Maybe the world needs a film like "The Core" right now. Faced with the imminent destruction of the entire planet, surely even France would support a mad dash through 3,000 miles of bedrock to restart the Earth's engine using weapons of mass destruction.
It's easy to imagine this film being built backwards. Someone wanted to make a big budget disaster film and quickly realized that earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, asteroids, volcanoes, plagues, alien invasions and rogue nuclear weapons had already been taken. Shooting characters into space is hardly an original solution. So what would be the opposite of that? How about shooting them into the Earth's core? So what would be the problem with the Earth's core? Maybe it, uh, quit spinning. Which would throw off the Earth's protective electro-magnetic field. Which could cause a huge outbreak of seemingly unrelated special effects. Bingo.
Now all the screenwriters have to figure out is who, what, where, when and why.
The good news is that screenwriters John Rogers and co-producer Cooper Layne are able to spackle the whole affair with dabs of good humor and valiant attempts at logic. No one was kidding himself that the heroes wouldn't be a ragtag collection of mavericks that come together as a team to save humanity. But the wisecracks and banter are well above average. As are the characters, assembled with a minimum of ironic backstory. And any director would be happy to have the cast. Not a marquee name among them, but in Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci and Bruce Greenwood you are riding with savvy veterans of much better films. You are, of course, riding a wild worm loaded with nuclear weapons through the Earth's mantle, but the actors are giving it their very best and are never less than good. Especially Tucci, who is asked to play the closest thing the film has to a villain, a chain-smoking egotistical celebrity scientist. Given some complexity and nobility by the screenwriters, Tucci is polite enough to merely nibble the scenery.
The screenwriters have also done their homework and the periodic displays of geo-physical tidbits almost keep you from questioning the film's utter preposterousness. It's what I call the Star Trek syndrome. Once you’ve backed yourself in a corner, simply turn to the science officer and have him explain how reversing the polarity on the dilithium crystals could theoretically create an anti-matter force field. Who are we to argue?
Given that the ending is not really in question - though I was surprised by the direct lift from James Bond - "The Core" takes a little too long to get where it's going. You will also have to navigate some awkward moments the filmmakers may not have anticipated, including a harrowing Space Shuttle landing and the fearfully realistic destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge. But if you could use some swash in your buckle, you just might end up digging "The Core."
© 2003 - Casey McCabe - Air Date: 3/26/03
US/UK - 2003