The Core (2003)


Ebert:1/2 Rolling Stone: TV Guide:

Warning, minor plot points revealed!

Almost every year, there is a sci-fi movie that disappoints.  Last year it was The Time Machine and although it is still early in the year, I think The Core is going to be the one for 2003.  This movie had the potential to be a great "Alan" movie in the tradition of the greatest "Alan" movie ever made - Independence Day.   Unfortunately it fails in just about every way imaginable.

I've seen reviews for the film that are somewhat favorable because they consider it to be some sort of homage to classic sci-fi disaster films of the past.  I like the classics as much as the next person but we live in the future now and sci-fi movies don't have to be bad anymore.  20 years from now this film will probably become the Pilot Episode of Mystery Science Theatre 4000.  

Due to what I assume are political reasons, it is my belief that a great deal of the plot for this movie was left on the editing room floor.  The basic story is that the liquid core that surrounds the solid core of the planet has stopped spinning.  This secondary core is responsible for creating the electromagnetic field that surrounds the planet and keeps us safe.  If it's not working the planet will be destroyed by giant lightening storms and unfiltered sunlight.  The deadline for disaster is one year.  Luckily some physicists and geologists happened to be working on a ship that could bore through the planet and with the help of the government and some astronauts they are ready to go in 3 months.  The idea is to bore to the core (which is exactly what they do to the people watching movie) and detonate some nuclear bombs that will start the liquid spinning again.  

At this point you're probably saying..." wait a minute Alan!  How could you not love this movie?  It sounds exactly like Armageddon and you loved that!  You even made me come over and watch it again when you got the DVD!  It's the exact same story!"  

Yes it true.  I love Armageddon.  Almost as much as I love Independence Day.  But The Core is no Armageddon!  The previews for the movie made a point of mentioning that "we killed the planet" with some sort of focused earthquake weapon that we created to counter (or perhaps in today's political climate, initiate) an attack.  The weapon is briefly mentioned near the end of the film and we see it for a second when they charge it up to zap the core again but the preview made it much more central to the plot.  I believe that the original version of the film probably had us using our new "earthquake weapon" against some Middle Eastern country and the side effect of our strike was that we accidentally caused the disaster that would ultimately destroy the planet.  Science Fiction is often used to cleverly illustrate the contemporary political ideology of it's authors.  

This movie was at one point an obvious cautionary tale.  Unfortunately they released it right at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The "Suits" in Hollywood decided that the message of a horrible weapon (ie. MOAB) in the hands of an unchecked Superpower, that uses it and inadvertently destroys the Earth might not be politically correct at this moment in history.  So they cut that part of the story from the film.  The result is a series of random scenes pieced together into mess with no structure that gets worse and worse as it plows through 135 minutes of your life.   

And as if that wasn't bad enough... the special effects are weak.  The only big explosions are the two you see above and in the preview and they look terrible.  I've seen better explosions on the old Power Rangers TV show.   

Then they have a cool story line where they hire a computer hacker to "hack the planet."  They want to keep the impending disaster a secret so they ask this kid to create a program that will keep all information regarding the impending Extinction Level Event off the internet.  The story of this kid and his amazing hacker abilities would have been interesting but basically he just creates the program in a few seconds and then monitors it's progress in a couple of follow-up scenes.   

The actors in the movie are fine but definitely bizarre casting choices.  For example what was Oscar Winner Hillary Swank doing playing the hero pilot astronaut?  I'm not a huge fan, but why her?  Delroy Lindo as the scientist who develops the intraplanetary ship was an odd choice as well.  Alfre Woodard is wasted as the mission control commander.  Bruce Greenwood has made better choices and independent  film guy Stanley Tucci should be ashamed of himself. 

I've already written too much about this movie.  I could complain more but it doesn't deserve any more of my time.  I did not like The Core and that's all I have to say about that.