Greenland (2020) Review

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Turn left at Greenland.

Greenland (2020): 7 out of 10: A comet is breaking up near earth. The world gathers to see the light show and oops, it’s a killer comet whose first victim is Tampa. Now the world waits while governments scramble to get the future of humanity into underground bunkers (located in Greenland naturally) before the planet killer hits in twenty-four hours.

The Good

The Good: Greenland is more On the Beach than 2012. It has a quiet pace for a disaster film and considering the genre it is grounded and realistic. There is a pleasant mix of humanity at its best and humanity at its worse. The acting is very good across the board and the script by Chris Sparling is tight and well thought out.

What Greenland does extremely well is that it recognizes it has a certain limit on its budget and uses that as a strength rather than a weakness. Take notes pretty much everyone else in Hollywood.

Greenland is infinitely better than the much larger budgeted Gerald Butler disaster film Geostorm. (Hilariously, in my review of Geostorm one of my first comments is how at least it is better than The Core). So if you can only see one Gerald Butler disaster film…

The Bad

The Bad: I like big budget disaster movies. Coming up soon on this site will be my review of San Andreas, which is not as well written or acted as Greenland. But you know what San Andreas has? About 40 minutes of earthquakes. I like earthquakes and I like 40 minutes of them. So this puts San Andreas as just a little better than Greenland, despite the latter’s strengths. (San Andreas also has about 40 minutes of Alexandra Daddario’s cleavage, which certainly doesn’t hurt either.)

Gerald Butler has been downgraded budget wise as of late. (I noticed it in Angel Has Fallen which seems to have taken a major budget hit from the previous Has Fallen films.) He is one of those actors that is in a lot of movies and is fun to watch but never quite to the level of A list star. Kind of like Clive Owen.

Greenland smartly uses some of its budget restrictions to tell a better story. Sometimes, however, genre spectacle wins over the better written film. You can write intelligent erotic thriller. But if it is PG-13 and stars Sarah Jessica Parker, I’m going to watch Body of Evidence instead. Think of it like the difference between Carriers and World War Z. You signed up for a zombie film you want to see hundreds of zombies. You signed up for a disaster film. You need to see more than a rural Georgia Piggly Wiggly being wiped out by a space rock.

The Ugly

The Ugly: Chris Sparling wrote a tight script, but he might have wanted to peruse a Wikipedia article or two on diabetes before handing in his final draft. To quote the IMDb goofs “The diabetic cleavage,says he has low blood sugar and the mother gives him extra insulin. This would actually lower the blood sugar even further. What the child actually needs is something to eat.” and “When Nathan appears unwell outside the airbase, Allison confirms that his insulin pump is running empty but then proceeds to give him a sweet/candy. If his insulin pump was empty then his blood sugar would be running high. Giving him a sweet would be dangerous.”

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: The makers of Greenland are currently in preproduction on the sequel Greenland: Migration. The plot is quote “The survived Garrity family must leave the safety of the Greenland bunker and embark on a perilous journey across the decimated frozen wasteland of Europe to find a new home.”

May I humbly suggest before proceeding any further the makers of Greenland play some Fallout? Greenland is the closest I have seen to the opening sequence of Fallout 4. And the ending (not to give anything away) had Vault #8 written all over it.

Morena Baccarin really brings the acting chops to her role. She seems to have an almost Sarah Michelle Gellar quality to her in this movie. Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs a Meteor.
Go Bucs.
You know I have AMBER Alert turned off on my phone. (I work from home. I doubt the missing four-year-old from three counties over is going to show up in my kitchen.) I wonder if the government saw a giant meteor coming and decided they needed snarky fiction writers to assure the future of humanity if I would even get the message. Also another thing, can I bring my cats? I mean, I am not leaving without my cats. The movie missed an opportunity in not forcing Butler to leave the family dog behind and all the pathos that would create.
This reminds me of something that is on the news this week.
Oh yes, the evacuation of Afghanistan. (Run away run away). There was a good Irish movie (Sea Fever) about some sailors (seaman? seawoman? seapeople?) who discover a deadly virus and the argument among themselves whether they had a moral obligation to die, thereby preventing any chance of the virus spreading to others on land. The film was released to little fanfare in 2019. But when it hit Hulu in Spring 2020, well, needless to say, the arguments among the crew took on a new urgency.

Kind of like when you first saw Contagion and thought that the Jude Law character arc was exaggerated. And now….
It is not looting when white people/movie protagonists do it.
Greenland is a Gerald Butler movie, so at some point he has to go all Gerald Butler on someone. Does it make sense in terms of plot or characterization? No, not really.
I love Scott Glenn in this. And man is he in good shape. I want to be Scott Glenn when I retire.
They showed a lot of the disaster on television in Greenland. This is a good way to stretch an effects budget. (See also dark rainy night is the only time the monster attacks). I wouldn’t put it past CNN to have a countdown clock to doomsday. Any more than I would fully expect The Guardian to argue that a killer asteroid affects minorities and the poor disproportionally.
By this time they had gone a few story beats without rock hitting ground. So I understand the need for this scene. Unfortunately, this is where the effects budget shows itself a bit. The whole sequence wouldn’t be all that out of place in a Syfy movie.
Most of the Disaster porn consists of still shots of major cities at the end of the movie. Gotta get those landmarks in somehow. (One problem of filming in Georgia is the complete lack of any landmarks. What are you going to do? Have a meteor hit Stone Mountain or the 17th hole at Augusta National Golf Club?)
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