Question: What happens when you give some left-leaning, tree hugging Hollywood-types loads of cash to make an incredibly cheesy movie?
Answer: “The Core”, another flick about global environmental annihilation.
There’s a world of trouble afoot when the Earth’s core inexplicably stops spinning, disrupting the planet’s magnetic field. After all, it’s the engine that drives the planet’s electromagnetic field.
Nope, they sure don’t build planets like they used to.
Enter Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart), egghead scientist and college professor with Hollywood-standard good looks.
“Even if we came up with a brilliant plan,” he intones, “we just couldn’t get there.”
“Yes,” retorts Saganesque celebrity-scientist Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci), “but what if we could?”
Answer: We’d make a really bad movie about just such a scenario.
Meanwhile, all sorts of wacky earthly disasters are occurring.
People with pacemakers are dropping dead.
Birds are doing their level best to recreate scenes from a Hitchcock film.
The shuttle Endeavor’s tracking system is thrown for a loop, and plucky navigator Major Rebecca “Beck” Keyes (Hilary Swank) saves the day by rerouting it to land in the Los Angeles storm canals. Unlike the last two shuttle disasters, no astronauts die because… well, because this is the movies.
Stone-busting lightning storms are doing to centuries-old Roman architecture what real estate developers have wanted to do for years. The accompanying massive electrical discharge is also making static shock a life-threatening problem.
Tears form in the Earth’s electromagnetic field, letting massive amounts of UV rays in – melting cars, bridges, and people.
It’s like something right out of the book, ‘The Coming Global Superstorm’. Dang, I guess authors Art Bell and Whitley Strieber were right after all. I think we all owe them a big apology.
Luckily, for planet Earth, reclusive genius Ed “Braz” Brazzleton (Delroy Lindo) has been building a high-tech drilling machine for twenty-some odd years, just in case the Earth’s core should ever go haywire. It seats six.
“Braz” refrains from saying, “I told you so!”, and instead says he needs $15 billion to finish a prototype.
The U.S. guv’mint gives it to him. Good thing this end-of-the-world stuff didn’t happen during the ‘War with Iraq’, or it might’ve been a different story.
“Sorry, Braz, we’d like to help, but all our funds have already been allocated to stopping a bigger threat to the world — Saddam Hussein. Maybe next quarter, check back with us then.”
Soon, the worm-shaped ship is plunging into the ocean depths. At one point, it’s surrounded by some whales.
“They’re singing to us,” Beck says.
“No,” Braz answers, “we’re singing to them” as the ship gives off an ultrasonic signature. This fact is what is called “foreshadowing” in the movie business. Or, simply “The Biz” for short.
Thanks to the plucky navigatory skills of Beck, the ship lasers its way through the rocky crust and swims through the hot-chemical soup of the mantle.
But, uh-oh, it hits an unexpected pocket of big crystal filled “empty space”, which turns out to be a humongous geode floating in the murky mantle.
“A crystal filled grand canyon,” Keyes dubs it. The ship crashes on the geode floor, and the team has to move some honking big crystal blocking the path. Since the ship breached the shell, hot molten lava starts pouring into the “canyon.”
Tension mounts. The audience is on the edge of its seat — or, would be, if the whole movie’s premise weren’t so damn hokey to begin with.
Before you can say “shock and awe”, Commander Bob Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) gets beaned by a big rock and tumbles into the lava flow.
“Commander Iverson died,” Beck says, “but I think he’d want us to complete our mission, so…”
No, Iverson would’ve wanted the rest of you to turn that ship around and go home. So, never mind. Screw the planet. Bob is dead.
Thus begins a series of noble deaths that, eventually, leave only Keyes and Beck alive in the end.
At some point during the film, it comes out the U.S. guv’mint’s secret “deep earth seismic” warfare project might’ve been what killed the engine-core in the first place. But I won’t HAARP on that.
Before too long, the nuclear bombs are set, released, and explode real well. But they didn’t bring enough nuclear material! Oh, no! I guess somebody at NASA measured things using the Metric system again, throwing all the calculations off. I hate when that happens.
So, the two remaining crewmembers have to pull a McGuyver: Use the ship’s fuel rods to get enough bang for their planet-saving buck.
However, it’s no big deal. The ship converts heat into energy so, by switching a few cables and wires around, they can power it back up and just ride the nuclear energy blast then surf the magma flow back to the surface. That, plus a rubber band and paper clip, does the trick. They do Richard Dean Anderson proud!
Boom! The Earth is saved through nuclear fun and fluid dynamics.
The ship breaks back through the surface where, because there is not enough heat at that depth, the ship stops.
But remember that ultrasonic signal they talked about earlier? Well, a whole shitload of whales gather around and, because this is the movies, some bright kid realizes what it means. Lots of whales gathering where they shouldn’t be? Ultrasonic signal? Whoa, nelly, they might still be alive!
Meanwhile, Beck and Keyes wait to die, thinking nobody will figure out the ultrasonic trick. Obviously, neither of them spends much time watching bad movies.
As an aside, if I were trapped at 800 feet below the surface of the ocean, waiting to die with Hilary Swank, I’d at least TRY to get her naked. But then, I’m no egghead scientist with Hollywood-standard good looks. Keyes is, hence no gratuitous nudity in ‘The Core’.
The two remaining earth-saving heroes are rescued, with one word on the lips of everybody involved: Sequel.
Whoops! I guess I should’ve put a “Spoiler Alert” at the top of this review. Now you know how it ends. You think I would’ve learned my lesson after that review I wrote of “Titanic”, in which I let slip that the boat sank in the end. Boy, did that piss off some people who hadn’t seen it yet.
After seeing “The Core”, I found out its premise was as close to “not likely” as one could get.
It was only a made up story. Kind of like “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact” and those chicken-littlesque fears of big rocks falling out of the sky and smashing things up.
From now on, I better stick with less worrisome, and even more unlikely, movie plots. Like a black man being elected U.S. president… in the comedy, “Head of State”.
World Ends @ 9… Pictures at 11!(See Global Doom Links at Left)