Wednesday, June 5, 2013

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010)

Poking around in a hidden ancient site somewhere in Maine by archaeologist Joseph Leshem (Hill Harper) activates some curious mechanisms in Stonehenge that begin sucking large amounts of electromagnetic energy out of the planet's "energy grid" and fry a few tourists. The British government at once quarantines the area and sends in a team of scientists led by Dr. Trousdale (Peter Wingfield) and Dr. Kaycee Leeds (Torri Higginson) to investigate the phenomenon.

When former genius astrophysicist and now crackpot radio show host Jacob Glaser (Misha Collins) hears about the situation - which is of course kept hidden from the public - he at once jets over to England to do a bit of investigating of his own.

The Stonehenge situation further deteriorates when the rather chipper stones activate other ancient sites all around the globe that start a series of volcanic eruptions killing millions. Jacob soon becomes convinced Stonehenge is the core of a global terraforming mechanism (which makes no sense given the age of the sites compared to that of the planet, but hey, if nobody mentions it, we don't have to think about it…), and even theorizes an artefact kept in an archaeological collection in the US might just be the only way to stop the annihilation of the whole of humanity. It's just too bad that nobody except Kaycee takes the word of a guy who once rambled about the robot head NASA found on the moon seriously, so Jacob's attempt to save the world becomes rather more difficult.

Then there's the little fact that Joseph - who just happens to be an old friend of Jacob's, as proven by him calling Jacob "my friend" at least once per sentence - might just be the leader of a doomsday cult who started the Apocalypse on purpose to cleanse the Earth etc and so on. Heroism sure isn't simple.

Stonehenge Apocalypse, Paul Ziller's epic of apocalyptic bullshit doesn't start very well. There's way too much not very interesting woo-woo talk about energy lines and how horrible mean it is of people to doubt the words of a man who is convinced NASA found a robot head on the moon and the US government covered it up (the film's running gag is that everyone remembers him talking of aliens on the moon, not of a robot head - humour!). At the same time, the early film spends too little time with silly wonders like its rotating Stonehenge.

Fortunately, once the film's first half or so has passed, Ziller goes to the serious business of squeezing every bit of fun nonsense out of the plot's improbable basic set-up, and suddenly it's all ancient terraforming device, exploding pyramids and a cult out to destroy mankind to purify the Earth whose main site just happens to be situated in the good old US of A, while the plotting becomes increasingly pulpy on top of its stupidity. This of course means that what starts out as a pretty lame showing becomes an increasingly fun piece of pulp entertainment (unless you can't overlook Stonehenge Apocalypse's nonsense science, but then, you'll hopefully avoid movies with titles like "Stonehenge Apocalypse" as a matter of course).

Once the film gets going, Ziller demonstrates how much pulp doomsday thriller nonsense you can put up on screen on a SyFy budget. It's more than I'd have expected, I gotta say. Not to spoil the film's ending, but this is a movie that climaxes with its hero racing against a countdown back to Stonehenge before it can activate the final cataclysm that'll destroy the world, while also racing against an h-bomb being dropped on the place, while also having to fight off an insane double agent cultist. There isn't anything I could or would want to say against that.

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