Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Core: silly fun for Vancouver film geeks

Okay: so, there's the 2003 thriller The Core on DVD, sitting in a bin of DVDs at a consignment store where, if you buy 10 of them, they're $1 each.
I love bins like that. 
I've seen pretty much every other major Hollywood disaster film from that time. Armageddon? Deep Impact? They're crap. But I missed this one. Standing in the store, I flip over the box: who directed it? (Jon Amiel, who, it turns out made the clever, entertaining serial killer flick Copycat, with Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney and Harry Connick Jr - but I don't recognize Amiel's name right off, so it means nothing to me).
So who's in it? Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo... okay. Richard Jenkins, Alfre Woodard, good... Stanley Tucci! Bruce Greenwood! 
That's about all the enticement I need to buy it - the cast alone is a dollar's worth of entertainment - but it's not til I'm watching it, and Tom Scholte pops up, do I realize that it was filmed in Vancouver. There's even a scene on the steps of the art gallery, that most iconic of Vancouver locations. I watch for Gabrielle Rose, and don't see her, but then in poking around IMDB I see Hrothgar Mathews, her partner, is in it. I was living in Vancouver when it was filmed, so I even keep an eye open in case I spy myself in the background. 
Unlikely, but what the hell.
For me, even an utter piece of crap would be made more entertaining by virtue of the local content, but here's the treat: as silly as its premise is, The Core is a really fun SF/ adventure/ disaster film, less insulting to its audience's intelligence than Armageddon and heaps more engaging than Deep Impact. The premise: the Earth's electromagnetic field is failing because the core of the planet has stopped spinning; global cataclysm looms. Scientists and astronauts - redubbed Terranauts - voyage into the planet in a combination drill (think At the Earth's Core) and laser, which blasts a hole ahead of them as they go. It's completely implausible, and the special effects, which I presume were state of the art back in 2003, aren't very convincing now, but  the film was clearly made by movie lovers, raised on a diet of 50's SF, so much so that you kind of expect dinosaurs to pop up (I'm not quite finished yet but presume this will not happen). Plus there's a rather Hitchcockian sequence where a crowd is menaced by birds. 
Roger Ebert wrote of The Core, back in 2003, that "I have such an unreasonable affection for this movie, indeed, that it is only by slapping myself alongside the head and drinking black coffee that I can restrain myself from recommending it. " I have no such problems. In fact, I'd much rather see the movies Ebert deems he has an "unreasonable affection" for than the ones he thinks are good, most generally. (Though neither category has quite as many masterpieces in it as the movies that Ebert thinks are immoral and dangerous).
Anyhow, if you want more description of the film, here's Roger. You can probably find your very own DVD of this for $1 somewhere, if you go lookin'. I promise you: it will be a dollar well spent - especially if you're a Vancouver movie geek. 

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