I was lucky enough to be given a screener for the film Greenland. And having just turned it off after staring off into space as the credits rolled…I’m still not sure what I think about it. Which is why I’m asking you guys, “What did you think of the movie Greenland?” It’s complicated, because while I absolutely loved the disaster story realism – or the attempt at it – it just seemed to fail a million different realism sniff tests. Which brings me back to wondering if this film was actually just another action/apocalypse flick dressed up in the guise of realism? I’M NOT SURE WHAT I JUST WATCHED. But don’t worry, we’ll walk through it and see what we all think collectively.
Unpopular opinion confession: I’ve never, ever, been a fan of Gerard Butler. Never. If you have to have a line or two explaining why this guy doesn’t fit in… in every single movie he’s in… that means the guy can’t act. And each time, it feels like the lines have been staple gunned to the script. “So what’s with this guy…and that accent?” “Yeah, Australian Special Forces…still trying to get back down under.” Or whatever. Bah. There are brilliant Australian actors that don’t have this issue. Gerard though…does. Every single time. But I will say that I’ve been something of a secret Morena Baccarin fan for like forever. Another confession – I started watching Homeland during the Covid locked down, and really enjoyed her role in that, at least for the first couple seasons anyway. (No, I haven’t watched JAG. Please, just stop.) But the setup for this couple was interesting…a couple on the rocks, trying to survive the end of the world, while figuring out if they can also survive each other, was decent.
I do plan to walk through a couple details about the movie – though, I have to say, literally, the biggest spoiler of this particular movie is actually smacking you in the face already. The title: Greenland. Yeah, that’s the biggest spoiler of this entire movie. You already know that it’s a disaster movie. You probably already know that asteroids are slamming into the earth, and if you watched that there trailer….you also know that Mr. Gerard and family were given an elite seat on the ark. But they have to make it to the life raft in order to survive the apocalypse. Right? That’s the easy stuff. The deeper dives are where this movie gets interesting. I was chatting with Lisa, a founding Patreon member (God bless you dearie), about the film this morning and we decided we needed to reach out to Chris Sparling, the author of the screenplay, to ask this question, hopefully he’ll respond:
Quick Greenland Overview
So, the movie kicks off and we know that something is bothering John Garrity. We don’t know it at the time, but Mr. Garrity has had an affair. But we get the obvious feeling like Garrity realizes that he’s jeopardized something big? Maybe? There isn’t a lot of time here for the gravitas of the situation to really be felt, but they are having a party tonight, with a ton of the neighbors over? I mean, I’ve never had an affair before – is that how reconciliation works on the whole? I mean, what kind of hors d’oeuvres do you bring to a post-affair-reconciliation-party? Wine? Flowers? Tombstone Pizza? Hahahah (sorry that made me laugh. lame, i know.)
But even before the party starts, alarms start going off. The asteroids that were going to fly by the planet, are now on a collision course. Better yet, certain key people around the world have been texted that they just won the lottery of the lifetime. Random? Who knows. Favors? I am not sure. The movie doesn’t go into it. The bottom line right now is that the Garrity’s have been offered a very elite ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. And it immediately pisses off everyone of their friends, their neighbors, and anyone they meet throughout the rest of the film.
I literally knew nothing about the film when I put the screener in – so I wasn’t sure where the movie was going to go. I assumed that the bulk of the movie would be their attempt to make it to the airport. Right? Because, in the middle of a global apocalypse, traveling 30 miles to the airport may just be enough to fill an entire movie. At least in my mind. That isn’t what Greenland does though, it has much, much bigger plans for the Garrity’s, and that is where the realism problem lies. Well, regardless, in pretty short order, the family makes it to the chaos of the airport, where they show the text messages they got, and they are let through the throng clambering at the military base fences. Soon though, John and Allison realize that their son Nathan, left his medication back in the car. And because it’s really wise to split up for any reason at all in the middle of an asteroidal apocalypse, John heads out to get his son’s medication. (Forcing the film to embark on a feel of film that took on an episode of 24 feel to it. Jack went that way —-> and his daughter went that way <—– . If you’ve watched 24, you know exactly what I mean. Jack’s daughter always got into the dumbest scrapes. Rapists. Mountain lions. Random carjackings. Murder plots. It was ridiculous.) And with a note saying, I’m going to Dad’s house, meet me there, the movie shifts gears dramatically.
Nathan is turned away from the planes because of his illness. (Something about a database mix up. No sick people can get on the ark.) And so Allison and Nathan start heading to her father’s house. And John, trying to find his family on the planes, watches as the base’s fences are overrun by a zombie attack…no no, that’s World War Z. That’s not this movie. Though they are closely adjacent, that is for sure. Soon planes are exploding, and people are dying left and right. Then John finds the note that Allison is heading to her father’s and John begins his long journey to try and redeem himself. (And trust me, that is the point of the entire movie…it’s a story about salvation, and redemption, even though it might seem like it’s just a disaster movie.)
John gets in a truck going north. And the guys in the back of the vehicle realize John has been selected to get on Noah’s Ark. There have been rumors in the media about random citizens being selected. And boom, just like that, the people in the truck want his special wrist band, and they want it right now. Two minutes later there is a guy with a hammer embedded in his skull, and John needs to keep moving. Similarly, Allison gets a ride from someone heading the same direction. But soon, the man driving the car gets super weird, and decides to chuck Allison out of the car, and steal the boy. So, let’s think about this. We now have THREE THREADS. John. Allison. And Nathan. Oh, and a fourth thread is the random chaos the apocalypse is sowing. Now, what do you think the odds are of their reuniting in a “realistically skewed” apocalypse film? Yes, that’s right, the statistical percentage you are looking for is ZERO. Nil. Nada. Zilch. There is no flipping way that all three of them are getting back together again…let alone making it to Allison’s father’s house. Not happening.
Thankfully though (?!) Allison gets to the next Ark extraction point (No, that’s not what the film calls it. It’s what I’m calling it. Chill out.) and magically stumbles upon her son who had been used to try and get onto a plane. But, #goodpeopleexist?? I don’t know. I’ve got nothing for you, intrepid viewer, that can explain this bit of the movie. Better yet, John also makes it to Allison’s father’s house (played by the ever brilliant Scott Glenn) just in time to have a chat or two about his infidelity, and allow John to swear his fealty to his daughter. And oh, PHEW, here comes Allison, on a bus from the base, THEY LITERALLY DELIVERED HER HOME TO HER FATHER’S??!? Every single person on earth is about to die…and yet, we found a bus driver ready to deliver Allison to her father’s? Yes, it stretches all credibility. I know.
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It
Okay, let’s do a little geography math here…the Garrity’s are in Lexington. And because of a conversation that John had in the back of a truck, they have to make it to Canada in order to hop a plane to Greenland. Why Greenland? Because everyone now knows that the super secret planes are all heading to Greenland. Worse, all the movie goers knew before they even walked into the theater that this is what was about to happen. But, depending on where in Canada they are going, we are talking about hours and hours of driving…ON A GOOD DAY. But thankfully, John randomly picks the perfect route to allow him and his family to slyly evade traffic, riots, and asteroids. There is one moment where the asteroids chase them into the woods, but it only serves to get them out of yet another traffic jam. (Yes, I’m fixated on their ability to dodge and weave the chaos because I was under the impression this was supposed to be a realistic cataclysm movie. No??)
Anyway, they eventually make it to the airport where the little plane is taking off in the dead of night…but John drives his truck straight at the airplane. And he’s able to slip them onto the plane at the very last second. The plane makes it to Greenland, but crashes as the main asteroid hits the planet. But the survivors are able to hike down to Noah’s Ark just before they close the doors!!
Nine Months Later. Yes, nine months is obviously a significant amount of time. It’s the time that the survivors remained in the bowels of Greenland. It also happens the gestation period of a baby. No? And after the people are allowed to come back up to the surface of the planet, the survivors see birds flittering about, having survived the carnage that the asteroid wrought. Roll credits.
This is where I go into pontification mode, because this is where the movie actually begins to get really interesting to me. If you’d like to join me as I wax eloquent on the deeper meaning of the movie – feel free to sign up as a Patreon. We have a fun time chatting on the THiNC. Discord server, we watch movies together, we recommend new movies for each other to watch. It’s the next best thing to joining a cult.
Ultimately I thought the movie was clever. The fact that only a few select people were allowed to escape the wrath of the coming hellscape on planet earth was an interesting idea. And the ramifications on those that were selected? Also interesting. Where the movie completely fell apart was when they decided to make the distance to get to an airfield going to Greenland, all the way up in Canada. There is no way, on God’s gloriously green earth that a family could make it that far during a time like this. Heck, you’d be lucky to get across the state line. Just completely impractical. Especially for a film that seemed to be trying so hard to be quasi-authentic? Or maybe that was on me? Maybe I am the one that assumed the film was trying to be realistic. I don’t know. What do you guys think? Am I off base here? What did you think of the movie over all?
If you are looking for other movies like this one, you might do better with the movie Melancholia (which you can get right here.) or maybe Another Earth? (Which, you can get right here.) Or better yet, World War Z! (Snag that one right here as well.)
Edited by: CY