Hell of a title huh, there’s a big crack…in the world. The thought springs to mind, how in the hell did Earth manage to get a big ass crack in it?? The further thought springs to mind, how will the characters in the movie get around this?? Surely all this would be down to a major earthquake or some kind of natural disaster right? Nope, its mankind messing with nukes again, because that was the go-to plot device for everything back in this era, apparently.
So some scientist types are trying to tap into the Earth’s mass of geothermal energy by drilling deep into the Earth’s core, in Africa, for molten magma. They are doing this because the energy source down there would revolutionise industry and technology in general. Everything is going swimmingly until they hit a snag, a layer of dense material (of some kind) that they cannot break though with their drills. So after much deliberation and arguing, its decided to use an atomic bomb to try and crack this barrier so they can proceed to the core. What could go wrong I hear you say? well that’s where the films title comes in. Yes that’s right, the atomic blast causes a gigantic crack to slowly emerge in the Earth which begins to tear across both land and sea causing all sorts of problems. Could this be the end of the world?
K so firstly, firing a nuclear missile down a hole into the Earth’s core?! are you guys flippin’ nuts??!! OK OK, so after all the boring technical talk it could work in theory but…oh dear, you all missed the big hydrogen reservoir in the local underground vicinity. Thusly this turns the atomic blast into a much more powerful thermonuclear blast, which begins to split the Earth in two, yeah that’s a pretty big human error right there folks. But wait! you were also warned by the goodie scientist type bloke that many years of previous nuke testing underground (wut??!!) may have also weakened the underground crust, and a huge crack could result if this project continues. Meh, never mind that, we need that energy, carry on! (why not just go through a volcano? or is that too stupid?).
By all accounts this is a boring disaster movie for the most part, truth be told. Much of the run time is spend with the main cast (and lots of extras) as they ponder over facts, figures and lots of large maps. The base of the organisation that is heading this dodgy project is set underground in a large metallic/rock based lair, very much like a villains base in a Bond movie. There are lots of similar looking sets with maps, lockers, tables, desks and rock formations on display, but mostly maps. Most of the time we watch the actors walk from room to room in conversation, either in good spirits, moody or serious, and then they usually look at a map or two, comparing stats. Most other times we watch the three main protagonists (Dana Andrews as Dr. Stephen Sorensen, Janette Scott as Dr. Maggie Sorensen and Kieron Moore as Ted Rampion…who looks like an early Scott Adkins) all arguing between each other because they are all caught up in a love triangle (ugh!). Gotta love those 60’s safari-esque outfits Moore is wearing, all beige too…nice!
In all honesty the only decently exciting sequence in the entire movie is when Rampion and co have to shimmy down inside a volcano to plant a second nuke. The reason being they try to stop the growing crack with another blast…always with the nukes in these American films. This is actually a really good, tense sequence that not only looks decent but has the obligatory death which you just know is coming. Even so, said death is actually quite disturbing and alarming, you don’t see anything too graphic of course but it just makes you sweat a bit, gets you thinking too. There are also some little touches that really set the atmosphere, such as Rampion’s protective glove beginning to melt as he touches the metal cage around the nuke. You actually feel quite relieved when the remaining team members get out of the volcano.
Of course the grand finale doesn’t fail you either, in terms of scope at least, although its not as tense as the volcano interior sequence. You get to watch the frantic escape from deep down as the entire underground base starts to collapse as the crack starts splitting off a huge chunk of the Earth. The devastation of the base is pretty good with lots of on-set chaos and falling debris, they clearly shook that set to bits. Other effects range from the usual usage of models, rear projection, superimposing, stock footage etc…Much of the sets and models are solid but as expected any really glossy visual effects tend to look hokey these days, probably mind blowing for the time though.
You can clearly see this movies visuals and ideas have been inspired by other movies/pop culture of the era. The sets are very very Bond-esque. Dana Andrews actually looks like a Bond villain with his grey hair and craggy features, where as Kieron Moore is the epitome of a suave but gruff action hero. The plot is similar to ‘When Worlds Collide’, the volcano action sequence has seemingly been taken from an episode of Thunderbirds, and both Moore and Scott starred in sci-fi classic ‘The Day of the Triffids’. All together the feature is the perfect concoction of 60’s culture. But is it any good? well yes and no. The build up is admittedly pretty dull, sure the plot is intriguing but the movie lurches along in a lackluster fashion for the most part. Things obviously get more exciting once the crack emerges but even then we don’t get to see that much carnage (except for a model train crash), it all seems quite watered down really. In the very end the finale might be grandiose science fiction on paper but the film clearly can’t really pull it off, the technology for the day just can’t do it justice and it just looks crap. The fact its all in colour highlights how crap it all looks really, where as in black and white some flaws could be hidden. Its a long drawn out disaster porn flick and in my opinion not one of the better offerings, its not terrible by any means, just a bit cumbersome.