Is it summer already? The season for dunderheaded action extravaganzas certainly seems to be upon us with the release of The Core, a lumbering mishmash of recent disaster flicks that’s as aggressively loud and obnoxious as it is tiresomely stupid. A newfangled U.S. weapon of mass destruction that creates carefully-targeted earthquakes has produced an unforeseen side effect: the seismic disturbances have halted the rotation of the Earth’s core, creating deadly electromagnetic storms and other similar catastrophes. As in the far superior Armageddon (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d write!), the government assembles a team of quirky heroes, each with their own specialty sure to come in handy for their mission—which is to burrow to the center of the planet and launch a few nukes in an effort to restart the core before the planet melts away. The film kicks things off with a space shuttle crash landing, and one would worry about the scene conjuring up memories of the recent Columbia disaster were it not for the fact that nothing in this lame-brained adventure ever warrants serious thought. Lots of scientific mumbo-jumbo is thrown about regarding the causes of this cataclysmic problem and the high-tech ways in which it’ll be rectified, but it’s difficult to create suspense when there’s never any doubt that the film’s super-smart characters will employ MacGyver-like ingenuity to overcome every obstacle in their path. Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, Tchéky Karyo and Bruce Greenwood are the team sent to travel hundreds of miles underground, while Alfre Woodard is left to man the control room and DJ Qualls gets to play a computer hacker whose job is to keep news of the mission off the Internet. No one seems to break a sweat except during their requisite death scenes, and the core itself is a lackluster combination of rock, fire and unimaginative crystal canyons that resemble a knock-off of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. For my money, I’ll take Journey to the Center of the Earth‘s prehistoric monsters and campy James Mason performance over this drivel any day of the week.
Not since last year's Vanilla Sky has Paramount offered the kind of top-notch video and sound transfer available on this DVD edition of The Core. Skin tones are beautiful, blacks are incredibly rich, and there's nary a compression artifact to be found. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround may just knock a few speakers out. Every computer bleep, spaceship roar and pigeon attack has an apocalyptic-sounding ring to it.
Because Amiel is so easily tickled by the little tweaks he did to the Paramount logo and the opening transition between hot magma and the swirls on an amusement park ride, you're likely to stop listening to his commentary track about five minutes into the film. A making-of featurette is pretty standard stuff though screenwriters Cooper Layne and John Rogers are every bit as playful as a clearly delusional Amiel, who mentions how "smart" the film is and how "character-driven" and full of "heart" it is. Amiel goes on about his lost "darlings" on 10 deleted scenes that, not surprisingly, are more character-driven than anything that did make it into the film. Less creepy is a visual effects featurette covering the following segments: Pre-Visualization, Trafalgar Square, Rome, The Golden Gate Bridge and Geode. Also included here are trailers for Timeline, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and the upcoming Indiana Jones DVD collection.
"Why are you watching my movie? Why are you listening to me?" says Amiel. Our sentiments exactly.