It’s the end of the world and all I got was high

Hello everybody. Tonight I’m bringing you another double feature review. The theme of this post is “end of the world.” It suddenly hit me the other day that we were all supposed to die horribly at the end of last year in a spooky Mayan apocalypse. Fortunately, it all turned out to be a crock of shit. In celebration, I watched two movies in which humanity is almost wiped out. Hope you like these reviews and if you don’t, then thank your lucky stars I didn’t review 2012.

The Core (2003)

The_Core_poster

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action Adventure, Comedy

Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci

Synopsis: The Earth’s core has stopped spinning so a bunch of “academics” decide to nuke it to get it going again.

Remember in a previous blog post how I wrote that sci-fi can be the hardest genre to pull off successfully because not only do you have to get the story done right but you also have to make sure that the science is (relatively) accurate? Well, there are some movies that do this well enough and then there are some that fail spectacularly. Without a doubt, The Core falls into the latter grouping. It’s a film in which the writers paid absolutely no attention to scientific logic and reasoning and decided to base a movie entirely on pseudo-science. Did they seriously think people were going to buy this crock-of-shit about the Earth’s core generating electromagnetic fields that keep the sun’s rays at bay? Also, nuking the Earth’s core!? AAAAHHHH! THE STUPIDITY, IT HURTS!

Having said that, there is something rather brilliant in the fact that the writers “went there” and decided to write something as heinously ridiculous as this movie and still be able to get it made. I want to meet the studio executives who green-lit this movie because, whoever they were, they clearly had a great sense of humour. I’m assuming, of course, that this movie was pitched to them as a comedy and not as a serious sci-fi-action movie. If you’re able to suppress the rage this movie incites then it manages to become pretty fucking funny. Of course, a visit from your good friend Mary Jane will help in that respect.

In addition to The Core’s inherent crazy plot, everything in this movie is executed so poorly that you just can’t help but laugh. The scene in which London is attacked by confused birds was easily one of the most laughable disaster scenes ever made. First of all can I just point out, London is not communist Russia and at no point was the UK ever part of the Eastern-block. We do not drive around Trafalgar Square in cars that look like they were made by some obscure East Berlin car manufacturer and our red busses have not looked like they do in this film since the 1960s. Similarly, at no point will you here a British person, a taxi driver or otherwise, utter the phrase “C’or blimey, what’s all this about then!?” If you’re going to set a disaster scene in London, then please make an attempt to visit London and understand we’re not buck-toothed cockney paupers. I may be broke but I ain’t Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

Sorry, that was a bit of a rant. In brief, other aspects of the film’s hilarity include: Stanley Tucci who plays some sort of mincing celebrity academic (C’mon Stanley, we all know you can do better); the fact that Aaron Eckhart play a super sexy world expert but is teaching his university students science that I was learning in high school at the age of 15; and anything anybody says to anybody else at any point in the move’s progressions.

High-lights:

  • “We dicked around with the Earth and now it’s fucking us over….so let’s nuke that son of a bitch.” Not a quote from the movie but it works well as a tagline.
  • At its core (lol I made a funny), there is a good message which is: “fund scientific research.” Although the science is all bullshit in this movie, the characters recognise that they’re only able to get to that level of craziness because they got good funding from the government.
  • The scene in space was cool and made me feel weightless for a split second.

Downers:

  • Nothing in this movie makes any sense. The whole movie’s premise is based on a geometric shape and not on any kind of real science.
  • The soundtrack is awful.
  • “Look, the whales are singing to us!” *retch*

Summary:

Rating movies like The Core is always a difficult task because, on one hand, they’re so shit but, on another equally important hand, they’re so funny. At the time I watched this movie, I remember being profoundly disappointed. I wasn’t expecting anything like 2001 or Blade Runner but when I watch a terrible sci-fi movie it really makes my heart hurt. Maybe if I had watched this movie with a stoner buddy or a group of people I would have scored it higher because the movie’s comedic aspects would have taken front and centre. As I watched it on my own, my 420 giggle fits were broken up by shouting at the screen and weeping on behalf of science. As such, I have to give the film a middling score to reflect the fact that my

5/10

Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine_poster

Genre: Sci-Fi

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh

Synopsis: The sun is beginning to run out of steam so a bunch of scientists and astronauts decide to nuke it to get it going again.

After writing the synopsis, I’ve become aware of the similarities between Sunshine and The Core. Both films involve a bunch of scientists nuking things in order to get them working again. However, Sunshine is definitely the more believable out of the two films and it takes inspiration from the sci-fi greats like 2001 and Alien.

One of the reasons that Sunshine succeeds as a sci-fi film while The Core fails is that Sunshine doesn’t delve too deeply into the scientific theory. All the audience knows is that it’s set a little bit into the future, the sun is dying, and we need to infuse the sun with hydrogen to keep it going. The movie doesn’t go too far into the technical issue and it doesn’t need to: it assumes that the science is correct and all the audience needs to concern itself with is the drama as it unfolds. It doesn’t provide the audience with an opportunity to pick holes or criticise its central premise. The Core, on the other hand, tries to convince the audience that the science is real through explanation and all that does is make is glaringly obvious what a complete load of bollocks the film is.

Another thing that Sunshine does well is that it puts together a truly amazing international cast. In interviews, Danny Boyle said that when he put the film together he wanted the cast to reflect that the problem of the sun dying was a global issue and that it was a problem all the governments would need to solve by working together. Bringing together actors and actresses from the USA, the UK, China, Japan, Korea, and Australia, Boyle accomplishes the challenge masterfully. Each actor and actress brings something special to their role and it’s great to see such a diverse cast work so well together to create Boyle’s vision.

A lot of people have criticised the film on the basis that, halfway through, the tone switches dramatically, going from a basic space survival story to a horror film. The criticism is well grounded and not wholly unwarranted. The switch in tone can be jarring and if you prefer one of the tones more than the other, you will be disappointed. I was not disappointed by the switch. I like all sorts of sci-fi movies and I didn’t find the move from 2001 to Alien annoying. However, I do recognise that if the movie picked one of the tones and ran with it the whole way through then the plot would have been more focussed and the movie would have been better. Still, that’s no reason not to watch such a good movie!

High-lights:

  • Space movies are always great to watch when you’re high and this movie perfectly grasps the inherent beauty and terror of outer space.
  • The scene in which the crew watch Mercury orbit the sun is so beautiful. Cracking soundtrack too.
  • Great use of colour. I really loved the vivid green in the oxygen garden.
  • The room of internet!

Downers:

  • The acting isn’t always on top form.
  • Although it clearly takes inspiration from great sci-fi movies, it doesn’t quite match up to them.
  • The Asians all die with a sense of honour! So racist.

Summary:

This is the sort of movie you’ll want to watch by yourself in a dark room. Also, strains that create cerebral highs are a must. Intelligent, well-developed, and beautiful, Sunshine will satisfy most peoples’ sci-fi cravings. While there are better sci-fi films out there, this is definitely worth the watch and should not be overlooked. Just be prepared for the switch in tone halfway through the movie. If you know the switch in tone is coming it might not disappoint you so much. If you are still disappointed, then watch The Core to gain more perspective.

7.5/10

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3 Comments

Filed under Action/Adventure, Good, Meh, Sci-Fi

3 responses to “It’s the end of the world and all I got was high

  1. Ha! Yeah – as much as I love end of the world movies, The Core was just too dumb! Really need to watch Sunshine again – remember liking the film but LOVING the amazing score.

  2. My geography teacher senior year was amazing. Best teacher I’ve ever had. He saw The Core on the weekend that it opened and then immediately decided that our class was to go on a field trip to see it the following week. The assignment was to find as many flaws and inaccuracies with the film’s science and physical geography as we possibly could. It was a quality teachable moment for sure.

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