Full of Gas – Swamp Volcano Reviewed

24 Feb

Miami Magma PosterWhen I sit down to watch one of these B-movies, I’m hoping to be entertained. That said, I’m not shocked if I end up feeling more bored or even a little confused (seriously, who was doing what drugs when they thought up Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood?). It comes with the territory.

But angry? This was a new one for me –  and exactly how I felt after sitting through Swamp Volcano when I watched it on SyFy. I actually had to step away from it for a little while to figure out why.

Where do I begin? The plot is pretty paint-by-numbers, so let’s run down the list:

Requisite foreshadowing mini-disaster? Check. And probably the high point of the film. That the film peaks in the first five minutes is never a good sign.

Introduce our main character, a misunderstood scientist with a wacky theory, by giving a lecture conveniently related to the imminent disaster? Done and done.
*engaging rant mode*
Can we please retire this now? Show her in the field, or at a bar, or knocking over a bank. Anything. I think they were trying to emulate the first time we see Harrison Ford lecturing about archeology in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but they miss a couple of key points. That isn’t the first time we see him – by then we’ve already learned of his ability with a whip and at outrunning large rocks. And he wasn’t talking about the Ark to the class! It’s a cheap way to cram in some quick exposition and needs to go away. Far, far away.
*rant mode disengaged*

Requisite cougar character? Introduced almost immediately after the lecture. For those that have read my other reviews, the cougar is that moment in the film when they add a superfluous dramatic scene in an attempt to justify the addition of a young, annoying and/or attractive, utterly useless and unnecessary character. Few films have managed to achieve the useless and unnecessary bit as well as this one did. So kudos for that.

Confusing characters? Of course. By confusing, I’m not referring to the lead’s accent – which drifts in and out of Aussie, sometimes within the same scene. I mean they dramatically switch persona’s during the film. A safety-conscious engineer goes from potential whistleblower to maniacal main bad guy and a hilariously obvious turncoat becomes the movie’s ultimate sacrificing hero. Normally this is a good thing – after all, movies need characters that have an arc – but here the switches are almost instant. The story does a horrible job of showing any transition whatsoever.

Bad science? Check. I’m usually pretty lenient with this one – I’m all for exaggeration in the name of b-movie cinema, after all – but even I have limits. A single volcano creating the entire gulf of Mexico?

A quick lesson in scale:
area of the Gulf of Mexico – 600000 square miles
area of Yellowstone Park (caldera of an actual supervolcano) ~ 1500 square miles

Volcano... with a cape.

That's one hell of a supervolcano.

And finally – where the hell is the swamp? Miami Magma was the title when I searched IMDB – not the most entertaining title but at least was appropriate. Swamp volcano makes me think of, you know, a volcano in a swamp.

Volcano... in a swamp.

It's a volcano... in a swamp.

So why was I angry? I’ve certainly seen movies before with some (or most) of these issues. Even the ones that felt like a complete waste of two hours never got to me like this. In the end, I think it boils down to this: I go in to these movies rooting for them to succeed on some level. Almost like rooting for a sports team. And when I root for a team, the worst thing they can possibly do in my eyes is not go all out. There were aspects of this film that could have been so much better had they put in the effort. But they didn’t. And ultimately, that’s what I felt watching this movie.

My team wasn’t even trying…

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4 Responses to “Full of Gas – Swamp Volcano Reviewed”

  1. phoenixx24 February 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    What are you saying!? “Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood” sounds like an awesome movie!

    Like

    • thomasserio February 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      It is, but it’s still a WTF concept… 🙂

      Like

  2. Dan February 23, 2015 at 12:29 am #

    Its the title that pissed me off the most with this film. I want to know who, specifically who, came up with that title and thought it made any sense at all. They’re certifiable. And what room full of people agreed and voted to support that idiotic title? All certifiable. (And not even a good crazy, like Tarantino) How about Volcano Vice, or Miami Beach Meltdown, or Crude Awakening (my favorite). It pissed me off. How are these writers still getting work???

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Capb Bob August 10, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    What I look for in a science fiction story is fiction involving science. That is a fictitious story where real science or a mild extension of real science is involved. This was so laughably far off that I stopped laughing. Lava tubes under the whole gulf and Florida! Oil in the lava tubes! Oil that has the same chemical composition as volcanic rock! Wouldn’t it be volcanic rock then and not oil? Liquid nitrogen in single wall plastic tanks! And for that matter, why liquid nitrogen when water would absorb and dissipate far more heat? Oh, yeah, the acting sucked too. The whole thing was off scale on the hokey meter!

    Like

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