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The Core (Widescreen Edition)
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
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.
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61 of 72 people found the following review helpful
I've noticed that a lot of people have blasted this DVD for lacking in scientific veracity. Well, gosh, although I slept through Geology 101 in college, I'll bet there are little more than kernels of truth in what the story contends about the Earth's electromagnetic field. However, I must ask the obvious $60,000 question to the vociferous critics of this movie: WHAT did you expect, exactly?
If you want a natural disaster movie that isn't happy-go-lucky where everyone goes on a suicide mission and miracuously all come back, then this one is worth a look. If you want a film with some eye-candy special effects, then look no further!
There have been a few movies / cartoons in the past where an inventer would create a machine with a giant drill at the front end. This contraption would take he and his crew to the center of the Earth, or at least far down.
In the present story the method of drilling is updated: the ship uses lasers to blow its way through the Earth's mantle. Is it believable? Certainly not. However, it is far more "watchable" than the giant drill-nose machine.
For myself, I did enjoy the allusion to Dante's DIVINE COMEDY. The inventor of the ship names it the VIRGIL, after the Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro. In the INFERNO it is the dead Virgil who leads Dante the Pilgrim through the lower depths of hell and up to the top of Mount Purgatory. Nice touch.
The acting is decent, although I think they could have done better than the fellow they recruited to play the computer hacker nerd. The highlight of the film is Hilary Swank. She's certainly not hard on the eyes and also lends a nice feminine dynamic as the only non-male member of the crew.
All in all, this one is worth purchasing. No, it's not scientifically accurate, but then again neither is Jules Verne's JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (yet I don't hear people shooting that one down because of its lack of credible science). Just remember: at the end of the day it's a MOVIE! If you can keep that in mind, you'll be all set to begin your journey to the core.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 21, 2005
There's no question that the science behind The Core is unconvincing and absurd. Of course, the outer core *could* conceivably stop spinning because of a device invented by a madly genius and egotistical geophysicist, and this *could* cause a disruption in the electromagnetic field that protects us from the sun, but the manner in which it happened in the film is bizarre and unlikely. Also, the likelihood that the "savior" who built the machine and developed the hull of the ship that protected it under the tremendous and heat as they bored through the earth is, well, silly.

However, the science behind Star Wars is similarly unbelievable. Why is Star Wars exciting then? (And I'm not referring to the first two films, which aren't terribly good - the word is still out on Revenge of the Sith.) Because it presents a scenario that is exciting and edgy, replete with suspense.

In my humble opinion, I believe that The Core has received undue negativity because of the improbability of the science behind it. However, it's not the science that is the driving force of the film. As viewers, we need to do the same thing we did with films like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings: we need to suspend disbelief with regard to this quixotic undertaking . Once we successfully do that, we have a taut, engaging film with good performances, even if some of the dialogue is trite, and the interpersonal relationships rife with clichés, as well as the actual characters themselves. What causes the film to rise above the scientific anomalies, the dialogue, and the relationships is the solid acting and the exciting race to the center of the earth.

Hilary Swank was criticized as being miscast for her role in this film, and upon watching it, I was puzzled as to why. Certainly, choosing her character to be second in command was perplexing, even if she did manage a seemingly unnavigable landing in the beginning of the film. Nevertheless, her acting was solid. She has been miscast in other roles, but not here. Her humane resiliency seemed ideal for her character.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about The Core was that nobody was safe. At any given moment, anyone could die. This is a risky undertaking. Too many films have all of their heroes happy and fine at the end, but here there were no guarantees. High props for that.

I wasn't expecting much from the film, and was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed it. While I am writing what certainly comes off as a highly favorable review, I can't ignore the problems I mentioned above when coming up with a final rating. The overabundance of unimaginative characterizations brings this from a potential four-star film to a three star film.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
If you want to bring hard science to this party, you might as well stay home; The Core is just about the most unrealistic and unscientific Armageddon movie I've ever seen. It is also riddled with all the clichés you would expect to find in a movie of this sort. Despite these faults, however, it can be an exciting ride if you decide to just go along with the storyline. There is just something about this film that drew me in, although I am hard pressed to explain it. Maybe it's the Jules Verne lover in my soul that enjoyed revisiting the center of the earth, although I hate to think what Verne would have thought of The Core. Journey to the Center of the Earth is actually more believable than this special effects-laden thriller.
The opening scenes of this film are just fantastic, as the unusual camera perspectives we first see, when about three dozen people suddenly fall over dead in one localized area, instantly dip your toes into surreality; this scene doesn't even compare to the next one, though, as The Core goes Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds one better. And then, in a scene that is robbed of a little of its power and spectacle by the very real loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, we witness the most spectacular emergency landing of all time. These opening scenes really grab you by the collar and shake you a little bit. Of course, it's all downhill from here, but in terms of entertainment value I still consider this to be a better than average end of the world story. One great thing about The Core is the fact that the brilliant science guy who has to save the world is someone other than Jeff Goldblum for once. Aaron Eckhart fills the role of Dr. Josh Keyes, humble science professor turned savior of the planet. He figures out that the electromagnetic field around the planet has more than blown a fuse, and his discovery leads him to seek the counsel of Dr. Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci); Zimsky is your stereotypical great man of science who looks down on everyone around him, but he quickly comes to realize that Keyes is right: the earth's core has stopped spinning. He also knows why, but that's classified information. All life on earth will be gone within a year. What can be done? Luckily, the eccentric yet very likable Dr. Ed Brazelton has invented a machine that can tunnel through rock like it was melted butter. In three months, the earth-digging ship (dubbed "Virgil") is built, a crew is put together (including space shuttle navigator Rebecca Childs, played by Hilary Swank), the world's biggest hacker nerd is called upon to keep the truth of the crisis away from the public (which is quite a job given some of the disastrous events that soon take place on earth), and we're off to the earth's core in order to kick-start the darned thing with the help of a few handy nuclear bombs.
Everything you expect to happen does in fact happen. Some crew members do not make it home, those wacky scientists crack a number of stupid jokes or else criticize each other's work during crisis situations, everyone learns something about himself/herself, etc. The dialogue serves to weaken the movie in a few places, but at least some of the clichéd moments are pulled off with at least a tinge of originality. The special effects aren't that great once we get to the underground scenes where the ship is tunneling through rock, encountering empty space or mountains of crystal or diamonds, and luxuriating in the ultimate steam bath of liquid magma. The underground effects pretty much had to rely on CGI, but I think some of the CGI effects could have been less obvious.
By and large, I really enjoyed watching The Core, but I am sure many people will not like it for all of the faults I was willing to accept in the interest of personal entertainment. This movie runs well over two hours, so it can be a long haul for those who will react negatively to it. It doesn't wait and pull the rug out from under you at the last minute, fortunately, as the implausibility of the whole thing comes through loud and clear early on; that's a good thing. If those in doubt can lay their eyes on the trailer, I think that would do much to show prospective viewers whether they will be inclined to enjoy or merely scoff at the film.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Every one knows all too well that far too often trailers for movies contain the best bits and that when you see the entire film it fails to live up to the expectations inspired by the aforementioned trailer. That was hardly the case with the trailer for "The Core," which was totally upfront with the fact that this 2003 film is about the end of the world as we know it coming about because the earth's core has stopped spinning...

You really cannot type anything after you make a declaration like that. I can remember the first time I saw the trailer for "The Core," hearing this premise and turning to my wife to request that she provide to me, free of charge, a respite from sexual intercourse (only not in those words). Granted, I never took physics (or chemistry or biology) so my knowledge of rudimentary science is just about nil, but even I would think that not only would the core not stop spinning that if it did we would all be dead before we knew it had happened. We have been waiting for large objects from outer space to strike the earth in movies from "When Worlds Collide" to "Armageddon," but having global destruction come from the heavens we are now going the other way.

What stops you from totaly dismissing "The Core" is the cast. You have Aaron Eckhart as Dr. Josh Keyes, the first scientist to put together what is happening; Tchéky Karyo as Dr. Serge Leveque, the weapons expert who is not thinking about saving the entire planet but more his wife and kids; Delroy Lindo as Dr. Ed Brazzleton, who creates the technology that allows our merry little group to get to the center of the earth; Stanley Tucci as Dr. Conrad Zimsky, supposedly the smartest man on the planet (by his own admission); Bruce Greenwood as Col. Robert Iverson, space shuttle pilot and commander of the group; Hilary Swank as Major Rebecca Childs, the hot-shot navigator who still has something to learn; DJ Qualls as "Rat" Finch, the greatest computer hacker on the planet; Richard Jenkins as Gen. Thomas Purcell, in charge of the emergency project; and Alfre Woodard as Talma Stickley, head of mission control.

That is a pretty solid cast with Woodard the only one who is really wasted and every one of them totally buys into their role. They treat this stuff seriously and have these intense discussions as if they really were figuring out how to restart the core and save the planet, coming up with whatever plan in the alphabet is needed after each goes horribly wrong for some unsuspected reason. In an interview Qualls talks about how the science in the film is understandable. Not realistic or, say, scientific, but that you get what they are doing and why they are doing it as they go along. That is true. You can laugh at what this film comes up with for science, but you do understand what it is they think they are doing, even if you could not go out and explain it to somebody else two minutes later.

Director Jon Amiel ("Sommersby") has a reputation for emphasizing character and story over special effects, and that is indeed the case here. You can laugh at the story and what these characters are doing, especially when they are out wandering around outside their ship at the center of the earth, but I think you will find it difficult to laugh at the characters (well, okay, Tucci is asking for it throughout, but he is the film's "heavy"). However, we keep getting back to the story.

Clearly the makers of this film do not want to deal with the subject on a realistic level. The first deleted scene on the DVD is a touching moment when Eckhart's Dr. Keyes informs his two lab assistants that they have had a crush on each for a long time, gives them his credit card, and tells them to check into a hotel and order a bottle of champagne. He knows the word is going to end within 100 days and they run off, never seeing the tears in his eyes as he confronts the end of the world. But that scene gets cut because there is little in the film that deals with the terror of the end of the world. Instead we get guys quipping about funding emergency project to save the world should be done with a credit card rather than a check (you get mileage that way). The change in the credit card point in this movie says it all.

I know that this is supposed to be a science fiction in the grand tradition of those films from the 1950s and 1960s when smart people figure out what is wrong and smart people figure out how to solve the problem (e.g., "Them"). I know that this is, on several levels, simply "Fantastic Voyage" for this generation, and yet another part of the genre that insists that no matter how dire the circumstances, human ingenuity can save the day (unless it is a planet rather than an asteroid that is going to crash into Earth, in which case we draw lots and save a couple dozen people). I am also pretty convinced that all the science is purposefully absurd, but when I learned the nuclear devices had to be placed at the right spots within inches and exploded at the proper times within microsecond, my bubble of suspended disbelief popped. Ironically, the fact that the actors are so earnest and so good in their roles just made the absurd science seem all that more absurd. You can certainly enjoy "The Core" on some level, but it is probably safer to be prepared to be disappointed, even with the trailer giving fair warning.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I enjoyed The Core. In reality, traveling to the Earth's core is something that is almost certainly impossible, so criticizing this movie on scientific grounds is pointless. It is an escapist fable, and on that level it succeeds well. Or to put it another way, this is science fiction, not a documentary.
For me the pseudo-science was fun -- the laser that could vaporize stone, the super-strong metal the earth-craft "Virgil" was made of, the subterranean geology, and so on. I thought the effects were interesting -- very colorful scenery as Virgil is passing through different layers, and the craft itself was pretty cool, like a hardened worm-drill. The characters were all well cast, especially the two leads. Hillary Swank was good as the pilot. The lesser characters were somewhat stereotypical but also well played. Stanley Tucci's self-centered star scientist Dr. Zimsky was sort of like this movie's Dr. Smith from Lost In Space. Actually, Donald Pleasance in Fantastic Voyage is an even better comparison. (The whole movie reminded me a little of Fantastic Voyage.)
This is a movie where suspension of disbelief is a must, especially for real scientists or science teachers. But if you allow yourself to go along with the fantasy you should have fun.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2003
This movie is easier to like than Armageddon. The film doesn't take itself too seriously, which Armageddon did, plus doesn't have the sappy-sweet, oh-so-obvious attempts to tug on your heartstrings as was painful in Armageddon (in which I wished that Ben Affleck _would_die already). The Core is altogether more innocent and straightforward, and just plain good entertainment. It also moves alot faster than Armageddon, which I found painfully slow unless Billy Bob Thornton was in the scene. The character development in The Core is pretty good, actually. You do end up liking most of the characters, though the female lead isn't particulary memorable compared with the strong male cast, all of whom you do like (or love to hate), and there are some really nice moments of comic relief, and the characters relate to each other in a believable way (unlike in Armageddon, where all they did was stare at each other and attempt to look gritty/beautiful). I like the combination of alittle bit of science in the movie, too. Also, the characters in The Core really had to act, as opposed to just standing there looking resolutely one-dimensional, as they did in Armageddon. My impression is that The Core may have been aimed at a slightly younger, more interested-in-science crowd than Armageddon, and that makes The Core altogether fresher and easier to enjoy for everyone, regardless of age. Will be very happy when I can buy this one for home viewing! Where is it???
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2004
THE CORE is pretty much a throwback to all those cheesy disaster movies of the '50s and '60s-- you know, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE, CRACK IN THE WORLD, only with modern sensibilities. Unfortunately, it is too jokey and formulaic to generate much suspense, a necessary ingredient in this sub-genre. What suspense is there when you have several hair-breadth escapes in which everyone escapes without a scratch? And for all the director's emphasis on Characters, it is peopled with stereotypes. The special effects are impressive but, being CGI, you don't see them interact with people (in the Rome sequence, for example, no one gets knocked down by flying debris; and why only one person on the Golden Gate bridge?) Though others have faulted the science, my problem is how they would be able to keep a lid on all this pre-apocalyptic destruction without anyone catching on (Art Bell anyone?). My advice? Dial your brain to LOW and enjoy.
The director's commentary is, by turns, awkward, boring, informative, and unintentionally hilarious. A nice time-killer if you're bored, but no great insights here.
The MAKING OF documentary is only 11 minutes long, and also isn't very informative.
The VISUAL EFFECTS are also short, but I found them the most fascinating of all the special features.
The DELECTED SCENES are short (all about a minute or so each) and are all lumped together, apparently befitting their lack of importance.
Basically, if you're looking for a good Saturday afternoon matinee thrill ride, this is worth a rental or cheap buy, but not much more than that.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2005
First off lets start by saying that "The Core" is a Science "FICTION" film, yes fiction folks...the movie isnt meant to be real. We all know in this day and age of technology that if something of this magnitude would happen we would all burn up in a firey inferno. We can't maintain our computers much less build a giant centipede like machine to burrow to the center of the earth. Thats the beauty of this film and why i really enjoyed it. Basically it poses at "what if" we could do something about it kind of question, what would it be, and does it quite well i might ad. This movie has top notch special effects, much better than what "The Day After Tomorrow" could dish out, the acting is very good, yes these people actually "cry" and get very emotional when someone dies along the journey, they don't just shrug there shoulders and say oh well lets move on. Also the storyline is thin but very appealing, i like the way that they found each member of the crew and i also like the hacker that they found to use for there dirty work. So all in all this is what it says a "SCI-FI" movie that doesnt base anything on ok yeah we could sure do this or that, it just gets to the point and does it. And whoever is doing the science as i saw one reviewer say, has way to much time on there hands. Who really cares about whats the probability of the ship going there, or i don't think they'ed have enough air, or i don't think so. This is a fictional film folks, so watch it as such, and leave all your realistic interpretations of this film out of it. Enjoy.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2003
"Journey to the Center of the Earth" meets "Armageddon" meets "Fantastic Voyage."
"The Core" is one of those inane, hokey disaster pictures in which a group of egghead types - armed with all sorts of preposterous high tech gadgetry - is sent on a secret mission to save the earth from certain destruction. In this case, the [danger] comes from the earth itself, since it would appear that the planet's molten outer core has suddenly stopped spinning - resulting in unimaginable havoc for life on the surface, including sudden, inexplicable mass deaths, horrific electrical storms and deadly microwaves that literally cook everything that gets in their path. In an act of desperation, the United States government comes up with a plan to fund the building of a special vehicle that will be able to break through the thousands of miles of rock comprising the crust and the mantle in order to detonate some nuclear explosives in the hope of getting the core spinning again.
"The Core" might have been a decently entertaining "bad" movie did it not suffer from one fatal structural flaw - which is that, once the capsule is "launched," we are as trapped inside the plummeting vehicle as the hapless scientists chosen for the mission. At least in "Fantastic Voyage" the microscopic crew got to meander through the human body. There's at least a little variety in that domain. But here in the center of the earth there's little else but rocks, rocks and more rocks (with a little molten lava thrown in for good measure) for the crew to keep plowing its way through. This might not have been so bad did the film not drone on for 136 dreary minutes. To fill up that time we are subjected to oodles of mind-numbing pseudo-scientific jargon, internecine squabbling among the characters, cartoon heroics, jejune philosophizing and cheesy special effects that look like a bad "laserium" show from the 1970's. The best moment of unintentional hilarity comes early on in the film when science professor Dr. Josh Keyes, in a scene that looks as if it were pulled straight out of the war room sequence in "Dr. Strangelove," gives a stoned-faced lesson in 6th grade science (explaining the four components of the earth's interior) to a roomful of astonished high level government officials. ...
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