Greenland (2020): A Perfect Distraction From a Virus-Infused Reality: The End of the World

“Greenland” is directed by Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch, Angel Has Fallen) and stars Gerard Butler (300, How to Train Your Dragon), Morena Baccarin (Deadpool, Firefly), Roger Dale Floyd (Stargirl, Doctor Sleep), Scott Glenn (Daredevil, The Leftovers), David Denman (The Office, Parenthood), and Hope Davis (Captain America: Civil War, For the People). The film centers around a family who make up a fraction of the many observers of Clarke, a comet that enters the earth’s atmosphere, makes a rough landing, and all of a sudden we have a race against time to survive and get to safety.

I live in the state of Massachusetts, and our cinemas were allowed to reopen over the summer. Over the trips I took to the golden gates of film, one of the trailers that caught my attention, not to mention the attention of my dad, was “Greenland.” After all, we were sitting in a giant IMAX together waiting to watch “Tenet.” And on comes this constant outburst of CGI destruction and debris. The auditorium turned into a dying planet, essentially. We both agreed, this would be AWESOME in the theater. So I figured I would keep this film in mind for the day it finally arrives.

Well, it didn’t.

At the last minute, STX decided to release the film on VOD in the United States, where it is available right now for a $19.99 rental fee. I did not end up buying the film on VOD, mainly because I attended an early virtual screening of “Greenland” this past Tuesday. So I watched the film on my laptop, which was quite a downgrade from the theater, but I at the very least got to see it in the comfort of my bedroom.

As much as I would love to judge this film based on my experience of watching it in the theater, I can’t. So instead, allow me to declare that if you are watching “Greenland” on a phone, a laptop (like I did), or a tablet… What are you doing with yourself?! You’re wasting your time! Watch “Greenland” on the biggest screen you can! Get that 65″ 4K with HDR television set running! Hook up that mighty projector! Rent out a private screen somewhere where you can hook up your Roku! Just do it! This movie deserves the biggest screen and highest quality sound system possible, because it truly is an experience. While it is not the most Shakespearean film of the year in terms of concept, “Greenland” handles its simple story effectively, all the while delivering a technical blast from start to finish. There are a couple moments in this film that looked like “Blade Runner 2049” if Michael Bay stepped in and directed it.

Although, don’t take that Shakespearean comment too seriously, because speaking of not taking things too seriously, this movie went beyond my expectations. I was expecting “Greenland” to be your typical apocalyptic, end of the world disaster film where serious s*it goes down. The visual scope of the ruin and constant downturn of everything takes the front seat while story and characterization are pushed back to the bus. Nope! This movie is better than not only it deserves to be, it’s better than what we as a society deserve after this wreck of a year. I can tell you right now, this December could be a haven for film lovers. Between this, “Soul,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” “News of the World,” and more, we could have a great end to the year for film.

I really admired the chemistry between the main family. You have John Garrity (Gerard Butler), a Scottish structural engineer. His estranged wife, Allison Garrity (Morena Baccarin), who happens to live with her kid Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). They’re all great as their respective characters and I liked them individually not to mention when they are all together. This film just came out, so I will not dive into spoilers, but one of the main continual conflicts that comes up between this trio feels like something that would happen during a disaster like the one presented in “Greenland.” Not to mention, the way they deal with said conflict feels natural, especially since the movie reveals that they are not the only ones dealing with said conflict. There is a moment when everything starts to unfold, just when these three begin to escape to safety, that sets the tone for what’s to come and it represents the everlasting desire to survive, to be safe. What exactly happens during this moment plays out during the movie multiple times, and is used to great effect. I will not say much, once again. But this is just part of why this movie is so well written, even if it may be marketed as a mindless, popcorn disaster film. It takes time to allow us to get to know our characters. It allows us be in the moment with them. It allows us to appreciate them. So every moment they are in peril, it sort of hits me.

While this movie has a terrific trio of protagonists, they say that stories are usually as good as its villains. Now, “Greenland” does not specifically contain one main antagonist or villain that our heroes must go up against. Instead, it’s more of a race against time. It’s a race against fragments of a comet. Although there are people along the way that do present themselves as a threat. And the way these people are handled within the script is marvelous. I say so because “Greenland” mainly focuses on these three people, but everyone else has the same motive. Specifically, to survive. They will literally do anything even if it means killing someone, harming someone else, affecting a certain portion of their lives. Every villain is the hero of their own story, and “Greenland” is a great encapsulation of such a statement.

This film cost $35 million to make, and I’d say that every penny was spent wisely. This movie did a great job at feeling like a bigger budget disaster flick that pulls no punches and unleashes mass destruction, but with a great emphasis on character development. The production value of the film is stunning and each frame does not disappoint. This should not surprise me as this film comes from STX Entertainment, and they do a lot of mid budget stuff. They have done “Hardcore Henry,” an immersive film that resembles a first person shooter. That cost $2 million to make, by the way! Admittedly, it could have been better, although I give it props for being unique. They did “Bad Moms,” a comedy starring Mila Kunis which… Yeah, that also could have been better. I also won’t leave out “Peppermint” starring Jennifer Garner, which… yes… That could have, just as well… been better. I think I’ve only seen a couple films from STX that I seriously admired, but that’s not the point. The point is, these movies typically utilize middle of the road or somewhat smaller budgets but still have plenty of production value intact. “Greenland,” given its subject matter, is no exception to this rule. At times it feels like it has the budget of a “John Wick” sequel, but in reality, it doesn’t. Although to be fair, this movie is from the same producer of the “John Wick” franchise, Basil Iwanyk. I’m glad that “Greenland” is willing to focus on its story instead of relying on constant special effects that slightly sacrifice characterization.

If I had any problems with “Greenland,” I will say that the best parts of the film are during the first and third acts. This is not a diss on the second act, which has some really solid moments, but there’s a point where we as an audience are perhaps allowed to breathe, and while that may have been the intention, I was a little bored at this point in the film. Other than that, “Greenland” is a great time. I’d say give it a watch. I know $19.99 is not the best price for renting a movie, but if you do ever get the chance to watch it, do so on the biggest screen you can.

In the end, “Greenland” is a welcome surprise that deserves the best picture and audio quality possible. It’s a disaster. People run. Things fall from the sky. Civilians die. That’s what I expected, and that’s what I got. However, this film amazingly offers more substance than I anticipated. STX is admittedly not my favorite studio working today, but this may be their best film. Either this or “The Edge of Seventeen,” I need some time to think. Gerard Butler and the rest of the cast sell their roles, the film makes a disaster look pretty, and if you are tired of your current reality where a virus is constantly spiraling. Why not watch the end of the world? Sounds like fun, right? I’m going to give “Greenland” an 8/10.

“Greenland” is now available on premium VOD services. Examples include Xfinity On Demand, Google Play, AMC Theatres On Demand, and Prime Video where you can rent it for $19.99.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have my review up for “Monster Hunter.” That will be available next week, that is if I have any brain cells left. Only time will tell. I also want to remind you that I bought tickets to see “Wonder Woman 1984” in the theater on December 27th. I will not be reviewing the movie right away when it comes on HBO Max, because I want to see it with my dad and sister, and I want to go in with a fresh perspective. I also want to remind you that we are quickly approaching the end of the year, and I want to publicly announce that two of the first posts you’re getting next year are my annual countdowns for the best and worst films of the year! So on the first day, you’ll be getting my top 10 BEST movies of 2020. And on the second day, you’ll be getting my top 10 WORST movies of 2020. Yes, those are coming! The year is not over yet, I still have some films to watch. So the lists are not final. But I cannot wait to share those lists with you all, I enjoy doing them. If you want to see those lists and other great content, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Greenland?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Gerard Butler movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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