For reasons unknown, the earth's inner core has stopped rotating, causing the planet's electromagnetic field to rapidly deteriorate. Instantly, life around the globe begins to change dramatically. In Boston, 32 people with pacemakers, all within a 10-block radius, suddenly drop dead. In San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge collapses, sending hundreds of people plunging to their deaths. In London's Trafalgar Square, flocks of pigeons lose their ability to navigate, flying into panicked crowds, slamming into windshields and causing drivers to lose control of their cars. And in Rome, as thousands of tourists watch helplessly, an electrical superstorm reduces the ancient Roman Colosseum to rubble. Scrambling to resolve the crisis, government and military officials call upon geophysicist Dr. Josh Keyes and a team of the world's most gifted scientists to travel into the earth's core in a subterranean craft piloted by "terranauts" Major Rebecca "Beck" Childs and Commander Robert Iverson. Their mission: Detonate a nuclear device that will reactivate the core and save the world from sure destruction.
Directed by: Jon Amiel
. Starring: Christopher Shyer
, Ray Galletti
, Eileen Pedde
, Rekha Sharma
, Tom Scholte
, Aaron Eckhart
, Glenn Morshower
, Anthony Harrison
, Tchéky Karyo
, Richard Jenkins
, Bart Anderson
, Nicole Leroux
, Justin Callan
. Music by: Christopher Young
I have a weakness for Hollywood blockbusters. Even more embarrassingly, I have an especially soft spot for special effects films. You know the kind, dominated largely by grandiose special effects with a ridiculously unbelievable "story" designed solely to string together the explosions and computer generated graphics.
I saw Independence Day on opening weekend, Armageddon in the first week of its opening, etc., etc. I love these films. Every once in awhile they surprise me and are even pretty good. I can't think of an example of that off the top of my head but I'm sure there have been one or two. More often though, they are so bad they're good. The Core might be just such a film.
Apocalypse movies are pretty fascinating from a sociological standpoint. In the seven-O's and eight-0's it was enough for us to fantasize about an airliner full of passengers or maybe an entire cruise ship being destroyed but at some point in the nine-0's we decided that just wasn't enough carnage. It became important for all of us to be killed. Whether we be disintegrated by aliens, wiped out by an unstoppable virus or destroyed by an asteroid, nothing short of biblical destruction of the entire human race would satisfy our collective bloodentertainment-lust.
Continuing with this invigorating theme, The Core constructs a wonderfully bizarre morbid-fantasy about the rapidly spinning outer core of the earth stopping because of a doomsday machine made by the bad military men. We're told that the ill-effects of our global heart failure will include some wacky electro-magnetic disturbances and ultimately the failure of our entire electro-magnetic protection blanket that keeps out the nasty microwaves from the sun (or something like that, it's best not to pay too much attention to the scientific details when watching such a film).
Well it wouldn't be nearly dramatic enough to just have some slow subtle build-up of these nasty EM problems. More importantly though, it wouldn't be in keeping with the template of these types of films. The formula dictates that we get to see some increasingly brutal scenes of devastation peppered with scenes of puny humans struggling desperately at some hail-mary solution to fend off armageddon.
If you're planning to actually see this film and want to be surprised every now and again, stop reading now. I'm about to give away some big gags.
The first failure in the movie is a quartz watch. It was probably about that time that I decided, "I think I'm gonna like this film." Next though, the pacemakers fail within a 10 block radius (I never had any idea how many pacemaker wearers there are! they're practically everywhere!). That's bad.
After a little bit of plot unfolding (or perhaps it was character development?), the birds start freaking out and killing themselves. Something about their use of magnetic fields to guide their migratory patterns or some such. This was pretty silly and in the context of the rest of the movie that means it was fantastically silly. I mean so silly that it went right through the part of bad where it's actually good and broke through to the side where it's really bad again.
Then we get into the plot big-time. Oh yeah, at some point the space shuttle has to land in one of those great big LA drainage ditches. You know, I'm convinced those ditches were just built to show up in movies. Whether they be the backdrop for Arnold jumping a Harley Davidson over a semi-truck, a drag racing duel with Travolta driving Greased Lightning or Kurt Russel surfing a tsunami, these damn ditches have seen it all. I can't really remember when the space shuttle crashed there but it served as the introduction to two of our heroes: a guy and a girl astronaut (don't worry, I won't bog you down with the names of these puny humans).
So anyway, we also get introduced to some scientists (this movie has a lot of scientists in it, it must be really smart), some military guys (and girls), another scientist (who has issues with one of the other scientists, ooh the air was thick with drama) and a hacker (did you know that having a hacker hero is a prerequisite for a good effects film these days?). One of the scientists is a messy haired guy who's kinda cute so we instinctively cling to him as our hero of heroes. Oh yeah, the Nasa girl is kinda cute too.
I think some other stuff happened at this point involving building a ship to tunnel into the center of the earth and plant some nuclear weapons or some such but more importantly, we get to see some really kick-ass lightning storms. These storms are so bad-ass that they level Rome in fact. No kidding. They blow up the coliseum and a lot of ancient Roman looking buildings. Destroying national, international andor global symbols is very important in these films. It's a way of convincing our collective psyche that this is REALLY BIG STUFF. Really old and important stuff getting blown up makes it seem all the more, um, important or something.
Now the effects are not really so great by modern CGI standards. I mean they were fine in a cartoonish sort of way but don't expect to really be convinced by any of them. When a rogue lightning bolt tears down the middle of a street (in Rome presumably) and throws giant chunks of asphalt everywhere as it goes, well, I dunno, it just didn't move me the way I really wanted it to. Perhaps I was distracted by thinking about our heroes in the laser-ultrasound-nuclear-powered-love-train tunneling to the center of the earth.
So our wonder-worm, sole-hope-of-humanity vehicle is really flying through the solid rock and molten lava and crystal gardens and mazes of huge diamonds (not even a wonder worm can cut through diamond my friends!). I mean it is cruising. I don't know how fast a knot is, but it was doing hundreds of 'em, protected from the crushing pressure and tremendous heat only by its Unobtainium shell (how could I make that up?) and some occasional squirts of liquid nitrogen (or perhaps it was a continual mist? they never really showed how that worked).
At one point our heroes do have to get out (in the crystal garden) but thankfully their tin-foil suits can take the pressure (whew! I was really worried for a second there!). Nevertheless, they do start getting picked off and wouldn't you know it? The poorly developed (and I mean even in relation to what passes for character development in this film) Nasa guy is the first to go! Of well, the worm must go on.
So then some nonsense transpires about the outer core (of molten iron, that the ships cuts through like a hot knife) not being as dense as we thought (iron is tricky stuff apparently) so our heroes don't have enough nukes and the secret of the secret weapon (cleverly named: Destiny) comes out and the hacker has to save the day and another scientist dies, blah, blah, blah, but then we get to see the Golden Gate bridge get destroyed!
Clearly this is what we've all been waiting for. No, we didn't know specifically what was going to get blown up in some grandiose fashion but, by golly, we knew our hard earned cash was going to buy us some destruct-ifaction and the Golden Gate bridge turns out to be the fatted calf at the alter of our morbid pleasure. And it was pretty great I gotta say.
You might not know it (being that we all pretty much live in blissful ignorance of how badly the universe wants to squashpummeltorch or otherwise squeeze the life out of us at every turn), but the EM field around our planet saves us all the time from the aerosol-can-flamethrower that is our sun. When the EM field breaks down, watch out, microwaves of hell (microwaves from the heavens doesn't sound as scary) will boil the water right in the sea, give you a really bad sunburn in seconds flat, melt your car tires and blow up the Golden Gate bridge like nobody's business!
This scene was pretty darn good. My only complaint is that we only get to hear from the newscasters how half of San Francisco got destroyed. I would've gladly paid an extra $3.25 or so to see the Transamerica building blown up or my favorite taquerias go up in flames. I guess they wanted our imaginations to fill in the blanks. Whatever, if I wanted to use my imagination I'd read a damn book!
So then our heroes develop some screwball plan to place there nukes in very specific places (accurate to within one inch!) with very specific timing (accurate to within a fraction of a second!) to get the shockwaves to compound itself or something. I dunno. Obviously this wasn't all that important because they forget about the time schedule pretty quickly (ejecting the carsnukes seemingly at random, and darn close together plot-wise) and set the nukes' timers by hand (computers can't be trusted for such precise timing operations).
What is important is that another scientist gets killed by walking into a part of the ship that is 9,000 degrees! His tin-foil suit only protects him long enough to disengage the auto-locking mechanism between the cars on the worm-train before his glasses shatter from the heat and he dies a (very painful) several seconds later. I don't know that he was in that much pain but the rest of us were anyway.
The scientists are really dropping like flies now so I'm really appreciating how they stocked the movie up so throughly with them in the first place. Now there's only a couple of them left (and the girl astronaut).
So anyway, another scientist gets trapped in one of the cars they have to eject (the only way they can deploy the nukes for some reason, I learned that word "deploy" from some other Hollywood gem I'm sure) by the massive nuke laying on top of him (the script writers weren't sure which scientist was going to get it at first so the messy haired scientist has the nuke laying on him for a brief moment too). Just before they eject his car off into the molten iron (which they are still just flying through!), he spits out something about needing more plutonium to make the last nuke go off big enough to fully jump start the earth's core (I'm not a scientist myself so the subleties of wave motion in molten iron went right over my head).
Well, luckily all you have to do to supe-up a nuke is to throw some extra plutonium at it and they happen to have some extra plutonium in the worm-train's engine! Ok, it's not really extra plutonium as pulling it out shuts down the ship (not to mention the fact that it's super hot and they don't have any oven mits, just those damn tin-foil suit gloves) but apparently that's ok.
Hmm, wait a second. If they pull out the plutonium and stop the ship so they can add the plutonium to the last bomb, how can they get away from it before it explodes? Maybe they were going fast enough that they could just glide through the lava for awhile after ejecting or something like that. I dunno, maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention. But anyway, they did it, the bombs all blow up, they don't get killed and guess what? The earth is saved!
Some other stuff happens at this point (not the least of which is some groovy waves in the Sahara) to wrap things up and put a nice little bow on the plot, roll credits.
This movie is possibly the most successful multi-million dollar B-movie I've seen in at least a few weeks. It was way more enjoyable than Phone Booth and almost as good as the last episode of Third Watch I saw (which wasn't all that great) and I highly recommend it for all fans of mindless science fiction, big-budget effects films which fixate on human carnage on a global scale. It is a flickering flourescent bulb, dimly glowing (periodically) in this venerable genre.
Review by ei8htohms from the Internet Movie Database.