Science Fiction / Television

10.5: Apocalypse (2006)

With a few honourable exceptions, whenever a director starts resorting to tricksy photography and other gimmicks, you know deep in the pit of your stomach that they’re up to something, that their furiously grandstanding, trying desperately to distract us away from their productions other failings. So when director John Lafia reaches for his zoom lens within seconds of this two-part mini-series starting, you know you’re in trouble. What you won’t know immediately, is just how much trouble you’re in…

10-5 apocalypseBecause once he starts, Lafia simply does not stop for the entire duration of this bloated, melodramatic abomination – every scene is rendered virtually unwatchable by hyperactive and utterly pointless zooms in and out of characters faces, coupled with a queasy handheld style that gives the impression that the camera was being wielded by a very inebriated cameraman.

And being drunk is probably the only way you’ll sit through all of this with your sanity intact. By the halfway point of part one I already had a splitting headache from the manic camerawork (note to future directors: this technique doesn’t make your film more dramatic, it just makes your audience seasick) and was praying for it to just stop…

The failings of 10.5 Apocalypse (notionally a sequel to Lafia’s previous disaster epic 10.5 (2004)) that Lafia was obviously trying to distract us from are legion – at the most basic level, the script is dreadful, full of stereotypical characters, clichéd, histrionic dialogue and lacking even the most basic grasp of the science behind the natural disasters the show is portraying. Given the Godawful material they’re working with, the cast don’t seem to bother, resorting to just crying, shouting or acting stern with no hint that they believe a word of this nonsense any more than we do.

10-5 apocalypse 2.jpg

Lafia (whose work on Babylon 5 (1994-1998) and The Dead Zone (2002-2007) was much better than this) piles on the mayhem with such unseemly gusto that the show quickly becomes laughable. He barely gives us five minutes to get out breath back before lurching straight into the catastrophe which, under most circumstances, wouldn’t be a bad thing – but here it’s overkill as Lafia goes all out to top every other disaster movie ever made and just ends up making it look stupid.

The saving grace in these kind of things are usually the visual effects used to represent the various disasters and this is where Lafia’s uneasy camerawork has to work overtime – the CGI is some of the worst you’ll ever see, wholly unconvincing on any level, and the physical effects are no better. The lack of verisimilitude finally kills the project stone dead.

As with the equally dim-witted and zoom-happy 10.5, much of the footage that doesn’t involve buildings collapsing, cracks opening in the ground or volcanoes erupting seems to consist of people standing around looking very, very concerned without ever conveying the actual seriousness of the situation, or else watching things on computer screens and acting like Hollywood Scientists – that strange breed that gets terribly over-excited about everything and nothing and babbles endlessly in a strange language that the writer(s) have picked up from a few back issues of Scientific American.

All told, 10.5 Apocalypse is a terrible thing, badly written, woodenly acted and hysterically directed. Had Lafia laid off that zoom lens for a while it might at least have been fun on a trash level, but he scuppers that my making us feel constantly sick throughout. One for those with very strong stomachs and phenomenally high tolerance levels. Keep those travel sickness pills handy, they might just come in useful…

For more details on this title, visit the main EOFFTV site.


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