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The Core (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's commentary by Jon Amiel; 'To The Core And Back: The Making of The Core'; Deconstruction of visual effects; Deleted and extended scenes with director’s commentary.

HAVING threatened the Earth with everything from nuclear meltdown and asteroids to alien invasion, Hollywood now turns to, well, the planet itself to pose the latest risk to mankind.

Yep, it's disaster-aversion time again, as the Earth's core suddenly stops spinning, heralding the start of some cataclysmic weather patterns (electrical storms, boiling oceans, etc) before, as one character puts it, 'things really get bad' - ie, we incinerate, courtesy of the sun's radiation.

"But how could this happen?" asks one forlorn colonel, having just had the reason explained to him. Well, it's simple, mankind meddled with the Earth's rotation and, to quote proceedings again, 'stalled' the core. And, in an ironic twist of fate, the one thing that could have heralded the end of the world as we know it (nuclear weapons), could now be its saviour, as a team of intrepid 'terranauts' burrow their way through the hot stuff and attempt to give things a jump start.

So far, so stupid. Yet, no matter how ridiculous, cliched and obvious proceedings become, there is a certain enjoyment to be found in the OTT performances and the crass special effects, which serve to keep The Core just about the right side of watchable.

Directed with gusto by John Amiel, whose low point had to be the Connery/Zeta-Jones double-header, Entrapment, The Core has managed to attract a pretty decent cast to a pretty crappy concept. Hence, we have the likes of Neil LaBute regular, Aaron Eckhart, Oscar-winner, Hilary Swank, and dependable support players, Delroy Lindo and Stanley Tucci, cast pretty much against type as the team charged with saving the planet.

Things also start well enough, as the various warning signs begin to unfold - anyone with a pace-maker suddenly drops dead, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square go crazy, and the aurora borealis appears over the Washington skyline - but from the moment the boffins go to work, the credibility flies out the window, and the film begins to feel like a tired countdown to the next heroic sacrifice, or 'do or die' speech.

That said, things never descend to the type of macho farce that ruined Armageddon, and the film seems to be self-aware enough to keep its tongue firmly in its cheek. Hence, some of the lines don't come across as winsome as they might otherwise have appeared.

Performance-wise, almost everyone comes away with some credibility, no matter how mundane the 'goody-goody' pairing of Eckhart and Swank becomes. Tucci, in particular, appears to be having a blast (hell, he even shone in Maid In Manhattan!), taking his know-it-all scientist to ever more ridiculous, but show-stopping, extremes.

And if things threaten to become boring on board the rescue craft, which they frequently do, Amiel has another scene of mass destruction just waiting around the corner, with Rome's Coliseum and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge taking a licking.

Big, dumb fun then, for fans of the disaster movie genre. But anyone else should stay away.

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