The end is near.
Okay, they’re not even trying anymore with these taglines. And who can blame them? You have to think the hapless marketers tasked with drumming up interest in yet another disaster movie have long since exhausted their vocabulary; I don’t care what talents you may sport as a scribe, there are only so many ways you can come up a catchy way to say “Stuff blows up real good!”
Today’s installment is Cat. 8 and the world is going to end. Obviously. This time, it’s because some cutting-edge work on harness the sun’s power has been leveraged for foul purposes. The research was originally done by a scientist named Michael Ranger (Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island), but he was disgraced and exiled and now he can only watch and his one-time lady-friend takes his theorems and turns them into a super-weapon. Obviously.
A malfunction leads to some big-time property damage and a threat of global extinction. So Ranger and his backup (i.e., his daughter’s dopey boyfriend) unplug the machine and presumably save the world. Right? Wrong! Obviously! The renegade Secretary of Defense is committed, I don’t know, to do something moronic like dropping multiple neutron bombs and liquidate half the population of America.
Yes, that’s his plan. Meanwhile, all hell is breaking loose with the atmosphere, triggering super storms and lightning balls. It’s up to Ranger again to come up with a solution, in the face of a treacherous U.S. leader, his minions, fireballs from the sky and paycheck that is taking unusually long to clear.
If that sounds like a lot of plot to squeeze into 90 minutes, you’re right; Cat. 8 is one of those “Doomsday” miniseries, a trek clocking in at a robust 175 minutes. And what do you get for your time? The same exact thing.
I am trying to summon what was unique in this versus the multitude of other disaster films I’ve endured and I’ve got nothing for you. Much like the beleaguered tagline writers who have run out of interesting things to say, so too have their superiors, the tired souls tasked with writing these screenplays. And three hours’ worth!
Cat. 8 barfs out everything from the playbook: an estranged scientist leaping back into duty; the military industrial complex repurposing an otherwise helpful piece of research into a planet-destroyer; the former love interest misled at first but eventually coming around to the side of anti-doomsday weapon; some goofy kids hanging around the adults; a piece of Mickey Mouse tech optioned to stop an unthinkable threat from outer space; and, for sure, a bounty of questionable VFX.
It’s all here, as tired and emaciated as anything else employing low-grade computer animation to annihilate farmlands. Though I will give Cat. 8 one check in the win column: they get to the action a lot earlier than similar movies. The devastation rains down within the first half hour. So there’s that. It’s not much.
Good-looking Blu-ray, though: 1.78:1/1080p, clean and clear and as amiable towards the visual effects as one could hope; 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; and cast interviews.
This is a Category 8 bore.