Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, Richard Jenkins, DJ Squalls, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Jon Amiel
Writers: Cooper Layne, John Rogers
Budget: $60 million
Worldwide gross: $73.5 million
The centre of the Earth has stopped rotating, meaning iconic landmarks the world over are being destroyed by birds that have lost their magnetic navigation (and eyes apparently), lightning storms that hit the shortest but also most recognisable landmarks in a city, and other such stupid examples. Cool guy lecturer Aaron Eckhart, celebrity scientist Stanley Tucci and disgraced astronaut Hilary Swank must take a small crew to the centre of the Earth in snakelike laser drill made from ‘Unobtanium’ to restart the core with some good ol’ trusty nukes. Christ…
The Hammy Acting
Some of the performances are enjoyable, Stanley Tucci in particular has a grand old time devouring the scenery. Richard Jenkins gives a solid turn as a military general with a mysterious secret to hide. Tchéky Karyo and Delroy Lindo are thoroughly lovely blokes, as Serge and Dr. Brazzleton respectively, and are probably the only two you actually feel for when (spoilers, if you really care) they inevitably die before the end, not being young white Americans and all.
Aaron Eckharts Teenage Tantrum
When Serge dies, Eckhart produces what is simultaneously the absolute best and worst scene of his career, and undoubtedly the most enjoyable. He screams and yells SEEEERRRGGGGEEEEHHHHHH over and over, his voice hoarse and cracking horribly, like a toddler being denied another cookie. At one point he literally beats his fists on the floor as Brazzleton drags him away. It’s even better than Tucci’s own spectacularly Kermitesque freak out ten minutes later. Petulant teenager Eckhart then proceeds to make Hilary Swank feel horribly guilty for choosing to put the mission to save all of humanity over the life of his friend, rather than letting her emotions get the best of her, like a woman in an action adventure blockbuster should be doing. Which brings us to…
The Gender Politics
The Core is so horribly confused about how it wants to present Hilary Swank. She’s a genius astronaut who was accepted to ‘The Academy’ at age 13, calculated a safe trajectory to land a crashing space shuttle over Los Angeles in seconds, entirely in her head (you drive it down the L.A. River like in Grease, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation). Despite being the only person with a plan in this crisis, however, she’s flat out ignored by her dickhead commander who routinely treats her like a stupid child. Eckhart, on the other hand, respects her intelligence as she’s not only an astronaut, she can also tie a Windsor knot as well! Her ability to master an item of men’s clothing must be witchcraft of some sort, however, as Eckhart tells her directly to her face that she intimidates him… And as mentioned above, when she once again is the only person not falling to bits in a crisis, she’s shamed for it. So take note ladies: being intelligent, rational, highly skilled and professional is all well and good, but don’t expect any male authority figure to respect you or your actions anyway, and be prepared to end up a spinster after having scared off any romantic possibilities with your giant intimidating brains.
The Science. Oh Jesus. This film was actually voted as having the worst science by a poll of several hundred scientists. Here’s a couple of the worst offenders.
DJ Qualls is but one more in a long line of Hollywood’s bizarre idea of ‘hackers’. He first demonstrates his mad hacker skills by blowing a chewing gum wrapper at a certain pitch, then dialing random numbers into Eckharts phone, which somehow gives him free long distance calls forever. Just…what? Qualls (his online handle is Rat) is brought on board to quash online chatter about the team’s mission, which he does so by using ‘virusbot’, a program he invented that supposedly seeks out certain keywords and deletes the articles containing them. What keywords would these even be? Earth? Core? Stopped? Spinning? And literally any page containing these common words, of which there would be literally millions, is going to just vanish without anyone noticing? The astounding lack of understanding regarding the most basic things about technology, and the assumption that audiences will just accept these ridiculous notions if they’re presented to them in a film is, quite frankly, insulting.
The most preposterous scene of the film is when the ship crashes into a colossal geode that’s floating around the mantle, smashes through a forest of giant crystals, and comes to a stop at the edge of a cliff with a chunk of amethyst the size of a car wedged in their laser drill. Right, first of all, supposing a structure like this could somehow withstand the pressure of being in the centre of the Earth, the moment the outside is breached by the ship, it would instantly collapse. In the film, however, magma just steadily pours in from the hole they made, filling the orb up slowly. In order to remove the crystal from the drill, the crew just get out and walk around in a geode at the centre of the goddamn Earth. In the end, Brazzleton just resorts to repeatedly kicking the Mini Metro sized piece of crystal to dislodge it from the ship. There’s asking audiences to suspend their disbelief for the sake of spectacle, and then there’s insulting their intelligence. And then there’s this scene.
Star Rating: 2/5
Kane Rating: 3/5
I have a confession. When I first saw The Core, I actually only came in halfway through, once they were well inside the Earth. I assumed I had only missed the brief setup for what was the bulk of the film, and had a great time laughing at how ridiculous it was. Of course it seemed a perfect ‘so bad it’s good’ type for this feature. I didn’t realise it’s actually 135 minutes long… It’s only seven minutes shorter than The Shawshank Redemption, another film about painstakingly digging through vast swathes of shit that actually warrants being such a length. Cut 45 minutes, minimum, from The Core and you have that silly but enjoyably dumb action film I was expecting to rewatch. What I watched instead was a few minutes of idiotic but amusing setup, followed by an entire hour of incomprehensible tedious bullshit before they even get into the damn ground. By that time I was bored, restless and sleepy, so rather than laughing at the bad science and inane plot, it just made me angry. Fuck you Jon Amiel.