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The Buffalo News

21 April 2005

CBS unleashes a pest of a disaster movie

"Locusts' produces some unintentional laughter but is woefully short on suspense
Lucy Lawless battles bioengineered insects and a weak plot in "Locusts."


Critics can't kill them no matter how hard they try to warn people. Only you, the viewer, can put an end to deadly dumb disaster movies by fleeing from them.

The latest film to afflict the nation is CBS' "Locusts" (9 p.m. Sunday, WIVB-TV).

From the makers of "Spring Break Shark Attack" and last season's indestructible "Category 6: Day of Destruction," it stars Lucy Lawless ("Xena Warrior Princess") as a "voracious insect expert" trying to save the world from bioengineered bugs that are reproducing at 10 times the normal rate and forming dangerous multiple swarms across America.

And you thought Jack Bauer had problems on "24."

Lawless' workaholic character, Dr. Maddy Rierdon, also is being bugged by her big lug of a husband, Dan (Dylan Neal). He wants her to settle down and reproduce at a normal rate.

"Locusts" produces some unintentional laughter but is woefully short on suspense. It doesn't even put that many people viewers get to care about in jeopardy other than one heroic guy who deserves to die.

As usual in messes like this, there are good actors around to collect paychecks. Mike Farrell plays a farmer, Lyle, who is Maddy's father, and John Heard plays the scientist, Peter, who thought breeding indestructible locusts was a good idea.

As soon as Dr. Rierdon discovers what Peter's been doing, she orders the locusts to be destroyed because if only one survives, the world will be in trouble of Biblical proportions.

Of course, one escapes and all hell breaks loose. It threatens to destroy the Great Lakes area and the Rierdons' marriage. Don't worry. It appears the invasion has stopped in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, but there's no word of it entering Buffalo.

The copy of the film made available for review was absent the special effects, which will have to be out of this world to save this deadly film.

The highlight occurs when an admittedly hormonal Dr. Rierdon threatens to blow up a helicopter she is riding in if a military official decides to unleash nerve gas that would kill millions of Americans along with the locusts.

Eventually, Rierdon's papa and a female scientist use good old American ingenuity to kill the swarms and make America and the world safe until another mad scientist comes up with a bright idea.

CBS' decision to premiere this silly disaster film before the May sweeps was a no-brainer. The timing also is a clue about what the network really thinks about it. If a film as monstrously bad as "Locusts" is another huge ratings hit, it might be another sign that the apocalypse is upon us.

Rating: Half a star out of 4