Starring: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Running Time: 119 mins
Greenland is an American film about a family who desperately fight for survival as a meteorite races towards the Earth, with the planet just days away from annihilation.
You’ve seen big Hollywood disaster movies before, and Greenland seems like it’s just a late addition to the slew of big end-of-the-world blockbusters from the late 1990s. However, while it certainly doesn’t capture the imagination with a particularly good story, Greenland is at least a little more nuanced in its approach to disaster storytelling, something that proves both a blessing and a curse.
And that’s where I want to start with this movie, because it’s not quite as entertaining as you perhaps want it to be. The hulking and painfully dumb disaster hits of the late ’90s like Independence Day and Armageddon did at least have a goofy fun factor to them, whether it be in the form of charismatic performances or a ludicrously far-fetched portrayal of the apocalypse.
Greenland, on the other hand, is a really dour affair all the way through. In part, that’s representative of it not taking a generic blockbuster approach to portraying the end of the world, but it’s also one of the things that makes the film such a dull watch at times.
Though it admittedly tries, Greenland isn’t big on brains, and as such an action-packed blockbuster approach to storytelling would have been its biggest saviour. Unfortunately, there’s very little action in this movie, and the asteroids are surprisingly sparing given that they’re meant to be annihilating the Earth.
And yet, the movie pushes to develop an overwhelming sense of despair and fear that just isn’t backed up by anything. We all know that the end of the world would be a terrifying affair, but Greenland is a really, really miserable watch, yet with none of the potent emotional depth to make that misery in any way interesting.
As a result, while it’s admirable that the film doesn’t take the easy route of throwing explosions at you left, right and centre, it really misses the mark in capturing the emotional trauma that you would feel in an end-of-the-world scenario.
Looking back through recent years, the only disaster film which has really managed to blend thrilling blockbuster action with a genuinely traumatic sense of fear is Steven Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds, which is just as overwhelming as it is exhilarating.
Everything in Spielberg’s film is full of tension and deep, deep emotion, making it a gripping watch at every moment – even when it’s not full of action. Greenland, however, with a lack of real tension and real emotional depth, never has anything to fall back on when it tries to steer clear of gratuitous blockbuster action.
It’s a frustrating watch, because I feel like this could have been so much better, with a far more realistic and grounded portrayal of the apocalypse than what you might expect at first. In all fairness, Greenland tries to do something brave, but it really misses the mark, and ends up a rather miserable watch as a result. So that’s why I’m giving it a 6.9 overall.