In Boston, 32 people keel over when their pacemakers stop. In London, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square start auditioning for a remake of "The Birds".
The reason? The core of the Earth has inexplicably stopped spinning and the electromagnetic field protecting the planet is breaking up.
That's the opening set-up of this cheesy disaster flick, starring Aaron Eckhart (he of the almighty chin and "Erin Brockovich"), Hilary Swank, Tchéky Karyo, and Stanley Tucci. This team of scientists launch a journey to the centre of the Earth inside a specially constructed digging machine, aimed at kick-starting the core.
The best part of any disaster movie, from "Earthquake" to "Independence Day", is watching major cities reduced to a pile of smoking rubble, and "The Core" certainly doesn't disappoint.
The Golden Gate Bridge collapses, the Colosseum is destroyed, and a NASA space shuttle crash-lands in downtown Los Angeles (during rush hour). The special effects may look ropey, but they're suitably apocalyptic.
Meanwhile, amid scenes of American military types wishing each other "Good luck and God speed", "The Core" also delivers some remarkably leftfield humour, especially when Eckhart's geophysicist is whisked out of a university lecture by a pair of burly secret service men, who have even less of a clue about what's going on than he does: "Your security clearance is higher than ours, Sir. We're just here to take you to the jet." Eckhart: "I have a jet?"
With over two hours to fill, there's not enough disaster or sparkling dialogue to keep up the momentum, but it's still a fun popcorn flick. As cheesy movies go, this is the ripest of camemberts.