Thursday, December 17, 2020

A gutsy getting to 'Greenland' might make disaster movies a staple again

Baccarin, Floyd and Butler push onward despite the threat from above.
It's been a while since we've seen a truly watchable disaster movie, but the genuinely human and beautifully effects-laden "Greenland" just might be the one to instigate another run on such a tricky genre. Perhaps best of all, neither zombies nor climate change are ever mentioned in this existential thriller. 

No, the bad guy here is Clarke, a mighty comet that presents both a nifty take on the meteorological world's cutesy penchant for naming natural phenomena, as well as a cue that even Clark Kent's alter ego likely couldn't take out this plummeting mass of fire and lava. Or, maybe we're just giving way too much credit to screenwriter Chris Sparling ("Buried") and stuntman-turned director Ric Roman Waugh ("Angel Has Fallen") for managing to put this frightening, escapist scenario in front of us in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and just one week before Christmas. 

Either way, the filmmakers do a terrific job of raining down terror on our world. Surely the fate of the attractive Garrity family doesn't hurt, either. How estranged Dad John (Gerard Butler) and Mom Allison (Morena Baccarin) struggle to keep smart and diabetic son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) safe, easily becomes the main focus during a winding, harrowing escape attempt from their Atlanta home to the potential protection offered by the title's largest island in the world.

If it sounds like a long way to go, it is, just never in either movie time or credulity, though the trio's meeting place following a lengthy screen separation doesn't exactly transpire at the proverbial little shop around the corner. Still, it is where we get to see a great and grizzled Scott Glenn, as a man who understands what life, love and loss are all about.

In fact, Glenn's brief supporting performance becomes the cherry atop a juicy assortment of players, led as much by Baccarin's brains and beauty as they are by Butler's now familiar aw-shucks heroics. All in all, "Greenland" probably deserves theatrical viewing. In our own troubled world, though, we'll settle for it debuting Friday just about everywhere On-demand. 

Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: intense disaster action, some violence, bloody images, brief strong language: 1:59; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

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