Movies are getting dumber all the time, but The Core does its damnedest to set new standards for cheerfully defiant ignorance. An end-of-the-world extravaganza that owes a lot to Armageddon and is at least as stupid, this lowbrow sci-fi programmer is almost turned into a guilty pleasure by its terrific cast and an amiable B-movie charm. The earth's core stops spinning, and a team of astronauts and scientists must journey more than 2,000 miles underground in some indestructible torpedo-looking thingee that can blast through rock, vaporize pretty much everything in its path, see through objects to determine what's in its path, and then poop out nuclear bombs to kaboom the core back to life. An ensemble cast of appealing second-tier screen talent (Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Bruce Greenwood, D.J. Qualls, Delroy Lindo, Alfre Woodard) does its best to make leaden dialogue sound fresh and keep the story charging full speed ahead over brain-dead speed bumps, while Stanley Tucci steals the movie as an egomaniacal mad scientist. Effects-wise, everything underground looks cheesy, but some of the earthbound destruction is pretty cool. Still, The Core is one of those movies where right before something terrible is about to happen, a character will say, "Everything's OK now," or, "Well, this is going smoothly." If you want to get into the spirit of things, about a half-hour in turn to your companion and say, "Gee, this movie is surprisingly entertaining."