Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Apocalypse Week 2: Earth Egg

The end of the world has been predicted, feared, predicted, mocked, and predicted again for all of time. The world of cinema has attempted to portray the fate of the earth time and time again. For decades film makers have considered the ways in which doom day may come. Yesterday we looked at nature destroying the Earth. Today we look at mankind and the things they would do for knowledge. This is 1965's Crack in the World.

Dr Stephen Sorenson (Dana Andrews) and his wife Maggie (Janette Scott) are on the verge of something incredible. They are drilling a hole through the Earth's crust to allow them to harness the vast amount of energy at the Earth's core. They want to use an atomic warhead to break through the last layer to the magma core. However, Dr. Ted Rampion's (Kieron Moore) research shows that the explosion could cause shattering devastation to the Earth, literally. As Sorenson explains, if Rampion's theory is correct, the effect on the Earth's crust will be much like a hammer hitting a window. But Sorenson gets the approval for his missile and goes ahead with the project, with what seems to be excellent results. That is until earthquakes start happening across a particular fault line and causing a crack in the world that could end life as we know it. Can the scientists stop the destruction?

Smashing demonstration Doctor!

There are a lot of words beginning with P that could describe Andrews' Sorenson: persistent, power hungry, peculiar. On their own, none are quite correct, but together they form a reasonable summary of Andrews' portrayal. His thought process, often down the lines of 'How many men get the chance to turn the page of history?', shows his ego, and explains his depressive mood towards the end of the film as his dream shatters. Otherwise, the acting has little to praise. Scott's Maggie seems at first to be a strong female character, describing herself as a scientist to an elevator full of men, but as the film progresses, Scott adds little personality to Maggie that is not influenced by her fondness of Ted or Stephen. There is nothing particularly memorable about any performance given.

This is why crack is bad, kids!

Like When Worlds Collide, Crack in the World has not aged well. The special effects towards the end of the film as the destruction reaches its climax is visually exciting, though not overly convincing. A train being thrown from its tracks is a little too obviously a model train and the scene the precedes the accident is tedious to say the least. As the train heads towards disaster, Maggie and Ted try to warn the driver of the crack by driving alongside the train and yelling. The driver merrily waves back for far too long, like a robot stuck on a waving function. It is simply one example of ridiculous and questionable elements of the film designed to attempt to make the film more alarming with the loss of human life but in completely unrealistic scenarios. The dialogue never really hits any form of stride after the strong opening. Once the disaster is actually under way, most characters become two-dimensional and the leads become dull with the exception of Sorenson, who locks himself away underground to finish his work.

A weak film. As a summary, the plot is simple enough to work, but the there are too many moments of weakness scattered around many elements of the film, from the dialogue, to the acting, to the overly cheesy score underneath lengthy shots of dramatic faces of worried scientists.

Best Bit? The opening of the film. Sorenson demonstrates the effect his weapon will have on the Earth's crust be slamming a hammer through a glass pane, and then burning through a separate pane with a burning poker to calm the concerns of the men in the room.

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