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The Core (2003)
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Review Date: March 30, 2003
Director: Jon Amiel
Writer: Cooper Layne, John Rogers
Producers: Cooper Layne, David Foster, Sean Bailey
Actors:
Aaron Eckhart
Hilary Swank
Stanley Tucci
Plot:
The Earth's core has suddenly come to a complete halt and it's up to the U.S. government, along with a raggedy band of know-it-alls to drill through the planet's outer core, drop some nuclear warheads into its inner-core and theoretically, get it running again. I'm not sure why they didn't just ask Superman to fly down there and "take care of business", but I guess that would have been "too ridiculous". Lots of drilling ensues...
Critique:
A decent "disaster" flick that touches upon all of the staple marks that any pic of its genre requires including a catastrophic opening, the government's assemblage of a ragtag team of experts from various fields, scenes of preparation and CGI destruction, a few one-liners, a few emotional moments, a few suspenseful flashes and various dire situations in which it appears as though there is no way out until...McGyver shows up with a fingernail and some string and the world is saved!! Seriously though, if there was one main difference between this movie and a number of other such films that were in "vogue" a few years ago, it would be the fact that this one seems to have gathered a number of "real" actors, as opposed to the name "stars" involved in the others. What that brings to this flick is a little bit more development in its characters (I stress the words "little" and "bit"), and at the very least, more believability in terms of their personas. Having said that, just like most movies which a grand cast, it's almost impossible to get into full details about each character, so consider the "black woman" mining the mission controls on Earth (a wasted Alfre Woodard), the "computer geek" who is ugly, a virgin and loves his "Hot Pockets" (advertising at its best/worst) or the genius teacher who would apparently rather teach a handful of bored students at his university than dedicate his obvious brains to a grander, more altruistic, position (maybe he's not that bright after all). Stanley Tucci's character is also way too arrogant/self-centered for someone in his position, but considering THE CORE's "disaster movie" nametag, moronic comments from a character as such were likely just "par for the course". On the whole though, the characters worked as an ensemble and even connected to me on certain levels, since I actually got a tad emotional when shit hit the fan for some of them.

The best thing about the film had to be its pace though. Talk about moving things along! Props go out to director Jon Amiel for establishing a solid flow from the panic of its early scenes right on into the actual mission sequences all of which held together nicely, featured a number of "how are they gonna get out of this one?" moments, as well as plenty of entertaining action. The film also included a number of expected, and unexpected, surprises. What I mean by that is that you obviously know that certain things are going to go wrong, but you never really know which shoe is going to drop (although I think we can all agree that the "French" crewmember never had a chance). More kudos go out to the filmmakers for not including some bogus romance on board or for making this-or-that-person an all-out "bad guy", which thankfully made it all a little more believable than I thought it might be. Plot-wise, I'm not going to get all "scientific" on anyone's ass and attempt to dissect the mission's "factual" claims, but I will say that I found it completely ridiculous that the film suggested that the U.S. government was essentially guarding this "end of the world" secret from all other governments and press, mostly through a geek who kept things under wrap on the Internet. Huh?? Doesn't anyone report in the print press, TV or radio anymore? Apparently not. But on the whole, the plot wasn't as gap-filled as I thought it might be (you also gotta love how everyone in the film would "dumb" their explanations down for the audience-"me stupid, no understand") and even the CGI, which looked pretty horrible in the trailer (i.e. Rome Coliseum), was okay, especially the underground stuff.

Unfortunately, the only actual memorable scenes that I could muster from this film were the space shuttle landing (which was also a little eerie) and the homage to "The Birds", which was kinda exciting. Other than that, the movie offers a quick pace, moments of suspense and a little something called "action", but nothing particularly special or groundbreaking. In other words, if you're going into this movie expecting to be blown away, I would suggest you lower your expectations, but if you're just looking for a decent "popcorn" flick, this might just be it. I would, however, be remiss if I didn't mention how odd it was to watch a "disaster" film as such under the circumstances of our real world at this point in time. Depending on how you deal with such things yourself, this movie might just make you feel even more F'd up about the whole thing, or you'll just enjoy the ride and consider this "mindless entertainment", which is most certainly what it was aiming to be in the first place. Either way, THE CORE sucks. Just kidding...it's actually "okay".
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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