'Independence Day-saster' on SyFy: Maybe you need a big-screen budget

From left, Ryan Merriman and Tom Everett Scott

From left, Ryan Merriman and Tom Everett Scott battle an alien invasion in Syfy original film "Independence Day-Saster." (Credit: Syfy)

MOVIE "Independence Day-saster"

WHEN | WHERE Thursday night at 9 on Syfy

REASON TO WATCH Why go out to see "White House Down"? We got your presidential action hero right here!


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WHAT IT'S ABOUT Before we hear, "Hi, I'm President Sam Garcette, and I need your help to save the world," first we go to Oregon, where Ryan Merriman's ordinary firefighter is preparing for your ordinary, small-town Fourth of July celebration. Then, eek, alien orbs streak through the sky and lots of huge-toothed drills burst out of the Earth. Suddenly, there's "global chaos"!

Turns out, Merriman ("Pretty Little Liars") is the POTUS' bro, and a pretty darned tough dude himself. As world capitals are blithely demolished and a sketchy vice president goes all power-grab back East, POTUS Bro wanders the land collecting alien fighters, cybernerds and various family members -- here come da prez (Tom Everett Scott, "Southland," "ER"), parachuting in! -- to do blast-y battle with, uh, whatever those attackers are.

MY SAY Little details like that are beneath the radar of "Independence Day-saster," which may start small but eventually bloats as big as the holiday requires. POTUS even gives his fight-back gang a pep talk of "It may seem impossible, but our country was founded against odds like this," blah, blah, blah, at which point your eyes may glaze over.

But that's fine because the meat of the movie is through. These Syfy original flicks (shifting this summer to Thursday from their longtime Saturday slot) tend to contain only 50 minutes of plot, despite their 90-minute run time (not counting commercials in the two-hour slot). While the setups can be fun, they're the point, really, so concluding half-hours get tedious and repetitive.

Too bad, since they're dominated by cable-budget special effects, which are schlock, at best. It's especially unfortunate here because "Independence Day-saster" in the early going ain't half bad.

BOTTOM LINE Maybe you do need Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum and a big-screen budget.

GRADE C+

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