Who knew the end of the world would be this… cinematic?
by Adam Miller
What doesn't this movie have? One might think, by title alone, that this is a mere disaster movie; a cheap knock-off of expensive knock-offs like DAY AFTER TOMORROW. But no, "CATEGORY 7" actually refers to the number of plots within this film. You've got Gina "over-the-moon" Gershon as the new head of FEMA, a woman working in an all-man's world. Then there's Cameron Daddo, a brilliant but mis-understood meterologist who's been warning the world about global warming for years (BUT NO ONE LISTENED!!!). Then you've got Christian televangelists James Brolin and Swoosie Kurts one of whom gets electrocuted while the other seduces a psychotic end-times Christian rock artist named Monty (my X-Files boy Nicolas Lea) who orchestrates terrorist attacks based on biblical themes (best scene: a bunch of senators being attacked by poisonous tree frogs). Tom Skerritt, an Air Force Colonel, piloting a Blackhawk like it was an F-16 into a "supercell" all the while being addressed by his inferiors as "Yo, Colonel!" But wait, let's not forget "Tornado Tommy" (Randy Quaid) who was pretty much explicitly killed in the previous film (CATEGORY SIX, but who's counting?) only to return, thinking himself immortal, and ending the film lip-locked with Shannen Doherty!!!
My question is, how do you go about writing this? As multi-threaded as this film is, it never feels incoherent. The characters are all instantly identifiable, not necessarily because of strong writing, but because we kinda-sorta recognize the actors playing them. Plus, despite all those different plot threads, the movie manages to connect every character to every other character, mainly through six degrees (seven categories?) of Gina Gershon. Her brother is in the Secret Service, her father is a powerful Senator, her ex-college boyfriend is a super-scientist, etc. In that way, it's kind of like LOVE ACTUALLY, actually.
The movie (TV special, really) is nothing but spectacle, but it has some passable special effects and occasional bits of weirdo-charm. Take for example the opening twister attack on Paris. Ignoring the fact that two soccer hooligans are able to just run to the top of the Eiffel Tower during a crowded carnival (seriously, there's lines for that thinking on a Tuesday), much fun is to be had watching them swinging around in the air as France's most prominent (do you think they're compensating for something?) monument comes toppling down and sends clown statues flying everywhere. Or how about the other twister which touches down right on the top of the Egyptian pyramids, or the White House. I guess in CATEGORY 8 (which does exist) we learn that these storms are sentient.
The film is long, but I happily got through it in a sitting. Definitely worth the five bucks at your local Wal Mart.