Saturday 14 November 2020

Greenland (Movie Review)

Remember when disaster movies were all the rage? Well, nowadays, it seems the news contains enough disasters to overwhelm even the wildest of imaginations. But back in the genre's heyday, disaster movie fans were all but guaranteed to get at least two high-profile disaster films each year. We had Twister and Independence Day in 1996; Volcano and Dante's Peak in 97; Armageddon and Deep Impact in 98, and so on. 

But with 2020 itself looking like one big disaster movie in the making, one would imagine that the genre would no longer offer the kind of escapism fans look for in those movies. Except it seems Gerard Butler and Ric Roman Waugh must've not gotten that particular memo, because their latest film is so gloriously reminiscent of the genre's heyday, that you might be fooled into thinking the film was plucked straight out of the late 90s or early 2000s.

The movie stars Gerald Butler as John Garrity, a civil engineer whose family is selected for transportation to an undisclosed underground bunker in the lead up to an impending extinction level event. Basically, a comet big enough to end all life on Earth is on a collision course, and the US government is in a race against time to secure some of the high-profile citizens it would need to rebuild, should they happen to survive the impact. But chaos ensues and things do not go according to plan, so that John must find another way to get his family up to Greenland, where the bunker is believed to be located.

So a part of me can't help but wonder how Greenland would've fared at the global box office, had the coronavirus not forced movie theaters to close down earlier in the year. I suspect it would have done decent enough, but now we'll never know for sure. The movie itself was decent for what it was, accomplishing most of what it sets out to do. That doesn't mean it didn't have some glaring problems though.

There were some head-scratching turn of events about halfway into the film, that seemed shoehorned into the script just to keep things interesting. But that is par for the course with most disaster films I guess, where everything that could possibly go wrong typically does.

Some questions were also left unanswered. Like for how long had the government actually known about the imminent comet strike? Earlier in the movie, it was suggested that it wasn't discovered until weeks prior, but that hardly seems like enough time to come up with an evacuation plan as elaborate as the one depicted in the movie. Granted, most of it did go to the dogs, but still.

Some of the special effects were also a little on the cheap side, adding to the movie's B-movie look and feel. Thankfully, there weren't as many VFX shots as you would anticipate in this type of movie, and most of the film was in fact carried along by the family drama at its heart. The music did tend to get a little overly sentimental though, as the movie tries really hard towards the end to evoke emotions out of viewers, while it flashbacks to the family at their happiest. Gerald Butler was convincing as a troubled man trying to win back the trust of his estranged wife, so there isn't much to complain about there.

Overall, Greenland should please fans of the disaster film genre, while offering enough escape from the actual disasters of 2020. Or at least inspiring some level of hope that they too would pass and be looked back on in the future.


  1. Was it better than 2012? That one was pretty bad. Hopefully it's better than Avalanche, which was riffed by RiffTrax. I still might check it out.

    1. It was definitely more nuanced than 2012. Less over-the-top. I haven't seen Avalanche though, but it already sounds like something I'll need to watch sometime.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. In any event Bay knows his place (a careless activity chief who can make pretty movies and fun blasts).