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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Core



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#1 of 40 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted August 29 2003 - 02:48 AM

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The Core



Studio: Paramount

Year: 2003

Rated: PG-13

Length: 134 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English



Release Date: September 9, 2003


Fans of Armageddon would be among the first to admit that the film is not Science Fiction - for it doesn’t take science fact and make a fictional story around it. What it does is take a rudimentary knowledge of science, twist it into a form which allows the plot to advance as the writers wish it to advance, and present us with an action film that surrounds this warped view of science reality. Where Armageddon succeeded is in its heart.

The Core takes Armageddon’s twists of scientific reality and twists it even further. It’s as much the little things (unimaginably powerful lasers, static-free communication through miles of solid rock, flimsy suits that can stand up to thousands of pounds of pressure, building an entire vessel out of a substance which doesn’t exist any any quantity - in just a few months, the Golden Gate Bridge disintegrating in seconds after a hole in the atmosphere allows solar radiation through above it...) as it is the big things.

And, The Core has less heart that it’s progenitor.

Having made my point clear about the bad science in The Core, if you are able to switch off the logic circuits of your brain, you may still enjoy the ride in this formulaic action movie.

Aaron Eckhart stars as geophysicist Josh Keyes. Unfortunately, he presents as more “surfer dude” than geophysicist and college professor. Hilary Swank is along for the ride, and does an admirable job - but seems too young for her position. Stanley Tucci is an annoying presence throughout, as a chain-smoking scientist with an ego the size of Manhattan. Alfre Woodard is wasted in her role as mission controller. She stands around and looks worried a lot. Richard Jenkins is the typically brash military leader, who would be sorely missed in a formula disaster flick. Bruce Greenwood and Delroy Lindo round out the cast, and provide some real authority and heart to this film.

So, the film opens with a number of unexplained deaths in Boston. It seems that 39 people suddenly dropped dead. The only connection between them is that they all had pacemakers implanted. Then, across the Atlantic, in London - the pigeons in Trafalgar Square suddenly go mad in a scene reminiscent of The Birds, crashing into cars, buildings and people, injuring many in the process. Back in Chicago, Professor Josh Keyes jumps to the obvious conclusion that the Earth’s core has stopped spinning, that the planet’s magnetic field is collapsing, and that we will all be dead in a year because solar radiation will cook the Earth. He demonstrates this by lighting a sprayed stream of air-freshener and roasting a peach. It is hinted (and becomes clear later on) that this devastating damage to the Earth is due to a top-secret military weapon.

So, an elite team of scientists build a subterranean vessel (made of “unobtainium”- apparently a very strong substance) and embark on a dangerous journey to the Earth’s core, in order to set it spinning again with a thousand megaton nuclear explosion.

Are you still with me?

I won’t divulge any more of the plot... it might give too much away.

The visual effects are okay - some better than others - but none are cutting edge. The direction by Jon Amiel (Entrapment, Copycat) is adequate, given that he didn’t have a strong script to work with.

If you like disaster movies and are forgiving of films that play it loosely when it comes to science, you may well enjoy The Core. Having heard so many bad reviews before I screened this film, I went in with extremely low expectations - and I was mildly surprised that, for what it is, it isn’t all bad. The film’s saving grace is that it is somewhat character driven. While it’s true that the characters are rather formulaic, there are some genuinely interesting scenes, and moments where performances are quite sincere. This pushes much of my complaint into the background. The preposterous situation the characters are in can almost be forgiven, if you’re willing to just go along for the ride. I can’t quite give the film a positive recommendation - but if you’re a fan of the genre, there is something for you in The Core.

The Video
The Core is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The picture is bright and sharp, with outstanding shadow detail. There are no obvious signs of edge enhancement. There is virtually no visible grain. Colors are true and well saturated. The print used for the transfer was free of dust. This is, quite simply, an absolutely beautiful transfer.

The Audio
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is well-mixed. Dialog is crisp and clear, and always intelligible among the sound effects and music. Voices are reproduced very well, with a good frequency range - deep enough in bass, but not boomy. Music fills the front soundstage nicely, without covering dialog, and it blends quietly into the surround channels. Surrounds are active with sound effects, without being overdone. The early scene in Trafalgar Square has some great rear effects. Low frequency effects are present and reasonably active, but there could have been a bit more “punch” with the nuclear detonations. Overall, this is a very nice sounding Dolby Digital mix.


Special Features

Commentary by director Jon Amiel
Amiel gives a traditional commentary here, without being too technical. He describes the types of visual effects as they appear (lot’s of CGI). He comments on the accuracy of scientific statements made by the characters, at those times when the science is accurate, anyway. He even occasionally comments on some of the “scientific license” taken on the film... though the most egregious errors go unmentioned. Comments are made on the actors and props when he wants you to take note of some interesting points. Look for the fish in the London sequence!

To the Core and Back: The Making of The Core (10:52)
Writers, producers, director and others talk about the impetus and evolution of the film. We learn of the process of putting on screen things that human-kind has never seen. Major cast members chime in on performing in a film where they need to react to things they can’t see or understand.

Deconstruction of the Visual Effects
Pre-visualization (4:31)
Discussion of the story-boarding process, and how animatics and entire scenes are built in the computer.
Trafalgar Square (03:16)
Birds and buildings are created in CGI. A crew of 9, for six months - 34 shots.
Rome (3:32)
Deconstruction of the destruction of the Coliseum in Rome, via an 80 foot model.
The Golden Gate Bridge (4:27)
We see how the Golden Gate Bridge was destroyed, thanks to CGI.
The Geode (3:03)
Again, CGI (combined with a small set on a stage) creates a 2000 foot wide geode.

Deleted / Extended Scenes (total time: 14:11)
10 deleted scenes (untitled) play back-to-back, with or without director commentary.

These scenes are quite interesting - some giviing more back-story to the characters, some describing technology in more detail. My guess is that these scenes were cut for reasons of pacing, more than anything else.

Previews
Timeline
Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life
The Indiana Jones Trilogy

Special Features are not anamorphic.

Final Thoughts
The film may not be to everyone’s taste (Roger Corman fans notwithstanding), but it has it’s moments. The video presentation is up to Paramount’s usual high standard, and the Dolby Digital Soundtrack hits the right notes. The deconstruction of the special effects was interesting to watch - this film used a lot of CGI effects. The deleted scenes were also of interest. This film gets proper treatment on this DVD.

#2 of 40 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted August 29 2003 - 03:11 AM

Thanks for the review Scott. I just bought this a few days ago, sight unseen, because I was in dire need of some new sci-fi material. It seems good ones are few and far between these days. Anyway, I too had heard the non-glowing reviews but decided that I would like this before even seeing it and for the most, part I did. Your comparison to Armageddon is well justified although I did not really think that movie had much heart either, and its lack of basis on science was equally apalling.
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#3 of 40 OFFLINE   Chuck Watwood

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Posted August 29 2003 - 03:14 AM

Nice review Scott. I have been looking forward to this release, however, I was unsure whether to rent or buy. Based on your review, I think I'll go the rental route and then decide to buy or not. This sounds like a fun popcorn movie that shouldn't be taken too seriously. If viewed in that light, it should make for a fun evening.
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#4 of 40 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted August 29 2003 - 04:12 AM

Well, as I said after I saw the movie in the theater "Armageddon took it's science texts, and tossed them out the window. The Core takes them, lights them on fire and jumps up and down on them laughing maniacly before loading the ashes into a rocket bound for the sun". The horrifically bad science in The Core is just monumental, including the easiest of easy (there...are....no..Orca...Whales...in...Hawaii... dumbass!) to the slightly more thoughtful (Daddy, if there's 5000lbs of pressure around them, how can they move?- actual quote from an 8yo behind me). This movie is so slapdash it isn't funny (they say they're on one aircraft carrier, and the hats are from the Abraham Lincoln, do I even need to bring up that the Lincoln is based in Norfolk, so would not be going near Hawaii?) Compounding all this, was the writer going on Ain't It Cool crowing about how meticuously researched the film is. *snort*

I have a lot of connections with this film. A friend of a friend was one of the FX people, and my brother's carrier group is the one shot for the end. I'm kind-of dissapointed that some of the REALLY ludicrous stuff didn't make it into the deleted scenes (the layer of Mammoth bones floating in "clear lava").

Comparisons to Armageddon aren't fleeting either. In fact, about a THIRD OF THE MOVIE IS LIFTED WHOLESALE! Watch the "We have to blow it up now!" scene Posted Image

Overall, Scott provided a fairly balanced look at the film, though you should have been harder on it Posted Image But maybe that's just the hate,bile, and wasted $8.25 talking Posted Image

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Calvin Watts III

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Posted August 31 2003 - 11:51 AM

Thanks for the review - I'll be buying this one.
I'm a sucker for end of the world films...

#6 of 40 OFFLINE   Martin Fontaine

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Posted September 01 2003 - 02:55 PM

I would have loved having the original version (The one about a cataclysmic event every 600,000 years and that we are 100,000 years overdue) that apparently test screenings hated as an option using seamless branching, but that's ok, no deal breaker.

Is the trailer(s) on the DVD?

I'm buying it anyway! Anyone know what's the status of the Canadian Version? Is the cover billingal? Is the french track in 5.1? (Not for me, for someone I know who watches his movies in french)

Ok so they got a few little things wrong science-wise and exagerrated things a bit, but that's the point! It's a movie!
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#7 of 40 OFFLINE   Chuck Bogie

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Posted September 02 2003 - 08:07 AM

Well, I saw it in the theater...

Guys, no matter how good the transfer is, no matter how good the sound is, it's still a really, really, really bad movie.

Gigli had to have been better. Glitter had to have been better. Plan 9 from Outer Space was a better science fiction movie. And at least I cared whether or not Santa Claus would triumph over the martians...

#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Calvin Watts III

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Posted September 02 2003 - 08:25 AM

Well, I saw it in the theater...


So did I - and while it might have that bad "B" style aura all over it - I still liked the film & will still pick it up.

No matter what others sayPosted Image

#9 of 40 OFFLINE   Jenna

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Posted September 05 2003 - 02:56 PM

I saw it in the theater, and it was more entertaining than I thought it would be (of course with much suspension of disbelief). If you don't analyze it too much, and enjoy it for what it is (popcorn flick)- it's fun to watch, especially the special effects scenes. No one actor stood out in the film as being particularly "great", though. Not much chemistry between the leads, but wasn't expecting any.

My 12 y/o son loved it....so I'll have to pick it up. Only hope they have a decent sale price on it.

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#10 of 40 OFFLINE   Bill>Moore

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Posted September 05 2003 - 03:11 PM

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I just couldn't do it.

#11 of 40 OFFLINE   WillKTaylor

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Posted September 05 2003 - 04:44 PM

Toss another "Bill" into the mix. I could care less about the extras or quite put, failed attempts of making any enjoyment out of this story. The CGI and effects have been better since Asian cinema's attempts. This movie lacks in every respect and ... quite frankly is worth less than .. what the heck is the name of that movie that Travolta and the sniper from Saving Private Ryan starred in? Don't believe me .. read my rant post. This movie isn't even laughable for all it's failed attempts. It not only is predictable, but actually seems to take advantage of the audience that senses that predicability. Yeah, some of the scenes may give you the illusion of originality or coolness, but in all .. it's just one seriously big waste of time. No offense to the reviewer for is forgivingness .. but really ....... be the judge for yourself. Hopefully though ... you are a sit in with a group of others that wasted their money. Armegedon (spelling) as weak as that was .. still had better action sequences than this poor excuse of an existance. Amiel .. regardless of your decision to take on this role as a director or otherwise, ... darn it, if you want to be taken seriously and make a career outts this ... dude, get our stuff together and stop listening to the wrong people.

#12 of 40 OFFLINE   T r o y

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Posted September 06 2003 - 12:50 AM

I will say that Paramount's DD mixes have been pretty spectacular lately with their new releases on DVD.

And I expect "THE CORE" will have a great mix too.
But here's another instance where Paramount chose not to enter into deeper DTS waters and include one here for the Core DVD. Posted Image

I think we can forget Paramount doing anymore DTSPosted Image

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#13 of 40 OFFLINE   Aaryn Chan

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Posted September 06 2003 - 02:46 AM


I'm a sucker for end of the world films...

I wonder if you'll like to see a "The end of DVDs film"..



S
P
O
I
L
E
R

A
H
E
A
D
!
!
!
!





I think most of the death are boring and wasted. The first one had no reason to happen/exist. What was the dude doing there looking at the lava when everyone is in hurry to escape? And why in Earth does it always have to have someone got their legs trapped under something heavy when a door is about to close and the room is about to explode?

But I liked the Superman chamber Posted Image

Btw, could someone explain me the "Destiny? story arc?

END SPOILER

#14 of 40 OFFLINE   Mark_TS

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Posted September 06 2003 - 05:29 AM

PARAMOUNT, now could you PLEASE release CRACK IN THE WORLD...
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#15 of 40 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted September 06 2003 - 06:24 AM

the sound on this dvd was amazing. some of the lfe was shaking my house with my SVS.

but even though the movie itself wasnt very good, i still liked had fun with it.

wish we could have the origional edit as a sup on the dvd.

i also want crack in the world.
grom the first teaser poster, i thought this might be a remake.
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#16 of 40 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted September 08 2003 - 05:38 AM

I'll be first in line for this one. Movies like these are right up my alley.

Edit: Watched it last night and really enjoyed it. Just like Armageddon, it delivers everything a good sci-fi popcorn movie should. Great DVD presentation as well. Nice job ParamountPosted Image


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#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Chris_Morris

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Posted September 10 2003 - 04:05 AM

And to think that this movie almost didn't get released at all.

It's also good to see that the sheriff in Las Vegas got a promotion Posted Image


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#18 of 40 OFFLINE   Ralph Summa

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Posted September 10 2003 - 06:26 AM

“unobtainium” ???

Is that like Upsidasium?

I think I'll go for the rental instead of buying it blind.

Thanks for the review Scott.

#19 of 40 OFFLINE   Adam_Reiter

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Posted September 10 2003 - 06:41 AM

Great reveiw Scott. I am sure the movie is mediocre, but I still want to see it.

Keep up the good work Scott. Your reveiws get better and better. Thanx for the extra effort!

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   Jeff_HR

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Posted September 10 2003 - 06:56 AM

Quote:
Well, as I said after I saw the movie in the theater "Armageddon took it's science texts, and tossed them out the window. The Core takes them, lights them on fire and jumps up and down on them laughing maniacly before loading the ashes into a rocket bound for the sun"
What law says a Sci-Fi film has to be scientifically correct? The Fi in Sci-Fi stands for fiction not fact. Posted Image Now if a Sci-Fi film really trumpets that it is scientifically correct, then people can be justified in taking it to task for being unscientific. I see this film as sort of an updating of "Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)". I purchased the film & enjoyed it in that vein. I did not expect a scientifically correct telling of how to dig down to the core of the Earth.
Quote:
i also want crack in the world.
I too want this film badly. It is one of my favorite "underground" movies. (Pun not intended)
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