The Core (2003) / Sci Fi-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 135 min.
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, Tcheky Karyo, DJ Squalls, Richard Jenkins, Bruce Greenwood, Alfree Woodard, Shawn Green (cameo)
Director: Jon Amiel
Screenplay: Cooper Layne, John Rogers
I know what you're thinking. Shouldn't this movie have come out a few years ago, maybe sometime between Independence Day, Deep Impact and Armageddon?
As I was sitting through The Core, I wished it were as good as those marginal films, suffering badly by comparison due to the high amounts of regurgitated formula heroics on which the entire story is built around. Ironically, Jon Amiel directed a film called Copycat, which is only apropos since the film mimics so many others, in fact stealing many ideas outright, like the thieves in his other effort, Entrapment. I could also work in the fact that Amiel directed the comedy, The Man Who Knew Too Little, but I think that's a punch line that writes itself.
Admittedly, the film is wrapped around a scientifically interesting premise, and although the concepts seem like a bunch of malarkey, the dialogue is intelligent enough to almost sound plausible. Some scientists, led by science professor Josh Keyes (Eckhart, The Pledge), investigate some strange occurrences going on in the world, discovering that the Earth's core is in danger of stopping its spin, which would decimate all life of the planet. Natural disasters are already happening as a result, so a crew of the world's elite scientists are banded together on a mission to save the world by traveling to the Earth's core and "jump-starting" it back to its former state.
It's a simple plot with equally simple development, and there isn't a single surprise to be found for anyone who has seen any of the more recent catastrophe flicks. While the film does sport some good acting, competent direction, and relatively smart writing, where The Core ultimately fails is at "the core," i.e. the main premise itself. This is a film that is almost antiquated by today's standards, with trite plotting, formula moments of drama, and run-of-the-mill special effects-driven scenes of various landmarks being destroyed, as if electromagnetic energy is somehow attracted to the Earth's great landmarks by default. The intended result is awe, but it ends up being quite laughable, as the only entertainment comes in guessing who is next to sacrifice Spock-style, "for the good of the many," and what unnecessary problems will eventually arise which threaten to end the mission at nearly ten minute intervals from each other.
The Core is only likely to impress those unfamiliar with the aforementioned Earth-crisis flicks, or just those few who have an eternal hard-on for scenes of mass destruction. You also would have to overlook quite a bit of logic and flaws in physics to buy almost anything in the movie, so be warned that the B.S. factor is at an all-time high here. Otherwise, I would say to dust off that DVD of ID4 or Armageddon and watch those again, instead of shelling out eight bucks at the theater, because either way, you'll be seeing the same film again.
©2003 Vince Leo