Super Tanker (2011) poster

Super Tanker (2011)


USA. 2011.


Director – Jeffrey Lando, Screenplay – Nathan Atkins & Jeffrey Lando, Producers – Jeffrey Beach & Phillip Roth, Photography – Alexander Krumov, Visual Effects Supervisor – Juan Carlos Vargas, Special Effects Supervisor – Georgi Kraev, Production Design – Steliyan Steliyanov. Production Company – UFO International Productions.


Callum Blue (Adam Murphy), Ben Cross (Robert Jordan), Atanas Srebrev (Colonel Marvin Hanley), Jon Mack (Morgan), Jack Woo (Jackie), David Schofield (Admiral McDonagh), Velizar Binev (Captain Costas Spyrou), Jesse Steele (Randall)


The US government airlifts a container of Ice 9 antimatter from where it has been stored in Alaska after crashing in a meteorite in 1965. However, the speeds it is being transported at make the antimatter unstable and cause the plane to go down in a massive explosion over Canada. The Pentagon brings in former top US scientific advisor Robert Jordan to advise. The solution he comes up with is placing the Ice 9 aboard the super-tanker Velizar and then sinking it in the Marianas Trench where the depths will neutralise the antimatter. The Velizar begins the transport operation under the command of Colonel Hanley only for the ship to be stuck by a freak wave. This destabilises the containment and Hanley’s only option is to vent the radioactive gas but this forms into a cloud that destroys nearby aircraft. Hanley disobeys orders and recklessly vents further gas, which forms into a cloud heading towards Honolulu. Jordan’s only choice is to bring in Adam Murphy, a former nuclear containment expert who is burned out after an operation in Azerbaijan went wrong. Adam is persuaded to reunite his old team but once on the Velizar they face the problem of Hanley refusing to take orders from civilians.

This was one of the low-budget disaster movies made for the Syfy Channel and other cable outlets in the 2000s/10s. There is an entire industry of these – see the likes of The Black Hole (2006), Meltdown: Days of Destruction (2006) , NYC: Tornado Terror (2008), Lava Storm (2008), Annihilation Earth (2009), Ice Twisters (2009), Megafault (2009), Polar Storm (2009), Arctic Blast (2010), Ice Quake (2010), Meteor Storm (2010), Quantum Apocalypse (2010), Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010), Behemoth (2011), Collision Earth (2011), Earth’s Final Hours (2011), Mega Cyclone (2011), Metal Tornado (2011), Seeds of Destruction/The Terror Beneath (2011), Miami Magma (2011), Super Eruption (2011), 2012 Ice Age (2011), Alien Tornado (2012), Seattle Super Storm (2012), 500 MPH Storm (2013), 100° Below 0 (2013), Stonados (2013), Asteroid vs Earth (2014), Christmas Icetastrophe (2014), Crystal Skulls (2014), Firequake (2014), LA Apocalypse (2014), San Andreas Quake (2015), Stormageddon (2015), Geo-Disaster (2017) and Oceans Rising (2017). I discuss these in more detail in my essay Disaster Movies.

Among these, the company of director Phillip Roth, which calls itself various variations on UFO (Unified Film Organization, United Film Organization) and shoots on the cheap in Bulgaria, has been prolific in churning out low-budget disaster, horror and science-fiction films for the Syfy Channel and video/dvd distribution. (See below for UFO’s other films).

Just as much as it is a disaster movie, Super Tanker also counts as a Techno-Thriller – one about the removal of a supply of antimatter and the problems of the disposal unit in trying to stabilise it to a point where it can be dumped at sea (something that would still cause it to go up in a massive explosion, although down at the depths of the Marianas Trench, this would probably barely even cause a ripple on the surface).

The tanker Velizar and cloud of antimatter gas in Super Tanker (2011)
The tanker Velizar (c) and cloud of vented antimatter gas

The film assembles all the clichés of the low-budget disaster movie – the scientist with the rogue theory; the hard-ass military commander who decides to do things his way and endangers everything; the countdown to disaster and the major population centre threatened. One of the oddities of the plotting is that this is a disaster movie where the drama focuses on the efforts to contain the antimatter aboard the tanker (the techno-thriller aspect) rather than the disaster aspect – the scenes of mass destruction. There is the storm threatening Hawaii of which we get to see a few scenes but as soon as drama shift back to the tanker, the cloud is forgotten as though it magically no longer exists.

The film is almost completely killed by the cut-price digital effects, particularly when it comes to the depiction of the tanker, which look flat and unconvincing. Even worse are the minimalist scenes of the storm striking Honolulu. The one thing the film does do well is the whole scientists vs military hardass conflict with Atanas Srebrev doing a fine job when it comes to the military side of things and turning the middle of the film into a jurisdictional battle over his resentment at taking orders from civilians and refusal to comply with their directives. The tensions work reasonably and Srebrev gives an entirely convincing performance in the role.

Director Jeffery Lando, often billed as Jeffery Scott Lando, has made a host of other low-budget horror and science-fiction films, including Savage Island (2004), Insecticidal (2005), Alien Incursion (2006), Decoys 2: Alien Seduction (2007), Goblin (2010), House of Bones (2010), Thirst (2010), Boogeyman (2012), Haunted High (2012), Jet Stream (2013), Supercollider (2013), Roboshark (2015), Suspension (2015) and Bad Stepmother (2018).

United (sometimes Unified) Film Organization (UFO)’s other genre films include:- Darkdrive (1996), Total Reality (1997), Interceptors (1999), Storm (1999), Deep Core (2000), Epoch (2000), Falcon Down (2000), Mindstorm (2000), Python (2000), Lost Voyage (2001), Shark Hunter (2001), Antibody (2002), Dark Descent (2002), Hyper Sonic (2002), Interceptor Force 2 (2002), Pythons (2002), Dark Waters (2003), Deep Shock (2003), Dragonfighter (2003), Maximum Velocity (2003), Warnings/Silent Warnings (2003), Boa vs Python (2004), Darklight (2004), Dragon Storm (2004), Phantom Force (2004), Post Impact (2004), Alien Siege (2005), Crimson Force (2005), Locusts: The 8th Plague (2005), Manticore (2005), Path of Destruction (2005), S.S. Doomtrooper (2006), Reign of the Gargoyles (2007), Copperhead (2008), Ghost Voyage (2008), Doomsday (2009), Ghost Town (2009), The Grudge 3 (2009), Star Runners (2009), Arctic Predator (2010), Elimination (2010), Lake Placid 3 (2010), Triassic Attack (2010), Cold Fusion (2011), Miami Magma (2011), Morlocks (2011), Rage of the Yeti (2011), Black Forest (2012), Boogeyman (2012), Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012), True Bloodthirst (2012), Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012), Deadly Descent (2013), Invasion Roswell (2013), Jet Stream (2013), Robocroc (2013), Super Collider (2013), Crystal Skulls (2014), Firequake (2014), Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort (2014), Lake Placid vs Anaconda (2015), Roboshark (2015), Death Race: Beyond Anarchy (2018). The Car: Road to Revenge (2019) and Doom: Annihilation (2019).

Trailer here

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