Film Review: Airplane vs Volcano

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Boom time – here comes the girls!

The Asylum are a law onto themselves. Their mockbusters usually fall into the so bad it’s good or so bad it’s bad category. Airplane vs Volcano is a relatively unique premise for them though as it was not directly pitted against a blockbuster and, along with some tight editing and plenty of ham – is one of The Asylum’s best movies to date, if viewed as a tongue in cheek look at the genre.

Release Date: 2014

Run Time: 91 mins

Premise

A commercial airliner gets trapped in a ring of erupting volcanoes and with no means of landing, so begins the dodgemfest!

The Disasters Faced

Volcanoes, lava bombs, pyroclastic clouds, madmen on board, ill fated rescue missions and a kid that doesn’t seem to be able to cry properly.

The Execution

On a quick 91 minute deadline, the disaster is upon us straight away as the main characters are introduced. Action splits between Dean Cain (looking in fine form) pretending to fly the plane and a less exciting rescue attempt on the ground. The fact the ground action takes place in the same old military base that The Asylum use in every movie, with a nigh on identical script to all their previous movies, is why the film doesn’t quite work. The acting and lines are wooden and awful apart from Robin Given’s, whose fake tears as phone calls being hung up are part funny and part cringeworthy. Up on the plane though, things are tighter, tauter and more fun because you only need one set and some competent actors to hold an airplane movie at mediocre. The use of CGI is kept to a minimum and this helps sell the film as it becomes a bit more human focused. There’s always something going wrong and the list of problems keeps things from settling down before it’s predictable conclusion. What struck me after watching the movie was that usually with airplane films there’s just a singular issue – like for the first two Airport movies – and once it’s done, it’s just coasting home. Here, they’ve really gone to town with every issue ever and I appreciated that.

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There’s a lot of orange, shaky cam and heat effects to cover up the plane seems to shapeshift from a 2 to 4 engined jet over the course of the movie

The Effects

However when the effects are on screen, it’s a mixed bag. Not all the lava bombs are terrible, it’s just they all look the same and it’s all very, very orange. We know the budget isn’t there but this is above average for the studio.

Why It’s Worth Watching

To see what goes wrong next! Seriously, they cram tons into this one from so many movie tropes. Of course there’s a terrorist. Of course the cabin crew will want to screw the pilot. Of course there will be an eruption at the base and people will be sacrificed. If it’s a nobody – they’re a goner! It’s got a very high body count this film and doesn’t concern itself with background extras at all. There’s also not just the extremely vast levels of acting on display (some of it good, some of it dire) but also a weird tone shift that slips in occasionally. There’s some completely unnecessary but laugh out loud comedy deaths that just stick out like a sore thumb. Lastly, Tamara Goodwin’s character the flight attendant, is possibly the most feeble and pathetic leading lady in a disaster for many years. She clearly fell asleep on her health and safety training!

The Drinking Game

Each time the plane does something utterly unrealistic – like dodging incoming lava bombs and surviving all kinds of damage. This plane will be the last thing standing on planet Earth I promise you that!

Favourite Character

Dean Cain’s character carries the movie in many ways. He’s the lead, the one with any vague emotional depth and he genuinely seems like he wants to do well. Matt Mercer makes a good impression too in his supporting role as the techy guy!

Weirdest Moment

**SPOILERS** There’s a subplot between a policeman and a boy which seems to have just been half abandoned by its mother who seems too busy chillaxing in her chair next to them to care. During the course of about ten minutes (maybe an hour in real time) they seem to have become step father and son and they have the big emotional death scene where just after the policeman is shot to death, the mother just lets her child run around to him and they have the big movie death scene, which plays out slightly awkwardly because the child doesn’t really say or do anything as he’s clearly paid per line! The mother? Yeah whatever – she doesn’t even look or get out of her chair. Neeeeext!

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Dean Cain spends most of the movie snarling like a grizzly bear. I approve.

Random Trivia

In a really neat twist I love, this film and another Asylum film “Apocalypse Pompeii” are taking place at exactly the same time. That films events are mentioned in speech here, and in that film there’s a TV report of what’s going on with this flight. Top notch idea!

Goofy Quote

“You’re a big bitch!” – said to the volcano. You know what you’re getting into – you’ve been warned!

Conclusion

Yet despite its goofy misgivings, this has the same kind of fun fact as Sharknado. Not as stupid outright, but it definitely kept me entertained from beginning to end and I’ll be looking forward to watching it again to make sure I’ve caught all the stupid lines and hammy acting. One of the best low budget Asylum flicks.

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2 Comments on “Film Review: Airplane vs Volcano”

  1. Grokenstein March 15, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    I’ll save it for Flight Crew (Ekipazh), the Russian big-budget remake of USSR’s Air Crew (1980), the original airplane-versus-volcano saga with bad SFX and basic misunderstanding of how aircraft work. (Russia got back into the disaster genre recently with 2013’s Metro ( Метро).)

    • Simon Smith March 17, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      Thanks for that information, I didn’t know about either Metro or Flight Crew 🙂

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