Greenland is a smart disaster flick
Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Greenland is a smart disaster flick

Director Ric Roman Waugh reunites with his Angel Has Fallen star Gerard Butler in STX Films Greenland. Structural engineer John Garrity (Gerard Butler) resides in Atlanta with his estranged wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their diabetic son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). He returns home from work to reconcile with his family and prepare to host a party with their neighbors to watch the passing of a recently-discovered interstellar comet named Clarke.

Taking a grocery store trip to procure supplies for the party, John and Nathan notice military vehicles thinking nothing of the situation. John receives a strange automated phone call, informing him that he and his family have been pre-selected for emergency sheltering. The Garrity’s must make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary. 

Amid terrifying news accounts of cities worldwide being leveled by the comet’s fragments, the Garrity’s experience the best and worst in humanity. While they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to the global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

A space object striking earth is nothing new in the film world. I’m sure we can all recall the summer of 1998 when two similar movies Deep Impact and Armageddon, were released less than sixty days apart. Initially planned for release in the summer of 2020, Greenland has all the makings of a summer hit. Sadly due to the COVID, audiences in the US will have to see the film on a smaller screen.

Thankfully director Ric Roman Waugh avoids replicating the formula that director and producer Irwin Allen, a.k.a “Master of Disaster,” perfected in the seventies with his disaster films.

Working with screenwriter Chris Sparling, the duo crafts a film that focuses more on human nature and emotions than special effects. Yes, some effects-laden moments provide eye candy, but the core of Greenland is something entirely different. Case in point, Gerard Butler, has become known for his action hero films over the years. Here he is a determined family willing to risk everything to save his wife and son. The one fight scene dust-up that Butler’s character happens naturally and is more about survival than ass-kicking.

I also enjoyed that the script never paints Butler’s character as a know it all. Instead, he’s a man that we can all relate to. The reliability sentiment also holds with Morena Baccarin, who portrays his wife, Allison. Even with their marriage issues, Allison is still willing to work with John to ensure family survival. When the script does separate our characters, Allison doesn’t turn into a damsel in distress; instead, she finds her own strength and even has her own arc.

Finally, Roger Dale Floyd was also good in his own role as the couple’s son Nathan. The director gives Nathan a few moments in the film that shows even though he’s young, he has an understanding of what’s going on around him. Kudos to the script as well for not making Nathan overly cute or giving useless monologues.

I also must commend director Ric Roman Waugh for keeping the film’s pacing quick. Unlike other disaster films, there aren’t a bunch of characters thrown in for subplots. The film’s nucleus is the Garrity clan, and the film is all the better for this decision as it allows us to become invested and care about our characters.

Greenland does follow the disaster film template, and you know where the film is going to end. However, the execution by our director is vital, as is the cast’s performance. If anything, Greenland will allow you to forget about some of the problems currently facing the world for two hours.

Final Grade B

Greenland is available On Demand Today and will stream on HBO Max in early 2021.

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