Core, The

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 03/09/04 07:19:13

"Welcome to Colonoscopy: The Movie"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Perhaps this film should have been called Armageddon 2: Astronauts In Reverse! Or maybe it should have been Penis to The Center of The Earth, or 20,000 Cliches Under The Sea. Maybe Surfing The Crimson ShockWave would have been apt. Whatever the title, one thing about The Core that rings true to nearly everyone who sits through it is this: it makes very little actual sense.

Aaron Eckhart is a college professor. He spends his days demonstrating how sound waves can measure density by blowing a trumpet at limestone. Which is the sort of thing your high school science teacher might have done, as kind of a basic, basic, basic entry level lesson on how sound waves work. Clearly Eckhart is a professor at Retardo U., or he's teaching the Science for Dummies class, because anyone with an IQ over 18 who might be taking a course at college and getting this kind of snore-inducing Bill Nye stunt in return would surely be asking for their tuition back.

That's the level that The Core begins at, and it's the level it stays at throughout. High school science with very little basis in fact, and scenes that make you raise an eyebrow as you turn to the person next to you and say, "It isn't just me, right? This really is stupid, right?"

Eckhart is yanked out of class by a couple of G-Men who drag him off to meet an old college buddy (Tcheky Karyo), an expert in weapons, who has similarly been yanked to come explain why hundreds of people fell over and died within a minute of each other. Eckhart suggests some kind of problem with soundwaves interfering with their pacemakers, seeing as nobody around these people was the slightest bit affected and no wounds are apparent.

Now, I'd been thinking the same thing myself, so when the G-Man and the college buddy simultaneously compliment Eckhart on what a genius he is, I felt a little chuffed. Then I felt silly. This guy is no genius, he merely put two and two together, something that the screenwriters on The Core clearly think the audience is inapable of doing, or they wouldn't spend half an hour teaching us basic science, then breaking every scientific rule as they race to their formulaic ending.

Great pains are made to tell us that there's no way of getting to the core quickly because it's so dense down there in the middle of the earth. Eventually, a crazy ass laser genius (Delroy Lindo) builds a stonking laser cannon that can disintegrate anything in its path, which these guys figure will mean they can attach it to a large dildo and ride that dildo down to the middle of the planet.

Of course, I'm still saying I'm no genius, but I would have suggested building a craft that could survive molten lava, then riding said lava from an active volcano down as far as you can go, but what do I know? I don't have a dimple on my chin. Instead, they'll ride the laser, disintegrating the super dense dirt until they hit the core. Okay then...

But if it's so dense, how is it that they can step outside when things go wrong? And why does the ship not so much dig as fall to the core? And why is it that instead of plunging into sea of lava, they seem to ride along the surface of the lava?

And why is Hilary Swank still looking like a cross-dresser?

These questions and more just don't need to be answered, because The Core blows. Sure, you can go in with the attitude of "I refuse to think about the things that are obviously scientifically dumb with this movie", but if you do that, how do you feel about the half-hour science lesson that begins proceedings? How on earth can you just go with this thing, when even the special effects, which reportedly set someone back $85m, look like Ray Harryhausen's leftovers?

I mean, Christ, I'm pretty sure that some of the stuff these guys bored into (and I use the term bored very deliberately) was leftover footage from Inner Space, because it looked like white blood cells half the time.

"Oh my god, it's diamonds big as Cape Cod!" No it isn't, it's large black blobs with no detail that the CGI guys clearly didn't have time to fill in with vector graphics. No need for alarm.

The Core has its moments, though not very many of them, and as for tension, it seems to take great delight in killing off the people we should be feeling empathy with in the most torturous ways. Burn one, crush another, watch 'em fall as the only two who will walk out of the wreckage (spoiler, my ass) are the two you would have picked in the first few minutes of the film to do so.

How a movie this size can waste Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo and Alfre Woodard is beyond me, because I consider them to be amongst the most supremely talented character actors of our time, but here they seem to be as lost in the mire that is Hollywood screenwriting hackdom as the audience is. That DJ Qualls can come out looking on the level of Tucci is not a mark of how good an actor Qualls is (by any stretch), but rather proof that even a great actor can't turn dog bollocks into filet mignon.

If Hollywood's studios can't find $500,000 in a budget of $85m to make sure the script is GOOD (or at least not insulting) before they crank out big budget crap like this, then they deserve the tanking that this took at the box office. The Core is, at times, 'big stupid fun', but for the most part you can drop the third word on that phrase and you'll be far closer to reality.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.