The Core

2003/04/06 19:50

Gate Multiplex Cork, Saturday March 29th 2003

Dir. Jon Amiel, USA 2003

The Core is a bit of a patchwork quilt of a movie. It's a composite of recent sci-fi/doomsday movies such as 'Deep Impact', 'Independence Day' and 'Armaggedon', with a dash of 'Fantastic Voyage' and some 'Lost in Space' (not the remake) thrown in for good measure. Truth is, unless your an SF fan (like myself) you won't want to see this if you've already seen any of the above. Given that 'The Core' borrows so heavily from other recent movies, it is still surprisingly entertaining.

The trailer didn't bode well (the dialogue is risible even by the low standards of SF movies) but it didn't feature Stanley Tucci. Tucci's performance is one of the things that redeems this movie in the latter half. There are some pretty cool set pieces in the first half that allayed any fears I had going in, but once the dust settles it's Tucci that makes the rest of the movie watchable, Tucci's Dr. Zimsky is the most memorable smarmy professor since Jonathon Harris' Dr. Zachary Smith from the original 'Lost in Space'.

This movie is at its best in the first half hour, there are some excellent scenes full of portent. The scenes in London and the Shuttle scene are pure entertainment. The scenes in the latter half of the movie just can't live up. When the movie tries to scale up it doesn't work ... At a cafeteria in Rome, a waitress gets a static shock from a coffee machine, we can see the sparks of static as she approaches the machine, a minute or two later we are treated to the spectacle of the colloseum being destroyed by high-energy lightning... frankly the coffee machine scene has more weight, than the overtly CGI rendered colloseum destruction - you'd think people were sick of seeing world monuments destroyed by now.

'The Core' pegs itself firmly between Mimi Leder's 'Deep Impact' and Michael Bay's 'Armaggedon', aspiring to the gravitas and dark undertones of 'Deep Impact' while at the same time trying to provide the popcorn thrills of 'Armaggedon'. Given the disparity in tone between these two movies, it's inevitable that it fails on both counts. 'The Core' works best when it's true to itself.

Like 'Deep Impact', 'The Core' tries its hardest to respect the audience. The science in this movie may be complete hokum but it is consistent hokum. The latter half of the movie turns into 'Fantastic Voyage' complete with psychedelic scenery along the way. At this point, it's only Tucci's narcisistic voice memos for his forthcoming book (reminiscent of Alan Partridge's memos-to-self) that provides laughs for the rest of the movie. Aaron Eckhart (brilliant in "in the company of men" - if you haven't seen this movie - go rent it out today) and Hilary Swank the male and female leads never really appear to have anything other than a working relationship so once Tucci is out of the picture the movie just fizzles out.