Iron Thunder (1998)

Nomination Year: 2002
SYNOPSIS:  Richard "Apollo-from-Battlestar-Galactica" Hatch stars in this true stinker about a thought-controlled tank whose driver goes insane and takes it on a rampage. Right from the horribly cheesy CGI opening credits we knew this was a contender, and it was. I have never seen a movie that seemed so much like one of our Late Show sessions put on film.

"Wanna Run That By Me Again?"

When Someone's Got a Gun on You, Confuse 'Em
Hess (the one rendered mute by the doctor's experiments) for some reason points a gun at the hero. I think it's because he suspects him of letting Nelson go. But the hero talks his way out of it with a string of "logic" (i.e., BS) so convoluted, that Hess just forgets the whole thing.

"Let's Up The Rating To 'R'"

Love and War
The two main characters are stalking an insane gunman through a complex environment of junk. He could be anywhere, ready to kill them on sight. What better time to suddenly bring up their past "history" and have a little nookie besides? When Shayne and I first watched it, we could tell what was coming the instant the woman laid down her backpack. We weren't disappointed. Meanwhile, as they're having sex, their platoon is getting slaughtered by their target. They get dressed in record time and rush off to help.

"Alas, Poor Yorick"

An Airtight Case
Early on in the film, they establish that the helmet for the tank is airtight, "because of the fiberoptics," whyever the hell that should matter. Never mind that both tanks seem to operate quite well with or without the helmet, or that there seems to be no air supply to the helmet, or that the helmet's faceguard slides up. Anyway, the hero and the woman are trying to defuse Nelson's bomb, when they're interrupted by the doctor, who essentially annoys the hero to death with a "Language!" A portion of the charge explodes in his face and jams the faceplate shut, so his helmet fills with his own blood. He bolts out of the tank in terror (remember his phobia?). His friends chase him but to no avail: he drowns. Mind you, now, this is the supposed HERO of the film, whom they went out of their way to recruit, and who led things up to now. And he drowns moronically in his own blood in his idiotic airtight helmet 3/4 of the way through the film! The rest of the movie goes on without him! He was the hero! Arrrgh!!! You just know he had no more Stunt Double points and he didn't have enough Fame for a Film Break.

Worst Special Effect

They Ran Out of Bullets -- The Filmmakers, Not the Characters
They've gotten Nelson out of Iron Thunder and have chased him to this convenient field of junk (I'm guessing this has got to be something that really exists in the California desert -- there's no way this film had the budget to build something like this, and it seems too authentic). As the -- ahem -- "bullets" begin to fly, we see one stray squib (must've been their only one), followed by a barrage of gunfire...which is really nothing more than SCRATCHES on the FILM (or perhaps really, really poor CGI). Look for the two goons running by a grey dumpster. You'd think they could've at least invested in some *firecrackers* for Pete's sake, but no.

Worst Acting

"Language!"
T. Bruce Page plays the mad doctor in charge of the project, and plays it badly. He has a "thing" against profanity, and every time a character swears in his presense, he says "Language!" As the film progresses and you see what the thought-tank is capable of (or rather what it's NOT capable of), you start to see that he was probably a neurologist who needed to be an engineer. There isn't one of the tank's functions that needs to be jacked into a human brain. And besides, the readouts and controls all seem to require manual handling anyway!

Worst Picture

The Great Copter Crash
The rest of the team goes on without their leader, but Nelson uses the remote control on Iron Thunder to push their proto-tank over a cliff. The woman survives, Hess is knocked out, and Geeky Goon buys it. Meanwhile, the doctor decides this has gone on long enough and flies out in a helicopter to take matters into his own hands. As the woman (the female LEAD, recall) flags down the copter, Nelson fires his small gun ONCE, and pegs the copter pilot. The pilot yells "Shit!" as she dies, and the doctor's last word is "Language!" as the copter explodes for no apparent reason. As if that's not enough, the flaming stock-footage wreckage lands smack on the female lead in a really bad shot ("Noooo! Noooo!" slo-mo, etc.).

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Richard Hatch "Apollo" on Battlestar Galactica 
Don Hughes  
Susannah Devereux  
T. Bruce Page  
Frank Ruotolo  
Chad Theroux  
Christopher Grey Voice of Avalanche on X-Men: Evolution 
Director Claim to Fame
Jay Woelfel I don't know if it rhymes with "woeful" or "awful" 

Bryan Cassidy

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