This made for TV movie is 175 minutes long. I'll repeat that. This made for TV movie is 175 minutes long. And it's called 'Cat.8', was made for the Reelz Channel and was split into two parts. This is just slightly above SyFy quality filmmaking and effects, but most of those movies are 90 minutes or less - not three hours long. Like original SyFy movies, this film is a disaster film of epic proportions with the usual story plots weaved in for good measure, including: bad-guy government agents, a scientist that nobody believes, a dumb love story, and some mega natural disasters that will kill off the human race in a matter of hours.
It's crazy to me how we can still keep making these movies about every other month, because they are indeed all very similar. However, this particular effort is a bit better than we're used to. We focus on a man who we'll call Mr. Scientist (Matthew Modine), who was working on some awesome space device that would harness the sun's energy and beam some sort of magic on Earth to get rid of global warming. Miss Scientist was his right hand woman. However, Mr. Scientist was kicked off the team and lives in a secluded life now.
Meanwhile, the big bad government heard about this device and instead of making the world a better place, they want to use it as a weapon to kill everything. Miss Scientist of course agrees and when she unveils the weapon and tests it, things go peacefully and everyone lives a happy life. Wrong. The space device malfunctions and causes a giant solar flare, which causes mega storms, giant earthquakes, fireballs, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.
Miss Scientist has no clue what to do of course and calls Mr. Scientist for help. As the world is literally ending with people getting killed, the government is trying to stop and kill Mr. Scientist because he knows to much and is trying to stop the world from ending -- because of course, the government wants the world to end. Mr. Scientist must have trouble speaking because nobody believes him as he tries to explain what is happening. Even his own daughter, as well as the police officer she loves, don't believe him until they see it with their own eyes. So Mr. Scientist and Mr. Police Officer finally team up and try to save the entire world single-handedly.
Between the natural disasters, the sun, and government agents trying to kill everything, this movie is somewhat fun, but is way too long. This could have had half of its run-time cut in half and could have been a movie I would've watched more than once. Instead, there is a lot of unnecessary mean glances, side stories, and time spent with our heroes in captivity. This could have been better.
That being said, the acting by Modine and the rest of the cast is surprisingly decent, as they have enough time to play with their character and deliver the right emotions. No, it won't win any Oscars, but it's far better than some of the made for TV films I've seen of recent. Also, the special effects are really good, considering what and where this movie came from. I expected 'Sharknado' type effects, but was happy to get 'Deep Impact' type of effects.
'Cat.8' refers to the 'Holy Shit' meter of catastrophes that impact Earth with 8 being the highest. As a film, it wouldn't receive that high of a mark, but it won't receive a low one either, as you can tell someone really tried with this one. It has a lot of good things going for it, but as a good man once said, "The run-time is just too damn high."
'Cat.8' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer is presented in 1.87:1 aspect ratio. Sonar Entertainment did a great job with this as the detail is striking and vivid throughout. Closeups show individual facial hairs, wrinkles and makeup very well. The exterior shots and wide shots also hold up well and give a good amount of depth. In the lower lit scenes, things go a tad bit soft, but still manage to show a crisp picture.
The colors are solid and while outside or in space, they pop off screen. Inside the "war room", the blues cast a good and well-saturated light and never seems muted or pale. Black levels are consistent and run deep and inky with flesh tones coming off as naturally smooth. Sure, some of the heavier special effects don't look big blockbluster quality and sometimes have some issues, but is nothing that would take you out of the viewing experience. Banding, aliasing and other compression issues are almost non-existent, giving this little, but looong film, a solid video presentation.
This release has a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds great. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. The sound effects are loud and often, and pour out of the surrounds. The bass gets a decent workout as huge explosions erupt, people scream, and space debris zooms by. You will feel like you're in the center of this catastrophic event. Even the walls will shake.
There is also a good amount of gunfire that will set your speakers and surrounds in motion with some good directionality. The score always adds to the suspense and mood of each scene, and never is over-extended and never drowns out any of the dialogue or effects. The LFE is well balanced here as well, making this a great audio presentation.
'Cat.8' isn't a horrible movie by any means. The acting and effects are very good in it, but the story has been used up so many times and with its 175 minute run-time, you might become bored with it. If you enjoy these types of natural disaster flicks that go straight to TV, however, then this is one of the better ones. The video and audio presentations are top notch, but the extras are lacking here. Rent before owning.