The Core

The Core
Cast:
Aaron Eckhart as Dr. Josh Keyes
Hilary Swank as Maj. Rebecca ‘Beck’ Childs
Delroy Lindo as Dr. Edward Brazleton
Stanley Tucci as Dr. Conrad Zimsky
Tchéky Karyo as Sergei Leveque
Bruce Greenwood as Col. Robert Iverson
Alfre Woodard as Stick
DJ Qualls as Rat
Richard Jenkins

Summary:
“The Core” is a fun popcorn flick with a strong cast, bad Hollywood science, and cool special effects.

Story:
A series of strange occurrences start taking place on Earth. A group of people with pacemakers falls down dead for no apparent reason in Boston. A flock of pigeons fly out of control and terrorize people in London. The space shuttle Endeavour loses its navigational guidance during re-entry and crash lands. Dr. Josh Keyes puts the puzzle pieces together and realizes that they all involve the Earth’s electromagnetic field. He further realizes the cause of it – the Earth’s core has stopped spinning. What this means is that the sun’s radiation could cook the Earth’s surface in less than a year.

The American government secretly plans to solve the problem by re-starting the Earth’s core rotating using strategically place nuclear bombs under the surface. A top-secret team is put together to go on the mission. Dr. Edward Brazleton, a mad scientist, will develop a ship capable of reaching the core. The conniving Dr. Conrad Zimsky will provide scientific guidance along with Dr. Josh Keyes. French scientist Sergei Leveque acts as the nuclear weapons specialist. Shuttle pilots Col. Robert Iverson and Maj. Rebecca ‘Beck’ Childs will pilot the vehicle under the Earth’s surface. Meanwhile on the surface, hacker ‘Rat’ patrols the internet to keep things under wraps while ‘Stick’ guides the mission. The fate of the human race depends on their success or failure.

“The Core” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi life/death situations and brief strong language.

What Worked:
I was really expecting to hate “The Core”. The reason was because I don’t like movies that feature bad science. Every film requires a certain degree of “suspension of disbelief”, but films like “Armageddon”, “The Core”, and other disaster flicks all present realistic scenarios then try to get you to buy science that even a 5th grader could tell you is bogus. For example, the shuttle would never survive a crash landing like it does in the movie. You couldn’t stop or start the Earth’s core with any of today’s technology. You couldn’t create a suit that withstands 9000 degree temperatures. However, “The Core” makes you slowly accept the outrageous in a way that when the really unrealistic stuff starts happening, you’re willing to go along for the ride. Like “Journey To The Center Of The Earth”, it’s all presented in a fantastic enough way that you’re OK with the bad Hollywood science. After all, any movie that features a mad scientist can’t be taken too seriously.

What really makes the movie work is the cast. If they had used anyone else for the characters of this movie, it simply wouldn’t have worked. None of them are big names, but they’re all faces you recognize. Delroy Lindo is eccentric as the rogue scientist Dr. Edward Brazleton. When his character gets that mad look about him, you believe he could build a ship like this. Stanley Tucci is over the top as Dr. Conrad Zimsky. He’s so arrogant and ruthless that you can’t help but boo him during the film. Tchéky Karyo somehow manages to make the French lovable as Sergei Leveque. Aaron Eckhart brings a wild enthusiasm as the scientist Dr. Josh Keyes. Bruce Greenwood is heroic and wise as Col. Robert Iverson. Hilary Swank, in a rather muted performance, is good as Maj. Rebecca ‘Beck’ Childs. DJ Qualls steals the show early on as Rat even though his character has no real reason to be in the movie. All together the cast makes the characters lovable and believable.

The effects are pretty good in the movie. It’s interesting to see their interpretation of the Earth’s core. Most of what is seen is through an X-ray sort of device that is surprisingly effective. Another scene takes place in a massive geode that they crash land into. That was a particularly nice touch. Another fun scene takes place when they’re first diving through the ocean into the Marinas Trench. They encounter whales that chase the ship and it looks pretty cool though it’s outrageous. The real highlight of the film is the space shuttle crash. The scenes look realistic and are pretty intense. Overall a nice job on the effects.

If you’re looking for a popcorn flick that’s a throwback to B-movie disaster films, this should deliver for you.

What Didn’t Work:
While I was willing to accept a vast majority of the bogus science, there were a few moments where I had a hard time swallowing what they were serving. Why is it that nobody else in the world was able to figure out what was going on? If it was a global disaster, you’d think someone would have a clue beyond a professor at a little university. The “death by cosmic rays”, while cool looking, was also a bit over the top. After all, why don’t astronauts get cooked when they go out of the Earth’s atmosphere? And would dozens of people in a very small area really all have pacemakers? They made it seem like 20% of the population had them. The final way they save the day is also a bit silly. Whether or not you forgive it will be up to you.

I’m glad they kept the shuttle crash scene in the film. It looked cool, was intense, and helped the story. However, that didn’t make it any easier to watch. Being in Texas, I suppose I’m a little more sensitive to it, but seeing the shuttle about to crash over a city is a little unsettling.

Is the film silly? Yes. Does it have bad Hollywood science? Yes. Is it a good weekend escape from reality? Yes. I think you’ll find it’s worth checking out.

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