Scorcher (2002)

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Released 16-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Disaster Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 87:39 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Seale
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Mark Dacascos
Rutger Hauer
John Rhys-Davies
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Bill Brown


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    A lot of things come to mind when I try to describe the plot for Scorcher - bad midday movie is one, but I'm more inclined to describe it as a wet dream for the propaganda department of Greenpeace. Given that former Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore describes his old organisation as "...a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics to silence people who wish to express their views in a civilized forum" in this article, that should give you a fair idea of how credible Scorcher's premise is.

    Lest you think I am bashing Scorcher unfairly simply because its premise revolves around the issue of global warming, let me tell you what else is wrong with it. For one thing, the acting is atrocious, even from former Verhoeven collaborator Rutger Hauer or Lord Of The Rings star John Rhys-Davies, which leads me to believe the fault here lies with the director or the writer. Even some alumni from the university of bad acting such as G.W. Bailey put in an appearance, while looking somewhat competent compared with the leads. The plot, stretched thinner than an African child at a holiday camp run by the New South Wales department of sport and recreation, revolves around the idea that the planet is warming at a rapid rate.

    Essentially, the problem as seen by a scientist named Sallin (John Rhys-Davies), is that the tectonic plates have been separated by a series of three nuclear tests in China. Putting aside for a moment that the computer diagram he uses to demonstrate this fact uses at least six too many plates, the problem is that one large plate in the middle of the Pacific has come unstuck, and will pull open to release material from inside the planet unless something is done. His solution, as he explains to an incredulous President Nelson (Rutger Hauer), is to bury a nuclear weapon deep beneath the surface of Los Angeles and set if off. Discarding the fact that a nuclear blast in Los Angeles would hardly be felt in the Pacific unless it was enough to crack the world open anyway, the President agrees and sends one Colonel Ryan Beckett (Mark Dacascos) to lead a team into Los Angeles in order to bury and explode the required nuclear bomb.

    The user comment I read on the IMDB for this film compares it to Plan 9 From Outer Space, which I find misleading. I like to believe that Plan 9 From Outer Space was made with pure intentions of waking humanity up to its role in the greater cosmos, whereas this turkey was made by fearmongers who only want us all to toe the Green Party line. The acting is terrible, the script is worse, and you know a film is in trouble when a performance put in by G.W. Bailey, an old hat at classically bad films, is one of the most credible. Independence Day had a lower cringe-factor than this, so don't say I didn't warn you.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. Given the direct-to-television origins of the film, and the rather poor cinematography on offer, I am inclined to believe that this is the intended aspect ratio.

    As expected with a Columbia Tristar transfer, this one is razor-sharp, and in spite of some very bad lighting at times, has plenty of detail to feast one's eyes upon. The shadow detail is good, but it is not the best you'd expect from such a recent film. There is no low-level noise.

    The colours in this feature were mostly dull and subdued, giving the whole film a cheap day-time viewing look that is more revealing of the total budget than anything else. There were no composite artefacts or colour bleeding.

    MPEG artefacts were not found in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing on such things as a car stereo at 21:36, or on a lamp at 18:56, to name the most distracting examples. By far the most distracting thing in this feature was the camerawork, which at such points as 37:51, led me to believe that whomever was operating the camera had one too many beers. Film artefacts were occasionally found in this transfer in the form of very small white marks on the picture, but these were easily ignored.

    There are no subtitles of any kind on this DVD. They were sorely missed at times.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The only soundtrack on this DVD was the original English dialogue, rendered in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo at 224 kilobits per second. The extra bits were appreciated at times.

    The dialogue is occasionally hard to understand, such as during the helicopter flight early on in the film, but for the most part, it is easy enough to follow that the unintentional comedy value is amazing. Apart from the occasional instance of sloppy ADR, there did not appear to be any problems with audio sync.

    The score music in this film was composed by Bill Brown. It is as generic as the name would imply.

    The surround channels were not used at all by this soundtrack.

    The subwoofer also had the night off.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, silent, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Trailer

    This two-minute trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Lucky for them, I have not found any reference to a Region 1 version of this title being available.

Summary

    Scorcher is, to be quite frank, one of the suckiest excuses for a film I've ever seen, and I don't mean that in an endearing Plan 9 From Outer Space or Battlefield Earth kind of way. I mean it is vile, pernicious, and sickening, just like the sort of thugs or bullies who would present this kind of fantasy as having any sort of connection with reality. I mean this - there is nothing even slightly redeeming about the film.

    The video transfer is good.

    The audio transfer is okay.

    There is only one extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Friday, November 08, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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