I guess it’s open to debate as to whether or not When The Sky Falls is truly a science fiction movie. It deals with a huge storm that basically produces extremely powerful lightning and the lightning occasionally appears to have a mind of its own. I have no idea if there’s any scientific basis for this. I don’t really understand how lightning works, other than the fact that you don’t want to stand under a tree in a lightning storm and you definitely do not want to get struck.
But, regardless of whether the film is scientifically accurate or not, I still feel like this should be considered a science fiction movie. First off, there’s the fact that the lightning itself often does seem to be intentionally targeting the film’s heroes. Though the film never specifically states this as fact, it does seem as if the lightning has developed enough of a personality to hold a grudge against those attempting to escape it. Secondly, the film’s main character is an ozone researcher and that just seems like an appropriate job for a character in a science fiction film. And finally, despite the fact that it premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network, the entire film feels like it belongs on the SyFy network.
Seriously, everything about this film — from the acting to the cheap but crudely effective special effects to the environmentalist protagonist — feels reminiscent of a pre-Sharknado SyFy film. (It’s easy to forget that, before Sharknado, SyFy films pretended to take themselves seriously.) The plot even follows the standard SyFy formula — a dysfunctional family spends the weekend at a cabin in the woods and end up getting separated once the big lightning storm strikes. They start out arguing and they end up depending on each other for survival. And, perhaps most importantly of all, Dad gets to prove that he’s not as lame as everyone thinks. If Lifetime films all build up to that moment when everyone realizes that mom was correct, SyFy films often celebrate the uncool but capable father figure.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about When The Sky Falls is that it was even on Lifetime Movie Network to begin with. Compared to more traditional LMN films — like Confessions of a Go-Go Girl and The Perfect Teacher — When The Sky Falls feels a bit out-of-place. Perhaps next year, SyFy will return the favor and produce a sequel to Back To School Mom.
But anyway, what about the film itself? In no way can it compare to either SyFy or Lifetime at its best. The script is predictable, the actors struggle with some seriously undeveloped characters, and the film never finds a steady pace. Some parts of the film seem way too slow while others seem to be oddly rushed. On the plus side, when taken on their own terms, some of the lightning effects are kind of fun and the film was shot in Canada so, at the very least, you get to see some really pretty scenery.
Seriously, I love Canada!