Forgotten Films

The Core (2003)

If I have to include one big dumb Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster action adventure film in this list it has to be The Core. Now, I know that the definition of a forgotten film is certainly stretched when you're look at something on the order of a big dumb Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster action adventure film, but as it's surprisingly detailed but spoiler packed Wikipedia page indicates: "Despite being a big budget sci-fi flick in the vein of Armageddon, The Core flopped at the box office, earning only US$74 million worldwide. It failed to recoup production costs." Which means that less people have probably seen this film than most of anything else which is a good enough excuse for me.

Oh yes, it's stupid, but gloriously so. Any film that opens with the crash landing of a space shuttle into that drained river in Los Angeles to show that Hilary Swank's astronaut, sorry, terranaut character is quite good with sums and can navigate the ship off the top of her head cannot claim to be anything other than a b-movie. The premise is ludicrous - the centre of the Earth has stopped and they burrow what amounts to a manned missile with the maneuverability of an Arriva bus into the centre of the Earth to kick start it again using nuclear explosion. Some of the exposition is far too complicated for its own good, making up science hither and thither none of which sounds at all plausible and makes Star Trek's technobabble look like textbook GCSE Physics.

But, and this is a big BUT. It's just so damn entertaining. Transplanting the tone of Armageddon and Independence Day, no one seems to be taking this enterprise seriously and if they are it simply looks like spoofery on the order of Leslie Nielson in Airplane!, particularly the chiseled Aaron Eckhart who I always think looks a bit disappointed with life no matter the film he's in and Hilary Swank, bless her, three years out from Boys Don't Cry and still yet to make Million Dollar Baby. Her slate for the year was this and 11:14 (which is oddly enough also on this list and will appear later in the month) and I can't imagine what she was thinking as she had to act the shaking of whatever ship she happens to be piloting depending on the moment in the film.

Towering above all is Stanley Tucci playing Zimski, the scientist who may well have caused the whole shebang, oscillating between villainy and heroism and channeling Dr Smith in the original series of Lost In Space. Of course this is another in a long line of gloriously immoral characters for Tucci but he seems to be having a rare old time here and it's no surprise that half the deleted scenes on the dvd are him improvising and goofing off: "Yes, yes, yes, yes, and what if the core is made of cheese? This is all best guess commander. That's all science is, is best guess." Oh and there's also Road Trip's DJ Qualls as a computer hacker who accepts the assignment but only if he can have an unlimited supply of Xena: Warrior Princess and Hot Pockets to help him concentrate.

Recalling the Irwin Allen adventure films from the 1960s, the only bum note is the CG special effects, some of which, once the destruction of the major international landmarks (pictured) have passed, look fairly unspectacular as though the studio pulled some of the funding right at the last second so that they couldn't be quite finished properly. I suppose that could be considered part of its charm that indeed it just isn't perfect. But it doesn't need to be. As I described the film on here when I saw it not that long ago, "A group of scientists blast their ship through the Earth to restart its core sharing jokes and grim death along the way. How can a film so bad be so much fun?" I don't know, but it's best not ask too many questions. I know this was only three years ago, but they really don't make them like this any more and that's a shame.

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