laila
29 April 2011 @ 10:34 am
Notes on a Half-Seen SyFy Original  
I was going to put something else here, but it's whiny and on cold reflection I decided I can't really be bothered to take the time to type it up. I'm going to be elaborating on this entry on the Plurk account I acquired to keep up with my canonmates at [livejournal.com profile] somarium instead.

For a kick-off, you'll need to be aware of one thing, and that is this: SyFy Originals are absolute bollocks. They're high-concept messes with absurd titles and even worse plots. The only thing more cookie-cutter than the storylines are the characters who inhabit them; the acting, even from people who've proved they're capable of acting perfectly decently in other things, is uniformly dreadful; and the special effects, which rely heavily on cheap CGI, are barely more convincing than a Deviantart photo-manip.

In short, SyFy originals suck. The only thing about them that exhibits any signs of even basic competence is their trailers, most of which are far more coherent and satisfying than the actual movies they advertise. It certainly doesn't hurt that the trailers cut out the deeply unsatisfying opening half-hour which attempts to present the terrible, cookie-cutter characters as likeable and interesting human beings before getting to the point and starting to gratuitously kill them all with bad CGI.

The average SyFy Original has a plot that runs as follows:

An [evil corporate executive/sadistic mad scientist] finds a [giant creature/mystical plot device] that will allow him to [gain obscene wealth/gain obscene power/gain obscene wealth and obscene power/make a scientific breakthrough via massively unethical tests]. Unfortunately in attempting to utilize the power of the [giant creature/mystical plot device] for his own ends, the [evil corporate executive/sadistic mad scientist] manages to [unseal an ancient monster/unseal a whole bunch of ancient monsters/create genetically modified monsters that break out of the labs and go on a killing spree/magically trigger a world-ending apocalypse].

It's now up to a Renegade Scientist whose offbeat theories were rejected by the mainstream and [a grizzled soldier trying to reunite with his estranged daughter/another scientist who starts out playing by the rules but comes to appreciate the hero's maverick ways] to save the world. Though their plans will initially be rejected by the [scientific establishment/military officers] overseeing the relief efforts, by the end of the movie our hero will win through by [blowing everything up/firing nukes into the atmosphere/inventing a magic Reset Button that restores the status quo through the power of Bullshit Science].

There are occasionally ones about extreme weather instead but they generally follow the exact same pattern, though the designated villain is replaced by implausible meteorological conditions and they're about 5,000 percent more likely to end with a clunky Green Aesop.

Tonight's offering went by the title of Stonehenge Apocalypse. Here's the poster. Here's the IMDB Page. This is a real movie, starring real actors.

I am not making this up, and if you've ever seen a SyFy Original you'll know I'm not. You'll also believe me when I say I've seen worse on SyFy. Specifically, something called Lost Colony and a film starring Michael Shanks which went by the name of Arctic Blast, which sounds more like a flavor of mouthwash than the title of a disaster movie. And, bad though Stonehenge Apocalypse is, at least you don't literally see the moment where the lead actor completely stopped trying and began reciting all his lines in a barely-engaged monotone - which happened to Michael Shanks halfway through a scene in which he was trying to reassure his whiny teenage daughter that divorcing his wife didn't mean he loved her any less.

So, what happens in Stonehenge Apocalypse, then?

Short Answer: The countdown to apocalypse is triggered by Dr. Sheldon Hawkes from CSI: NY and the mysteriously-rotating stones at a badly CGIed version of Stonehenge, and it's up to Castiel from Supernatural and Dr. Elizabeth Weir from Stargate: Atlantis to save the day, with no help at all from a member of the cast of the Highlander TV show.

Long Answer: Keep reading.

I am amazed by how much of this I actually remember. )

In summary, then: watch Top Gun.

Finally, SyFy Originals, when you have a grand total of two minority actors, casting them as the main villain and leader of a weird doomsday cult and his chief mook respectively might not be the smartest move. Then again these people also perpetrated Mongolian Death Worm, in which a bunch of white Americans pratted about trying to out-smug one another while the superstitious Asians living in tin shacks spent most of their time being berated by the white characters before getting eaten by CGI monsters one of the Americans had unleashed in the first place, so maybe I shouldn't be too surprised.
 
 
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