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Remembering 20 years ago, ‘The Core’ screenwriter went scorched Earth defending the film’s science

While not perfect, The Core remains an adventure delight molded in the vein of Jules Verne and Roland Emmerich.

By Josh Weiss
A still from The Core (2003)

While not perfect to its *ahem* core, 2003's The Core remains a thrilling adventure delight two decades after the film (now available to stream via Peacock) was released into theaters by Paramount Pictures.  

Lovingly influenced by the classic science fiction yarns of yore — from the innovative literary contributions of Jules Verne, to 1966's Fantastic Voyage, to the monument-exploding disaster cinema of Roland Emmerich — the movie centers around a team of scientists and astronauts traveling to the center of the Earth in order to restart our planet's molten core with a few hundred megatons of nuclear explosives.

If they fail, the protective electromagnetic field surrounding our home will disappear, making us vulnerable to apocalyptic solar radiation capable of destroying modern technology and...well, everyone and everything. You can't get bigger stakes than that!

RELATED: Earth's core is speeding up and slowing down

Could the effects and acting have been a little better? Sure, but we're not going to seriously dock points for CGI tools that were barely a decade old at the time. As for the sometimes questionable performances? It's a shame that with an ensemble featuring Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Bruce Greenwood, Tchéky Karyo, Richard Jenkins, Stanley Tucci, DJ Qualls, and Alfre Woodard, the director couldn't illicit more convincing performances out of that talented cast.

But at the end of the day, however, the solid *ahem again* bedrock of the blockbuster is the creativity of its narrative and set pieces. The overall premise sounds a bit silly, preposterous even, but co-screenwriter John Rogers didn't want anyone doubting the script's scientific veracity. About a month before The Core hit the big screen, Rogers fiercely clapped back at a highly critical review published by Ain't it Cool News. He didn't hold back, either, going full scorched-earth on the anonymous reviewer known as only as "Darth Siskel."

"I know this is futile," he wrote. "I honestly don't expect you to print this unedited. I don't really care about a bunch of guys sitting in their underwear in their basements ... I hate to even dignify this with a reply. But some small part of me hates to see all that time and work get dismissed without even a tiny bit of shame on your part for being arrogant, condescending, and above all, dead wrong."

A still from The Core (2003)

In addition to bashing Siskel for their bad take, Rogers also walked through a number of *ahem one more time* core story elements, citing the proven and hypothetical studies regarding the Earth's core and how one could potentially build a ship to reach it. Even the top-secret weapon known as "DESTINI" (the device behind the movie's entire crisis) has its roots in research conducted by the Nazis during World War II. Per Rogers, three years of development was spent battling against a number of outlandish suggestions like dinosaurs and a windshield for the Virgil in an effort to keep the sci-fi story as grounded as possible.

"Sci-fi has suffered too many bad-science movies," the writer declared. "It's my responsibility to my fellow sci-fi fans to make sure the science is as close as I can get it. All so some guys who enjoy the power trip of snark can toss it out the window without ever thinking 'Hey, you know maybe, just POSSIBLY, as I know jacksh** about this, this could all be right' ...  We're fighting every day to try to make half-way decent stuff. Sure, sometimes we don't get there. But we work our asses off behind the scenes, trying like hell, always remembering the fellow fanboys out there, and unlike some people actually trying to make stuff."

If you want to judge for yourself, The Core is now streaming on Peacock.

Looking for more action and adventure? Violent Night, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Minority Report, 47 Ronin, John Wick, The Wolverine, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Pitch Black, Van Helsing, Battleship, and more are also streaming!