Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse (2014) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||2014|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||W.D. Hogan|
|Anchor Bay Entertainment||Starring||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The discovery of an ancient zodiac device in a lead mine in Peru, incorporating symbols older than Sumer that were unknown outside Mesopotamia, coincides with the start of extreme weather events all over the earth, such as meteor showers. Professor Neil Martin (Joel Gretsch) is an expert on Sumerian civilization who is approached by Kathryn Keen (Emily Holmes), who works for the research company which discovered the artefact, to go to Peru to see what he can discover. Accompanied by Neil’s son Colin (Reilly Dolman), they travel to Peru and enter the mine. In the mine Kathryn takes the stone in the centre of the artefact while Colin discovers Sophie (Andrea Brooks), who we had seen before as part of the team that discovered the relic, alive and trapped under a pile of rocks. They exit the mine just in time to drive furiously to evade a tsunami that engulfs the mine and threatens to overwhelm them.
Back in the US, Kathryn and her company start to do some tests on the stone she took from Peru, watched by government agent Woodward (Aaron Douglas) who believes the stone to be a potential powerful energy source. However Neil has come to believe that the stone is the centrepiece of a device intended to protect the earth from destruction during the return of the hidden planet Nibiru, and that the weather events are warnings, linked to the signs of the zodiac. As the extreme events, such as tornadoes, rains of molten rock, and earthquakes engulf the planet, Neil manages to take the stone and with Colin, Kathryn and Sophie sets out to discover how to save the Earth, all the time pursued by Agent Woodward and his men. With time running out, will they find the key to avoid the apocalypse?
Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse is a TV movie for SyFy channel. It is probably more difficult to make good sci-fi films on a limited budget than some other genres unless the action takes place in a confined space or the acting, effects and scripting are good. Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse is not set in a confined space and the acting, effects and script leave a lot to be desired. The film involves extreme weather events, such as a tsunami and meteor showers, but the CGI work is some of the cheapest and least realistic I have seen, which is saying something. The acting and dialogue are wooden, with Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future trilogy (1985 /1989 /1990)) in a small part being the most familiar face, but this is a B movie, so that type of acting adds to the appeal!
The scripting is more of a problem. I can suspend belief and accept without issue an end of the world scenario, a hidden planet, a prophesy and an ancient device for averting disaster; after all none of this is particularly new. However a plot set on modern day Earth should have consistency and an internal logic. This is where Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse falters: the mine where supposedly one of the most important finds of all time has been discovered is unguarded and our characters just walk in. Later when this potentially powerful stone is being tested it is in an open field without any security at all and two people (admittedly in anti-radiation suits) are just standing 2 metres away. That is dumb experimental science to say the least! There are other strange plot points. Sophia is found alive and well under a pile of rocks in the mine. Although the time frame is not clear she is likely have been there a couple of weeks without food or water but is fit enough to run soon after. And did no one check the mine before Kathryn and Neil arrive? Later, when the four are on the run and caught in an extreme weather event, they discover Marty (Ben Cotton), who just happens to be on the spot with a survival bunker with all they need. As well, Marty has been following the disasters and the prophesy of Nibiru! Talk about coincidence! These are not the only examples of things that stretch credibility either, but you get the idea.
Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse is silly and preposterous, with cheap CGI effects and plot contrivances you could drive a meteor shower through. It is not, however, a totally bad film and it has its moments, although I think this is a film for putting your mind into neutral and watching with a few drinks on a Friday night.
Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which I would think is the original broadcast ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced, but my computer would not read if the review copy I received was PAL or NTSC. Given this is identical otherwise to the US release, including advertised running time, I suspect it is NTSC.
Exteriors had glossy, natural colours and were nice and sharp, which if nothing else highlighted the cheap and dodgy CGI effects. Interior colours were duller, and showed the digital yellowish tinge under lights which also affected skin tones. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, brightness and contrast consistent.
There was some glare in interior scenes and minor ghosting with movement but otherwise artefacts and marks are absent.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a largish white font. I sampled them and found that they bore limited resemblance to what was actually being said at that time on screen. Spanish subtitles were also available.
Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps.
The audio is the highlight of the film, and very good for a TV movie. Dialogue was sometimes unclear, when the subtitles did sort of help, while the surrounds and rears were frequently used for the extreme weather effects, such as meteor showers and the tsunami, explosions, engines, gunshots, music and ambient effects. There were a number of panning and directional effects, including helicopter engines, bullets and falling rocks, and the subwoofer added effective bass to the explosions, weather and music without unbalancing the sound stage.
The music score by Michael Neilson did what was required without being anything special.
Lip synchronisation fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Our release of Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse is identical to the Region 1 US version.
Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse is not a cult film in the making; it takes itself too seriously and I found the contrivances in plotting and the cheap looking CGI a challenge. But the audio is impressive and the film is sort of fun if you are prepared to put your brain into neutral.
The video is reasonable, the audio very good. No extras.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|