Give credit to the savvy marketing robots at Syfy, they tuned right into the inherent draw of setting their sub-Bruckheimer dreck in Las Vegas. Who isn’t going to tune in to see the Bellagio knocked down a couple of times? We’ve already seen the White House blown up in a hundred different movies. Time to mix it up.
Blast Vegas, which premiered on Syfy on Thursday night after a rerun of lowbrow Internet-sensation Sharknado, starts out as a bit of a slobs-versus-snobs teen comedy before things take a turn toward your standard metaphysical movie disasters. Something about an ancient curse, a pharaoh’s sword and blah, blah, blah.
It sends Frankie Muniz, love interest Maggie Castle and slumming-it lounge singer Barry Bostwick (who apparently found his character’s voice by doing a bad impression of Phil Hartman’s Charlton Heston impression) through a criss-crossing MacGuffin hunt through the underground network of service tunnels that connect all parts of the city. You know, those ones you use all the time.
There’s never a hot second where you give half a damn about the love-at-first-sight romance between Nelson (Muniz) and Olive (Castle), and aside from Bostwick, the other characters are as disposable as your personality in college where you tried on “hippie” for a month. (Incidentally, your friends never liked Phish. They were just pretending because you suddenly had a great hookup for weed.)
But that’s not why you tune into a movie like Blast Vegas, is it? You came for the cheesy special effects, the groan-worthy one-liners, the hilarious ineptitude.
Except, it doesn’t have any of that. The CGI for the most part isn’t terrible enough to get a chuckle. The dialogue is just plain bland, and the continuity of the film is, if not exactly on-point, not entirely risible either.
So what separates a so-bad-it’s-good movie from one that’s just so bad it’s bad? Well, fever-dream, free-for-all craziness is a good start. Sharknado commits wholly to the absurdity of its premise, while delivering it all with an overt wink. Blast Vegas takes itself super seriously, which is a tall order for a film that’s trying to position Muniz as an action star.
But even worse than that, Blast Vegas is lazy. Aside from the generic plot and the vaguely threatening antagonist, it dabbles in the hackiest, most dashed-off tropes imaginable. Bostwick’s lounge singer is always drinking a martini. The anonymous spring breakers in the beginning show they’re having a good time by batting around beach balls, for God’s sake. The first casualties of the Egyptian curse are the first people in the movie to have sex. It’s the crushing sameness of the summer blockbuster writ small, and badly acted.
Say what you want about Sharknado, but Michael Bay never thought of sticking sharks inside a tornado, like nature’s finest turducken of distress.