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Greenland (2020) Movie Review

Action / Disaster

By Diresh SheridPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
78% Rotten Tomatoes | 6.4/10 IMDb

The disaster movie genre is no stranger to Gerard Butler, who has previously starred in the cartoonish and ludicrous “Geostorm.” However, his latest epic “Greenland” takes a slightly more grounded approach, surprising audiences with a dose of realism amidst the chaos. While the film still has its moments of dopiness, it manages to exceed expectations and provide an enjoyable watch.

Butler plays John Garrity, a Scottish-born structural engineer who is currently estranged from his wife Alison (Morena Baccarin) due to some unknown transgression. However, their personal problems soon take a back seat to the arrival of a massive and previously unknown comet, nicknamed Clark, which is hurtling towards Earth. Unfortunately, the comet’s tail contains large chunks of debris that are heading straight for us, causing destruction wherever they land. When the first piece of debris obliterates Tampa, and a shock wave knocks John off his feet in Atlanta, it becomes clear that things are about to get very bad.

Thankfully, John, Alison, and their young diabetic son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) are part of a top-secret government evacuation program due to John’s professional skills. The family is scheduled to leave from a military base, but when they finally make it there, a series of events cause John to once again be separated from his family. None of them make it on any of the planes, leaving John to believe that Alison and Nathan may be headed to the Kentucky ranch owned by her father (Scott Glenn). John sets out to find them, encountering a number of harrowing scenes along the way. Alison and Nathan also have their own share of struggles when they accept a ride from a seemingly helpful couple (David Denman and Hope Davis), which quickly turns sour.

Eventually, the three are reunited, and the final reels find them making a last-ditch effort to cross the Canadian border to an airstrip where a few planes are flying survivors out to an evacuation center in Greenland. One of the standout elements of “Greenland” is the relatively restrained approach taken by screenwriter Chris Sparling and director Ric Roman Waugh, both in regards to the on-screen carnage (though this may have been due to the film’s comparatively low budget) and to Butler’s character. Rather than portraying a superhero, Butler plays an ordinary guy with only a few skills up his sleeve: driving, grunting, and when necessary, fighting off vicious goons with a claw hammer.

While “Greenland” takes a more humane approach than one usually finds in a disaster movie, it does have its fair share of clunkiness. Stilted dialogue, one-dimensional characters, and an absurd amount of coincidence in the plot detract from the film's overall impact. These issues are especially apparent during the big climax, where the special effects fall short of their intended spectacular impact. Additionally, Butler never quite convinces as either a gallant hero or an ordinary man just trying to survive; he displays a degree of hamminess that doesn't match the more naturalistic performances of his co-stars.

Comparing “Greenland” to other apocalyptic disaster movies of recent years, it fares relatively well. However, it falls short when compared to films like Lars von Trier’s majestic “Melancholia” or the surprisingly poignant comedy “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” While “Greenland” never quite comes together as a satisfying package, it deserves credit for attempting to do something unique within such a familiar framework.

In conclusion, "Greenland" offers a slightly different take on the disaster movie genre with its restrained approach to both the on-screen carnage and the portrayal of its main character, played by Gerard Butler. While the film has its moments of unexpected tension and human drama, it also suffers from occasional lapses into genre clichés and pulp silliness. Despite these shortcomings, "Greenland" is still worth considering among the major apocalyptic disaster movies released in recent years, especially for fans of the genre or those looking for a slightly more grounded take on the end of the world. While it may not reach the heights of other low-fi takes on the same theme, it deserves credit for attempting to do something unique within such a familiar framework.


About the Creator

Diresh Sherid

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