The world is in trouble, but Luke Perry is gonna save it. That’s the gist of Fox Family Channel’s “Storm,” a weak and wandering made-for that adds zip to the mankind-in-peril genre. A low-rent take on “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” this rough-rain telepic plays out like B-movie schlock minus the campy dialogue and sense of humor. Only the most charitable viewers will forgive the dopey plot and even sillier resolutions, but anyone who has a craving for smart TV will want to dodge this killer cloudburst.
And what’s with the title? Four credited writers couldn’t come up with anything better than “Storm,” and that creative dead-end is indicative of the drama-by-committee attitude on display throughout the entire story. The implausible logline — a corrupt government body recruits a meteorologist to move destructive weather patterns — does get some credit for being unique, but cheap visuals, Harris Done’s spotty direction, a complete lack of believability and a one-note perf from Perry handicap the execution.
After an intriguing opening that suggests 1992’s Hurricane Andrew was manmade, “Storm” shifts to present-day University of Miami, where Dr. Ron Young (Perry) and best bud Brian (Marc McClure) are introduced as “Twister”-like scientists who catch a buzz from soaking up the perfect squall.
When the renegades take their twin-engine plane for a joyride and come dangerously close to a commuter aircraft, the FAA bans them from flying, and the university revokes their grant. Never fear, though, because sleazy Tom Holt (Robert Knott) enters the lab a minute later and offers the hotshots a job in Los Angeles.
Single and unemployed, Young packs up and heads West, while married Brian stays put. When Young arrives at a military compound, he meets stoic General Roberts (Martin Sheen) and is quickly impressed with the high-cost gadgetry at his fingertips as well as his mysterious, tough-gal partner Tanya Goodman (Alexandra Powers). He’s also decided to track down ex-girlfriend Andrea (Renee Estevez), a local anchorwoman looking for the next big scoop.
The gang gets along swell until Young discovers his research is being manipulated: Roberts is spearheading a covert scheme to infuse tempests with generators so he can control their movement. But everything backfires and, after Roberts’ plan to attack Mexico in order to affect oil prices goes awry, the hurricane makes a bee line for Los Angeles. It’s then up to Young and Goodman to board a jet, restrain the chaos and rescue humanity. Whatever.
Networks have relied on catastrophes for a very long time, and recent offerings like “Asteroid” and “Atomic Train” prove the formula is alive and well. But “Storm” feels a lot like yesterday’s news, pitting man against nature with very little emotion attached, few twists and a dated treatment more in line with bargain-basement comic books.
Other components are just as ineffective: Perry grimaces his way through the script, trying really hard to be macho; Sheen seems to be slumming as the egocentric figurehead who jeopardizes lives; and the love affair just gets in the way.
Tech credits are uniformly unimpressive, highlighted (lowlighted?) by C-grade special effects that call attention to themselves for the wrong reasons.