Flood: A River's Rampage (1998)
A Disaster Trickle
There is a simple fact, disaster movies are generally better when they are big budget affairs full of big action and big effects; it helps build the atmosphere, danger and drama. Those few which manage to work despite limited budgets have a good script and good performances to deliver the emotional drama. "Flood: A River's Rampage" is sadly not one of those rare movies and the lack of decent script, action, special effects as well as limited budget are just some of the reasons why it fails. Now you sort of have to give allowances as "Flood: A River's Rampage" is a TV movie but even then it's not up to usual TV standards and to be honest struggles to keep you interested and entertained.
After months of heavy rain the mighty Mississippi is breaking through its banks and destroying towns. When disaster management specialist Pat Mallory (Kate Vernon - Pretty in Pink) learns that her hometown is going to be hit by a flood she heads home and with the help of local Herb Dellenbach (Richard Thomas - The Christmas Box) unite the town o try and build a levee before the swell reaches them. But it is both desperate and futile as the rivers keeps on rising and major decisions are going to have to be taken if the town is to be saved.
Now whilst I know there have been times over the years when the mighty Mississippi has flooded, causing devastation, I don't know whether "Flood: A River's Rampage" is inspired from true events. But whether there is some truth to the story or just a work of fiction the basic storyline of a town uniting to try and create a levee is a reasonable one. It provides the opportunity of having the race against time with the Mississippi being a ticking clock as the town work day and night to build the levee. We also have the drama of a stranded family and the desperate search to rescue them. And if that wasn't enough you also get an extra storyline about tough decisions where saving the town as a collective becomes more important than saving an individuals property.
But here is the thing whilst "Flood: A River's Rampage" has all the element for an action packed disaster movie full of action and drama it never materialises. The drama of the race against time never feels that desperate nor does the search to try and rescue Herb's daughters and their grandfather as they become stranded. The emotional tension of it all as things become desperate never feels right, never gets your pulse racing. And whilst there is plenty of real footage of floods and homes being swept away those scenes which are created for the movie feel weak. In fact for a disaster movie there is very little big action with most of it being the semi desperate attempts to build a sand bag levee.
Now with "Flood: A River's Rampage" being a TV movie you do make certain allowances as you know there will be budget constraints which will limit things. But the budget constraints put a real dampener on things because on the few action scenes we get the tackiness of it is very clear. It wouldn't have mattered so much if the emotional aspect of the story had been present but that never shows either making "Flood: A River's Rampage" surprisingly flat. The worst of it is when Herb's children get lost in the Flood, the gut wrenching pain of losing your children never surfaces but instead we get token emotion and grimacing.
Now whilst the lack of depth in the script is a big issue as to why the emotional depth doesn't surface the acting is also to blame. Richard Thomas who is central to everything never once fully inhabits his character and as such Herb never feels real but to be honest every actor is as much at fault. And it's because we have actors delivering lines and token emotion it never feels anything more than weak.
All of which is a shame as at it's heart "Flood: A River's Rampage" has the basics for an exciting disaster movie one which is real but also action packed and emotional. Maybe someone will take these basics and turn them into a full blown disaster movie as the potential is wasted in this TV movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Flood: A River's Rampage" is not only a poor disaster movie but also a poor TV movie as well. And to be honest it is sort of frustrating as the basic storyline is good it is just the execution of it is poor even for a budget limited TV movie.
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