Apr 11, 2020

"The Core":Has Something No Other Disaster Movie Has

We're running low on post-Apocalyptic zombie movies for our "Stay Inside" film festival, so last night we went with The Core (2003) instead.  Wow, what a bomb: ludicrous, silly, and immensely boring. But it had one thing that most disaster movies don't have, that most Hollywood movies of any sort don't have, that makes it worth a watch (or at least a fast-forward). I'm going to go through it scene by scene for the first 15minutes, and then fast-forward.

Scene 1: A fair, with rights, clowns, kids, the works.  Obviously this is going to be...no, we move into the building next door, where suit-and-tie Dave (Christopher Shyer)  tells his coworkers, "Let's go make $30,000,000!"

He must be the protagonist!

Nope, he goes into the board room and drops dead.

Scene 2: Ludicrous Indiana-Jones-style swashbuckling geophysics professor Josh (Aaron Eckhart, above) is teaching his class, when government suits sweep him away to a facility to look at some corpses.  He runs into his old boyfriend, famous geologist Serge (Tcheky Karyo).  Seriously,they do everything but French kiss.  Serge has to mention his wife and kids back home every five seconds, to keep audiences from reading them as a gay couple.

Turns out that everyone with a pacemaker in a 10 block radius of the fair dropped dead. Pacemaker malfunction.  But don't worry, that never happens again.

Scene 3:  Trafalgar Square.  Dad (Bart Anderson) is filming his wife and kid amid the pigeons at the Nelson Monument.  Suddenly the birds start flying into buildings, cars, people, as if their internal nagavation system has gone haywire.  In the resulting chaos, Dad and company run into a building to hide.

Surely they will be important later?  Nope, they never appear again, and the birds never attack again.

Scene 4:   On a space shuttle, newbie astronaut Beck (Hilary Swank) begins her first descent.  Then the navigation system goes haywire, and she has to negotiate a crash landing in the L.A. River.

Ok, she must be The Girl, with whom swashbuckler Josh will fall in love. It happens in every disaster movie, without fail.

Fast Forward: Josh approaches ultra-effete, gay-stereotyped,, cigarette-in-holder, coat-draped-on-shoulders, "do you know who I am?"  celebrity geophysicst Zimsky (Stanley Tucci).  Together they figure out that the Earth's core has stopped rotating.  Huh?

This will result in electromagnetic disturbances, and within a year, the microwaving of all life on Earth.  Huh?

Fortunately, some controlled nuclear explosions at the Earth's core will get it moving again. Huh?

And Josh knows a crank living in the desert (Delroy Lindo, left) who is working on a ship capable of burrowing down that far.  It's built from a new experimental alloy called...get this...unobtanium.  Huh?

To avoid mass hysteria, they hire celebrity hacker/comic relief Rat (DJ Quals, one of my favorite actors) to delete any document on the internet that mentions the coming catastropheor the burrowing expedition.

Is that really necessary?  Lots of scientists have been telling us that the human race will soon go extinct due to global warming, and no one is hysterical. 

Regardless of how critical the situation is, every disaster movie -- well, basically every Hollywood movie -- always takes the time to ensure that male characters demonstrate that they are heterosexual by mentioning wives and girlfriends, double-taking at hot girls, and so on.  Here, nothing.  No one except Serge says or does anything. Rat says that he would like to have sex before the world ends, but doesn't specify with whom.  Completely lacking in heteronormativity!

Then...Beck joins the team, and has a standard "you're arrogant!"  pre-romance combat.with Josh.  I know where this is headed....

And they're off to the center of the Earth. The rest of the movie is set on a small, shaking ship zooming through magma.  Various gobbledegook technical problems arise: "we've lost the containment valve on the back oscillator, and it will flood the iodes with beta particles!".  The crew members heroically sacrifice themselves one by one, leading to long, sobbing eulogies. (Josh is particularly heartbroken over the death of his ex-boyfriend Serge).

Guess which two survive long enough to detonate the bombs and make it back to the surface, where they are located through whale calls?

Right -- Beck and Josh, sort of cuddling in an escape pod.

But they don't kiss, or ask each other out on a date, or anything heteronormative.  Beck does ask Josh to come work for NASA,but he refuses.  He likes being a professor.

Last scene:  Rat hacking into every computer in the world to reveal the truth about the expedition and its crew.

No fade out kiss!  No boy and girl gazing into each other's eyes forever!  This was a great movie!


  1. Yeah, suffice to say, the premise makes no sense, but no fade-out kiss, no last two survivors repopulate the Earth with a bunch of mutant grandkids and me making banjo sounds.

    1. They are successful in saving the Earth. Life goes on as usual, except that Rome and San Francisco are gone. You'd think that would have an impact on the world economy.

  2. I liked this movie because it reminds me of that 1950's sci fi classic "When Worlds Collide"in which most of the survivors are white and straight

  3. Why the photo of Matthew Broderick (number two from the top)?

    1. It's Tchecky Carko, who played the best friend/famous geologist.


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