REVIEW: ‘Greenland’ gets the disaster genre right

“Greenland” is a movie that would probably be more enjoyable on the big screen. But audiences can still enjoy this flick at home with some (microwaved) popcorn.

The wheel of disasters was spun and it landed on asteroid/comet for this picture. Gerard Butler plays John in “Greenland,” a construction engineer whose marriage has been facing some troubles.

However, he and his wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) are suddenly forced to set aside their issues and stick together to protect their son Nathan (Roger Floyd). This effort, which mainly involves finding a shelter, comes as a comet breaks up over Earth with large pieces expected to wipe out billions.

“Greenland” has its fair share of intense moments and some big action set pieces to boot. Yet, this one actually earns some points for its family drama, too.

Yes, it goes over some fairly familiar territory, being rather reminiscent of the story structures seen in Roland Emmerich movies. However, the movie really nails the execution and paces itself nicely over a two hour runtime.

The movie introduces and builds up the threat of the disaster well in the first act, throws some difficulties for our characters in the second, then wraps up with a suspenseful and satisfying finish. It goes for a simple, but effective route.

Greenland Blog
Courtesy Thunder Road Films and STX Entertainment.

What “Greenland” can be possibly credited for the most, though, is its restraint. There are some disaster sequences here with explosions and special effects, yet they don’t dominate the screen.

“Greenland” director Ric Roman Waugh and writer Chris Sparling choose to focus much more on the family dynamics and the smaller issues they’re going through rather than, say, giant buildings falling. Moments such as an attempted abduction give the movie tension and scenes where the family is rebuilding relationships provides an endearing quality.

As a result, despite the characters being fairly typical, they’re an easy group to root for from start to finish and watching their struggle to survive is intimate and compelling. Butler and Baccarin are both good in the lead roles, each convincing in their portrayals of people under a lot of stress.

Special effects wise, when the action set pieces are introduced, they do their part. A highlight is a chaotic moment at an airport. However, there are a few visual stumbles. One example is near the end of the movie where it shows some of the destruction in various cities.

“Greenland” doesn’t break new ground when it comes to disaster movies, but it’s still a good entry for the genre. The human element gives the picture a heart, which makes it easier to get invested in the action and thrills. 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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