By Christopher Null | Sep 29, 2005

Ripped from today's theatre screens comes the latest direct-to-DVD knockoff, Scorcher, a tepid reworking of The Core.

Say what you will about using lame source material, Scorcher is laughably bad in its own right. As with Core, our meddling has caused some kind of tectonic trouble, and if the gap between two plates opens wider than 44 centimetres (yeah, whatever), then we will literally have "hell on earth" as earthquakes and volcanoes sprout up all over the planet. Uh huh. And so our hero geologists (including John Rhys-Davies, whoa nelly!), under the direction of President Rutger Hauer(!!!), are tasked with finding a solution. Naturally, that involves setting off a nuclear bomb somewhere. In the case of Scorcher, it means detonating the nuke in central Los Angeles. Sounds like an improvement to me, but whatever, after quietly evacuating the tens of millions of people who live there, a wrench involving our military co-hero (Mark Dacascos) and a kidnapped daughter gets thrown at us, not to mention crossed signals between the military dudes tasked with getting the nukes set just so.




Scott Weinberg - 05/02/04 18:57:10

For every big-budget FX flick that hits the multiplexes, you'll find at least a half-dozen copies, ripoffs and retreads populating the video stacks and hiding on the late night cable channels. These films are usually comprised of hastily written and insipid screenplays, special effects that recall the Krofft Brothers' Land of the Lost, atrocious production values, and Casper Van Dien or Lance Henriksen.
In nearly every instance, the DVD cover art is the most compelling thing about the flick and you'll end up humiliated that you have to bring a third-rate version of Anaconda back to Blockbuster where all the movie nerds will snicker at you.

Which brings up Scorcher. Blatantly inspired by such modern classics as The Core and Armageddon, Scorcher is about as low-rent and derivative as a knock-off can possibly be - which is both a good thing and bad. But mostly bad.

Apparently the Chinese government is all to blame here, as their illegal nuclear testing has somehow unhinged some underwater fault-lines below California. The only way the Earth can be saved from incineration? Well, the detonation of a nuclear bomb in downtown Los Angeles, of course! Needless to say we have a swaggering hero, a fetching lady doctor, her brilliant Daddy scientist and a generic gaggle of soon-to-be-sidekicks all on the case. Any of this sounding familiar yet?

I could rattle off the non-stop parade of inanity, beginning with a subplot that sees ALL of L.A.'s citizens quietly moved out of town within 24 hours and ending with the Daddy/daughter schmear of "Oh my god they're actually trying to instill some actual DRAMA into this astonishingly silly disaster flick!"...but what's the point? Anyone who voluntarily drops four bucks to rent this one most likely already knows what they're in for: cinema cheese of the highest order.

Heck, it's not hard to have a minimally good time with a B-movie that delivers the ensemble of Mark Dacascos, John Rhys-Davies, G.W. Bailey and Rutger Hauer (as the President!)... but Scorcher is only "good stupid fun" in short bursts. What starts out as a gleefully obvious rehash of all the disaster-flick clichés we all know and love slowly turns into a flick with very few ideas... which is weird considering the stunning amount of "source material" there is out there. In other words, the set-up is compelling and fun, but the farther you get into Scorcher the less interested you become. A wholesale rip off can still be entertaining... but not if it's just plain old boring.

Scorcher is of questionable note to film freaks for its perpetual use of stock footage from other films. As if it's not transparent enough that Scorcher is a pastiche of six earlier (and considerably more expensive) movies, scattered throughout this fool's epic you'll find snippets of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Daylight and Volcano (or maybe it was Dante's Peak; all you volcano movies look alike to me.) So we've now come to the point in the evolution of cinema in which studios release NEW movies that are largely comprised (both figuratively and literally) of earlier movies. And people buy them.

I digress. "Scorcher" is quite simply not worthy of such extensive contemplation. If you dig C-grade cable-flick cheese (or the name Rutger Hauer means you'll see the movie regardless), then you could certainly opt for a less entertaining than this one.

(Pretty Bad)