Greenland starring Gerard Butler sounds like many other disaster movies. Fragments of a comet are hurtling towards Earth. John Garrity (Butler) must overcome a series of obstacles to get he and his family to safety.
The plot sounds ripped straight from the disaster movie playbook – and to a certain extent it is. There is the estranged family, the close calls, and the overall pandemonium. There are parts of Greenland that can be predicted without trying too hard. Due to the genre, this is not necessarily a deal breaker. It is in its differences that the movie manages to stand out.
Greenland takes a much more grounded approach than is normally found in this type of story. The story still has its moments of bombast – the plot pretty much demands it – but the movie never relies on spectacle. This leads to a human story that is pleasantly surprising.
One of the things that stick out about the movie is just how normal Garrity is. Movies in this genre usually have a hero with few weaknesses. The tension is not so much if they can solve the problem, but how long it will take them to do it. Greenland presents the audience with a down to earth protagonist. This makes the character more relatable and the drama more compelling.
Bringing this more realistic approach to Greenland allows the audience to forgive some of the film’s minor issues. For example, the dialogue can be a little wooden at times. But since these are ordinary people just trying to survive it only makes sense that it would be. The film even makes it possible to see Butler as just an average person despite years of him playing the unbeatable hero.
There are some issues that cannot be overlooked, however. A common characteristic of the genre is shallow characters and Greenland is no different. The story also relies on the plot contrivances that are typical of disaster films. It is not so much about it being bad as it is about it being the norm. This is surprising for a movie that had done such a good job of setting itself apart from similar films.
It is hard to make a different type of disaster movie. There are so many audience expectations that stepping too far outside of the box may end up being disappointing. Greenland does an excellent job of keeping a familiar plot while changing up the characters. It is a refreshing change that takes none of the excitement away.
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