To say that the 2020 movie year has been unlike any other movie year before it would be an understatement. Thanks to a global pandemic, movie theaters have been shutdown for a majority of the year, causing a lot movies were pushed to 2021 or even later. The movies that have been released this year have either been released through a streaming service or paid on-demand. Though there has been a plethora of movies to be released in 2020, it’s nothing compared to previous years.
But even in a less-than-ordinary movie year with less movies being released, there are still movies that have surprised me in a good way. Whether a movie that either blew my expectations out of the water or a movie that I knew nothing about that became a movie that I ended up loving.
Ric Roman Waugh’s Greenland is one of the most surprising movies I have seen in 2020. It is an intense, thrilling, emotional, horrifying look at a world in chaos. It is one of the best disaster films in recent years and a movie that worked for me in nearly every way.
A comet is headed to Earth. Initially thought of as a smaller comet that might have some small repercussions ends up turning into a potential global catastrophe. With this looming threat, the government has decided to draft certain citizens to be potentially saved in a militarized bunker. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) have been selected to go to this bunker. However, with a world in chaos and everyone trying to save themselves and their family, the Garrity’s travels to this bunker don’t go as planned and they must do everything they can to save themselves.
Greenland is a movie centered around a natural disaster, but Waugh isn’t focused on the disaster. Though there are plenty of spectacular action sequences, particularly towards the end of the film, Waugh focuses on the Garrity’s and makes sure the human emotion is there throughout the movie. We are with this family in every scene and we are rooting for them to get to the bunker and be saved from this comet. We believe them as a family. Credit to Butler, who has been quietly great at becoming that modern “everyman” action star, a la Bruce Willis in the Die Hard franchise, Baccarin and Floyd for making them feel authentic and real. They feel like a true family. They aren’t perfect, nobody is superhero, and the only thing that matters to them in this chaotic moment is that they are together. Live or die, they will do be together. When they get separated, their goal isn’t to be saved by the military but to find each other. This is the heart of Greenland.
In most disaster movies of this nature, the plot usually revolves around how our main characters and the characters around them are going to solve the problem. Whether blowing up an asteroid like in Armageddon or trying to stop a tornado in Twister, these kind of films are usually problem solving films. That isn’t the case with Greenland and it’s what really makes this movie work. This comet is heading to Earth and there is nothing stopping it. The military can’t blow it up and we can’t do anything to get out of its way. Everybody freaks out with this news and world begins to crumble even before the comet hits. Morals are thrown out the window and people being rioting, looting, and even kidnapping as the world is threatened with extinction. What Greenland looks at is humanity in a time of chaos. This is a movie that looks at those who do good when others do bad. That looks at people who are still nice to one another and will give a hand even when the world seems to be at its worst. This is a movie the speaks for the current times we live in. A time where the world is in disarray and when America itself is the most divided it’s been in decades. Through all the action and spectacle that Greenland offers, this is a movie that shows even when the world is on fire, we should always be a good person and be with the people we love the most.
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