Kicking back and relaxing with a movie: it’s something we have all done after a long day. Something about movies acts as an escape from reality to a whole other world. Over the course of my spring break, I decided to escape by watching the movie Greenland. Greenland is an Armageddon movie where a family desperately tries to survive the impending doom of a planet-devastating comet while also grappling with intrapersonal and interpersonal problems. Despite having some highlights, Greenland is a very average movie with a lot of wasted potential and as such I would rate it a 6/10.
The story follows the Garrity family, who have been specially selected to be evacuated into a bunker to avoid the destruction of the comet Clarke. While attempting to evacuate via government assigned planes, plans go awry as their son Nathan is turned away due to being diabetic. On top of this, all of the aircrafts are accidentally blown up by a desperate mob. The family is separated, but eventually reunite at the wife’s father’s house. From there, they travel to Canada, where the family catches a plane to reach the bunker in Greenland moments before the comet wipes out the Earth. Over the course of the movie, the family not only struggles with the impending doom of the comet, but also with other people. The father and mother, John and Allison Garrity, struggle to keep their marriage together while also debating whether to look out for themselves and their family first or to help others.
It would be easy to pick apart the movie for its various plot holes but people watch Armageddon movies for the tension, action, and the jaw dropping spectacles of destruction, not for continuity. Despite the whole movie being focused around the destruction of the comet Clarke, this threat is ironically not really present for a majority of the movie. The audience only witnesses the damage through news reports or far off camera shots with explosions in the distance. The movie spends so much time with the person to person action that the audience almost forgets that there is an impending comet. As a result, the movie feels as though it is missing a form of tension necessary for an Armageddon movie. Take for instance the movie The Fellowship of the Ring where the characters are running for their lives in an attempt to escape the Balrog. In this case, the audience gets a feeling of suspense as they see the fear on the faces of the fellowship as the massive Balrog is close to catching up. On the other hand, Greenland lacks this feeling completely. As a result, even though you see people running around and panicking, it is harder to feel the tension as an audience member.
Another flaw in this movie is the many underdeveloped plot points and characters. I have a major gripe with Dale, John Garrity’s father-in-law. When John meets up with him before his wife arrives, Dale is immediately angry at him, although it is unclear why. A little while later, it is revealed that John cheated on his wife. After some talking, Dale gets over this and gives them supplies for their trip to Canada. This whole exchange feels extremely rushed and plot convenient. Dale and John got over their differences in such a short amount of time with little interaction between the two of them. Dale was such an interesting character as the “rough father-in-law figure” and I felt they could have expanded on not only him but the backstory of the family as a whole.
As I was watching the movie, I could not help but draw comparisons between this movie and the global pandemic. The movie accurately depicted the panicked reactions of people in an end of the world scenario. Similar to how many people rushed and cleaned out stores during COVID-19, there were scenes in the movie of people stealing from stores. The movie took it a step further with scenes of gun violence showing how desperation can cause people to take extreme action.
I found myself not interested in the Armageddon aspect of the movie, but instead the relationships between the characters. One encounter that really stuck with me was when the son, Nathan, was kidnapped by a couple who attempted to pass him off as their son to impersonate the Garrity’s and enter the bunker. During this whole ordeal, I felt a great sense of suspense and really empathized with Nathan’s mother.
Unfortunately, despite the very few positive aspects of this movie, I cannot bring myself to recommend it to anyone when there are so many better Armageddon options available, such as 2012 or BirdBox. If anything, this could just be a movie you throw on when you have nothing better to do.