World on Fire (2011)

a.k.a. - Miami Magma (USA) Swamp Volcano (TV title)

Brad Dourif stars in an enjoyable disaster thriller from Kenneth M. Badish. Signature UK R0 DVD.

The Film

An oil-rig off the Florida coast is consumed by flames and disappears - oil company chief Jacob Capilla (Brad Dourif) looks to cover up the fact that his firm is engaged in highly risky drilling operations around ancient lava tubes. Meanwhile scientist Antoinette Vitrini is investigating a theory that a supervolcano might lie underneath Miami. When superheated steam coming from underwater magma leaks starts killing people in the city, Antoinette tries to stop the impending disaster but finds the oil company keen to silence her...

The third environmental doomsday film from producer Kenneth M. Badish's Active Entertainment for the SyFy channel, World on Fire has a slightly more plausible storyline (at least, as opposed to weather controlling villains and quantam anomalies) but instead of a traditional disaster movie format (that served Quantam Apocalypse (2010) so poorly) writer Declan O'Brien (The Marine 3 (2013)) goes for the thriller approach that worked well for Weather Wars. The storyline is effective - the characters get enough detail to make them interesting without unnecessary backstory and their actions and reasons for getting involved are always plausible. Those perpetual bad guys, the oil companies, take the hit again here, going pretty much full on evil in persuit of profit (no shades of grey here). The pacing is always strong and the film builds to a dramatic climax.

There is a nice mix of well integrated action scenes along with a good number of disaster movie sequences that include some inventively horrible (if daftly over-the-top) deaths for its characters - on that topic, this film includes a surprising number of deaths with lots of extras being killed in vivid ways and several key characters biting the dust unexpectedly. We even get the closest thing to a nude scene the SyFy Channel will allow as we are treated to a wonderfully gratuitous beach bikini contest. The only real mis-step comes from the death of one character, a student, whose disappearance goes completely unnoticed, it would also have been nice to get a little more information on what is going on in Miami itself, we assume it is being evacuated, but never hear or see anything.

Director Todor Chapkanov returns from Weather Wars and shoots this film in the same inventive manner, keeping things interesting and working well with the CGI. The effects scenes all look very good for a low budget production and the camera team make good use of the beautiful Miami (and typical Louisiana) location shots.

Veteran character actor Brad Dourif is welcome casting as the oil company head, bringing an excellently evil performance to the character without going over-the-top. Rachel Hunter fresh off Piranhaconda (2011) is believable as the scientist trying to take down the oil company and performances all round are pretty good.

Probably the most enjoyable of Active Entertainment's quartet of environmental thrillers, World on Fire really gets the exploitation that these sort of films need, with some creatively vivid hot magma deaths and a gratuitous beach binkini contest, combined with a working and well paced storyline, solid direction and decent acting, featuring the ever enjoyable Brad Dourif as a delightfully evil oil company boss. There are some silly elements in the storyline that some will criticise but the film never sets out to be realistic and the end result is highly enjoyable, certainly one of the better SyFy Original Movies and one that DTV thriller fans should enjoy.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Brad Dourif - a highly versatile actor appearing in everything from DTV to Hollywood epics.
Directed by anyone interesting? Todor Chapkanov - a Bulgarian born director who made made a career in American budget films, including Monsterwolf (2010) and Viking Quest (2014)
Any gore or violence ? Several bloody deaths.
Any sex or nudity? None.
Who is it for? Fans of SyFy and DTV CGI-fest thrillers should enjoy, one of the best entries.

Visuals Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
A clean digital transfer with no problems.
Audio English stereo - sounds clear
Subtitles None.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Original trailer
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Available on various releases in Europe and on Blu-ray in the US from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
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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