On Hostile Ground
“On Hostile Ground” premieres on TBS, 6/11/00 at 8 p.m. (ET) 7 p.m. (PT). As New Orleans prepares for its annual Mardi Gras celebration, Matt Andrews (John Corbett), a geology consultant, is called on by his girlfriend, city official Allison Beauchamp (Jessica Steen), to investigate the possibility of the Big Easy being enveloped by a sinkhole. Despite his preliminary report, which suggests that the festival be called off, the city fathers are determined to risk disaster in order to cash in on the most lucrative tourist event of the year. Believing he is right, Matt risks his life by investigating underground himself. He discovers that the entire French Quarter is about to collapse. Will he be able to warn others in time, or will thousands perish due to the greed of big business?
“Airport,” “Earthquake,” “Swarm,” they’re called disaster movies. I call them “oh my god” movies. The actors must stare at make-believe events and utter that phrase to indicate catastrophic danger. Here, that phrase comes up nine times. Now, I expect if I saw Godzilla breathing fire on the citizens of Tokyo, I might use that term myself. If I were the author or a cast member, however, I think I would attempt to express the feeling of horror in a more imaginative way. But disaster movies are not about dialogue, now, are they? Case in point: “Twister.” No question, a very exciting movie. Alas, the poor actors opened their mouths, reminding viewers that they hadn’t just paid $7.00 to hear Shakespeare.
The same is true for “On Hostile Ground.” The characters are clichéd, each scene is predictable and the repartee is familiar at best, and often trite. And you know what? I liked it! It kept me on the edge of my seat. The film didn’t bombard us with unnecessary sexual activity or antagonistic relationships between family members. It quickly got down to business and kept palms moist. I knew exactly what was going to happen, and yet I enjoyed myself. I congratulate the picture’s director, Mario Azzopardi, for knowing how to keep the energy level up, without assailing viewers with objectionable material. Hopefully, the inevitable commercial breaks won’t spoil the film’s pacing.