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Monday, October 8, 2012

Absolute Zero (2006)

“Science is never wrong,” is the mantra for this made for TV movie, repeatedly endlessly by characters that one finds hard to believe graduated junior high let alone a university, but when hero scientist David Koch (Jeff Fahey) says it you know he has the cold hard facts. So put on your windbreakers, and ready the hot cocoa, as this chilling tale will freeze you in your tracks.

The movie starts with a team of scientists stationed in Antarctica (actually stationed in front of blue screens and Styrofoam snow) who are researching global warming, and when sudden seismic shifting causes parts of the ice shelf to crack open right through their camp, dropping one of them into the abyss, lawyers from The Day After Tomorrow start suing. The company that is funding this research sends in another team, this one lead by brilliant climatologist David Koch, to find out what’s going on. And faster than you can say “Jack Frost” sudden shifts in temperature strike the area with only David surviving the freezing CGI storm, but not before discovering through cave paintings that this has all happened before. It seems that the ice age didn’t happen over a long period of time (as most silly scientists believe), but due to the Earth’s shifting polarity it all went down in one day.

David rushes to his offices in Miami, which has been experiencing increasing strange weather, to crunch some numbers and it is there that he discovers that another ice age is coming as the Earth is reversing polarity again (the reason given is that global warming has melted too much ice at the poles thus changing the shape of the Earth, causing it to wobble and change polarity). His boss of course ignores him as he believes it will be happening over the next two hundred years, and his company will make huge money off of military contracts to solve the problem. You see his boss is a scientist that is in it just for the money (the boss of course gets frozen to death while trying to pick up the contracts). My guess is he also has a black SUV.

David teams ups with an old colleague who just happens to be married to David’s old flame, played by the “Where is she now?” actress Erika Eleniak, and who has a daughter that is old enough to possibly be David’s daughter (this thread is abandoned immediately, and never addressed again, when an iceberg floats into a Miami harbor). So with the help his old colleague, his wife, their kid, and two teaching assistants, David discovers that everything thirty degrees north or south of the Equator is going to reach absolute zero in four hours. So it’s a race against time, and the clock is ticking.

A palm tree is thrown by storm winds through the windshield of the old colleague car and thus clears the way for a rekindling of romance between David and the old flame. But there’s no time for romance you say? Pish posh I say, how else can they pad the running time to 86 minutes? The roads quickly clog with evacuees and the temperature plummets (we get a lot of CGI matt paintings with blowing snow superimposed to show this), and we now have only two hours before absolute zero is reached. What ever will our intrepid band of heroes do? Well they decide to hole up in David’s “Absolute Zero Lab” and ride out the temperature drop. So the last twenty minutes deals with the group trying to restore power to the building so they can open the door to the lab, rescue greedy boss from stuck elevator, survive an exterior excursion when one stairwell is blocked when a helicopter crashes into the building, and then make it back to the lab where the spunky daughter waits for them.

This is one of those great movies that show just what you can’t do without a decent effects budget. From the crappy CGI storm clouds to the blowing Styrofoam snow its just one cheesy set piece after another with some of the worst written dialog even spoken on screen. In one scene Erika Eleniak is terrified and can’t go on so Jeff Fahey tries to calm her down and her response is to freak out saying, “You have no idea what this feels like. Everything is logic and numbers to you. Just feel something for once!” Wow, that’s got to hurt. But really if you don’t think with your heart you’re never going to win over the washed up actress and her precocious kid.

If you get nothing out of this movie you will at least learn that, “Science is never wrong!” (This movie, on the other hand, is rarely right.)

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