I’ve got to hand it to Gerard Butler. After the travesty that was Geostorm, for the same actor to go back and want to get involved in the same genre, well that’s either really brave or really stupid. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and will say “brave.” But, in all truth, “end of the world” movies are relatively all the same, it’s just a matter of if they focus on the special effects or the characters within them. Take a movie like Melancholia (one of my favorites of the last decade) in which we see how different people react to the end of existence. Then there’s a movie like Knowing in which the filmmakers see how many effects they can put in a two hour movie. And then there’s the comedic approach – This is the End. There’s no right or wrong way to showcase the end of all human existence.
John Garrity (Gerard Butler) is a structural engineer and is currently estranged from his wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin) and a diabetic son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). Things are relatively fine, though there’s a comet that’s barreling towards the Earth. The media has been blowing this off saying it’ll just “blow on by”, but when the city of Tampa is leveled by one of its fragments – things get real. Quickly. John receives an alert that he and his family have been selected to hop aboard a plane and be transported to underground bunkers in an undisclosed location. He doesn’t know why, but he has no intent to decline. As we might expect, John and Allison get seperated and they try their best to connect and ultimately reunite. There are a handful of hurdles for each to overcome along the way.
Films like this have to have a human component else they’re just CGI fests that get old and boring after a few minutes (or at least they would to me, anyway). And that’s where Greenland excels – it has some CGI effects, but it doesn’t rely on them. It’s a mid-range budgeted film and those are few and far between, especially for one of this nature. Now, yes, some of the scenes are predictable – how many times can we see a woman jump out in traffic waving her hands saying “Please stop, I need a ride!”? That aside, I managed to stay invested. The other question is this: how possible is it to have something like this happen? I’m no expert, but I’d say it’s about a trillion to one. Then again if you’d have told me in 2011 that the movie Contagion would be a veritable blueprint of the year 2020, I’d not have believed you. Regardless, I was entertained and though a bit trite at times, I’d say Butler erased any and all memories of Geostorm. Or, at least, let’s hope he did.
Video: How’s it look?
Universal’s day and date Blu-ray releases are generally second to none and that’s the case here as well. The 2.39:1 AVC HD encode pulls no punches with amazing levels of detail, strong contrast and a general very pleasing picture. The film doesn’t really stick with one look and feel, though. The opening sequence is bright, colorful and cheery but when things start to “happen”, the film takes on a deeper, darker tone. I found the visual look and feel very pleasing, however. If you’re looking at the crow’s feet and facial hair on Gerard Butler, just remember there’s the porcelain skin of Morena Baccarin to balance things out. It’s a fine-looking image.
Audio: How’s it sound?
I’d wager that any movie that features a comet blowing up a good portion of the planet should sound pretty stellar. And Greenland does. This was a film I watched with my wife, so I had the liberty to turn up the volume and really let the DTS HD Master Audio do its thing. And it did – in a big way! All the usual caveats are in place with strong vocals a robust front stage and some LFE but there are a few scenes when we hear the crackle and sizzle of a chunk of a comet pass from the surrounds to the fronts – it’s a dizzying effect that worked. There are better-sounding tracks out there, but not many. This one is sure to please.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Audio Commentary – Director Ric Roman Waugh is joined by Producer Basil Iwanyk who check all the boxes when it comes to what to cover. There’s the obligatory “need” for yet another end of the world movie, how this fared in the wake of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic as well as the usual production and location comments. Nevertheless, it’s a good track that fans of the film should get a kick out of.
Humanity – This “feature” runs about 85 seconds and really offers us nothing. It’s a montage of action shots from the film along with some commentary by Gerard Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh. Oddly a trailer (if it were included, which it’s not) would have been about double the runtime.
Deleted Scenes – Three are included which can be heard with an introduction by director Ric Roman Waugh.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to “end of the world” movies, there are several different ways the film can go. I rather enjoyed the character-driven approach here, but part of me wants to watch things blow up. We do get that…a little, but if that’s what you’re looking for then Greenland isn’t for you. Regardless, Universal’s disc looks amazing and sounds even better. There are a few notable supplements, so I’d recommend this for serious fans only.