the core.jpg (34166 bytes) The Core 
Paramount Pictures (2002) 

Reviewed by Doug Haywick

bullet1.gif (155 bytes) Find out who's to blame for this movie.

Movie Credits: 
Major Roles Arron Eckhart (Josh), Hillary Swank (Beck), Tcheky Karyo (Serge), Stanley Tucci (Zimsky), Bruce Greenwood (Richard), Delroy Lindo (Brazz), D.J. Qualls (Rat)
Director(s) Jon Amiel
Writer(s) Cooper Layne, John Rodgers
Producer(s) David Foster, Cooper Layne, Sean Bailey
Editor(s) Terry Rawlings
   
Rated PG 13

 

Geo Rating*

hammer.gif (1353 bytes)hammer.gif (1353 bytes)hammer.gif (1353 bytes) out of 5

* this is based upon the accuracy of the geology portrayed in the movie. A "good" movie may still suck geologically - or visa versa.

The Review:

Whenever I go to a movie with my friends, they always manage to figure out the plot long before I do. Well in this movie, I sorted it out within the first 4 minutes. I beat lead character and sexy geophysicist Josh by 2 minutes and he was supposed to be a wonder kid. I guess it should have been me taking that ride to nowhere instead of him.

Here is the basic premise of the film: the Earth's core has stopped spinning and its electromagnetic field is shutting down. This is bad and the movie treats us to a number of scary situations involving lightning, pace makers, a space shuttle and pigeons. After watching Armageddon a few years ago, I wondered if any of the model makers employed in that film  were ever going to work again. Well the're back and they did a fine number blowing up Rome and parts of San Francisco.

To get to the bottom of the non-spinning core problem, 6 intrepid heroes travel in the world's largest suppository that is named "Virgil" and is composed of a new and secret material (unobtainium). Fortunately, this material, which was discovered by wacko scientist Brazz, gets stronger the more pressure it is exposed to making it the ideal stuff to manufacture a craft to travel to the Earth's core. Brazz also invented a sonic laser device capable of drilling through solid rock fast enough to get the ship to the Earth's core in just a couple of days (100 mile an hour speeds are required for this feat). Computer nerd Rat stays behind to defend the team from, get this, publicity on the internet. We don't want the world to panic now do we? Go team, go (but don't tell anyone about it).

There are the typical rivalries between the major characters (Zimsky is a science advisor who held fund away from Brazz; Beck desperately wants to be a commander but is an underling to Richard) as well as the sexual tension that you just know is going to occur between Beck and Josh. At least the producers got this aspect of geology correct; Geologists are always smart, good looking and sexy, and they always get the girl (especially when she is smart, good looking and sexy). The rest of the movie is just so-so as far as the geology is concerned. Never mind that we will probably never be able to drill into the core, but if we could, I'm willing to bet that we would not start the adventure in the Mariana Trench. Sure, it's deep, but why drill through an area experiencing that much compression where the lithosphere is thicker? If I were Josh, I'd have gone through the oceanic crust in a middle of a tectonic plate where the oceanic crust is only 5 km thick ant the lithosphere is passive. Better yet, drop through a divergent plate boundary (Iceland?).

There were some really dumb moments in this film. One thousand km down, Virgil encounters a hole (void space). I don't doubt that there are small fluid filled voids in the mantle, but one several miles across filled by gas and lined by quartz crystal (specifically amethyst).... I don't think so. French geophysicist Serge comments that it must have been lined in cobalt to protect the "geode" from the pressure, but Serge, what about the heat? Cobalt is not a heat insulator. Quartz melts at less than 1000 degrees and that far in the mantle, it is far hotter than that. A better mineral would have been diamond, but the producers had another use for that polymorph of carbon. Poor Beck. In her first opportunity to play the Commander, she scratches the paint from Virgil when they are trying to dodge apartment-sized diamonds further in the mantle resulting in death, destruction and heroics by Serge..

Well the minute Virgil started his merry trip into hell, you just knew that the majority of the characters were going to die off one by one and that the only two that would be left at the end would be Josh and Beck. The only real question was who would die first?  It wasn't the "black guy" this time round. The winner (loser?) was Richard. He lasted until 1 hour and 10 minutes (1:10) of  the movie. After that, they dropped like flies. Serge went at 1:20, followed by Brazz (1:44), and Zimsky (1:49). They all died the typical hero death which was a bit surprising in the case of Zimsky because he was playing the pseudo-bad guy (we find out that he may have been responsible for the destruction of the electromagnetic field in the first place). For a while I thought Josh might also be dead (he had to expose the nuclear core of Virgil in order to save the planet), but he and Beck didn't seem to be worried about this at the end of the movie. Note to Beck: if you two get it on together (which looked quite likely), use birth control. Plutonium and babies do not mix.

Overall, the movie was an okay ride that was reasonably accurate with the geology if not the technology. Worth renting, but not buying.

Most inaccurate geo-line in the movie:

"They must be coming up in the space between tectonic plates near Hawaii" (Hawaii is in the middle of a single tectonic plate. Its volcanic activity is related to a hotspot, not a plate boundary).

 

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URL: http://www.usouthal.edu/geology/haywick/MOVIES/the_core.htm