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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Review: Knowing (15) ★★
A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son's elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions -- some that have already occurred and others that are about to -- that lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold.


I've never understood the point of Tapas. I go out to a restaurant, and pick several different dishes - each of which arrives in a small "sub-dinner" portion. Inevitably, I dislike a few of the dishes, a few more are so-so and the last one - or if I'm lucky two - are exquisite. I pay and leave the restaurant thinking about how tasty the meatballs in tomatoes were, and yet I feel entirely unfulfilled.

Tonight after I finished watching Nicholas Cage in "Knowing", I felt exactly the same.

The premise of the film is that Nicholas Cage armed with a page of numbers might be able to tell us about an impending catastrophic world event. I had the house to myself on a Friday night, and what's better than turning up the volume with a bit of end-of-the-world-ism.

But having sat through it all I got the impression that whoever held the purse-strings had a bunch of ideas and refused steadfastly to remove any of them from the film. This person sat down with an apocalyptic disaster move in mind - which is terrific. I love them. But then they wanted a creepy film with cinematography like Omen. Ok, bit dull but let's see. But then they wanted to let Nicholas Cage do a bit of old-fashioned acting, and nothing is better for that than a good bout of slipping-off-the-rails grief. Fine, I like Nicholas Cage, let him act. But then this person also wanted some fantastic CGI special effects and a bit chasing-after-people thrown in. Right, not a problem - if it's done right, then it's good. Then this person also wanted a grandois finale that Spielburg couldn't dream of - wow, sounds fantastic, can't wait.

The sad thing is that each of these great plans and ideas turned out not to be substantial enough for a film in their own right, and were instead whimsically patched together in an attempt to make a mega-movie.

From the outset we have to sit through the scene-setting which is done in that same way James Bond films set the scene - a bunch of questions and answers. Using dialogue to do this is very cheap, and can be done very quickly, but it's also grossly unimaginative and I find it a little insulting. Nevertheless, we get a spot of Cage doing his acting thing, playing the role of a recently widowed father to perfection. Our director then goes a bit too far with the poignancy as we watch his son in bed with a video of his mother. No value to the story, just twiddling our emotional treble and bass knobs. The film then careers into the paranormal with the mysterious whispers and some wierd blonde guys. This however is short-lived because then it's time for some good CGI and running. We get maybe twenty minutes of this, then it's back to the wierd stuff. Then we get some science and then the film really does lose the plot. The final half hour is an attempt I think by the director to recover what is by now a lost cause, and ultimately doesn't really fit in with the preceding hour and a half.

There are definitely some good bits. The overall premise isn't bad, it's just never really bottomed out. I felt that there could have been more time devoted to the wierd blonde guys. I thought the significance of the black stones they kept leaving everywhere wasn't clear. The action scenes are pretty good, though CGI does have an amazing ability to age quickly.

But the best thing is that Cage is brilliant in the film. No holds barred acting. I walked every yard with him, I balled up in agony with him, and together we made it to the end of the film. On Friday night, he was my meatballs in tomatoes. It's just a shame I'd got a bunch other dishes that I didn't like so much.

Review Submitted and Rated by: Patrick Murphy


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