Review: The Core

Day 4. 23 pages, 8,691 words.

The other day, I was hanging out at home and looking after Toop for the morning, and once I’d gotten her fed and tucked in for her afternoon sleep, I sat down and watched The Core on Netflix. I’d seen it before, but for some reason I decided to watch it again. I know, bear with me.

The Core

This was a terrible movie, an attempted science-realistic reimagining of the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth story – and I think the Brendan Fraser version was actually better – as well as a 2003 precursor to the big disaster movie trend of the mid-noughties to mid-teenies. You know, your Day After Tomorrows and your 2012s. But it didn’t have the spectacle, since it probably lacked the budget to really destroy cities and countryside. I’ll be generous and say it was ahead of its time. They did kill the Golden Gate Bridge, though, so fair play to them for following the rules.

It owed rather a lot to the grandparents of the big disaster movies, too, that is to say 1998’s Armageddon and Deep Impact. But it doesn’t matter. It wasn’t great. It was memorable mostly for flat-out using the word unobtainium in its script, and using the word it’s instead of its in a final scene. It also referenced “Project Destiny” several times, although it was made perfectly clear that this was an acronym – Project DESTINI. – so why misspell it? And why was the ship visible diving through the magma? Was the magma transparent[1]? Anyway, none of this is the point.

[1] I have to give this a bit of a pass, of course, because otherwise you couldn’t see anything except the screens inside the ship with their dull blobby readouts, and that would have sucked. So okay, ship diving through magma is visible from the outside. Fine.

The point is, I re-watched it, and it blew my mind. Because let me tell you what was really happening in that movie, and why it is one of the most important stories ever told.

Okay, so first of all, let’s kick off with a bit of backstory on one of the characters. Serge is actually a fake name given as an alias to a notorious criminal. He survives being shot numerous times by police after a high-speed car chase, and is offered witness protection to roll over on his criminal organisation and associates. Being the despicable creature he is, he takes the deal and starts a new life as Serge[2], a scientist. He marries, and even has a couple of kids, and tries to leave his old life behind. He also, after a few years with his regrets, decides he wants to find a way to redeem himself and become the good man he is pretending to be.

[2] Interesting note: You know why they picked that name for him? That’s right, it’s a shout-out to the Beverly Hills Cop franchise and the sort-of-French silly-effeminate guy therein. This was the FBI’s idea of a joke after this character was brought down by a pair of wisecracking African-American cops. Never let it be said that the Feds don’t have a sense of humour.

His name, originally? Fouchet.


Serge makes friends with geologist Dr. Joshua “Josh” Keyes, a bit of an egg-head and a colleague in Serge’s new life in academia. Serge also stays in touch with General Purcell, his handler in the government and all-round shady character. More about his past later.

General Purcell is an old buddy of Beck’s dad. Beck’s dad isn’t important to the plot, but Beck is. Beck, aka. major Rebecca Childs, is a space shuttle pilot, who spent a confusing youth struggling with her male gender identity and female birth identity[3] and finally reconciling the gender-role issues with her father’s expectations … anyway, that’s a long, sad story but she finally became a pilot and is a bit of a hotshot.


[3] No, she wasn’t gang-raped and murdered … she faked her death and went to NASA. It’s all horrible and tragic but it’s not as awful as the true story it’s based on. But let’s try to keep this light and entertaining, for fuck’s sake.

Her mentor, incidentally, and role model is commander Richard Iverson. He looks very like, and is actually the great-great-grandfather of, Captain Pike of the USS Enterprise. Little did commander Iverson know that his great-great grandson would also have to deal with (and ultimately have to die for the motivation of, and be supplanted by) a cocky, not-ready-to-fail young recruit in need of a father figure. The world is a funny place sometimes, isn’t it?


But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Strap in, bitches.

So, the Earth’s core stops spinning. This is because of Project DESTINI[4], which shady general Purcell and dodgy scientist Zimsky worked on in the bad old days. I won’t go too far into what else Zimsky got into back then, but he probably stole most of the scientific advances – advances that made him into a superstar – from the Transformers. Oh yeah, this shit goes all the way to the top. Actually, Project DESTINI was Decepticon technology, which is why it backfired on them dramatically. But he did a lot of other thieving in his time, you’d better believe it. What, you think this is a stretch? Well, remember what I told you about the ‘unobtainium’ used in The Core, a word coined by Brazzleton during his work with Zimsky and most likely a collaborative effort? Well, guess what Zimsky, aka. Joshua Joyce[5], calls the special metal the Transformers are made from? Transformium. This shit is totally connected, fuckers. He even keeps asking people “do you know who I am?” – not just because he’s an insecure egotistical douchecanteen, but because he’s concerned people might realise he’s Joshua Joyce and almost destroyed the world that other time by trying to build his own Transformers.


[4] Because damn it, I am going to spell this shit right even if the movie doesn’t.

[5] Fake name if ever I heard one, probably adopted to hide his foreign roots during sensitive times, but later he was able to revel in his fame.

Speaking of Zimsky almost destroying the world … Project DESTINI is designated as a war-effort thing, mutually assured destruction, Patriot Act (or contemporary equivalent), and so on. Basically that means they get endless money from the government to construct the whole thing, plus all the secret experimental crap Zimsky can scavenge from the Transformers debacle. It is supposedly an earthquake machine, but instead it stops the Earth’s core from spinning. Because duh, the humans have no idea what it’s really for.

And that’s not all. What else does that fuck-off huge hole in the ground and the electromagnetic Decepticon life-pulse do? Oh nothing, just opens the gates of Hell.

You heard me.

So that happens. But first, the intrepid terranauts pilot the unobtainium ship Virgil into the centre of the Earth and solve the immediate problem with the core. Commander Iverson dies in the process, but he leaves behind children who will go on to produce a fine Starfleet family. Patience, my friends. We’re getting there. First, though, the end of the world happens. But before that, the end of the world is averted. Right?

Well, of course, the terranauts win, and the end of the world is averted. But people die along the way. Aside from Iverson, Serge finds his redemption and saves his family. Zimsky makes up for his involvement in the whole thing, and also for being a nasty weasel, and almost wrecking everything at least twice, by finally sacrificing his life to save the world.

And what about Brazzleton, I hear you ask? Well, he has his own demons. Did you know that he was actually Captain Wanta, a small-time military dictator from somewhere in the Congo area? It’s true. He was tangentially involved in an expedition searching for the Lost City of Zinj, and the diamond mines therein. Safe to say nobody spends time as a military dictator in Africa and is involved in the diamond trade without ending up with some skeletons in his closet. Cue his team-up and collaboration with Zimsky, Zimsky’s weaselly betrayal, Brazz’s creation of the Virgil, and his ultimate sacrifice and redemption deep in the bowels of the Earth.


You want to see something that chills your blood, look at his reaction when Beck tells them they’re diving through a field of giant diamonds. And if that’s not enough for you, check this out right here. Yes. “Brazzaville is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo and is located on the Congo River.”

Brazzleton. Brazzaville. And you all know that ton and ville are basically suffix-synonyms meaning town and village, right? Am I getting through to you bastards yet?

After the Earth’s core is stabilised, Josh the geologist falls on hard times. His role in saving the world is revealed, but Rat – bless him – doesn’t really understand how the Internet works. Like, at all. Nobody actually believes the hacker’s tinfoil-hat bullplop no matter how many websites he dumps the file onto, and that means nobody believes in poor old Josh. Well, he goes back to college professoring like he’d said he would, but soon becomes bitter and disillusioned with the whole fiasco. His relationship with Beck also suffers, because she’s still got that gender-confusion issue but never mind that. Josh is ripe for the picking, and goes into business passing on suitable college kids to Purcell and his new initiative. Getting to that too.

In the end, though, this is simply too evil for Josh to bear and he pulls out of the whole thing, unable to live with himself. He changes his name to Harvey Dent and goes into politics. His tagline, I believe in Harvey Dent, is particularly poignant when you consider how in his past life, he was dismissed as a liar and a fraud. He just wants people to believe in him.


So, on to the real player here. General motherfucking Purcell.

After the whole thing with Project DESTINI goes worldwide – and because the one group that understands the Internet more poorly than Rat is the US freakin’ government – Purcell has to disappear. But they also have the little gates-of-Hell problem to deal with, and Purcell is up to his neck in that particular SNAFU. All over the world, seals are set in place, a network to contain the rising tide of darkness. Purcell and other agents are assigned to keep the seals intact and the Dark Gods appeased, lest They rise up. They feed innocent young students to the portal, with Josh’s help on the US end … that is, until he quits.


When Josh stops helping, the initiative has to take candidates who aren’t quite so expertly hand-picked. Inevitably the initiative fails, and the Great Old Ones ascend to destroy the world of mortals. Thank you very much, college kids and your selfish refusal to die.

After the “world ends”, Rat realises he sucks at hacking and so he goes on to become a demon hunter. And not just any demon hunter – he fills the enormous boots of the legendary Bobby Singer after his death, and guides the hunters through the post-apocalypse[6], and uses some of his skills in coordination and info-hunting too. Good job, Rat. Or ‘Garth’ as he opted to call himself. You may notice that the letters R, A and T are still in there, along with H and G. Another interesting note: As well as not knowing the difference between its and it’s, Rat also thought it was HG Wells who wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth, not Jules Verne. So that’s where his name came from. True story. I still really like him.


[6] It’s worth pointing out at this stage that ever since Project DESTINI ripped the universe a new space-hole using inadvisably-applied Decepticon technology, evil creatures had been seeping into the world in small numbers. So there was a generation or two of hunters, and the initiative also collected some of the monsters. But supernatural beings had always been a small problem, for many, many years. Maybe even centuries. The collapse of Project DESTINI’s seal-plan, however, stepped the whole thing up a notch and that’s when the hunters got busy.

The general populace, of course, doesn’t see the whole Dark-God side of it. They just see a cataclysmic war. They attribute human causes and players to the disaster, and call it World War III.

Eventually, there are only scattered survivors. One of them is former Flight Commander Dr. Talma “Stick” Stickley, or Lily as she later calls herself. She’s seen a lot of shit, but only on the non-supernatural side of things. She meets up with a crazy drunk named Zefram Cochrane, and works mission control with him as he designs and test-flies humanity’s first warp-speed spacecraft. There’s a bit of time-travelling buffoonery at this point, and Lily ends up fighting the Borg on board the USS Enterprise. Told you she’d seen some shit. You want to know, incidentally, why she was so insistent that Picard blow up the damn ship? Well, she’d seen technological and military egomania up-close and personal one time too many. Clearly.


The rest, of course, is history. First Contact, Starfleet, and Captain Pike in the menagerie. Good times.

Then there’s this guy, who is always a dry, professional agent of the government. He’s actually a clone, used by every agency under the sun. You’ll also be pleased to know that his gene-stem survived ‘World War III’, and one of his clones later joined Starfleet.


Hey. Look at that weird mirror.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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11 Responses to Review: The Core

  1. dreameling says:


    Your brain… It’s too full, man. Too full.

  2. brknwntr says:

    TL;DR Also, your movies reviews spoil the crap out of movies for me. )))))

  3. aaronthepatriot says:

    I have no words. Mostly because you used all of them. But, well done. LOL

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