(In theaters, March 2003) Let’s first settle one detail: Yes, The Core can be tremendously stupid at times. Even I, quite willing to give the film every chance it asked for, nearly lost it completely at the geode sequence. Scientific mistakes abound, and that’s not even counting the numerous times where the special effects completely misinterpreted the script (I can accept the Coliseum being destroyed by huge lightning strikes, but seeing it explode? Ahem.) And yet, and yet, despite the predictable nature of the plot (Who dies next? Take your pick. Or don’t, because it’s already obvious.), the early silliness (so, what, they had a whole convention of pacemaker-wearing people?) and the dull characters (D.J. Qualls as an elite hacker. Ergh.), I found a lot of things to love in The Core. For one thing, this is exactly the type of city-destroying disaster film I feared they wouldn’t be made in the wake of the September 11th events. (Though, times changing as quickly as they are, shuttle crashes and tragic Frenchmen have acquired a very different resonance in between the production of the film and its release.) Second on my list of warm and fuzzy feelings about the film was the variety of (often poorly integrated) cool scenes, from seeing the Golden Gate Bridge get it to a few nifty camera shots. Finally, and this may be my biggest yay-movie sentiment, The Core is a straight-up shot of Golden-Age Hard-SF. You know; the genre where humanity’s cleverness is its own biggest virtue, evil characters see the errors of their ways and disaster is narrowly averted. The kind of stuff I like. Even despite whatever misgivings I may have about the rest of the film.