For rockaholics and dirt-whores

“Don’t look so serious, baby, it’s just soil.”

“Don’t look so serious, baby, it’s just soil.”

Rated 2.0

The Core is damned near likable at first. For a good chunk of its substantial 135 minutes, it has some momentum and provides some laughs. Don’t be fooled by the promising start, because a leaden, often shitty-looking second half awaits you.

Director Jon Amiel is probably a big fan of The Poseidon Adventure and Fantastic Voyage because his movie often has that campy, disaster/adventure trash feel. He’s assembled a credible cast that includes Aaron Eckhart, Oscar-winner Hilary Swank and Stanley Tucci, who all perform well. Too bad the same can’t be said for the people put in charge of keeping things visually exciting, because the special effects are awful.

The setup has the Earth’s core threatening to stop spinning after some scientific-militaristic dumb asses screwed up while trying to create an earthquake weapon. Massive electromagnetic pulses and static build-up in the Earth’s atmosphere cause birds to go crazy and pacemakers to falter. Regrettably, it doesn’t cause anybody’s hair to stand up on end. That would’ve been funny.

Sharp and devilishly handsome scientist Josh Keyes (Eckhart) has concluded, in big disaster-movie style, that the whole planet will die in one year. He’s summoned to a security meeting attended by bigwigs who have the authority to green-light some sort of super expensive Earth rescue mission.

Lacking the time to devise a Power Point presentation on his laptop, he does the next best thing and performs an impromptu demonstration with a peach. You see, when you cut a peach in half it looks like the Earth because the pit bares a striking resemblance to our planet’s core. Josh sets the peach on fire with an aerosol can declaring “This will be Earth!” The panel gasps, wholeheartedly agreeing that the man must know what he’s talking about, after all he just set a peach on fire. Nothing spells out the impending doom of a planet like scorched produce.

America devises a plan to jumpstart the Earth’s core with nuclear weapons, but there’s no vehicle to do the trick. When in need, always go to the desert, where you will likely find an eccentric scientist with unlimited resources (in this case, Delroy Lindo) working on a device to save the planet. Not much else to do in the desert besides attending Burning Man and spitting at lizards, so why not make an Earth burrowing ship capable of reaching the core and distributing nukes? Might wind up providing a very convenient plot device for a stupid disaster flick someday. Big money!

Pretty funny so far, intentionally or not. It’s somewhere in the midst of the “great voyage” that the movie begins to fail miserably. The trip to the center of Earth is a visual dud, with six people sitting in a bland ship, staring at computer screens. They dodge big computer diamonds and crash into humongous computer crystals. The middle of the Earth is a banal place to stage an action-adventure unless you have a hard-on for gigantic precious stones.

Worldwide destruction sequences are depicted through very poor CGI. San Francisco and Rome get wasted via special effects not worthy of your average Battlestar Galactica episode. Scenes involving a space shuttle and the Golden Gate Bridge are goofy looking, not to mention poorly timed. The film’s release date was held up due to special effects retooling, and it looks like the extra time didn’t do much good.

They had the script, they had the stars, but when they got beneath the Earth’s surface, they realized it was just a bunch of dirt and rocks. Nothing is duller than dirt and rocks, something the producers of The Core should’ve considered before hiring an Oscar-winner and spending millions and millions of dollars.