The Core

By Mark Ramsey | 2003/03/23

People drop dead, birds freak out, and strangest of all, Hillary Swank is in outer space! So begins The Core. And so ends the Oscar season.

The skies darken over Rome, and the Colosseum is struck by so much lightning it blows into a million bits and bytes. As is the norm in movies of this type, when natural disaster strikes, it bee-lines for the world’s most popular tourist attractions. Tragedy, it seems, has a great travel agent!

Why all these strange happenings? It seems our electromagnetic field is falling apart! And so, by the looks of her, is our Sally Field!

I know this is a disaster movie, but does it have to be so astonishingly disastrous? Not since Michael Caine battled a swarm of killer bees have I felt like I shouldn’t be eating my popcorn, I should be burying my head in it.

thecore_goldengate.jpgSaving the world requires venturing to the Earth’s core and blowing up stuff in order to right nature run amok. Hillary Swank brings her great wall of calcium choppers straight past her apoca-lips and into the jaws of danger. Maybe with luck she’ll locate a deep underground vein of Colgate.

But how to journey to the center of the Earth? “You need a really big drill bit,” notes able co-star Bruce Greenwood, “or if speed is of the essence Hillary can chew her way there!”

How did this happen, Hillary?! How did you take the wrong turn from Meryl Streep Boulevard onto Cheryl Ladd Way?

Somewhere in the Hollywood hills, Hillary’s Oscar has threatened to enter the Witness Protection Program. Maybe in her next picture, she can use it to swat at Godzilla and Rodan.

Our heroes board a specially designed ship that blasts through rock. How do they survive the unimaginable subterranean heat? Well, besides the fact that heat is unlikely ever again to confront the careers of this cast, they are strapped into a capsule cased in “Unobtanium.”


That’s an element in the same periodic table as “Absentcranium” and “Movielamium,” right? These “terranauts” are terra-nuts!

Enter the great actor Stanley Tucci who is on a blind date with his hairpiece. Stanley, the David Niven of disaster flicks, was gracious enough to fill in after Red Buttons and Ernest Borgnine proved unavailable.

See, here’s the problem: Earthquakes have been weaponized by the military under the theory that misunderstandings can be resolved if you shake some sense into the enemy. “Earthquakes were our second choice,” said Stanley Tucci. “Halitosis was our first, but it proved lethal only at short range. And then there’s the unacceptable collateral damage of social ostracism.”

thecore_delroy.jpgOur intrepid crew of heroic goofballs dodge giant deep Earth diamonds like Brittany Murphy dodges emotional baggage. Along the way, there’s one crazy workaround after another fixing one unanticipated crisis after another. “How do we get out of this mess?” Hillary asks Stanley. “Let me think!” he replies, running his fingers through his Dupont StainMaster.

The most amazing thing about the Earth’s core, I must say, is how much sunlight it gets. You can see for miles down there!

One by one our heroes sacrifice themselves – and that’s just by signing aboard this film.

Our crew must deliver an explosive charge large enough to restart the core. So picture, if you will, the scene: A vessel in the shape of an uncircumcised phallus penetrates Mother Earth and inseminates her core with nuclear-tipped casings which explode in coordinated waves, thus returning equilibrium to the planet. No wonder Mother Earth needs a cigarette.

This is one sorry-assed high concept. It would work so much better as a comedy – I mean an intentional one.

“What’s next for you?” asks Aaron Eckhart.

“I need a shower,” replies Hillary.

Thanks to The Core, don’t we all?

Photos Copyright ©2003 Paramount Pictures


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