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The Core
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Spoiler Alert:  If you've never, ever, ever watched a disaster flick before in your life, some of the stuff in the review below may actually give things away.

What would you get if you crossed Armageddon with Independence Day?  The obvious answer would be, Hell.  Hollywood's answer turns out to be, "big opening weekend grosses and a successful run on video."  So, we're given The Core, quite possibly the worst disaster flick to hit the multiplexes to date. 

I was relieved to see this type of film die a fast death in the late 90s, when the "disaster" flick was replaced by the sappy romantic "comedy" (almost as bad), made inexplicably popular over the past few years.  Sure, a large number of indiscriminating filmgoers had their mindless fun with celluloid catastrophe pics such as, Twister, Independence Day, Deep Impact, Armageddon, Daylight, Volcano, Dante's Peak, and the countless others too nauseating to mention in a single sentence. 

Soon the fun of massive destruction began to wear off, and, before you could say, "dying genre," Christian Slater's 1998 flick, The Flood, was quickly yanked from its scheduled release date to distance itself from the cinematic deluge of "disaster" flicks, and re-released as a bomb of a thriller, later on, known as, Hard Rain.  It was then that I thought that this horrid genre was finally at an end.  Sadly, I forgot that Hollywood screenwriters have the most efficient recycling system available to man, and now here comes The Core.

The Core would be laughably bad, if it didn't happen to be so bad that it was impossible to laugh at. The film starts so-so enough as to lead the unsuspecting viewer to believe that the movie will only, "kinda suck." Weird things are happening around the globe. Flocks of pigeons forget how to navigate, swooping down into crowds of unsuspecting citizens, as though they were auditioning for the next made-for-TV sequel to The Birds. A bunch of people's pacemakers stop working simultaneously, causing the poor folk to instantaneously drop dead. And then there's the whopper; a space shuttle has a heck of a time making its re-entry into earth.

At this point, geophysicist Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and this French dude (or should I say "'Freedom' dude," to appease Congress?), with a strong knowledge of weapons, are both called in to Washington D.C., to find out what's going on. It turns out that the U.S. Government has created a device that would make Dr. Evil green with envy.

What has been created is a United States weapon of mass destruction that works underground, in hopes of causing earthquakes in enemy territories. When the device of doom ends up not working, and instead causes the earth's core to stop spinning, a bunch of scientists and astronauts need to find a way down into said core, to start things spinning properly by detonating a nuclear weapon in the center of the planet (huh?!?).

The select group is collectively known as "terranauts." The people playing the terranauts are a fairly large bunch of talented actors and actresses doing really bad work. With the screenplay that Cooper Layne and John Rogers gave them, it's no wonder actors of Academy caliber come off as being no more gifted than those child performers that starred in The Land of the Lost television series, did.

There is no way that any of the actors featured in The Core did this film to expand their artistic horizons. The stock characters, clichéd dialogue and predictable behavior that makes up the script could not be found intriguing to anyone with an IQ higher than 1. As the stars of this film themselves will desperately be trying to do within a few months, let's forget their minor artistic indiscretions, and hope that they select better roles next time.

Going back to the preposterous plot at the center of The Core, the problem these, uh, "terranauts" have, is that they need some super fakey device to take them on their journey to the center of the earth. Thank god for those reclusive, but genius, scientists living out in the desert.

Utah desert dweller, Dr. Ed "Braz" Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo) has, presumably for lack of something better to do, been creating a craft for that special time when the earth's core stops rotating due to a doomsday weapon meant to cause earthquakes under "naughty" countries. His problem? He has another five or ten years before he can possibly get a working model of the submersible device built.

Ten years just isn't enough.  In only one year's time, the entire earth will be destroyed, due to the fact that its electromagnetic field is falling apart. To add insult to injury, big storms of electricity and microwaves (I was always suspicious of devices that could cook a few pieces of bacon in under 2 minutes), will demolish buildings in much the same way that those alien ship thingies demolished them in Independence Day. Dr. Brazzelton gets cable out there in the desert, doesn't he? At least he must get one of those satellite dishes, so popular with reclusive geniuses living out in the boonies.  He is most definitely aware of the kind of damage those alien blasts did in 1996's sci-fi destruction film.

After being offered a ton of money from the Government, "Braz" decides he can have the whole ten year project completed in a few weeks (or was it months? Does anyone really care?). Brazzelton succeeds in building his earth submersible, and, before you know it, the terranauts are digging their way toward the planet's core at about 100 miles per hour (yes, you read that right).

Numerous things get in their way, such as the earth, but they do eventually make it to their goal, but only after losing almost all of their fellow terranauts. Things aren't over yet (although, closing in on the two hour point, you sure wish they would be).

Lots of last minute stuff goes wrong, and it looks like the terranauts may not be able to save the planet, after-all. GASP! I won't give away the ending, but I'll gladly tell you, right from the beginning, that this film is such a waste of your time, you'd be better off watching Armageddon again, and as much as I hated that movie, this is as far from a ringing endorsement that I could ever give to a film.  

On a scale of 1-10?

2 (I'll admit that some of the destruction effects looked cool, in a cheap sort of "B" movie way)

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Text ©(Copyright) 2002 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].