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  Greenland Duck!
Year: 2020
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Stars: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd, Scott Glenn, Randal Gonzalez, Merrin Dungey, Hope Davis, David Denman, Holt McCallany, Andrew Bachelor, Joshua Mikel, James Logan, Randall Archer, Tracey Bonner, Mike Senior, Gary Weeks
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: John Garrity (Gerard Butler) is a construction engineer who works in important projects across the United States, but today things are not going too well and he returns home early. He lives there with his wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their diabetic son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), but lately their marriage has seen some strain that even the little boy has noticed. However, currently he is more engaged with the astronomical phenomenon of a comet, named after writer Arthur C. Clarke, that is to pass very close indeed to the Earth. The neighbourhood are throwing a party and plan to watch the resultant light show there, but Allison wants John to fetch some groceries beforehand - that's when he receives a strange, official-sounding call on his phone.

Uh-oh. It was disaster movie time again, and this one had been in production from before the pandemic hit, so it had an excuse for being uncomfortably current when it finally arrived in 2020. Though this, on the surface, had more in common with nineties epics like Deep Impact, it was produced on a smaller budget - yes, an actual mid-budget movie! - and preferred to concentrate on the panic on the ground rather than the hellfire raining down from the heavens. The theme was more the bad reactions ordinary people were prone to when a disaster arrives than banding together to make the best of a bad situation, which had indeed been the message many latter-day disaster flicks had been keen to push, no matter how optimistic they would ultimately be.

This meant the human element was paramount rather than the spectacle, though Mr Butler being Mr Butler he did get into a fistfight. Really it was one damn thing after another for the Garrity family, as that call - which also shows up on their wall-mounted smart TV - has them escaping the quiet suburbs with wailing neighbours in their wake and off to the nearest army base to take a plane the heck outta there. But oops, a bunch of folks who didn't get the official nod are there too, and to make matters worse (because things can always get worse) they're split up, with Allison informed Nathan will not be admitted on the aircraft because of his diabetes, despite having the relevant wristband. They decide to head off to her father's house (Scott Glenn plays him) and leave John a written message in the abandoned car, should he return. Though we doubt they won't meet again, the problem is how can they reunite safely?

Screenwriter Chris Sparling came up with some pretty formidable entanglements to ensure this was not a case of getting on the plane (including blowing it up - so much for health and safety), but there was a nagging feeling that this was all a bit stodgier than it should have been, with zero sense of humour to go along with its ironies, creating something of a slog. Not that the potential end of human civilisation as we knew it should be a laff riot, but it was so grimly serious and sincere, not to mention pessimistic about the prospects of everyone behaving decently in a crisis, that there was little to be enjoyed as an entertainment. It was not exactly bleak, when it came down to it, it had more or less the same ending as Deep Impact so there was hope here that no matter how terrible events grew, there was a chance we could muddle through. It was simply that Butler and his by now unplaceable accent needed to commit to the Mad Max action or the family man business, as they did not make easy bedfellows. Not that bad, but no classic, since we had been here before. Music by David Buckley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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