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The Core (2003)

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 136 minutes

UK Certificate: 12a

Romans, bird-lovers and old codgers with pace-makers watch out – because, if The Core has its hypothesis on the mark, you'll be the first ones to snuff it when the centre of the earth stops spinning.

The planet's core has, somewhat cheekily, decided to put its feet up so, as usual, it's up to those chisel-jawed Americans to save us all from certain doom (just once I'd like to see a film where it's the Belgians, or perhaps the good people of Uzbekistan, who get to play the heroes). That's the premise behind this chucklesome big-budget disaster romp of the variety that went deservedly out of fashion around five years ago. Now? Well, do any of us really care if the end of the world is nigh? Quite frankly, it's hardly the first time.

After skimming quickly through the science bits in the hope that nobody in the audience notices that everyone's talking complete gobbledygook, devilishly handsome college prof Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) and personality-bereft astronaut Beck Childs (Hilary Swank) head a team hurtling down to the centre of the earth in something resembling a giant Black & Decker power drill. Upon their arrival, the plan is to set off a whole bunch of nuclear bombs and not, disappointingly, to utilise the world's largest set of jump leads.

Director John Amiel's well used to making films that don't actually make a great deal of sense (remember Sommersby?), and appears to be in his element with this one. Cities are crumbling, half of the US west coast has melted, and everyone's getting nasty cases of sunburn – yet we're expected to believe that CNN and the other major networks are being successfully kept in the dark. And where's the President during all of this, anyway?

Things get progressively more ridiculous as the film goes on, until it reaches the point where you're no longer sure whether it's being deliberately tongue-in-cheek, or just stupendously rubbish. I'm feeling generous, so will assume it's the first one.

It's Got: Stanley Tucci as a sneering brainiac scientist remarkably similar to Dr Smith from the old Lost In Space TV series.

It Needs: To be taken with an extremely large helping of sodium chloride.


So bad that, in a funny sort of way, it actually becomes extremely entertaining.