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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Core: Special Edition
The Core: Special Edition
Paramount // PG-13 // September 9, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 29, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie:


A big-budget popcorn thriller with a sly sense of humor about what it is (I think I fell for the movie when one of the characters says, "Hang on, this isn't going to be subtle."), "The Core" is a delightfully entertaining ride. One of the better compliments that I can give the picture is that, when my copy arrived, I wanted to quickly check out the DVD for a few minutes and found myself watching nearly the whole thing.

The film is essentially "Armageddon" in reverse. The Earth has lost its electromagnetic field. The effects start showing themselves slowly - pigeons freak out in London, with hundreds of the birds flying into buildings or their old friend, statues. Things get progressively worse - a shuttle landing gone awry, freak lightning storms - until the Earth will eventually be toasted by solar winds. The reason? The Earth's core has stopped spinning and, unless restarted, well, that's pretty much it. I'll leave the reason why the planet has ground to a halt unspoiled, although I believe the trailers already gave it away.

Early in the picture, geologist Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) puts the clues together and figures that the Earth's core has stopped spinning. He brings it to the attention of an arrogant scientist, Zimsky (Stanley Tucci, wearing a bad wig and tearing into his character superbly), who, in turn, brings it to the attention of the White House. They - along with an "explosives expert" (Tcheky Karyo), two shuttle pilots (Bruce Greenwood and Hilary Swank) and a computer hacker (DJ Qualls) head off into the desert to meet with Dr. Edward Brazleton (Delroy Lindo), who just happens to be working on a ship that could burrow into the Earth, if it was near completion. No problem - the government offers him a check for $50 billion (Eckhart's character advises using a credit card because it gets "miles" - not that funny a bit, but Eckhart's timing turns it into an amusing throwaway line).

The idea? Burrow into the Earth and set off a nuclear explosion, which should start the Earth's core going again. The film's science is absurd, but clearly, the movie doesn't play much attention to the fact and generally, is successful in trying to skip over anything questionable. The reason for the film's success is almost entirely in the casting, as the series of B-list actors add a certain gravity and credibility to the project. Eckhart isn't an action hero, but he certainly delivers ridiculous lines in a way that makes what he's saying convincing and involving. Tucci is wonderful as an egotistical scientist who may be behind the Earth's troubles. Swank is confident and a strong presence as the film's only female lead performance. Reliable actors Tcheky Karyo, Bruce Greenwood, Delroy Lindo, Alfre Woodard and Richard Jenkins do a fine job in supporting roles. One of the film's biggest surprises is director Jon Amiel. Although I've never particularly liked any of the director's movies, he handles this ridiculous big-budget fare with the right tone.

Technically, this is pretty decent fare. The film's effects are somewhat cheesy, but in a good way. John Lindley provides enjoyable 'scope cinematography, as well. Some editing could maybe have made the picture even more enjoyable, as at 2 hours and 14 minutes, the picture runs about 15-20 minutes longer than it should have. Negatives aside, I had fun with "The Core", pure and simple - it's certainly goofy at times, but it's a well-made popcorn thriller that I enjoyed.


The DVD

VIDEO: "The Core" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen by Paramount. This is another excellent transfer from Paramount, albeit with a few minor faults. Sharpness and detail are excellent throughout, as the picture remained crisp and well-defined, with only a couple of minor instances of softness. Fine details were often visible.

Mild edge enhancement was seen in a couple of scenes, but didn't cause that much of a concern. A couple of specks were also noticed on the print used. Pixelation or other problems weren't spotted, though. The film's bright color palette was accurately rendered, with well-saturated colors and no smearing.

SOUND: "The Core" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is a mildly aggressive effort. Christopher Young's score largely comes from the front speakers, but has respectable presence and depth. Noticable surround effects do enter in throughout the action sequences, but some lower-level ambient sounds and sound effects could have been present a bit more consistently to add a greater sense of immersion. Audio quality is certainly good, as strong bass is often present and sound effects, dialogue and music remained clear.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Jon Amiel. The track is rather dry at times, but the casual track does prove informative at times. The director chats about casting, talks about elements of the script and particular scenes that were either changed or cut and discusses some technical aspects of the production, such as effects.

Effects Deconstruction: These are small featurettes with the visual effects crew of the picture discussing their work on some of the film's major effects sequences. Interviews and other elements (such as seeing the separate elements on their own before the final sequence) are included. 5 featurettes are included and each run for a few minutes.

Also: 14 minutes of deleted scenes with optional director's commentary, a 10-minute featurette and previews for other Paramount titles.

Final Thoughts: Excellent acting turns what could have been a mediocre popcorn movie into a compelling and entertaining big-budget thriller. It's certainly not without its faults, but I quite liked "The Core". Paramount's DVD offers very good audio/video quality and quite a few supplements. Recommended.

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