Directed by Jon Amiel, starring Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, Bruce Greenwood, DJ Qualls, Alfre Woodard, Tcheky Karyo, Richard Jenkins.

In Boston, people drop dead when their pacemakers stop working. Trafalgar Square's pigeons suddenly start flying into pillars and plate glass windows. These ominous signs can only mean one thing - another disaster movie about the end of the world. Cliché-ridden it may be, but there's still fun to be had at 'The Core'.

Wise-cracking college professor Josh Keyes (Eckhart) is plucked from obscurity to save the world from sure destruction after he discovers that the earth's core has stopped spinning. No spinning core means that the electromagnetic field around the planet is breaking up. The only thing to do is gather an assortment of experts and send them on a journey to the centre of the earth to kick-start the core with a nuclear bomb - obviously.

Fortunately, hermit scientist Edward Brazleton (Lindo) has been working on a machine called Virgil that can burn its way through rock. The US government - once again the saviour of the world - gathers a crack team for the mission. Dedicated astronauts Rebecca 'Beck' Childs (Swank) and Robert Iverson (Greenwood), French nuclear scientist (Karyo), and egocentric geophysicist Conrad Zimsky (Tucci) join Josh and Edward on board the worm-like craft for their do or die attempt to restart the earth's core.

Although the setting may be slightly different to 1998's a-meteor-is-going-to-destroy-the-world-unless-we-destroy-it-with-a-nucleur-bomb blockbuster 'Armageddon', not much else is. A team of NASA astronauts and skilled civilians? Check. Self-sacrifice and acts of heroism? Check. Scene where characters draw straws to decide who stays behind? Double check.

Still, there are some spectacular set-pieces involving the destruction of Rome's Coliseum and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a couple of great one-liners and Aaron Eckhart has a chin that's perfect for heroic roles. Expect laughs - but a few yawns at the 135 minute running time.

Caroline Hennessy