Casper Van Dien Versus a Slightly Unseasonal Heatwave: Meltdown
This is something that I’ve been toying with for ages, but the conversation earlier about Sleepy Hollow and whatnot finally motivated me to get moving on it. I’m going to cover as many films starring the future Buzz Armstrong as I can- that’s right, because I don’t watch enough shit for your amusement I’m inflicting the catalogue of the man who can’t say no to a paycheck on myself- so settle down, and rejoice in the start of Jarv’s series of the man called Casper’s films.
First up is an incredibly inauspicious 2006 TV movie: Meltdown. Or, as I like to think of it “Casper Van Dien v a hot spell”. It’s a bit of a con, actually, because Lovefilm billed this as Casper v Meteorite (which had so much potential for stupidity).
Meltdown was something that I watched a while ago, so I may be a bit fuzzy on certain details (not that it matters) but the key point of the film is that our man Casper takes on a heatwave and emerges victorious.
Meltdown is set in the present day. Douchebag movie scientist Nathan (Vincent Gale) works in a job deflecting meteorites. For reasons too stupid to go into, and they really are epic in their stupidity, they accidentally clip the meteorite too close to Earth and thereby deflect the orbit of our planet. Oh Calamity! What are we to do? Well, according to Nathan, we’re all going to cook unless everyone can high tail it to a cooler climate. Global Warming has nothing on this.
Casper plays Tom. Tom is a badass LA cop with a very, very complicated personal life. He’s balling Nathan’s sister Carly (Stephanie von Pfetten), but is still tied up with his daughter Kim (Amanda Crew) and ex-wife Bonnie (Venus Terzo). Anyhoo, Carly receives a call from Nathan that the world is going to cook, so best get to an airport pronto, she tells Casper, who gathers up his whole weird family. This includes ex-con CJ, played by Ryan McDonnel, who happens to be slipping Casper’s daughter a length, which is really weird, because don’t most fathers take it badly when they find out that a convict is shagging their little girl? Surely Tom should have left him behind, but it’s just as well he didn’t seeing as CJ is probably the only member of the little party that has a practical use.
So, team assembled, and it’s time for them to run the Gauntlet of LA in hot weather. This is even hotter than usual, apparently, as cars spontaneously explode and the population has turned into Omega Man style angry mutants. Not that this makes a jot of sense in the slightest. Eventually our intrepid band of numpties make it to the airport where the plane they were going to escape on explodes. They’re fucked, surely? Well, no they aren’t because Nathan is completely useless, even by the standards of movie scientists, and it starts raining. Hilarious. Basically, they could all have stayed at home in front of the air conditioner and avoided the whole thing.
As you can maybe gather, this isn’t the best planned film in the history of films. In fact, it’s dumber than a rock that’s just been used to smash another rock into smithereens. It’s so stupid that if it were a human being it would be one that works on the bins at McDonald’s. It’s that dumb. That isn’t to say, however, that it doesn’t have a certain comedy value to it.
The script is fucking terrible and not to mention a bit creepy. Take for instance the scene where they’re cleverly holed up in a refrigerated unit eating ice-cream. This is clearly the time for the women to have a heart-to-heart which hilariously involves Carly telling Bonnie that (despite Tom not having displayed any inclination to do this at all) she won’t stand in Bonnie’s way if she wants to reconcile with her ex-husband. This is a monumentally weird scene and more than a little bit stupid- it actually feels like the writers were desperate to find some kind of “conflict” to jam into the movie, as they knew the killer heatwave wasn’t up to it.
Nevertheless, I’ve said that there are laughs to be had, and they all come from Casper. He does his best ruefully confused face for most of the film, probably because he’s read the end of the script and knows that he doesn’t really have to be on this epic trek through factor 60 weather. The comic highpoint, however, comes from his exchanges with CJ. Despite CJ consistently being the only person in the film that is remotely useful (he picks locks, fixes cars, comes up with plans, bails Casper etc out), Casper won’t leave him alone. He constantly says dickish things to the kid, and just gives him shit all the way through the film. It is actually quite funny and when I watched it, I was stunned at the depths of assholism that Casper stoops to.
Aside from that, though, there isn’t a lot to keep you entertained. There is a hilarious gunfight or two, all performed with sincerity that the film doesn’t deserve, and a couple of really obvious twists. There’s also the odd ill-thought out aspect to the film (Nathan never takes his jacket off, despite the fact that it is allegedly so hot that cars explode) that provides the odd chuckle, but nowhere near enough of them. It’s just so damned hard to get over the fact that if they’d stayed at home, drank a few beers, and chilled out then there wouldn’t have been any trouble whatsoever.
Overall, this isn’t a great start to the series. It’s a pretty crappy film, to be honest, and I don’t really recommend it. Hungover to my back teeth after a heavy session it passed the time easily enough, but looking back at it, the only way I can describe it is, well, rubbish. Casper is entertaining, thank the Lord, but the script and plot are just so terrible that it’s nearly impossible to get over. Therefore, I’m going to be generous to it and give it one and a half Mobile Infantry Caspers, but really, if anyone suggests you watch it, politely decline. The weather may be hot, but the film isn’t.
Until next time,
Oh, and past Casper films that I’ve reviewed are: