There are some movies that draw you in so utterly and completely that when the credits roll you think that only mere moments have passed when in fact you’ve been there for two or more hours.
The Core isn’t one of those movies.
Understand that I didn’t go into this movie with very high expectations. How could I after seeing the trailers? But I did expect some Armageddon type fun. You know, explosions, good special effects, a light, frothy confection with little or no substance and a slightly strange aftertaste that makes you smack your lips and say quietly to yourself “Meh”.
The movie opens quite innocuously. Boston on “Green Earth Day” (I guess just plain old ‘Earth Day’ wasn’t heavy-handed hint-worthy enough. Go figure.), in a park filled with children. Then we zero into a man in a building next to the park going to a meeting. He begins to make his speech and suddenly falls over dead. Zoom out to the windows and we can see the park below where several people just dropped dead where they were. Children are screaming and crying, cars are crashing, cats and dogs living together, all kinds of mayhem.
Enter Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart). He’s a professor of geophysics at the University of Illinois. Yeah, right. Have you seen this guy? He’s quasi-hot, semi-hunky and certainly nowhere near what your average science geek would look like. I have severe issues with the casting on this one, but I digress.
Dr. Keyes (yeah, right) is dragged out of his classroom by two dour men in suits, taken to Washington, D.C. where he meets up with his friend Dr. Serge Leveque (Tcheky Kayro, who is completely wasted in this movie, in my humble opinion).
He meets up there with General Purcell, (Richard Jenkins, also completely wasted in this movie) who gives the two learned men a quick interrogation to see if thirty-two people suddenly dropping dead in a 10 block radius -- all with pacemakers -- might be an act of war. Once he confirms it isn’t, he then blows off the occurrence and blows off the doctors, in the process missing the clue bus on the fact that all might not be right with the world. Our tax dollars at work.
Now we’re in London’s Trafalgar Square. We have a close up of an adorable child enjoying the sights with his parents. Suddenly the pigeons go crazy, start diving around uncontrollably, smashing through car windshields and into plate glass windows, causing automobile crashes and chaos much like Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. Close up again on the adorable child, now shaking and in tears. It was at this point that I began to think that the sole purpose of this movie was to traumatize small children. I realized later that it was actually out to traumatize everyone in the theater.
Quick cut over to Quasi-hunky scientist guy who begins to put the whole thing together and work on finding out what is wrong with the world. It’s quite interesting that no one else on the planet noticed anything else going on there, but eh…. It’s in the script.
Now we go to the space shuttle Endeavor in a disturbing scene that reminded me a tad of the Challenger disaster, with Major Rebecca Childs (Hilary Swank, also wasted in this movie… see a trend here?) as the co-pilot. An unfortunate mishap with the guidance system causes the space shuttle crew to come in for a landing 126 miles off course, and having to put down in the Los Angeles River, much like that race scene from “Grease” (a much more fulfilling movie, if you ask me but again I digress…).
Now Slightly-hunky scientist guy decides to give his data to famous geophysicist, Dr. Conrad Zimsky (Stanly Tucci, completely… Never mind, you get the idea). It appears that Dr. Zimsky is has also been in bed with the government to make the ultimate doomsday weapon, “Project Destiny” This same weapon has caused the molten core of the Earth to stop spinning and is causing our planet’s electro-magnetic field to disintegrate. The two dour men show up and drag Marginally-hunky scientist guy to a top-secret meeting where he and Dr. Zimsky explain that the world will be basically toast within a year.
They all then go to the Utah desert and see Dr. Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo... wasted… oh hell, why do I even try?). It appears that Dr. Brazzelton has been working on a special ship and laser to tunnel into the surface of the Earth. He’s even invented a special metal that will withstand the pressure of being deep underground, the heat of the magma, and will also convert heat into electricity. Now, no one explains why this man, working alone in the boondocks of Utah, has such a great lab or why he hasn’t sold this wonder metal or his kick-ass laser set-up to anyone yet, but again, it’s in the script.
Fast forward as we build a ship capable of saving the world as the conditions of the earth deteriorate. One super storm wipes out the Coliseum and other beautiful antiquities of ancient Rome in a shower of excruciatingly bad special effects. Nero burned Rome better, people, and he didn’t have CGI. I’m just saying….
Then we launch the ship. Tunnel, tunnel, tunnel, dig, dig, dig. Crisis, crisis, crisis. San Francisco in flames, Golden Gate Bridge goes hasta la bye-bye. Long story short -- several of the brave crew die in heroic, tear-jerking ways until there are only two left, Slightly-hot scientist dude and Major Hilary Swank. They figure out how to save the world and then appear to be about to die. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. Cool. They would die, the movie would be over, and I could go home and not consider gouging my eyes out with a grapefruit spoon anymore. Life was good.
Imagine my disappointment when they quickly figured out a way to live and get away, and Moderately-hot guy got the girl. Bummer.
I should mention that Alfrie Woodard is in this movie. Why, I don’t know. And there was also a computer hacker “Rat” (D.J. Qualls) who was actually amusing, believe it or not. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of his Xena watching, Hot Pocket scarfing self in this movie to even come close to saving it.
Sadly, I must say in all honestly if you want a good epic disaster movie, this isn’t it. I mean, it is a disaster, but not the good kind.