Retro Review: The Core

The spirit of a classic Irwin Allen disaster film is housed within the framework of the new science fiction film, The Core.

Geologist Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart), munitions expert Sergei Leveque (Tcheky Karyo), NASA pilots Maj. Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hilary Swank) and Col. Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) are assembled by the U.S. government to avert a world catastrophe. The team is helped by Geo-theorist Dr. Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) and experimental ship-designer Dr. Edward Brazleton (Delroy Lindo).

After the full team is assembled the world starts to physically tear itself apart. It is theorized that the Earth’s actual core has stopped spinning and that the Earth’s magnetic shield is starting to deteriorate. The only possible way to continue life as we know it is to set off a nuclear explosion within the Earth’s Outer Core starting a chain reaction and thus jump-starting the planet. It is up to the team to save the planet from itself.

The Core is probably one of the best disaster films in recent memory. When I was a teenager my favorite kind of movie was the epic disaster film. You know the kinds of films where they assemble twenty or so famous faces and throw them into some man-made or natural disaster. Classics of the genre include “Towering Inferno”, “Poseidon Adventure”, “Earthquake”, “Flood!” and of course the “Airport” movies. The late-great director and producer was responsible for two the legendary disaster films “Towering Inferno” and the two “Poseidon Adventure” films. Allen was an amazing craftsman in that he knew how to pace and when to jeopardize a famous face.

Irwin Allen’s influences and contributions to the genre are rampant within “The Core”. The film’s director Jon Amiel has embraced the style of Allen and it is seen in the film’s incredible pacing. Even though the film is laden with huge amounts of special effects they don’t hurt Amiel’s pacing. It is the pacing that is critical in making a successful disaster film.

Allen’s influence is also felt in the film’s casting. When Allen cast Gene Hackman as the hero preacher Reverend Scott of “Poseidon Adventure” people hardly knew the actor except for his role in “The French Connection”. He was the most unlikely of heroes. In “The Core”, Aaron Eckhart’s character has a lot in common with Hackman’s Scott. He is also the most unlikely of heroes. Both film’s casts of famous but not huge movie stars are also a similarity.

I really enjoyed the Core mainly because of the memories of those past disaster films but also because it’s a highly energizing experience. One of the movie’s grandest moments is when Swank and Greenwood have to land the crippled shuttle in Los Angeles. This scene is so entertaining they should be making an amusement park attraction out of it. It literally blows you into the back of your seat and doesn’t let go. In some ways that sums up the experience of the Core, it is in the purest sense a roller-coaster ride reflected onto the silver screen. You don’t need to think, just smile and grab your chair’s armrests and hang on.

When you see this film you don’t care if there are some goofy scientific screw-ups or the film has an out of this world plot. Who cares if the film’s terra-tunneling ship looks like one of the worms from the “Dune” films. Do we only ride roller coasters just because they are named after a superhero or movie? Of course not, we ride them because they are the purest form of shock and exhilaration we know of.

The Core is the best popcorn movie going experience you will have this spring. Hands down!

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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