Matty basks in the glow of Paul Ziller’s gripping and enjoyable disaster flick.
From Pledge Night (1990) and Bloodfist IV (1992), to Double Suspicion (1994) and Shootfighter II (1996), director Paul Ziller is responsible for some of the most distinguished straight-to-video potboilers of the ‘90s. However, it’s within his slew of made-for-SyFy pictures during the mid-to-late ’00s where Ziller’s richest fruit lies. A co-production between Paul Hertzberg’s CineTel and Tom Berry’s Reel One Entertainment — who had produced Ziller’s preceding SyFy programmers, the ace Snakehead Terror (2004) and Swarmed (2005), respectively — 2006’s SOLAR ATTACK is a typically diverting and well-done affair.
A quality lil’ disaster flick, Solar Attack’s high-stakes premise finds the world on the cusp of armageddon as pulsating flares from the sun threaten to ignite Earth’s combustible atmosphere. International tensions between the US and Russia, and Chuck Cirino’s stirring score add to the bubbling drama which, of course, can only be stopped by Louis Gossett Jr.’s earnest president and Mark Dacascos’ billionaire scientist. They’re good hands, mind you: after all, depending how you look at it, the eternally excellent Gossett Jr.’s casting is either a budget-friendly Morgan Freeman/Deep Impact (1998) homage or a smart, prescient forecasting of Barack Obama, and Dacascos is a veteran of this sort of thing having previously helped avert fiery doomsday in Scorcher (2002).
Though heavily reliant on contrivance and full of narrative leaps of faith, Solar Attack is so gripping and enjoyable that it’s easy to ignore such jejune gripes. Instead, you should just savour how Ziller, via a mixture of good CGI, tightly edited news stock footage, and meteorological graphics, tells this exciting and epic tale of global destruction for the price of a Roland Emmerich movie’s catering. Technically adroit, Solar Attack is a treat for the peepers too. Every scene has a distinctive, uniformed colour scheme, and Ziller’s compositional eye has scarcely been better. As well as conjuring a strong, ever increasing feeling of heat, the helmer demonstrates a sharp understanding of where to best place his actors and how to best shoot his sets to create a real sense of depth. It’s almost 3D; everything Ziller slaps before the camera pops out from the screen.
Also known as ‘Solar Strike’.
USA/Canada ● 2006 ● Action, Sci-Fi ● 92mins
Mark Dacascos, Louis Gossett Jr., Joanne Kelly, Stephen McHattie ● Dir. Paul Ziller ● Wri. Michael Konyves and Miguel Tejada-Flores
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