Have you ever wanted a 90 minute episode of late-series Lost in Space, which only featured Dr. Smith and the Major? Well, I’ve got a movie for you.
At the Earth’s Core introduces us to a professor (Peter Cushing) and his student as they’re showing off their latest contraption, a drilling machine. Within 10 minutes (including credits sequence), the drill is going through the Earth’s center, and the professor faints while the student knocks himself unconscious. This movie doesn’t fuck around. It knows what you want and the details are all incidental.
Once they arrive somewhere within the Earth’s core, which is more like a middle layer because they’d been headed back toward the surface, our heroes find themselves in a cavern inhabited by giant rubber bird dinosaurs that have been termed The Mahars. They are served by a race of pig-human hybrids, the Sogoths, who have a canny resemblance to Ganon from the Legend of Zelda series. The Sogoths, in turn, enslave a separate race of humans to do their work.
When the professor and the student finally make it down to this area, they’re immediately picked up by the Sogoths with a group of other humans. While they’re marching, the student starts having a fling with a princess, and begins planning the humans’ rebellion and we know where it goes from there.
Even though At the Earth’s Core drags a little bit in the second half of Act 1 and first half of Act 2, the full second half of the movie is pure adventure. As it should be, as this is an adaptation from an Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel, who also wrote A Princess of Mars, adapted into John Carter. Once the second half kicks in, the film is full on delivering with Robin Hood-style bow-and-arrow training, explosions, fire curtains, flying reptiles…all in the high camp styling of Lost in Space or Doctor Who, only with a doddering old fool and a handsome male companion.
The only fault with this movie is, because it was based on a book from 1914, the only female in the movie isn’t given much to do. She’s treated as a trophy, but subverts that in the final minutes of the film. The rest of the movie is just ridiculously bonkers, though it doesn’t do much with its rebellion plot. The caste system is set up as various races, but it isn’t given much political thought. This is just a purely fun adventure that will make you grin. You know, if you like doddering heroes and flying dinosaur slave masters.
This review is part of Oldflix, a series of articles that highlights films soon to be eliminated from Netflix Streaming.