Sunday, September 02, 2007

Without Warning

'Without Warning' imdb page

I remember back in the 90’s when my father woke me up to tell me that there was this important live news story breaking out. It turned out to be an HBO movie that was pretending to be a real news broadcast. He was in on the joke of course but wanted to see whether I would believe it.

I came in right near the end, having missed most of the breaking ‘news’. I remember thinking to myself ‘wow’ after seeing the ending. At the time I also thought the production values were very good, it looked exactly liked real news a la CNN.

Unfortunately, I could tell right away that it was fake, having recognized the actress playing the news anchor, Jane Kaczmarek, who would later on play Malcolm in the Middle’s sitcom mom. But I didn’t want to ruin the fun, so I played along, making believe it was real.

Fast-forward more than a decade later. I was finally able to watch the movie in its entirety after getting it on DVD. The production values did not look as good, the ‘news’ didn’t look authentic at all, and I even chuckled at some of the bad acting by the reporters and fake witnesses. Worst acting goes to the bar customers, the SETI scientist, and the lead roving reporter.

Now, it could be that the producers were deliberately trying to make the acting bad, just to make sure that no one would actually believe that this was a live broadcast. My analysis is that this could have looked real ten years ago, but watching it again, it looks very dated. Believe it or not, from reading the imdb messageboards, it appears that there are still a lot of people who mistake this fake broadcast to be real. What the?!

The only gem in this one was Jane Kaczmarek’s portrayal of the fake news anchor. She seemed very real, just the way I would expect an anchor to react if these events were actually happening. I found the other anchor to be very unrealistic, despite him being an actual news guy hired to play a fake role. OK, you’ve got what appears to be an alien encounter, an entire town disappearing, and potentially the end of the world, and he reports it like it is just any other news story. Plus his line at the end just felt stupid.

All in all, I still enjoyed it! It reminds me of what is called a ‘shoot angle’ in wrestling, wherein the participants pretend that what is happening is not part of the script, and real life blurs into the storylines (if you’re a dedicated wrestling fan, you’ll know what I mean).

Without Warning is flawed, silly, overacted, and deserves the low rating it gets. But it’s one of the bad movies I liked a lot. I can’t wait for the day where I play this movie in a party, and make believe to the other people that it’s real, pretending to watch while mumbling to myself "Holy..!”, “Shit, what happened?”, and “Oh my God, the aliens are here!”.

Rating: 2/5 * *
What if it actually happened though?

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