GREENLAND (2020, streaming on Prime) is an enjoyable apocalyptic film that checks all the boxes of a solid B movie.
John (Gerard Butler) is a construction engineer estranged from his wife (Morena Baccarin) and young son. When an asteroid appears on a collision course with Earth, he receives an opportunity to escape the apocalypse, if only he can get there while society disintegrates in panic all around him.
The film has a basic story–man steps up during apocalypse to win his family back and must reach sanctuary before the timer counts down to zero–and excels in good special effects and some good action sequences. Its best quality is its tension, as the countdown to Armageddon ticks down and obstacles mount. There is a quality about the film that’s actually quite beautiful, which is among the absolute worst, you’ll see plenty of the best in human nature as well as the worst. The good side of human nature is usually missing or treated as the exception in disaster cinema, which if you took as psychological truth you’d end up believing all people walk around barely restrained from murdering everybody in their path.
I had two criticisms. One is John and his wife seem deeply in love from the get go, even though they’re newly separated and on the verge of divorce. When they reconcile, I didn’t care because it was inevitable and there were no obstacles. This may have been so viewers didn’t end up hating the wife (“why can’t she see he’s trying to be the man and save his family?”) like I think many people did watching THE DOMESTICS, but they went too far the other way. The other criticism is the first major obstacle they face is pure deus ex machina that is practically eye-rolling and felt manipulative to the point of wrecking the film’s tension.
So overall, this was a passable movie for me, though I’m sure many of you would like it far more. It has a lot of great qualities, but I had a hard time connecting with it and ended up staying primarily to see cities get destroyed by asteroid chunks, proving film is always YMMV. I’m a huge fan of apocalyptic film, so I realize my view is somewhat jaded. In the end, GREENLAND was an A for effort, B for execution film for me, enjoyable but not exactly standout in a crowded genre.