The Core

A Film Review By Michael Haley

Rating:PG-13 for intense images of mass destruction D. J. Qualls’ nose.
Starring: Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, D. J. Qualls.
Directed By:Jon Amiel

Final Grade:

Ah, something we haven’t seen for at least a year or two…the big budgeted disaster film that promises hope and thrills in the face of an upcoming disaster that will obliterate humanity as we know it. These movies are often loud, dumb, and only pay attention to the laws of Physics when the plot requires these laws to kill a valuable crew member. Theoretically, I should resist movies like this. But you know something…when a film such as this comes out, that’s so ridiculous, so ludicrously impossible, so wrong on almost every level…I just can’t help but recommend it, and cheer it as well. The film doesn’t have a shred of artistic integrity, but as a B film and for entertainment purposes, the film offers a lot of bang for your buck. If there ever was a good popcorn movie, this would be it.

The center of the earth has stopped spinning, and according to the movie, this will cease the production of the earth’s magnetic field, thus causing the earth to be bombarded with intense radiation from solar winds. This is nicely demonstrated early in the film with a can of air freshener, a lighter and an apple, as he shows the apple, or the earth, being burned to a crisp. There is no way humanly possible to repair this problem. Or is there? It so happens that a hermit scientist is building a machine that can not only a) withstand intense temperatures (by getting stronger as it absorbs heat) and b) has the ability to drill via intense rays of radiation. He quickly finishes work on this machine named “Virgil” and the all star crew heads on into the planet to jump start the core with nuclear weapons. Is our little planet doomed?

I suppose on a theoretical level, and than allowing room for some debate, some of this is possible. The film, at least in the first hour, does try to make an effort to coherently explain the physics involved. However, most of the events that occur are silly at best. For one thing, the core does not spin but only rotates at a very slightly different than the rest of the planet. And even so, it has stopped “spinning” in the past, and nothing exciting really happened. No intense radiation, no obliteration of life on earth…just another day in the park. Also, the mere notion of these people not only heading into the planet but journeying to the center of the earth as well…I’m sorry, but I just can’t the movie very seriously when the whole idea is ludicrous. This magic metal that gets stronger off of heat…even at temperatures in the four digit range? That this metal is stronger but still doesn’t give in at the hundreds of thousands of pounds of pressure being exerted upon it? And my favorite of the film’s many hilariously stupid moments…when matter within the earth stops up the ship, and the crew members travel OUTSIDE the ship to repair it…beautiful. Somehow their suits are made of similar material and can withstand this pressure, breeding the line (paraphrased) “Man, I’m sure glad these suits work!”

I could on all day about the film’s technical flaws and not begin to scratch the surface. And that’s sad, because I’m a Psychology student and suck at Physics in a big time way…imagine what the learned individual in such matters would have to say at the idea of a ship traveling through pure magma. Even so, and I can’t believe I’m doing this, I’m recommending it.

Despite the cheesiness of the plot, I still found myself curious at every step what would happen next, what crisis would threaten them, and what crew member would be the next to go for the greater good. I liked how some concepts of Physics were played with in other ways, such as how they find out upon reaching the core that the core isn’t as dense as what scientists had thought, and how everything we know about the earth is nothing more than a best guess. I liked how the film had enough character development to get the point across but not pretend it was anything more than it was, a popcorn flick, and I especially liked the fact that Aerosmith didn’t find their way onto the soundtrack (although that might have been funny…boyfriend tells his girl that he’s a headin’ into the earth while “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” comes on the soundtrack). (WEBMASTER’S NOTE (Jason): Jason is cringing at the fact that Michael trashing on The Greatest American Rock Band of All Time (Styx is a close second))

It still would’ve been nice to see more of the actual core or the journey within instead of the camera fixed within the ship the whole time, because if the movie is taking this much liberty with science, than why not come up with some really cool vision of the elements of the earth as they come together within? I generally liked the images I was given, but I wanted more dammit! I wanted to actually see the ship travel through magma for an extended shot, just to further hammer in the implausibility of the whole ordeal. It really would’ve been really nice if they would have fired D.J. Quall’s sorry ass from the film so he can pursue the career that he was really meant for…professional loser.

But I’m being way too serious over a film that does not demand any form of seriousness at all (and if it does, than Lord help us all). Normally I’d recommend something like City of God over something like this, but for what this is…a cheesy disaster movie, this is actually one of the better ones. Don’t take the previous statement out of context…if City of God is playing than by all means see that one first, but for a light and entertaining flick, you really can’t go wrong with this one. At the core of this film is nothing but fluffy stuff, but in this case, the fluffy stuff tastes pretty damned good.

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