What begins as typical disaster movie, soap opera fodder – the separated couple attempting to repair their marriage – soon finds a groove. There’s additional cliché to Greenland, notably the goal, which is an isolated ark-like bunker in the north, but the tone is too somber to notice.
Killer asteroid/comet movies like nukes sent to space, or at their dorkiest, people sent to space with nukes. Not Greenland. Focus rests entirely on a singular family, additional drama generated by their son’s diabetic condition.
Greenland makes humans matter, not a rock
Greenland makes humans matter, not a rock
For a world cataclysm, the script’s challenge is in making the audience care about a few people considering almost the entire human population is in equal danger, up to and including total extinction. It does, as Greenland relies on instinctual emotion. Even as the planet descends to chaos, Allison (Morena Baccarin) loses her son, a truly panicked scene, even as rocks hurtle toward Earth.
It takes a lot to assume world governments sorted this plan ahead of time but no one knew. Greenland mostly avoids that; no scenes take place in the White House, and no characters are high-ranking. This is disaster cinema brought down to a blue collar level, seeing neighborhoods fracture as the terror, realization, and acceptance set in. No matter the implausible life-saving plan, for Greenland, the fear is authentic, the adrenaline real, and the losses substantial.
Cataclysm happens. Destruction too, enough to satiate those seeking spectacle. It’s not the focus however. This isn’t a case where the cast is overshadowed by digitally-created, galaxy-sourced stones of doom. Aside from a lone strike putting the main characters in direct danger, major incidences occur miles away. It helps, because the focus looks claustrophobic, with three people trying to sort out their survival plan, same as everyone else, while breakdowns in social order lead to added catastrophe. To Greenland, it matters to see people actively harming themselves as much as the calamity.
If Greenland misses anything, it’s a searing, memorable image akin to Deep Impact’s haunting beachside embrace moments before a tidal wave. A shot of star Gerard Butler looking up at a nine-mile-wide comet chunk makes for a stellar visual and heightened tension, if not the same payoff as other notable genre entries. That said, Greenland makes it easier to remember the people. Allison’s pleading desperation to reconnect with her kidnapped son, utterly alone on a freeway’s shoulder, is a credit to how Greenland makes humans matter, not a rock.
Immediately pleasing imagery sports excellent brightness. Peak contrast holds up throughout, nicely balanced by firm, stable black levels. Pure black is common. It’s a consistent performer.
Likewise, a slight muting in the color palette sets mood without losing saturation. Eerie skylines, rich greenery, and solid flesh tones present a capable range. Nightfall skews toward orange/teal, but not severely. There remains natural color in brighter primaries from lights or other such sources. Midway through after disaster hits, Greenland takes on a deeply orange hue for effect.
Crisp in detail, Greenland produces excellent overall detail on Blu-ray. Other territories get a 4K release, and it’s obvious why it’s worthy of a higher resolution disc. Facial texture keeps up support for the full runtime, the persistent sharpness unwavering. Wide shots of cities drench the screen in definition, including the opening shot.
Exceptionally wide staging uses the 7.1 mix perfectly, creating fullness in every scene. Military bases swirl planes and helicopters in every channel. Crowds reach every speaker, from small touches in a grocery store to panicked crowds. On the side of an expressway, vehicles pass a key scene. A rush of air from a comet shockwave perfectly pans the fronts to the rears, an impeccable moment. Molten rocks slam down during a spectacular action sequence, belting cars, shedding debris, and pushing fireballs in every direction.
Blasts from the comet impact(s) hit the low-end forcefully, substantial enough to rock a room. Jolts from the fireballs mentioned above create superb low-end effects. Airplane engines fire up, bringing added weight to a mix heavy in range. Plus, an explosion when a gas line catches flame is awesome, preceded (and followed) by boomy, pounding gunshots.
Three deleted scenes first, offering an optional commentary from director Ric Roman Waugh. An EPK featurette titled Humanity is little more than a trailer for a bit over a minute. Finally, Waugh comes back for a full commentary, paired with his producer Basil Iwanyk.
A human-level tragedy scaled down in focus, Greenland smartly follows a single working class family seeking escape from planet-wide calamity.
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