Sci-Fi TV Review: Disaster Zone - Volcano in New York

There's a crucial mistake to avoid when making a disaster flick. Don't use stock footage. Ever. It's a bigger crime than totally unbelievable special effects, which at the very least show a little concern and effort towards the cause of entertaining the audience. The cheaply titled Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York falls into both traps, though even without the cheapness, its unbelievable premise and aggravating directorial "style" kill it in the first few minutes.

For a film that cost around $1 million to make, it's a gutsy move to place this one in a setting like New York. The scale is impressive, including characters and the city (which makes it blatantly obvious that it's not New York more than a few times) that far extend a budget of that size. That limits the action, and the single chance the film has to impress everyone fails miserably thanks to the special effects.

Being set in New York, the set up involves the now common "terror alert" instead of looking at the obvious problem. As time is wasted and a rogue scientist builds some new energy machine (that is never fully explained) under the city, we follow the lead characters that of course happen to be exes to add to the "drama." Very little of the exposition surprises the viewer as it's blatantly obvious where this one is headed.

Every scene in this mess is shot with an overused shaky camera. The attempts to make this look like a documentary bomb on every level, which makes this style a non-stop annoyance. Characters make stupid decisions, and the director obviously loved his gore effects as he lingers on them for extended periods for no real reason.

One of those classic bad movie moments enters into play here. As the impending disaster builds, some poor guy watering his grass becomes the first real victim. It's mostly his fault as he fails to notice the fire billowing from his windows, opens the door to house even though he can barely touch the doorknob, and is then swallowed by a miserable special effect. Someone decided this was a great spot to insert stock footage of a building on fire even though it looks nothing like the house we just saw go up in flames.

That's only one of the baffling and unexplainable occurrences here. The solution to the problem is just as illogical as everything else that happens, and this cheapie doesn't want to end its own pain. This is 90-minutes that would be better spent with a number of far better volcano flicks or a National Geographic documentary. Volcano in New York doesn't come close to giving viewers what they want.

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