Tuesday, July 14, 2009

...And Knowing Is Half The Battle

TIFF announced its open night film today and provided a small taste of a few films it will be screening this year festival (TIFF Press Release). The Full list of films will be revealed in August.


There are some actors/actresses who evoke passionate detestation out of me just by the mere mention of their name. Nicholas Cage is one of those actors. For every one film of his that I like (e.g. Red Rock West, Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas, Matchstick Men, etc.) there are at least three others that are just excruciatingly painful to sit through (e.g. The Wicker Man, Snake Eyes, Sonny, Bangkok Dangerous, Next, Ghost Rider, Zandalee, etc.). After being burned one too many times, it will have to take either one heck of a movie or a director I love to get me to see a Nicholas Cage film in the theatres again. Until then I will continue to view his more recent works on DVD. This at least allows me to enjoy a bottle of rye while I angrily shake my fist at the television screening in disgust.

In Knowing, Nicholas Cage plays John Koestler a professor of astrophysicist who is raising his young son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), while struggling to come to terms with his wife’s death. When Caleb’s school digs up a time capsule, to see what children back in 1959 envisioned the future to be, each student is given on picture. Caleb is shocked to discover that what he receives is not a picture but a page filled with seemingly random numbers. After accidentally spilling some alcohol near the document, John notices that one sequence of the numbers refers to tragedy of September 11, 2001 and the number of dead bodies. The more John starts to look at the numbers, the more apparent it becomes that all the major tragedies in the world are listed on the paper. To make matters worst, the next tragedy in the sequence is dated for three days from now. Can John figure out what is going on before the next tragedy occurs?

Despite my general dislike for Cage, I must admit that I actually enjoyed Knowing to a certain extent. The concept of the movie was interesting and it did keep me guessing up to a point. The first part of the movie felt like a cross between the movie Signs and director Alex Proyas’ own Dark City. While I was not a huge fan of Signs, many of the elements that worked in that film are found here. Proyas (The Crow, I Robot) did a good job of building the suspense while skillfully not letting the special effects over power the movie.

The real downside to the picture is the final third, which is just a mess. Despite his best efforts, Alex Proyas just could not surmount the ridiculousness of the script. There gets to a point, about halfway through, where Knowing has no other option but to follow through with what it has set up. Yet the movie ultimately chickens out and struggles as a result. It was as if writer Ryne Douglas Pearson could not decide if he wanted the movie end up being bleak or optimistic tale. Unfortunately, the ending just turns out to be laughably bad. Still the movie held my interest far more than I thought it would. There is enough to warrant a rental recommendation at best. Just be prepared to turn off your DVD player before the last 20 minutes or so.

For more reviews from 2009 click here.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this was a decent film, but not great. I understand what you mean about the ending. At least they didn't cop out completely.

    The plane crash sequence was quite interesting, especially where there are "no cuts" in it. It's shot as if it's one long camera sequence.


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