December 28, 2012

Movie Flashback: The Core

Like most science fiction hopefuls, I watched The Core with unprecedented glee and awe while I imagined how amazing it would be to journey to the center of the Earth .

This was before I had known about “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

In the classrooms, the only specific detail that you bother to remember is that the planet has four cores, and each level digs deeper and gets hotter. Simplistic, and still somehow entertaining enough to warrant the spending of sixty million dollars for a blockbuster movie experience. But given the nature of The Core, it only managed to reach the level of a half decent blockbuster film.

I honestly don’t recommend it to friends.

My reason for that attitude is tied much closer to it appearing like a horror science film, than an actual science film. Instead of being more intrigued by the theories and what-if scenarios of this movie, I was more taken away by how dumb and clueless the characters were.

If you asked me to lay down an explanation, I’d say that it was the characters that killed other characters, and not the fact that the planet was cooking itself due to a halted core.

For those of you who don’t know, The Core was a science fiction film that dropped into theaters almost ten years ago in 2003. The film was distributed by Paramount and showcased an all-star cast of popular actors: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Tcheky Karyo, Alfre Woodard and a few others.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

The premise was that the planet’s inner core had stopped spinning and the effects are disastrous for the planet. No one is able to answer directly why this has happened, but they’re all sure that they didn’t do it. The results of this halted core are dramatically severe on the environment, and if this part of the movie doesn’t ruin it for you, than the melting bridge scenario will. In the first five minutes of the film we see an entire family of birds dropping out of the sky in the streets of D.C.

Why is this happening? We later find out that there was a higher amount of electron flow in the birds’ eye sockets. The extra amount of static had caused the birds’ brains to fry. Again, I’m not entirely sure if this is the reason, but it’s my best memory. After a few tests and awesome CGI of a space shuttle landing, we learn that Hilary Swank is hot and that the planet is slowly cooking itself.

Uh-Oh. I hope the smart scientists come to save the day.

And save us they did! Albeit, with twenty more minutes of unnecessary intros and characters that would have been much stronger had they not existed at all. These characters are two dimensional in their intelligence variety, but three dimensional in their interactions with each other. The unique relationships they have with each other are very quirky, but ultimately one character is such a tool that he’s literally the downfall for the entire team.

I mean it.

The guy was so arrogant about his intelligence that he disregarded any and all possibilities of the unforeseen circumstances that proved to be true.

When the question of the core being denser than they thought, he shot it down. When the recruitment for the other team members was underway, he gawked and boasted about how many languages he spoke. To top it off we find out that it was his fault that the planet ended up in its current state, which makes you wonder how a single guy could have ruined the experience of the movie.

This isn’t a fault of the character; it’s a fault of the writers. But don’t be fooled, the science and series of unfortunate events are what really ruin the experience, not the characters.

Why is this?

Because no matter how much money was spent on building an indestructible unobtanium lava-traveling vessel, accidents continue to happen. In fact they happen so much throughout the movie that you often wonder if the Planet Earth just didn’t like them to begin with.

These accidents are futile in nature, yet grand and scheming in the long run. The first death is caused by a falling shard of crystal that punctures the co-captain’s skull. The second accident is caused by the pilot’s lack of skill and driving their ship. The third death really isn’t an accident of nature, but more a goof on the ship’s engineer. In order for their ship to continue with the mission that has failed three different ways at this point, he must walk into their liquid nitrogen tanks to manually release the compartments of the ship.

Why is the switch for a manual override in the same place that you allowed over 10,000 degree molten lava to flow?

I never knew, and from the reaction of the engineer, I’m sure he didn’t either.

These consistent mistakes and random happenings are the driving force for the plot of the movie. As a kid, this might sound like fun. But the older you get, the more insulted you feel by the laziness of plot.

Easily the best part of this movie is the last twenty minutes, when no one is dying due to them forgetting to change a light bulb or put on fresh underwear. By this time, you should be completely drained of concern.

Nevertheless, The Core managed to squeeze some very interesting fiction out of itself before falling over in its own pool of waste. But for what its worth, this movie was a wonderful cinematic experience for its time.

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