|Someone somewhere came up with the basic plot for the original disaster movie and it's a plan that filmmakers have adhered to quite faithfully for more than a few years now. The story of a "rag-tag" or "mis-matched" bunch of regular folk being chosen to save the world is an element that has been used so often in disaster films that it's hard to think of a plot that doesn't include it. The Core is no exception in that regard and seeks to convince its audience that viewers need to be treated to this same idea yet again.|
While the location of the disaster might be different, this film bears so many striking resemblances to recent pictures such as Armageddon, Deep Impact, and The Fifth Element (the only such film to have tried a unique approach to the idea) that were it not for different casts, these films would be indistinguishable from one another. And the casting of this film is perhaps its saving grace, as the talented group actors are able to rise above the impossibility of the plot and deliver enough verbal quips and jokes to make viewers forget the films trips in story.
As the cast is a combination of "almost" A-List actors, there is no one person (or character, rather) that the audience will place all of its attention on. While geophysicist "Josh Keyes", played by actor Aaron Eckhart, could arguably be considered the main character, as much of the film is played from his point of view, the other characters in the film all have quite a bearing on the plot, so it is easier to call this film a movie with an "ensemble cast" rather than a star vehicle.
For his effort, Eckhart brings out a nice range of emotion in his character that seems in place with what disaster type films require (crying, yelling, arguing, intelligence), but adds in a welcome amount of self-deprecating humor to keep the audience rooting for his character. Oscar winning actress Hilary Swank walks a more serious line with her character, USAF pilot "Rebecca Childs," but her less-comedic role fits Child's attitude well. And Swank's performance is also an emotional one (as is required by disaster films), so getting caught up in the struggles of these two characters is an easier task than one might think.
So what if the over-used technique of killing off the characters one by one is bandied about every fifteen minutes or so to get a few misty eyes in the audience. Since viewers are treated to performances from actors who make their characters easy to care about, this film does well in bringing "character" specifically to the forefront to share the stage with the disaster theatrics. Two performances that seem so very predictable but end up being so much more appealing than they should be belong to Delroy Lindo and Stanley Tucci, who play adversarial scientists who once worked on a project together but ended up splitting decades ago because Tucci's character took all the fame for their cooperative work.
As one of the layers of character interaction in the film, their relationship (or lack of it in the beginning frames) is the most heart felt of the film and is another reason why the standard and over-used plot isn't so obvious. Granted, a journey to the center of the earth has only been tried a few times in cinema (it's so much more common to go to outer space, is it not?), so seeing a snaking metal ship blow its way through molten lava is an interesting experience. Though it's not always the most believable. The humor and character of the film can make the viewer forget the ludicrous plot, but that thought will always be hovering in the back of his or her mind.
It begs the question: why can't big-budget filmmakers put a new spin on their work that masks the "sameness" those films hold to every other big-budget disaster film to have been released in the last two decades? Does it require too much energy to create a film like The Fifth Element? Why would a studio, for example, make a giant action film about asteroids if another studio was making the exact same film? How about if a studio was making a film about volcanoes. Would that mean you had to make a film just like it right away?
Studios and production companies have gotten into the awful habit of pushing refried action films on the public and must be convinced that being unique and trying new ideas is a bad thing, as The Core exhibits so many "standard" disaster movie techniques that not a thing in it is a surprise or a shock. While the special effects are well-done and the epic scope of the film is dually noted with large inner-earth vistas and shots of fiery lava, the only thing the audience won't be able to predict in this film is which character gets bumped off first. Enjoy the performances and the humor of this film, but don't count on anything new popping up in the disaster movie genre.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.