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The Core Review

By Shawn McKenzie 03/28/2003

I am such a huge fan of disaster flicks.  I love the disaster flicks of the ‘70s, like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno.  They sort of died out in the ‘80s, when the hilarious Airplane movies pointed out how generally goofy they are.  There was a resurgence in the mid ‘90s of disaster flicks after Independence Day became a hit.  Suddenly disaster flicks were winning Oscars (remember Titanic?)  Then the genre died out again after a few crappy films like Hard Rain and the remake of Godzilla failed in the box office.  Another thing that make filmmakers skittish about attempting another disaster flick is that real life was beginning to look like their movies.  After 9/11, no one wanted to remind the public of what could happen.  The thing that I don’t think they realized was that these movies are so unrealistic, they are just meant as a form of escapism.  That brings us to The Core.


Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart), a geophysicist working as a college professor at the University of Illinois, and Dr. Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo), a French atomic weapons expert, have been summoned by the US government to confirm if the country has or has not experienced an act of war from a covert enemy electromagnetic weapon.  General Thomas Purcell (Richard Jenkins) was concerned that they might be under attack when 17 people with pacemakers suddenly drop dead in a neighborhood in Boston.  The doctors don’t think the phenomenon was because of a weapon, so the government is relieved, but Keyes still wants to know why it happened.  After another weird occurrence involving pigeons dropping dead, Keyes and his university team figure out that, for some bizarre reason, the core of the Earth has stopped rotating, causing the planet’s electromagnetic field to quickly weaken.  As it gets worse, it causes planes to lose navigational abilities and makes static electricity shocks lethal rather than mildly annoying.  Keyes takes his findings to a famous geophysicist named Dr. Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) in order to confirm things with him and possibly use his connections to gain scientific credibility behind his findings.  Once Keyes convinces Zimsky that the planet is in trouble, and they in turn convince the government, they are brought to the Utah Desert to meet Dr. Ed “Braz” Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo), a former colleague of Zimsky.  For the last twenty years, Braz has been working on a vehicle, which he has named Virgil, that can dig deep into the Earth’s surface.  Now that he has unlimited funds from the government, he is able to complete his contraption.  Once he finishes it, the government forms a team of “terranauts,” consisting of Keyes, Leveque, Zimsky, Braz, Major Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hillary Swank), and Colonel Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood; the last two are astronauts who are joining the mission to pilot the vehicle.)  Back at Mission Control, there is a team as well.  In addition to Purcell, there is NASA Control Chief Talma “Stick” Stickley (Alfre Woodard), the woman in charge of feeding pertinent information to the team from the surface, and Rat (DJ Qualls), a computer hacker assigned to control the flow of information about the mission on the Internet (so there isn’t worldwide panic.)  Rat is also helping Keyes out by getting information on a mysterious government project called the Destiny Project (or D.E.S.T.I.N.I., as it is officially called.)  If things go correctly, the team will dig its way to the middle of the Earth, set off some nuclear weapons to jumpstart the core, and get back to the surface in time, and will hopefully not be put in danger’s way by this secret government project.


From what I heard, the core of the Earth doesn’t rotate, but frankly, I don’t care.  I think only science students will go nuts over the inaccuracy of this movie (kind of like the way Spider-Man drove comic book geeks nuts last year.)  No one else really will care.  They will just enjoy a good escapist disaster flick.  I brought my brother to the screening, and we both found ourselves comparing it to 1998’s Armageddon.  We both agreed that it was better than that one, mainly because there was no cheesy love story involving animal crackers that only served to make the movie longer than it needed to be.  I’m not saying that it has stellar acting or anything, though Eckhart does prove in this movie that he can head an action movie.  It’s just that, if you like a good disaster flick, this one will serve you well.  The special effects alone are worth the price of the ticket.

It’s good to see the return of the disaster flick, and with any luck, The Core will be the first of many.  If you are tired of seeing real disaster scenes on CNN, try going to a movie that doesn't even try to be realistic.  It does have a little overacting, some scenes may disturb the faint at heart, and it will definitely drive science geeks crazy, but I’d rather see the return of the disaster flick than the return of the musical any day (sorry all you fans of Chicago!)


Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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