Greenland – comet disaster movie

Gerard Butler does more than just punch his way out of imminent apocalypse in Ric Roman Waugh’s sharp action film.

Butler is John Garrity, a structural engineer in Atlanta attempting to rebuild his broken marriage to estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin). The couple’s diabetic young son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), is thrilled by news of a comet due to make “the closest flyby in history”. But when John receives a presidential alert announcing that his family have been chosen for “shelter”, it becomes clear that bits of the comet are on course for Earth. Next thing, “the sky is on fire”, Tampa is toast, and the Garrity clan are heading for a military airfield to be transported to bunkers near the north pole.

While I appreciated how “Greenland” decided to take a more humane approach than one usually finds in a disaster movie, the problem is that on the occasions when it does drift into the clunkiness that’s more commonly associated with the genre—stilted dialogue, characters who are allowed perhaps one individual trait at most, plotting that requires an absurd amount of coincidence—the effect is actually more jarring than it might have been if the entire thing had been aimed at a meathead level. This is especially apparent during the big climax, when the special effects finally take over in ways that are not nearly as spectacular as the filmmaker clearly hoped them to be. As for the massive ball of gas on display that isn’t a comet, Butler is perhaps a little more likable that he has been in most of his he-man roles, but he still never quite convinces either as gallant hero or as an ordinary man just trying to survive—he still displays a degree of hamminess that doesn’t match with the more naturalistic actors surrounding him.

Ultimately, “Greenland” never comes together into a truly satisfying package, but it deserves a little credit for trying to do something unique within such a familiar framework.

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