One of the most frustrating things is when you discover a cool-sounding DVD release is actually a 50 minute documentary by the BBC. Here in the UK, there is a current affairs show called Horizon which changes topic every episode. Mega Tsunami Wave of Destruction is an episode of this show with completely unrelated cover art and barely related synopsis. The documentary itself is serviceable but is stretched out longer than it needs to be.

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Hello 90’s CGI models

The disasters faced

A mega-tsunami, volcanoes and a lot of colour grading to cause you a seizure.

The story

This documentary takes a look at the near-mythical mega-tsunami. These are caused by large sections of land sliding into the sea at speed and displacing water. The documentary charts how scientists found out this phenomenon is caused, when it last happened and when and where it can happen next.

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Dr Simon explains the wide gap between the DVD cover art and the actual content

Why is it worth watching?

There are some great aerial shots of Alaska and some oceanic lava flows. The science is quite interesting for two specific areas. The first is where we go to a Swiss test lab where they conduct tsunami experiments in a large tank. It is nice to see practical examples instead of poor CGI panels. The second follows a fellow Simon as he takes a look at the Cumbre Vieja volcano. This is where a volcano is breaking in half and will fall into the sea – potentially causing the next mega-tsunami. There is some good footage inside an extinct volcano and some nice lava shots.

Why it isn’t worth watching is that all this information is hugely padded out. It feels like this was originally a 30-minute programme and then they wanted to stretch it to an hour with ad breaks. The same helicopter shots across oceans repeat endlessly. The ‘Hollywood CGI’ shots are laughably poor and last about five seconds. Some scientists are clearly there to add in dramatic taglines whilst sitting on some coastal rocks. It is needless and overly camp. Having someone say ‘it is going to happen’ followed by a huge synth orchestra stab and then an ocean shot with shaky cam is something I could find on YouTube. It has zero personality and feels like shoddy journalism. It also disrespects the scientists whilst lacking the bite that ‘Seconds from Disaster’ has. This show could only wish to have that level of watchability.

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The late 50s Alaskan footage is genuinely interesting

The effects

The CGI destruction is non-existent. It is a blue sky jpeg being panned up a screen. What is more interesting is that whilst this show is released in 2013, the programme must be from the late 1990s as they use the World Trade Centres for scale in the CGI models. It is nice to find something where they haven’t been retro-erased.

Three memorable moments

  • Realising that when this was recorded, most of the scientists are pre-memes waiting to happen.
  • ‘Its the world trade centres!’ I said…
  • The utterly underwhelming finale.

The obligatory weird moment

This documentary continuously flickers water images with a negative colour filter on it. They flash it up over and over again. You can see its water but you don’t understand why they keep trying to make something edgy and arty. This programme was made right at the time when putting terrible filters on things was all futuristic rage. It’s aged woefully.

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This is the ‘Hollywood CGI’. It has aged just as poorly as most of the documentary

The drinking game

Ocean flyover shot. Just make it stop.

Conclusion

Some good science and a look in some labs are utterly trashed by needless overly arts dramatic licences. This is why people who pay attention to a programme switch off. Recapping recaps, filler shots and camp scaremongering. I detest it when a product is sold showing one thing and delivering something else. Avoid.

Rating: 1 / 5 – Awful

Visit the film page for more info on cast, crew, artwork and screen gallery.

If you liked Mega Tsunami Wave of Destruction then you may like…

  • Tsunami: Caught on Camera – The horrifying Channel 4 documentary of the 2004 tsunami.
  • Killer Quake – A PBS documentary of a mega Earthquake. Similar vibe, just as poor.
  • Deep Impact – The film that no doubt inspired the documentary to be made.

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