starring Luke Perry, Rick Roberts, Michael Dorn, Brandi Marie Ward, Mimi Kuzyk, James Downing
and Adam Frost
written by L.S. Miller and Michael Murphy
directed by Terry Cunnigham
This is a Canadian film, a joint project of the governments of Ontarioand Quebec. I did not realize when I rented it that it was a Canadian film, but I got an idea during the first scene: set in Washington State, USA, a couple is making love and the male has a Canadian maple leaf tattoo on his left shoulder. When he walks outside to check why his dog is making so much noise in the middle of the night he carries an ice hockey stick for protection! Finally, in the credits, all became clear.
Not only is it a Canadian film, but it is a ridiculous and cheap knock off. So my advice is, don’t bother seeing it. I bothered renting it just because the picture on the DVD box looked cool - which, because I do not read Japanese, is one of my main sources for judging what videos and DVDs I rent - and because the Japanese title, “Under the Planet” made it sound like a possibly interesting outer space science fiction movie. It is the same story as the American film The Core, starring Stanley Tucci and Delroy Lindo, a couple of my favorite actors. But it is also modeled after Dante’s Peak (Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton), plus it steals plot scenarios fromDeep Impact (with Morgan Freeman), Armageddon (with Bruce Willis), Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back, and the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Just like in The Core, in Descent a secret USgovernment military project in the Earth’s mantle has upset the inner mechanics of the planet. In The Core it affected the geomagnetic field of the planet, but in Descent it’s plate tectonics that are screwed up. The government project has caused the Pacific subduction plate to separate, allowing magma to come spewing out en masse (rather than a little at a time, through volcanoes). And, just like in The Core, the team selected to fix the situation has to travel in a specially made vehicle deep into the Earth to set nuclear warheads that, when detonated in synchronicity, are supposed to do the trick and restore the planets to its normal, or stable state (ignoring the fact that the planet is naturally unstable).
It’s strange the way Americans think about and portray their weapons of mass destruction. I mean, if you suggest to some Americans that it is they, rather than Islamic terrorists, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq who are the world’s greatest stockpiles of, traders in, and users of weapons of mass destruction they probably would not understand your meaning or, if they did, then at least deny it. I guess that in these days when America is the sole superpower and there is no adversary formidable enough to warrant even the suggestion of waging nuclear war with, then the culture has to find new uses for its large and costly stockpile, and these virtuous uses of healing man-made damage that threaten all life on the planet kind of redeem their existence in the eyes of the American public.
“See! We don’t have to use our nuclear weapons to kill people. We can use them to push the Pacific plate back into position and save the planet, if that ever happens! Or, to re-start the spinning core of the planet if it ever stops. Or, to blow up an asteroid in space that could kill all life on Earth it hits us.”
Duh. How stupid can people get? I am constantly amazed. In 1975 the public bought the dumb idea of a giant shark that jumps out of the water onto the back of a fishing boat, making Jaws the most successful film up to that time. And now this.