There is ominous music over top of the Paramount introductory credit so you KNOW shit is going to get real. Straight into the title after that, no bullshitting around with people's names or anything, that's how you know time is of the essence. After that we go to a fair ground on what we're told is “Green World Day” (sounds suspiciously made up) in Boston where the camera pans to see some douchebags in business suits (two guys and a girl (equal opportunity: women can be douchebags, too)) talking about a business deal with one of them even saying (while walking and looking slightly above the camera, of course) “let's go make three million dollars”. I get the feeling that's as low as the producers set their goals for this movie. Whatever the case is, he just collapses for no reason and then we hear a bunch of car horns and crashes and we pan back to the fair ground which is now in chaos with a bunch of other random people all collapsed for no reason. Something is afoot.
The University Of Chicago now where Mr. World's Most Cleft-Chin 1992-Present (inclusive) himself (Aaron Eckhart) is teaching a class about sound waves and how they change going through solids and blah blah “science”. Government agents show up and they need him to come with them because I guess he's clearly one of those rogue former government scientists that play by their own rules and are always around in movies. He goes to Washington and meets up with some other French scientist who's an old friend and they bullshit for a while and get walked into a room full of the dead bodies and a general telling them “everything is totally classified”. Turns out everyone that died had pacemakers and some more “science” talk from Eckhart to establish him as the genius of the piece since he figured out the pacemaker thing without any hints.
Cut to another civilian scene and we've got a bunch of pigeons falling dead out of the sky in London. I guess they're not “falling dead out of the sky” so much as “flying into things, dying, and falling out of the sky” but, you know, same difference. Eckhart is starting to put things together when he sees the news coverage of this and makes some comment to one of his lab monkeys to search the internet for a bunch of different stuff all relating to magnetic fields and animals that interact with them going screwy. I wouldn't bring that up except he says it and the other guy is “that's a hell of a search” and Eckhart says something like “well use that big T1 line, that's why we got it put in”. Now, I don't speak IT-Nerd that well and this movie IS from 2003, but even I know that the number of terms and the specificity of your search aren't effected by the speed of your internet connection. At this point I hope they show the guy on the computer and he's using like Netscape and clicks on an Angelfire page or something. That would make this whole movie worth it.
The poorly-early-2000s-CGI'd space shuttle is doing stuff now. Not sure what yet but there's a black astronaut at the controls so everyone cheer for diversity and/or make some type of Archer reference. Also, he may be gay with his white co-pilot as they both just sort of reach out and hold hands for a second. Holy crap: gay, black, astronaut in an inter-racial couple? I think Gene Roddenberry's head just exploded from beyond the grave that's so sci-fi inclusive. Hilary Swank is also aboard the space shuttle. They talk for a bit and it turns out she's the space hot-shot to Eckhart's “science” hot-shot. I'm sure this is more coincidence than over-the-top running theme for the people they feature in this movie. Now the shuttle is in trouble because they're out of position by a lot due to the magnetic fields or something and are now coming in for a hot landing over L.A. instead of in Florida (“Michael Bay Science”). Hilary Swank is going to save the day because nobody else has any ideas. They action sequence land in the same place where John Conner escaped T2 on his dirt bike (with a T1 assist on the escape) and I need to check the credits on IMDB again just to make sure Michael Bay really wasn't involved in this. Actually, I don't. Nothing exploded in the landing so there's no way he did. Moving on.
Eckhart is confronting some douchey ass-hat about his findings and the ass-hat is confirming the findings even though he can't believe them because (and we're about to get to the big reveal)...
...in a bit...
...suspense by long camera shots and more Hilary Swank...
...there are Northern Lights in Washington DC which... I assume isn't normal? I've never been there and there are Northern Lights here all the time so I wouldn't be weirded out if I saw them and have no context for why that's strange except the idea that WDC is pretty far south....Okay, we may be getting to the reveal here. We get Eckhart brought into the Dr. Strangelove war room where all the military brass is gathered plus the douchy ass-hat from before who is apparently the “science” advisor or whatever and is established as even more of a dick-bag because he's claimed Eckhart's research as his own and has brought Eckhart in as a “contributor to [his] work” rather than as the guy that told him about it. I think we've figured out who's the villain of the piece.
The stakes of the movie: “everyone on Earth is dead in a year”.
Why? Wait for a bit, there's “science” being explained by way of comparing the layers of the Earth to the skin-meat-core of a peach because holy shit does this ever sound like a 60s Star Trek explanation! Anyway, the core of the Earth has stopped spinning so shit is getting real. “Three months, gentlemen, and we're back in the stone age. A full year, the [EM] field collapses, and [a ridiculously unnecessary demonstration involving a can of hairspray, a lighter, and the peach/Earth model] happens”.A WHOLE BUNCH of “there's no way we can fix this” talk, the phrase “we're talking about jump starting the planet” is used (seriously), some more “this can't be done” lines, followed by (and this IS a quote): “yes... but what if we could?”
Helicopter flying across the desert towards a mountain range with build-up music playing!
This really is “Armageddon: The Other Way” the movie.
Delroy Lindo is in this as a crazy black scientist why has a “legendary ship” that might be able to drill deep enough to get to the core. He has lower grade prototypes made up already and people are impressed (they literally say as much). More Michael Bay Science (“MBS” from here on out... which I just realized is funny 'cause it could mean “Major Bull Shit”, too) and the new element Delroy Lindo has created in the desert as a poor man after being discredited by science and stripped of all grants is (literally) called “Unobtainium” because fuck subtlety, and we get to the scene from the trailer that was meant to hook people in.:
General: “What would it take to get it done in three months?”
Lindo: [laughing] “15 billion dollars.” [laughing continues]
General: “Will you take a cheque?”
Now we start to assemble the team by playing horrible techno and seeing a junk-filled apartment with at least five computer screens and keyboards that the new guy is trying to “purge” as the federal agents get to his door. Ohhhhhh..... I 'm going to bet this guy is the “hacker”....! This really is awful techno; I can't stress that enough. It's DJ Qualls because of course it is. Dude's entire career is based around the words “nerdy”, “hacker”, and “meth-head-looking”. Props to him 'cause he's been in a LOT of shit based on nothing but being too scrawny to actually live if you're not some type of D&D wizard. Anyway, a bunch of nerd jokes (including a “you're not here to kill me, are you? 'Cause I was really hoping to have sex before that happens” bit which is 'funny' 'cause the dude's like 25 in this and they've already established his graduated from university), he's the best of the best of the best and... my god are we still in Hackers style ideas about what computers can do? Qualls says: “you want me to hack the planet?” and... wow.Side note: throwing up pop culture references in your movie is something I totally endorse, but... come on. Aim a BIT higher than Hackers which is a god-awful movie in its own right (almost as bad as Toy Soldiers which was another 90s movie about a hacker kid who went Home Alone on terrorists that took over his elite boarding school but is not to be confused with Small Soldiers which is about action figures coming to life and going Home Alone on a suburban family... and it is just now dawning on me how many ridiculous 90s movies I know...) because seriously: if you're going to set he bar as low as Hackers... and then fail to clear it... you are going to be judged SOOOO poorly.
Back to the movie: One more nerd joke (“IF I decide to do this, I'm going to need an unlimited supply of Xena [oh the 90s] tapes... and hot pockets”) and we're back into Hilary Swank stuff because I really do think at this point this Oscar winner had no idea what she was signing on for and saw the “pilot the space shuttle for an emergency landing in LA” and signed on without reading the rest of the script. ...she really should have read the rest of the script.
The “Avengers” (“Planeteers”? “Other reference”?) have assembled and this is just a weird transition scene between introducing everyone and getting on the Fantastic Voyage To The Center Of The Earth and other 60s sci-fi references. Oh: I'm going to call douchy ass-hat “Dr. Smith” from now on because Lost In Space. Also, in case Star Trek fans were feeling neglected after that “the Earth is a peach” metaphor was seemingly the only shout out they got: Alfre Woodard is in it as mission control (...she's in “First Contact”, fuck off that's a great movie). But yeah: training montage mixed with Eckhart's voice-over explaining the MBS of it all for the next three months. Dr. Smith has some lines that make it obvious shit is going to go wrong and it'll be his fault. Also: one hacker shuts down the 2003 internet so that the public has no idea any of this “restart the core” shit is going on. Because fuck logic at this point, everything is stupid. Also also: Eckhart and Swank are developing a “relationship” because it's a big budget movie and they're the two stars. I REALLY want to skip ahead more...
So I will. (fuck you, it's my review, I do what I want). Worldwide destruction begins, people know about the threat, blah blah blah, Armageddon In Reverse.
There are six people in the ship (Qualls is back in mission control so it's Eckhart, Swank, Lindo, Eckhart's French friend from the start, Dr. Smith, and the white guy that may have been in the homosexual relationship on the space shuttle who turns out was the commander of the ship and pilot and... look, he's here and we need some people to die along the way, okay?) and we're on our way. Whales start causing shit 'cause apparently no one learned the lesson of Star Trek IV except the whales since they don't so much 'cause shit” as “help them save the planet with their song” because MBS (...that time I think major bull shit is the one).
I can't get over how stupid some of the CGI is. Like... the best way to describe it is... their “ship” looks like the microscoped up version of a sperm which is apparently caught in a wind tunnel.
I should end this blog RIGHT NOW because there's nothing I can say to top that.
Since I'm an alcoholic and won't give up a reason to drink so easily, I'll keep going. They make it through the crust and start drilling their way towards the core based on Lindo's technology and, I assume, “magic”. They've got a couple days to go before they get into the core, so NOW we get to the best part of action/disaster/save-the-world movies: HUMAN DRAMA! ...I'm as excited as you are, shut up and let's deal with it.
They really do make every scene outside the ship look like sci-fi space from... the 1900s? There's a lot of crystals and such going on but a whole lot of “space ships in space” as well. Diamonds finally stop them for a while because obviously they're the hardest thing ever and blah blah blah MBS.
“We need to go outside and the only way out is through the propellers on the back of the ship... which we'll turn off with the liquid nitrogen to freeze those propellers even though we need it to keep us cool from the intense heat of the Earth's core that we're buying into.” MBS. Also: the way they test if the “suits” they have can withstand the pressure of however deep they are is by going outside into however deep they are in the suits... several of them... at one time... without testing it beforehand. Are we SURE these guys are the best there is?
Lasers solve everything... unless they're the lasers that were on the ship which were specifically designed to solve everything they'd face... and also cutting into the floor with lasers somehow lets magma in from the roof. With lasers. MBS. Holy shit they'd all be dead immediately. I mean, with real science. Lava that close and them in dumb space suits that take pressure for no reason? All dead. Anyway, Eckhart almost sacrifices himself to get the ship going again, but they save him at the last second and- WOW. Fuck everything. Triumphant music plays as people stand RIGHT ON THE EDGE OF THE LAVA IN THE EARTH'S CORE and deliver a speech directing the people inside the indestructible laser-powered ship what to do. I have to check if I'm looking at a movie OR the living embodiment of an Iron Maiden album cover. ...is that Eddy in one of the suits...?
...It is now seeing as the white commander of the space shuttle that may or may not have been homosexually involved with the black astronaut that hasn't been seen since that first scene is now dead and boiled skin from face in a couple seconds as he falls dead into the lava because- Well.. there's no way to make this easy, but... science won. MBS tried hard, but in the end, the guy remembered that standing on the lip of a magma pool is pretty much a BILLION degrees C or F and you're dead. So he collapsed into it and we get to see Swank as the only one who didn't know this was going to happen.
MBS keeps Eckhart alive and we continue the movie. And now he's got his shirt off and Hilary Swank is weepy over her mentor dying and... come on, dude. Even I can put my hormones away for a bit (especially around Hilary Swank). This IS the best scene of the movie since the two best actors are trying their hardest to pretend there's some chemistry between them as they're trying to save the world.
...Hilary Swank won another Oscar after this movie. Aaron Eckhart was a BADASS Two-Face in Dark Knight and ran house in Thank You For Smoking. Let this be a lesson to everyone: you can be in a shitty movie and still turn your acting career around.
...Did anyone EVER have countdown clocks with giant numbers in lime green?
“We're dodging diamonds the size of Cape Cod, so bear with me here” is a line. This movie is all of that. Also: French friend got cut out and left behind because the section of the ship got damaged and he was behind and... nope. Manual override is bullshit. French is dead. To be fair: “crushed to death by the Earth's core as you fight against all of nature and humanity” is pretty much the best way to die. Ever. Eckhart cries at Swank because she left the blast doors down and Frenchie died, but holy hell: if you were going to die, would you not want it to be as a hero on the quest to save the planet? Get over your sad, Harvey Dent, the fate of the world is in your hands and the girl you want to hate bang is driving the only ship that can save us all... ...if any part of that sentence were ever to be true... We would all be dead.
I forgot to mention: Eckhart is in a “Canadian tuxedo”. i.e.: a blue jean jacket and blue jeans and an matching shirt. It's odd. And a weird thing that I noticed. Either way he's back but with just a black T and jeans on. Now he's gone rogue... again.
Now they're getting to the core of the matter. Things are looking up because MBS and their calculations of MBS and... yeah, things are going to go wrong. 3... 2... 1...
...“are you telling me the 1,000 megatons of nuclear warheads we haul down here isn't going to cut it?” + “no”. Everyone is sad, MBS is spouted, Dr. Smith tries to talk people into going home (which.. I mean... you're in a one way drill to the centre of the Earth... “dig up, stupid”?), and... there's a “doomsday device” style thing going on (“Dr. Strangelove”) and... yup. This is where this is going.
Eckhart and Swank want to nobly sacrifice themselves for the random idea that the original plan (which failed) might work if they keep trying it. Ass-hat raises the point that they're idiots and heroic sacrifices only work in movies. Thankfully, it's a movie. So Hilary Swank says “majority rules”, the vote is two against one, Hollywood American flags fly and fireworks spout off to the sounds of the Star Spangled Banner.
What actually happens: Ass hat gets knocked out by Lindo, and they all go in for the core restart and... Hollywood loophole so that Qualls doesn't have to detonate the nukes.
This next scene makes it seem like everyone in San Fran will be dead anyway.
...And now they're at the last second of anything and the government is against then and... yeah. They win. This is a stupid movie. There's so much dumb shit... Dr Smith keeps going on about trying to keep himself alive (Stanley Tucci is THE BEST character actor ever, by the way), Lindo punches him out because of course, and we all end up with the Core people riding a shockwave out like Lando Callrissian in Return Of The Jedi.
End with Qualls telling the world how they saved the world in the worst computer graphics you've ever seen. The End with a stupid hat. This movie sucks.