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Monday, November 15, 2010

DARK STORM -- movie review by porfle

After watching EARTHSTORM with Stephen Baldwin, I thought to myself, "Wow, I sure would like to see another cheapo Canadian ARMAGEDDON-inspired Stephen Baldwin sci-fi movie with the word 'storm' in the title." 

Well, the good folks at the SyFy Channel and Lionsgate must've heard me, because sure enough, here's DARK STORM (2006), a cheapo Stephen Baldwin sci-fi movie made in Canada with the tagline "Armageddon is on the horizon."  Yay...

At least Stephen Baldwin fit the part of a building-demolition expert in EARTHSTORM.  Here, he plays a scientist named Daniel Gray who's part of a secret government project to collect dark matter in space.  (I'm not quite sure what "dark matter" is, but it's one of those neat things like wormholes that you don't really have to understand in order for it to be a cool subject for a sci-fi flick.)  Seeing Stephen Baldwin in a lab coat is like seeing a gorilla wearing a tutu--somehow, the two just don't go together.  I kept expecting his associate Dr. Fred Flintstone to show up at some point so they could sneak out and go bowling together.

Anyway, this project is supposedly being done to benefit Mankind somehow, but the weaselly guy in charge of it, Dr. McKray (Gardiner Millar), turns out to be a dirty rat who's planning to turn the whole thing into a deadly weapon and sell it to the highest international bidder.  While demonstrating it to the visiting General Killion (William B. Davis, better known as Cancer Man from "The X-Files"), who controls the government purse-strings that finance the project, a containment leak in the orbiting dark-matter-collecting satellite is detected and a cloud of dark matter is spreading over the atmosphere.  (Sorry, but I'm just going to have to keep saying "dark matter" a bunch of times during this review.)

Dr. McKray doesn't want to lose his funding so he forces the reticent Dr. Baldwin and his coworkers to ignore safety measures and proceed with the demonstration, which causes the dark matter to enter our atmosphere at different points known as "spikes", wreaking all sorts of havoc with the weather and disintegrating airplanes and buildings and stuff.  This is done using that TV-quality kind of CGI that looks pretty good in some scenes and so hot at all in others.

Not only that, but Dr. Baldwin gets exposed to some errant dark matter himself during the botched test, which gives him strange super-powers that enable him to start his car without keys, lob dark-matter fastballs at bad guys, and repel focused beams of destructive dark matter with his mind.  He's Dark Matter Man!  This, too, turns out to be part of the repulsive Dr. McKray's plan to turn himself and everyone else into a race of dark-matter superbeings in order to bring Mankind's evolutionary process to its ultimate peak.  Wow--sounds just crazy enough to work!

It's interesting seeing William B. Davis as a good guy for a change, but without those fake cigarettes he used to chain-smoke on "The X-Files" he doesn't really know what to do with his hands anymore.  Camille Sullivan (THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT), who looks and sounds a bit like Sarah Jessica Parker but I didn't hold it against her, is okay as Dr. Baldwin's wife Ellie, and Keegan Connor Tracy (WHITE NOISE, FINAL DESTINATION 2) does a fairly good job playing the nasty agent of an unnamed government bidding for the dark-matter weapon.  I liked Rob LaBelle (FIDO, "Taken") as Dr. Baldwin's dorky associate Andy--he reminded me of a skinnier, shorter-haired Larry from the Three Stooges. 

Some of the dark-matter storm scenes are pretty cool but there are just enough shots of calamity and destruction, with varying degrees of cartoony-ness, to remind us that this is going on while the talkier, less-expensive scenes take up more running time.  Dr. McKray eventually has Dr. and Mrs. Baldwin kidnapped and taken to his secret dark-matter destructo-beam installation, and it's up to them to find a way to foil his evil scheme.  It all builds to a final super-powered showdown, with predictable results.

I liked EARTHSTORM better because its "Buck Rogers"-type space shuttle mission and other cheesy sci-fi elements were brighter and more fun.  DARK STORM, which is darker, more earthbound, and  a bit dreary at times, is a fairly entertaining time-waster and I didn't hate it, but that's about it. 

Buy it at

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