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Scarecrow on Seattle: 10.5

In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with the Seattle Office of Film + Music to bring you reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest with an emphasis on how these films showcase the region's many filmable locations.

10.5 (2004)

So we all know how often a movie that is set in Seattle is actually shot in Vancouver, but here's a case when our neighbors to the north impersonate the entire west coast of the U.S.A. With a plot assembled from bits and pieces of other movies and populated with a checklist of cliched characters, the predictable narrative deals with a series of massive earthquakes, medium sized tremors and a tidal wave. The initial quake originates in Washington State and causes mayhem all the way south to California--eventually threatening to break off part of the Golden State and create a new island, just like in John Carpenter's Escape From LA. The film regularly employs split-screen effects to jump between the various plotlines unfolding up and down the "coast." The quake-bait cast consists of an assortment of forgettable TV actors combined with a few bigger names who needed a paycheck. Some of the more familiar faces are Kim Delaney (who returned in a sequel called 10.5 Apocalypse), Fred Ward, John "Bo Duke" Schneider, and Beau (Fabulous Baker Boys) Bridges as the president.

The alleged Seattle footage is contained in the first 20 minutes. The opening credits follow an "extreme" urban bicyclist as he enthusiastically pedals around downtown "Seattle" to a generic pop-punk tune by a fake band called Bosshouse. In the fantasy world of 10.5, our famous landmark is actually spelled "Spaceneedle" and located in the middle of a downtown street. The cyclist rides along seemingly alone; though it's morning in the city there is exactly one car seen driving and absolutely no pedestrians on the sidewalks. Suddenly...EARTHQUAKE! Does the rattling and rumbling slow down our hardcore biking friend? Hell no! Things get even more extreme when a cartoony, computer-generated Space Needle starts wobbling, the foundation breaks, and it begins to collapse. (I think it would have been much more suspenseful if the Spaceneedle [sic] was in its actual location and could have potentially fallen on the Fun Forest [R.I.P.] but the hacks that cranked out this script didn't ask me). Instead of taking a sharp perpendicular turn from the falling structure's path of destruction, the bicyclist rides parallel to the fall and attempts to outpace all 604 feet of the toppling Space Needle. This is one dumb bike rider. After the initial disaster a newscaster declares, "Everything from Shoreline to Pacific is cut-off due to flooding and hikers are stranded at Point Defiance Park." So they get some names right, but the details don't quite add up.

Most of the rest of the film takes place in "California," where we get to see CGI versions of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood sign get destroyed as the result of other earthquakes. 10.5 is good for some cheap laughs, but the film relentlessly pushes the bounds of believability (even for a crappy disaster movie), and, at 165 minutes, is just too mind-numbingly long. Even if it was more authentic with its location usage, 10.5 would still be a third rate made for TV disaster flick. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter where this turkey was shot.

-Spenser Hoyt



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