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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Here's my Kung-Fu!
on March 29, 2003
So most people didn't like this movie, huh? Too bad. I liked it. A lot. Of course it's not a great movie, but it's entertaining. Who would go to see this movie expecting a great lesson in filmmaking? Anyone who does that is wrong from the start. If you see the trailer, you know this is a movie to watch while eating popcorn and just putting your brain on pause. It's far-fetched, it can get unbelievable at times, but who cares?
If you've seen the trailer, you know what's this about. After a constant use and abuse of a sysmic underground weapon, the core of the earth gets damaged and it just stops spinning. This causes the atmosphere to become thinner and it's easier for the UV rays to hit the earth. Birds lose their sense of navigation and the constant EM pulses stop clocks and pacemakers. In one great sequence, a NASA shuttle re-entering the atmosphere deviates unintenionally and crashes in Los Angeles. And the worst is about to happen.
That's when Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and his friend, the sweet, ever loyal Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo) are called in by the military. In a mission that requires travelling into the center of the earth, formal Col. Bob Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and tough-but-beautiful Major Rebecca Childs (Hilary Swank) are recruited to drive the vehicle of choice. Self-serving Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci), the shy geek Ed Brazzleton (Delroy Lindo) and the freaky nerd computer-kid Rat (DJ Qualls) also join the team which is assigned with the mission of detonating several nukes in the core of the earth in order to create a flow of energy in the right direction that will put the core into a spinning mode once again. That's it, you get your mission, there are your characters, now just sit back and enjoy the ride. Mind you, it is an enjoyable one.
While the special effects are mostly good there are a few sequences which seem to be unfinished. Especially the scene where a lightning destroys a street in Rome or when the crew gets to a cave of cristals near the center of the earth. I am not into judging a movie by its special effects, since these are only mere tools designed to help the audience to believe that, what they're seeing, is real. Bad FX only remind you that this, indeed, is a movie. And I think that's the downside here. I don't know how many sequences use CGI, but there were sometimes when I felt I was looking at a videogame and when they're combined with actors or motion backgrounds, it just feels like a big B-movie. Being a fan of this type of movies allowed me to ignore all of this and just continue enjoying the film.
In the end, I felt it worked anyway. The movie did give me a feeling that I actually went to the center of the earth and came back. Before the end credits, I took a deep breath remembering all the odds the characters had to face and it was a nice feeling. It was really nice to see, for a change, that even though there was some flirting between two of the characters, it never leads to anything. There's not even a romance kiss before the big finale... although there is one but it's just out of pure happiness. There's not a marrying couple at the end, there's only a heavy sadness about unspoken heroes. After seeing movies like Pearl Harbor, in which a major history event is just used as a backrgound for a cheap love story, this sure was a breath of fresh air.
Acting is pretty good, especially Stanley Tucci, but the rest of the cast is great, so even when things seem a little far-fetched, the actors manage to give you a sense of reality, because their feelings seem to be pretty real. Scenes like Delroy Lindo breaking into tears out of frustration or Stanley Tucci suffering from a nervous breakdown were pretty much disturbing, in the way that you can relate to them and you can't blame because you know you'd possible act the same way if you were in that unreal situation. It's not that the destruction of the Golden Gate or Rome aren't impressive, but you can see that in every other movie. A fine cast such as this can make a smile or a tear way much heavier, emotionally, than a CGI destruction of a city. And that, I believe, is where the strenght of the film lies.
Critics love to tear this film apart but don't let them fool you. If you're into this type of movies, give it a try. It sure won't win any oscars and it sure won't make it to Cannes but hey, for about two and a half hours, you can have a nice time.