Weather Wars (2011)

a.k.a. - Storm Wars (USA)

A highly enjoyable SyFy channel thriller from Todor Chapkanov, staring Stacy Keach. Signature UK R0 DVD.

The Film

Strange weather hits Washington DC - local cop David Grange and his brother Jacob meet with Samantha Winter who used to work with their father and who suspects that he might somehow be behind the events. They manage to track down Marcus (Stacy Keach) and discover that he is using an experiemental technology he created, to manipulate the weather and kill those people he accuses of cancelling the funding for his development project - his final target is Senator Aldrich and the brothers have to track down and stop their father...

From the production company Active Entertainment behind the dull low budget apocalypse film Quantam Apocalypse (2010), Weather Wars takes a different approach, rather than a disaster movie, Paul A. Birkett (Ghost Shark (2013)) writes an enjoyable thriller storyline, in which the villain is able to control the weather to wreak his distruction. The idea is suitably nuts but not much less believable than many other genre films really and it is played seriously by the storyline which actually makes it seem quite plausible by the end. Outside of the climatic terror, the thriller storyline is pretty conventional (it would have worked just as well if Marcus were setting off bombs for instance) but it is well written with some good characters, a handful of action scenes (that didn't feel superfluous to the plot) and a few unexpected twists.

The main characters are a little cliché, but they get sufficient characterisation to make them interesting and their actions understandable. A news team provide useful exposition to convey what the general public are thinking about the strange events, but they only appear briefly and the film avoids delving into pointless subplots. The disasters themselves provide some enjoyable highlights and with the weather being deliberately targetted it makes sense of the fact that major landmarks are being hit (Washington DC is not the most original location, but at least it makes a change from the usual New York), importantly the general public, as much as we see of them, seem to be realistically reacting to what is going on. Pacing is generally good, the only glitch comes with a brief slowdown about an hour in where the film stops for some slightly clunky exposition that although essential to the plot, could have been handled more subtley - the film builds towards a dramatic climax and a neat coda ending.

Director Todor Chapkanov who has extensive assistant director experience on a slew of DTV titles, embraces the thriller atmosphere and gives the film a very modern gritty feel, although never overdoing the shaky camerawork or grainy look. The special effects are surprisingly well done - although not quite comparable to the Roland Emmerich epics that inspired this series, they look far better than those of many other SyFy films (particularly those by The Asylum) and there are some neat touches in the fact that even in long shots later on, the damaged Capitol Dome for instance is still visible.

Stacy Keach takes the lead role here and gives a fantastic performace as Marcus, managing to go from homeless nutter (a part he seems almost too convincing in) to full villain, without pushing into absurdity - he certainly gives his all and the film benefits amazingly from his presence. The rest of the cast are fine, perenial bit-part player Lance E. Nichols gives a good performance as the threatened senator, while Jason London is well cast as David Grange.

The storyline is admittedly nutty, but Weather Wars is a well written thriller with fun action scenes, some impressive CGI monument destruction, a top notch Stacy Keach performance and a storyline that ties everything together with good pacing and decent characters. For fans of DTV and SyFy channel films, this is an enjoyable gem.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Stacy Keach - one of the great character actors of the era, appearing in a massive range of films.
Directed by anyone interesting? Todor Chapkanov - the Bulgarian born director who also helmed Swamp Volcano (2011) and worked as assistant director on a wealth of DTV titles including Lake Placid 2 (2007)
Any gore or violence ? A small amount of blood.
Any sex or nudity? None.
Who is it for? Fans of DTV thrillers and SyFy channel movies should enjoy this.

Visuals Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
A clean digital transfer with no problems.
Audio English stereo - sounds fine.
Subtitles None.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Original trailer
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Available on 3D Blu-Ray in Germany. Available from Platinum Disc in the US in a variety of multipack editions.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 9th November 2014.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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