The story has been told and there is only the fallout to experience. The storm is going to hit and we are going to see what happens when it does. That ought to be exciting, but it turns out to be a complete anticlimax. We've seen New York flooded far too many times to be impressed by the effects that this budget can run to. No THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW this.

The loss of certain members of the team is poorly handled, not making the impact that they should, not least because those characters are acting stupidly at the time. By contrast, the death of a babysitter introduced only moments before is much more affecting.

And as for the political fallout on Katzenberg, that has some interest, but doesn't even get resolved.

Over the three episodes SUPERSTORM has had some high aims, but the budget, script and attention deficit direction and editing have meant that almost every aim has been missed.







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