The Earth's core has stopped spinning, causing a series of electromagnetic disturbances and apocalyptic events which, scientists believe, will see solar microwaves cook the planet within one year. The government calls in three leading geophysicists (Aaron Eckhart, Stanley Tucci, Tcheky Karyo) to come up with a plan. They believe a series of nuclear explosions within the core might trigger it to spin once again. Brilliant physicist (Delroy Lindo) is commissioned to build a $50 billion machine capable of taking them and two astronauts (Hilary Swank, Bruce Greenwood) to the centre of the earth, while the FBI's most wanted computer hacker (DJ Qualls) is hired to keep the top secret mission off the Internet.
Review by Louise Keller:
A splendid sci-fi adventure, The Core enthrals at every turn with an original concept impressively brought to life by a top team. Director Jon Amiel (Copycat, Entrapment) knows how to tell a story, and makes good use of the material (comprising an intelligent script, dazzling effects and an engaging cast) to pull together all the ingredients. What I like about a good sci-fi film is that apart from being entertained, there is always the opportunity to learn something, and the notion that the Earth’s magnetic field changes (as it does naturally every 250,000 years or so) is intriguing if not beyond the realms of possibility. But ultimately this is just a good yarn, fuelled by the imagination, as it introduces us to a group of diverse and strong characters charged with a special responsibility to save mankind. Aaron Eckhart makes a compelling reluctant hero – he is the charismatic college professor who thinks on his feet (albeit he can’t knot a neck-tie); Hilary Swank – superb as the likeable no-nonsense astronaut, is eager to prove she can make the tough decision at the crucial moment. While the action centers on Eckhart and Swank’s characters, The Core boasts an ensemble cast that cannot be faulted on any level. Stanley Tucci steals scenes again and again as the overbearing know-all scientist, whose pretentious mutterings of moment-by-moment narration into a tape recorder provide some light relief, while Delroy Lindo and Tchecky Karyo provide diversity and allow for plenty of light and shade. D.J. Qualls’ nerdy computer hacker, Rat, adds a lovely bizarre touch to the team, and as the countdown to Plan B begins, we are rooting for him to defy the odds and crack the code to start the detonation of the dreaded Destiny project. Spectacular effects including a fabulous sequence when the craft goes on a collision course through a maze of gigantic diamonds, and a resounding, thrilling score beefs up the tension. Filmed in a life-size ship, with computer generated moving exteriors, scenes were shot in London, Paris, Rome, Montreal, Washing DC, San Francisco and Utah. The destruction of known monuments (such as the Golden Gate Bridge) is especially unsettling; I sat engrossed for the two hours plus on the edge of my seat. This is a satisfying trip, and totally fulfils the criteria of a great sci-fi escapade.
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
You've got to love a movie that begins with a bunch of people simultaneously dropping dead when their pacemakers fail and ends with nuclear bombs exploding within the earth's core. Such is the lunacy of this big-budget, small-minded disaster movie that features lines like "As long as we can surf these magma flows we'll be okay!" The Core has already been dubbed 'Armageddon Underground,' but I've got a better name for it; 'Apocalypse Porn'. Check this out. Travelling within a long, cylindrical $50 billion ship (let's call it a phallus), a group of government spooks (sperm) tunnel through (penetrate) the earth and arrive at
the core (nucleus). Having achieved their goal (conception), they will then explode a series of nuclear bombs (orgasms) that will allow life on earth to continue. So bad is this disaster movie - think Godzilla, Independence Day and any Madonna movie - that it's actually good, in a guilty pleasure kind of way. The actors all seem to be in on the joke, too. Lindo makes his physicist a nutty professor, while Tucci completely hams it up with an inspired cross between Arthur C Clarke, Dr. Strangelove and a Parisian art critic, smoking a long cigarette while smug in the secrets he keeps about his own Doomsday Device. The men (and one women, but I always get mixed up when it comes to Hilary Swank...) all enjoy the ride, and only Swank's earnest acting threatens to spoil the fun. As director Jon Amiel (Entrapment) fills the screen with two hours worth of cliches, stereotypes and MacGyver-style solutions, it's interesting to wonder whether he's crafted The Core into something intentionally or unintentionally funny. Unlike Starship Troopers, which was a dead-set send-up of 50s sci-fi movies and war propaganda, The Core skirts the line with earnest conviction. Every life-threatening conundrum (they come in 10 minute intervals - time them!) is given a believable solution. But with birds falling from the sky, the space shuttle crash-landing in an LA waterway, and the Colusseum in Rome getting blown to bits - and that's just what happens above the surface - you've gotta take this as it's intended. Switch off, space out, and go where no self-respecting film lover has gone before and you will enjoy the ride deep below the earth's surface. Hey, one section of it even looks like the inside of a new-age crystal shop! Take it seriously and your patience will melt away faster than those suits - which, inevitably, they do.
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AARON ECKHART INTERVIEW by Shannon J. Harvey
CORE, THE (M)
CAST: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanely Tucci, D.J. Qualls, Richard Jenkins, Tcheky Karyo, Bruce Greenwood, Alfre Woodard
PRODUCER: David Foster Sean Bailey
DIRECTOR: Jon Amiel
SCRIPT: Cooper Layne, John Rogers
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Lindley ASC
EDITOR: Terry Rawlings ACE
MUSIC: Christopher Young
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip Harrison
RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 12, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
VIDEO RELEASE: Novebmer 13, 2003