(2020)

http://www.stxfilms.com/greenland/

John Garrity, his estranged wife and their young son embark on a perilous journey to find sanctuary as a planet-killing comet hurtles toward Earth. Amid terrifying accounts of cities getting levelled, the Garritys experience the best and worst in humanity. As the countdown to the global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

This type of movie is always rather divisive between critics and audiences simply due to its nature. Story-wise, it's never groundbreaking or innovative in any shape or form. These apocalyptic films always follow a formulaic screenplay, packed with logical inconsistencies, but also with tons of thrilling action. Visuals vary in quality depending on the studio, as well as sound design and other technical aspects. I always try my best to accept *everything* these movies throw irrationally at the viewer. I prepare myself to be as open-minded as I can, and usually, I have no issues with that (actually, I find the "that's not how science works" argument a bit nitpicky in this subgenre).
However, Greenland fails to deliver the only thing I did expect from it: a planet-killer comet of pure popcorn entertainment. The only positive aspects are the cast and two/three sequences genuinely exciting. Gerard Butler is already used to this sort of film (Has Fallen series, Geostorm), so he has no problems in portraying another thin character with no real motivations or depth. Same goes for Morena Baccarin, who simply plays the wife of Butler. Both deliver good performances, enough to keep me engaged until the end of the flick.
The few good sequences are really good. Little scraps of the giant comet hit Earth before the extinction-level event, and these look great. Nevertheless, just this for a 119-minute runtime is far from being satisfying. As expected, Chris Sparling's screenplay is as generic as it could be, just like Ric Roman Waugh's direction, which doesn't really offer anything remotely new. Some narrative decisions (not related to science or technology because these I just accepted as part of the usual illogical stuff) are definitely to pass the time since they have no consequences whatsoever. Greenland is precisely like dozens of other movies in the subgenre, but without the technical aspects that end up elevating the overall picture.
The VFX look dated in some sequences, almost like they didn't have enough time (or money) to finish them. I mean, a static image of a meteorite shower as the sky? Really? Sadly, this comes across as amateur and lazy. The absence of a powerful score (David Buckley) makes the action scenes feel "empty", like something is missing. A few fighting moments are pretty much impossible to see clearly due to the overly dark environment and choppy editing (Gabriel Fleming). Overall, the action walks the line between decent and terrible.
However, the most significant "slap in the face" is the planet-killer comet that everyone is going to look forward to as soon as they enter the theater. There's no way of working around this: if an entire film builds up a third act's massive comet of the side of Europe, it must show it hit the ground in all of its splendor. The gigantic explosion of ridiculous proportions, the endless smoke that fills up the whole atmosphere, the distinctive sound of the impact... This is the moment that can make or break any apocalyptic movie. Unfortunately, and I'm only going to write this, it broke.
In the end, Greenland is predictably underwhelming, packing only a couple of genuinely exciting sequences, and a decent cast. Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin try, but they're not enough to compensate for everything else. As expected, Chris Sparling's formulaic screenplay doesn't add a unique storyline or innovative aspect to the genre, as well as Ric Roman Waugh's basic direction. This would all be fine if the action delivered what most people want to see, but sadly, this component is also quite a letdown. Despite a few occasional, riveting scenes, the entertainment levels are pretty low due to the unimpressive visual effects, lack of a powerful score, and poor editing, culminating in a "viewing-killer" disappointment. If you absolutely love apocalyptic films, maybe you'll find something enjoyable about it that I didn't. However, if this type of movie doesn't suit your preferences, then this one surely isn't going to convert you.
Rating: D+

STX Entertainment, Thunder Road, Anton, G-BASE, Riverstone Pictures, Truenorth Productions by Ric Roman Waugh, Chris Sparling.
Stars: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd.

Genres: Action, Drama, Thriller

Keywords: husband wife relationship kidnapping panic looting state of emergency comet natural disaster end of the world meteorite disaster apocalypse destruction of planet diabetic army base emergency greenland atlanta, georgia

12/18/2020

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