The plot of 10.5: Apocalypse is and isn't something that's hard to follow. In a nutshell, Samantha Hill (Kim Delaney) discovers a large fault line after the West Coast is hit by a massive earthquake. What makes this new earthquake even worse is that it's going to be more massive and it happens to be heading toward our nations largest nuclear reactors. Samantha and the President (Beau Bridges) call on Dr. Earl Hill (Frank Langella) who just happens to be Samantha's father. He had predicted this event many years before (which is actually a somewhat interesting idea of reverse continental drift), and, having been disgraced by the very people he was trying to help, doesn't want to hurt his daughter's career with his own ideas. Suddenly, Las Vegas is rocked by an earthquake, Dr. Hill is thought to be a casualty and it's up to Samantha and a pair of rescue workers (Dean Cain and Oliver Hudson) to stop the impending doom.
As this is a TV movie the budget that director John Lafia has been afforded is not the biggest. So The Day After Tomorrow this is not. However, I doubt that anyone gearing up to watch this film really expected it to be that. It is a solidly told ensemble tale, that mixes decent effects with various interpersonal relationships. There are some things that seem a bit farfetched (the President's daughter working as a relief worker?) and fantastical (the very idea that is being put across of the tectonic plates coming back together!), but if nothing else 10.5: Apocalypse delivers an interesting story that keeps moving and moving until the end.
The standout performances in my opinion are from Dean Cain, Oliver Hudson and Frank Langella. As I was watching this movie my main thought was why isn't Dean Cain a bigger actor? He seems to have all the trademarks of a leading man, and lord knows he showed he could carry a TV show with Lois and Clark, but he seems to be the number three of four choice for a lot of roles. Cain works steadily but he doesn't seem to have gained any real footing in the industry. He is very good here as a rescue worker who is looking after his brother (played by Oliver Hudson). Hudson was also quite good but having never seen him before might have had something to do with it. Lastly, Frank Langella, who I think is somewhat creepy, was very understated in the role of the defamed doctor.
What has happened to Kim Delaney and David Cubitt? These two people seem like they need a rest. Every time they came on screen the loss of energy in the film was palpable. I really liked Cubitt in the film and TV work he's done with Michael Mann, and Delaney has always seemed solid. In this film, it's as if these people seem resigned to their characters with both of them wanting out this movie for different reasons. Lastly, Beau Bridges as the President of the United States was an inspired bit of casting but sadly that seems to be about all it was. How come so many of the so called "good" actors just seemed to be phoning in their performances here?
As a miniseries I found that I did enjoy 10.5: Apocalypse. I thought that it wove interesting character stories into an entertaining narrative. While not the most original of films, it did attempt to have certain elements that would keep viewers watching. In fact having watched the miniseries in one sitting (as opposed to having it broken up over subsequent nights), I think that 10.5: Apocalypse worked more as a thickly textured character study, with just enough nuance in the action to give a variety of fans the kind of viewing experience that they have come to expect.