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Pittsburgh Post Gazette
22 April 2005
TV Review: 'Locusts' chomps Pittsburgh, chews scenery
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
I had no plans to review CBS's "Locusts" (9 p.m. Sunday) because, frankly, viewers don't need me to tell them it's a schlocky TV disaster movie. The promos scream "Trash!" but viewers will tune in anyway. That's what happened last fall with "Category 6: Day of Destruction," and last month with "Spring Break Shark Attack."
When: 9 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
I was especially disinclined to give "Locusts" any attention after CBS sent out the review tape. I ripped open the envelope and, without peering inside, turned it upside down and emptied the contents on my desk. Along with the tape and press release, some realistic rubber locusts, supposedly used as props in the movie, came tumbling out.
Isn't sending me the tape punishment enough? Did CBS really need to include fake bugs that might catch a not-quite-awake TV critic off guard on a Monday morning?
But then I received an e-mail from a TV critic buddy who warned me that "Locusts" is set partially in Pittsburgh, so, grumble-grumble, I knew I had a job to do.
Lucy Lawless ("Xena: Warrior Princess") stars as Maddy Rierdon, a U.S. Department of Agriculture voracious insects expert with a failing marriage to a scientist husband (Dylan Neal). She goes on the bug hunt after a deadly breed of bioengineered locusts escape from a lab, multiply and go on the warpath, swarming across the United States.
To get past the notion that locusts, while destructive to crops, pose little imminent threat to humans beyond being an annoyance, "Locusts" posits that these hybrid locusts could start munching on humans once their food source is depleted.
As miles-long swarms of locusts fly across the country, they descend on Pittsburgh. Well, it's supposed to be Pittsburgh, but in early shots, the film shows a cityscape with a bridge that is decidedly not in Pittsburgh ("Locusts" was filmed in New Orleans). Later the swarms do attack stock footage of the Golden Triangle. At least I think they do. On the "rough cut" tape CBS sent for review, the special effects were not complete. So instead of seeing a swarm fly away, the words "swarm flys away," misspelling and all, floated across the screen as a placeholder for the real effects.
Later, a cargo plane crashes after taking off from Pittsburgh International Airport (not shown) when a swarm of locusts gums up the engines.
I'm not sure which scene in "Locusts" made me wince and/or laugh more, but it has to be one of these three:
1) A student researcher forgoes the traditional white lab coat when entering a locust-filled lab. She instead sports a pink belly-barring top.
2) Maddy screams at a military officer, "I am pregnant and I'm hormonal! You don't want to cross this mother!"
3) After they inevitably save the country from disaster, Maddy and her husband embrace while sitting in a pickup truck, exchanging sweet nothings as dead locust carcasses plunk down on the windshield behind them.