Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Bruce Greenwood, Delroy Lindo, DJ Qualls
Director: Jon Amiel
If any one of the disasters portrayed in movies actually hit our planet, I wonder how we’d all react. I wonder if the depicted reality would be anything like the event itself. We’ve had nuclear meltdowns, rogue asteroids, extravagant climate changes and alien invasions. Movie makers are nearly out of disasters? but wait a minute? how about if the earth’s core stopped turning!? Brilliant.
And that’s exactly what has happened in ?The Core?. When people with pacemakers dye and pigeons in Trafalgar Square smash uncontrollably in to cars and shop fronts, military chiefs begin to believe that some sort of terrorist weapon is responsible. General Thomas Purcell (Jenkins) summons two scientists, Dr Josh Keyes (Eckhart) and Dr Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo), and asks them their opinion. When they suggest that there is probably a scientific reason for the events rather than a terrorist one, he dismisses them.
Further catastrophes prompt Josh to investigate further and he comes to the conclusion that the root of the problem is that the earth’s core has stopped spinning and that humankind has less than a year before the earth loses it’s protective electro-magnetic field and the sun cremates the earth.
In order to get his point across he asks Dr Conrad Zimsky (Tucci) to take a look at his research. Zimsky agrees with him and they present their case to the military, Keyes telling them that reaching the earth’s core is impossible. But Zimsky disagrees and they approach a former colleague of his, Braz (Lindo), who has spent 20 years in the desert developing a space-age device that can bore through rock and metal. Thank God.
With everything in place, and with the addition of two astronauts (Hilary Swank and Bruce Greenwood), the hand-picked team begin their trip to the earth’s core where they intend to let off nuclear weapons in a bid to kick-start the core again.
It sounds ridiculous. And it is.
For these science-fiction/action/disaster movies to succeed they really need to make an impact on most of the following angles.
First of all the special effects need to be convincing. If the characters are traveling to the earth’s core then they have to look like they are traveling to the earth’s core. The problem here is that no one knows what the earth’s core looks like. As Zimsky says in the movie ?it could be made of cheese’. Instead the core is represented by lots of rocks and diamonds, the progress of the team signified back on NASA radar screens by a dot boring it’s way through a large brown circle. ?They’re approaching the mantle,’ says Talma Stickley (Alfre Woodard) back at NASA HQ. You can’t help but grin.
Secondly, (and probably secondarily), the storyline needs to be exciting, original maybe. You’d have to say that a movie about the earth’s core is original anyway, and one about the earth’s core grinding to a halt even more so. One downside of this is that it is possible that such a theme is so absolutely way beyond the comprehension of the average human that the significance of the storyline passes us by.
Related to that, the direction needs to be smart and sharp. Jon Amiel’s (?Entrapment?, ?Copycat?, ?Sommersby?) job is to get across the possible finality of the situation and the vastness of the job at hand. The viewer needs to comprehend that what is going on is unparalleled. It’s not just a case of a group of scientists taking an underground shuttle to trigger an explosion. It’s a task that has never been undertaken in the history of the world.
Lastly, the characters need to be engaging, develop personalities and have issues that can only be resolved by playing a part in the mission. They need to avoid being a stereotype while still being recognizable characters that people can relate to.
The script for ?The Core? is actually not that bad, all things considered. There are some amusing lines – when the military offer Braz a $50 billion dollar cheque to finish building his ship, Keyes says: ?Why not use a credit card? You get miles’.
Yes, Keyes is cool, Zimsky is a piranha, Braz is lovable, Major Rebecca Childs (Swank) is brilliant and determined, Serge is a good family man. It’s typical fair, but the interplay between everyone works surprisingly well. Some of the characters have history such as Braz and Zimsky’s and others have obvious issues that you know will play a part in the storyline as it unfolds.
It’s not throat-grabbing or ground-breaking stuff, but it does connect with the viewer more so than ?Independence Day? or ?Event Horizon? for example. As I said at the beginning, it’s ridiculous, but without ?ridiculous’ we wouldn’t know what normal was. So movies like ?The Core? help us retain our sanity. Sort of.