This dull made for television movie begins with an 'X-Treme sports' cyclist in Seattle, Washington for a competition when huge earthquake hits the area. When the buildings in Seattle tumble, the government obviously takes note and the President (played by Beau Bridges) brings in an expert on the Earth's hidden fault lines, Samantha Hill (Kim Delany). Hill is of the opinion that the quake that knocked our Seattle is just a precursor of things to come and that some extremely big earthquakes are going to give the West Coast some serious problems.
When the next earthquake beats the crap out of San Francisco, they realize that they're running out of time as she predicts that the following quake is going to happen right underneath Los Angeles and that the city of angels will be completely destroyed in the process. In fact, this quake is going to be so huge that once it hits, all of California is going to sever from the rest of the continental United States and fall into the Pacific Ocean and be gone for good.
She figures that they only way that they can keep the plates together and this prevent the earthquakes from happening is to launch an nuclear explosion roughly six hundred miles below the surface of the Earth. This should fuse the plates together and save California from certain doom, but what if it goes wrong and blows up the state and a good chunk of the West Coast along with it? What is a President to do? Decisions, decisions.
10.5 is a dud. It's dull, it's unbelievable even for a disaster film, and it falls flat on its face on pretty much every plot point it hits on. The characters are difficult to relate to and the script is weak and full of holes. The direction is uninteresting and the whole thing feels like it's playing itself very 'safe.' Now, if it weren't playing it so safe there might be room for some 'so bad it's good' material to creep its way into the film, but sadly, the film isn't even enjoyable on that level. It's void of any camp appeal whatsoever and what we're left with is a film that is incredibly unenjoyable on pretty much every level. The plot devices are cliché at best (of course characters are going to figure out what's really important to them in life while the disaster strikes) and we've been through all this so many times in so many other bad disaster movies that it's damn near impossible to care about any of it.
10.5 also suffers from some very poor special effects, no thanks in part to some crudely executed CGI. If you can't believe that the earthquake and its effects are real, then it becomes very difficult to suspend your disbelief and relate to the situation that the characters find themselves in. When you consider that the film is over three hours long, this makes it a real chore to finish (I had to take three stabs at it before I managed to get to the end!).
The only thing even remotely interesting about the movie is the premise - this is something that someday could happen and we've all heard about how California could one day fall into the ocean. Living on the West Coast as I do, that's a scary idea to me. If this film had been excuted better using this premise, we could have had an interesting movie. But stuck with a made for TV budget like it was and working of a script that feels like it was written by cutting and pasting cliches out of other films, that just doesn't even come close to happening here.
So if you want a film full of forced faux-patriotism, bland one dimensional characters (who never get a hair out of place, even during a massive earthquake) and terrible special effects then by all means, go out and buy this movie now – you'll love it. But if you're looking for something even remotely entertaining in any way whatsoever, stay clear of this one (unless you're having trouble sleeping).
The movie is presented here fullframe, which is how it was originally broadcast on television. The image is soft and grainy but free of any major print damage or mpeg compression. Minor edge enhancement appears in a few scenes but not to the point of distraction. Colors are reproduced accurately and skin tones appear natural and lifelike.
Loin's Gate presents 10.5 in a good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix in its native English language. There's also an English closed captioning option as well. Dialogue is clean and clear and the majority of it comes through the front and center channels with the rears used to fill in the track with sound effects and sometimes background music as well. The earthquake scenes are fun with plenty of directional effects zinging back and forth.
Director John Lafia provides a commentary track that is considerably more interesting than the film itself is. He goes into quite a bit of detail about what his intentions were when making the film, some of the technical snafus that the cast and crew ran into, and his experiences both on and off the set. There are no other features on the DVD aside from chapter selection and menus.
10.5 just doesn't cut it. It's overly long, too predictable, and there's really very little in it that makes this made for TV movie worth watching. Lion's Gate has done a nice job on the DVD regardless – it looks and sounds good and the commentary is okay – but sadly that's not enough. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.