THE CORE - 2003
Core Prods. Inc. / Horsepower Films / Paramount Pictures
Rating: Netherlands: 12 / Singapore: PG / Spain: T / Switzerland:
12 / UK: 12A / USA: PG-13
Many people are concerned about "The Earth". I use the quotation marks because
when they say "Earth", they're not actually talking about
Earth, the planet. They mean the thin biosphere on the surface of Earth,
where all life we know of is located. They worry about how global warming
affects "The Earth", for example, and will tell you all about
how humanity is endangering "The Earth".
What I'm saying is that sometimes these people get a little confused with humanity's
ability to have an effect on Earth's biosphere and on the Earth itself.
And sometimes these people make movies.
THE CORE was directed by Jon Amiel (COPYCAT) and written by Cooper Layne and John Rogers. And before I say anymore
I want to, in the spirit of full disclosure, state that I had a bit of
an attitude going in to this movie. The trailer implied a great many obvious
science mistakes in this attempt at science fiction so I was practicing
my eye roll during the previews.
That being said, the opening was pretty cool. There was no heavy exposition or lame
narration. Instead we see a business meeting that goes badly wrong when
the man giving the presentation drops dead for no apparent reason. Screams
and crashes from outside make everyone run to the window and see that
this same cruel fate has befallen a random assortment of people on the
street. This all happens on "Green World Day". What is going
The military investigates, calling in geomagnetics expert Josh Keyes (Aaron
Eckhart: SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS) and weapons expert Sergei
Leveque (Tcheky Karyo: KISS OF THE DRAGON, GOLDEN EYE), two old friends. Josh correctly guesses why so many people
dropped dead so suddenly and the military, in the person of General Thomas
Purcell (Richard Jenkins: WOLF), thanks him
and sends him back to the University of Chicago.
Other odd events, including a very Hitchcockian (is that a
word?) bird incident and a crash landing of the space shuttle Endeavor
in downtown Los Angeles lead Josh to a devastating conclusion: the Earths
magnetic field is collapsing and will soon vanish, resulting in the death
of every living thing on Earth. Normally I'd respond to such an outlandish
statement with a SCIENCE MOMENT, but wait. There's more.
Josh tries to get the government to pay attention to his theories by approaching
famous scientist (and Carl Sagan wannabe) Dr. Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci: MONKEY SHINES).
Zimsky makes a few calls and General Purcell is back in the picture. Josh
explains that the world will end in one year because Earth's inner
core has stopped spinning, thus causing Earth's magnetic field to
collapse. Without the magnetic field to protect us from cosmic rays and
solar microwaves (yes, I know, but there's still more), the Earth will be cooked like a hot pocket.
Just when it looks like all is lost the well connected Zimsky mentions that a former
colleague of his (Delroy Lindo: THE LAST CASTLE,
ROMEO MUST DIE, RANSOM) happens to have just the technology required
to drill through the Earth all the way to the core, which would allow
the placement of big nukes which would knock that darn core back into
Man, that is all I can take. We gotta have a
Now, I'm not going to discuss the magical underground drillship. A half-crazy
lone scientist inventing something essentially impossible is a staple
of science fiction so that's fine. But I do have a problem when the movie
makes scientific sounding statements that are just plain wrong. Here are
the high points:
1. If there really were solar microwaves being held off by the Earth's magnetic
field, why didn't they cook the Apollo astronauts when they ventured
beyond the field's coverage? Why isn't Mars being cooked, since
it hasn't got much of a field? The answer is that the sun doesn't
produce much in the way of microwaves and that what it does produce isn't
stopped by our magnetic field anyway. A magnetic field can only affect
the paths of charged particles like protons and electrons. It has no effect
at all on electromagnetic radiation like microwaves or visible light or
ultraviolet light. It's our atmosphere not our magnetic field
that filters out the harmful parts of the sun's radiative output.
Continued at SCIENCE MOMENT 2003/THE CORE
THE CORE also gets an
!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT!!!:
This movie has many people in it but only one token black guy. He's heroic, he's smart, but yeah, he's the only black guy. Guess who buys it first?
For the rest of this alert, read the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT/The Core. But Beware! Thar Be SPOILERS there!
The pilot and co-pilot of the drillship are the taken from the crew of the crash-landed
space shuttle for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Co-pilot Major Rebecca
Childs (Hilary Swank: THE GIFT, INSOMNIA) seems destined to lead a mission of her own
someday, or have I said too much?
There are plenty of nice touches. The drillship, which has to withstand the incredible
pressures and temperatures of the inner Earth, is made of "unobtanium",
an old engineer's joke used whenever a project requires impossibly strong
building materials. And a super hacker named Rat, hired to scan the internet
for any mention of their project and then erase it, is well played by
DJ Qualls (CHERRY FALLS). They also discover
some pretty cool and semi-believable things on their journey downward.
At the same time there are lots of little annoyances, like the military commander
of the mission basing a decision on "majority rules". They court
martial you for things like that. And I want there to be a new rule: Only
one heroic sacrifice per movie. Maybe two but any more than that and it
just gets ridiculous.
And of course the ultimate cause turns out to be a standard-issue Evil Government Conspiracy
(thats not a spoiler its in the trailer) because of a weapons system we had to build before "our
enemies" did. The United States has no shortage of enemies but none
of them come within a century of our technology, so who was going to build
this very high tech weapon before us is an unanswered question. Screenwriters
simply dont know whom to use as bad guys since the cold war ended.
If I add up all the points listed here, pro and con, the net result is a movie
that could have been better with a little bit of editing and a little
bit of fairly easy research. But I have to add some extra credit for the
fact that the filmmakers clearly love science even though they dont
understand it. I give THE CORE two shriek girls.
copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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