Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon Amiel|
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Edited by||Terry Rawlings|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$73.4 million|
The Core is a 2003 American science fiction disaster film. It concerns a team that has to drill to the center of the Earth and set off a series of nuclear explosions in order to restart the rotation of the Earth's core. The film was directed by Jon Amiel, and starred Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, Tchéky Karyo, DJ Qualls, Bruce Greenwood and Alfre Woodard.
The film earned mixed reviews from critics, and was a mild box office success, earning $73.5 million worldwide on a $60 million production budget.
A series of disturbances caused by instability in the Earth's magnetic field lead geologist Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and scientists Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo) and Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) to learn that the Earth's molten core has stopped rotating; within a year, the Earth's magnetic field will collapse, irradiating the planet. The three develop a plan with the United States government to bore into the Earth's core and plant a series of nuclear charges at precise points to restart the core's motion and restore the field. A former colleague-turned-adversary of Professor Zimsky, the rogue scientist Ed "Braz" Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo), has developed plans for a nuclear powered vessel that could quickly drill through to the core aided by a high frequency pulse laser, with a hull made of "Unobtainium", an indestructible metal that can withstand the heat and pressure of the core. The government funds the construction of the ship, which Brazzelton names Virgil, while Keyes enlists the help of computer hacker Theodore Donald "Rat" Finch (DJ Qualls) to keep news of the potential global disaster off the Internet and stem a worldwide panic.
Virgil is piloted by Space Shuttle pilots Commander Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Major Rebecca "Beck" Childs (Hilary Swank). The Virgil is launched through the Marianas Trench from an offshore platform. The team accidentally drills through a gigantic empty geode structure, damaging the lasers when it lands at its base and cracking the geode's structure and causing magma to flow in. The crew repair and restart the laser array in time, but Iverson is killed by a falling crystal shard while returning to the ship. As Virgil continues, it clips a huge diamond that breaches the hull of the last compartment. Leveque sacrifices himself to save the nuclear launch codes before the compartment is crushed by extreme pressure.
Virgil eventually reaches the molten core. The new data they gather there reveals a flaw in the plan. The outer layer of the Earth's Core is less dense and much more fluid than anticipated, and the explosions will not generate the needed power to trigger rotation. After some calculations, they decide that by splitting their nuclear weapons into the remaining compartments and jettisoning each at specific distances, they can create a "ripple effect", where the power of each bomb will push against the blast of the next, generating the needed energy wave. However, because Virgil was not designed to jettison undamaged compartments, the plan requires someone to deactivate a safety switch that is in an area exposed to the extreme temperatures. Brazzelton volunteers and deactivates the switch, dying shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile on the surface, the public becomes aware of problems after super storms start to cover the world, coupled with the collapse of the Golden Gate Bridge due to Ultraviolet radiation from the Sun penetrating to the lower atmosphere. Finch is unable to stop worldwide panic but instead learns of the top-secret project "DESTINI" (Deep Earth Seismic Trigger INItiative), which is to be deployed if the Virgil mission fails. Finch relays his information to Keyes, who discovers that Zimsky was one of DESTINI's lead scientists. DESTINI, according to Zimsky, was designed as a weapon to propagate earthquakes through the Earth's core, but its first activation has unintentionally stopped its rotation instead. Zimsky reveals the government will use it again to attempt a restart of the core. Keyes is convinced it will have disastrous results, so he has Finch hack into DESTINI's system and cut its power supply to buy the Virgil more time: Finch detects an activation of DESTINI and manages to divert the project's power build up toward Coney Island.
Keyes and Zimsky realize they have miscalculated the necessary yield, but Zimsky gets trapped in a detaching compartment. Zimsky suggests they use the ship's nuclear fuel to achieve the sufficient yield, which will save the planet but leave Keyes and Childs without power.
As the triggered explosions go off, successfully restarting the core's rotation, Keyes and Childs realize they can use the unobtainium shell to convert the heat and pressure from the wavefront to power the Virgil, and they are able to escape the core. They break through the crust underwater, leaving them on the ocean floor without power and communications. They believe themselves lost but use the remaining power to activate a weak sonar beacon. The beacon attracts a nearby whale pod, and Finch is able to trace their whale songs to locate the Virgil. A week after the mission, Finch logs onto a computer at an internet cafe and releases the information about Project DESTINI, the Crew of Virgil and their mission onto the Internet.
- Aaron Eckhart as Dr. Joshua "Josh" Keyes, a scientist and professor at the University of Chicago who designs the navigation system for Virgil and is assigned as head of the project.
- Hilary Swank as Major Rebecca "Beck" Childs, USAF, an astronaut who distinguished herself during an emergency crash landing of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in Los Angeles, California.
- Delroy Lindo as Dr. Edward "Braz" Brazzelton, the designer of Virgil and the ultrasonic laser.
- Stanley Tucci as Dr. Conrad Zimsky, Earth specialist and designer of Project D.E.S.T.I.N.I..
- Tchéky Karyo as Dr. Serge Leveque, nuclear weapons specialist.
- Bruce Greenwood as Commander Robert "Bob" Iverson, USN, Major Childs' commander and mentor.
- DJ Qualls as Theodore Donald "Rat" Finch, a computer hacker who is widely regarded as the best in the world, crippled the FBI's database, recruited to control the flow of information on the Internet to prevent public panic.
- Alfre Woodard as Flight Commander Dr. Talma "Stick" Stickley, the mission commander for NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour and Virgil.
- Richard Jenkins as Lieutenant General Thomas Purcell, a lieutenant general in the United States army and leader of the operation.
The film garnered mixed reviews. The film received 41% positive reviews out of 153 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10 at the movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes; the site's consensus states "A B-movie with its tongue planted firmly in cheek, The Core is so unintentionally (intentionally?) bad that it's a hoot." Several reviews cited the numerous scientific inaccuracies in the film. The film made less than half of its production budget back during its time in United States theaters. Internationally it was somewhat more successful; the film made $42,311,715 in the international market and grossed around $73,498,611 worldwide.
Elvis Mitchell, of The New York Times, said, "The brazen silliness of The Core is becalming and inauthentic, like taking a bath in nondairy coffee creamer. The Earth core's inability to turn is mirrored in the cast's inability to give the picture any spin." Kenneth Turan, of the Los Angeles Times, was a little more forgiving, saying, "If The Core finally has to be classified as a mess, it is an enjoyable one if you're in a throwback mood. After all, a film that comes up with a rare metal called Unobtainium can't be dismissed out of hand."
In response to criticism of his screenplay's lack of scientific realism, screenwriter John Rogers responded that he tried to make the science accurate, but expended three years fighting "to get rid of the ... dinosaurs, magma-walks in 'space-suits', bullshit-sci-crap sources for the Earth's crisis," and a windshield for the ship Virgil.
On March 30, 2009, it was reported that Dustin Hoffman was leading a campaign to get more real science into science-fiction movies. Hoffman is on the advisory board of the Science & Entertainment Exchange, an initiative of the United States National Academy of Sciences, intended to foster collaborations between scientists and entertainment industry professionals in order to minimize inaccurate representations of science and technology such as those found in The Core.
In a poll of hundreds of scientists about bad science fiction films, The Core was voted the worst.
On February 21, 2010, The Guardian ran an article about American professor Sidney Perkowitz's proposals to curb bad science in science fiction movies. In the article, Perkowitz is said to have hated The Core. "If you violate [the coherent rules of science] you are in trouble. The chances are that the public will pick it up and that is what matters to Hollywood. The Core did not make money because people understood the science was so out to lunch," he added.
The Core shares many of its key plot lines with an earlier, low-budget film Deep Core (2000). These include the concept of a man-made global disaster, a renegade scientist hero, a self-propelled laser drilling vessel that can travel in magma and restoring the balance with a series of nuclear explosions.[original research?]
- "The Core (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
- Mitchell, Elvis (March 28, 2003). "Movie Review - 'The Core' - Trying to Jump-Start the Earth's Heart". NYTimes.com. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
- "'The Core' - MOVIE REVIEW - Los Angeles Times". LATimes.com. March 28, 2003. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "The Screenwriter Of THE CORE Responds!!". Ain't It Cool News. Jan 4, 2003.
- "'Actor Dustin Hoffman lobbies for more reality in science-fiction movies'". News.com.au. March 30, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- Ian Sample (February 21, 2010). "Drive to make Hollywood obey the laws of science | Film". London: The Guardian. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
- "'Deep Core (2000)' - MOVIE REVIEW - Internet Movie Database". IMDb.com. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
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- Review of The physics of The Core at Bad Astronomy
- Review of the Core at Intuitor.com