Volume 96, Issue 97
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

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Soft core film needs more hard core acting

The Core
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, DJ Qualls
Directed by: Jon Amiel

By Dorian Mills
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
THIS PRETENDING TO BE SMART STUFF IS HARDER THAN IT LOOKS. Hilary Swank gears up as astronaut Beck in The Core.

Be careful! Next time a bird hits your windshield it could mean the core of the earth has stopped spinning, meaning you need to get a team of geniuses together to journey to the centre of the Earth in an indestructible laser drill to "jump-start" the core with five 200 megaton nuclear bombs.

Or you could just say to hell with it and see The Core.

If you liked Armageddon, this movie is for you. It's basically Armageddon underground, and comes equipped with the same questionable science, convenient technology and mixed bunch of would-be world savers.

Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) is a geophysicist with a funny knack for inventing ground-breaking technology at the drop of a hat, and an interdisciplinary intelligence so great he can hotwire the Virgil (their multi-billion dollar lava ship) in about 30 seconds. Beck (Hilary Swank) is a space shuttle pilot who is naturally the best candidate to pilot the Virgil to the centre of the Earth. You know – space shuttle/giant laser-drill – same thing.

Other significant characters include the arrogant doctor (Stanley Tucci), the ship's inventor (Delroy Lindo), a weapons specialist (Tchéky Karyo) and the head pilot (Bruce Greenwood). Rat (DJ Qualls) is a hacker recruited above-ground to keep the operation from being exposed on the Internet.

None of them are actual military personnel. Like Armageddon, it's the dangerously unqualified that are heading out to save the planet which, as it turns out, is being torn apart by super storms, super quakes, confused birds and a hole in the atmosphere that lets the sun's radiation through to the point where the Golden Gate Bridge does an impression of an anthill under a magnifying glass.

Keyes explains everything in dramatic, if not laughable, detail. The Earth's core has stopped spinning, therefore the electro-magnetic field surrounding the Earth is destabilizing, causing nature to target national landmarks for destruction at an alarming rate.

The action is adequate for a disaster movie. The crew experiences problem after problem, and the only way to solve each one is seemingly to sacrifice a crew member.

Seriously though, all of the pseudo-science aside, The Core does manage some dramatic moments. The emotional reactions from the crew as members of their team are picked-off are great, and in two cases very dramatic for an otherwise mediocre disaster flick.

The journey to the centre of the Earth is interesting at times, as the ship drops into a giant cavern that is covered floor to ceiling with crystals, and dodges diamonds the size of the great lakes.

At this level, The Core delivers a short, fun diversion from the soul crushing death dance that is university end of the year assignments. If you go in expecting zero character development, a few explosions, a few deaths and some wacky science, you won't be disappointed.

Just remember to lay off the Cheez Whiz afterwards.


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