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Houston Chronicle

21 April 2005

Locusts flies in the face of reality

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle


Cast: Lucy Lawless, John Heard
Executive producers: Frank von Zerneck, Robert Sertner
Air time: 8 p.m. Sunday, CBS/Channel 11

Popcorn movies are no fun if the people making them aren't really trying.

I had no problems with November's tornado-meets-hurricane miniseries Category 6: Day of Destruction, and even found something to like in last April's California-splitting earthquake flick, 10.5. Both were over-the-top and silly. Both raked in huge audiences.

But with last month's Spring Break Shark Attack and Sunday's Locusts and such Sci Fi fare as the recent Mansquito, I wonder if it's good for television to be so bad.

Take Locusts, for example. On paper, it sounds like the kind of popcorn movie that would make Orville Redenbacher (and network executives) do cartwheels.

Apparently working under-the-table for the Defense Department, a government scientist (John Heard) has been biobreeding a Super Locust, one capable of reproducing at a rate 10 times greater than normal, traveling up to 300 miles a day and withstanding all insecticides.

When a colleague (Lucy Lawless) finds out, she orders the execution of the offending bugs. But someone in Defense wants a few of the critters to call his own, to use as bioterror weapons.

The bugs get away and reproduce rapidly and terrorize farmlands, airports and cities across the United States, but you probably knew that was going to happen.

These bugs are voracious, ugly and menacing, folks, capable of devouring huge orange crops, bringing down airplanes and crashing through car windshields.

Can Lucy be a hero and save the good Earth even with her Xena outfit at the dry cleaners?

I joke because, unlike earthquakes off the Richter scale and tornadoes that hook up with hurricanes, this hokum is completely unbelievable and barely watchable.

Though my screener had only half the special effects completed, it's clear the humans are out-acted by the King Kong Katydids.

Note to producers Frank von Zerneck and Robert Sertner, makers of Category 6, Spring Break Shark Attack and Locusts: Pace yourself. A little bad thing goes a long way.