The four seasons of the motion picture world begin in the first week in May with
the summer blockbusters. September is the start of Oscar season, when the
studios put down their markers to prove they are about more than just the money
that they made during the hot box office days of summer. Next comes the dumping
grounds of the first three calendar months of the year, when stinker follows
stinker until film vaults are purged of their more vile material. Finally, in
very late March starts the pre-summer season when the studios release the
popcorn flicks not quite up to the rigors of the more demanding summer market.
THE CORE, directed by Jon Amiel (ENTRAPMENT), opens this year's pre-summer
season. The movie is hilariously bad, but hilarious nonetheless. Moreover, it
has the good grace to never take itself too seriously. It wants and expects you
to laugh with it and at it. Comedies should be measured solely by the laugh
count, and, by that metric, THE CORE is a science fiction comedy, all dressed up
as an action picture, that is a riot.
This inner space ARMAGEDDON starts with deaths caused by non-working pacemakers
and falling pigeons. Yep, you guessed it. The core -- you know, the earth's
core -- is starting to stage a work stoppage. Unless a repair team is called in
fast, all of the earth's electronics will be fried, followed shortly thereafter
by its people. This is no abstract global warming scare that might take a
million years to complete, but a certain event that will occur in less than one.
The scientists figure that they've got just three months until we enter an Ice
Age from which we will never return.
But, not to panic. Although we don't know how to fix the core or how to get
there if we did know, American brainpower and fifty billion dollars will bring a
solution in the form of a burrowing (inner)spaceship. The filmmakers spend way
less than that amount on the special effects, which are just a shade less cheesy
than those in GALAXY QUEST. This, however, is not a problem since the script's
goal is humor, not realism.
Strongly cast, the movie features Academy Award winner Hilary Swank (BOYS DON'T
CRY) as the ever-resourceful Major Rebecca Childs. Major Childs proves her
spunk early in the story when she whips out a road map when the space shuttle
she is on goes off course on reentry. Aaron Eckhart (IN THE COMPANY OF MEN)
plays Dr. Josh Keyes, the leading academic and the chief big hunk on board.
Delroy Lindo plays Dr. Edward Brazleton, the rag-tag inventor of the ship.
It falls to Stanley Tucci (MAID IN MANHATTAN) to steal the show as Dr. Conrad
Zimsky, a rock star of the intellectual world. His ego is just a few feet short
of the size of the core. Seeing himself as something of a Carl Sagan, he
pontificates into a tape recorder all the way down. After all, he has two book
deals riding on his memoirs of the trip to save the world.
The best part of this fun flick is the performance by DJ Qualls as Rat. A
world-class hacker, Rat's mission is nothing less than stopping the information
flow across the entire Internet so that no one hears of the mission during the
time it takes to prepare the vessel and take it deep down under. All he asks
for in return is an unlimited supply of his favorite junk food.
THE CORE runs a little too long at 2:15. It is rated PG-13 for "sci-fi
life/death situations and brief strong language" and would be acceptable for
kids around 8 and up.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes