Saturday, March 21, 2009

Movie Review: Knowing

Went to see the new Nicholas Cage movie, Knowing, last night -- on opening day.
That last fact is significant, because I am decidedly NOT the typical movie-goer. In fact, I'm infamous for my lack of interest in movies of the day. It is not at all unusual for me to have not seen a popular movie -- I've not seen the latest Batman movie, or any of the X-men series for instance. (In fact, nothing strikes me as more infantile than going to see a comic-book movie, but I digress.) Suffice to say, I don't care to see most movies.
But, I've been waiting with bated breath for weeks now to see Knowing. Why?
I caught the trailer a couple of weeks ago on iTunes, and immediately became hooked on the premise: a time-capsule is opened from 50 years ago, and an elementary schoolgirl's 1958 contribution to the time-capsule is unearthed which foretells disasters past, present and future. It falls to the main character of the movie, an M.I.T. professor played by Cage, to decipher the doomsday message.
Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, the movie's opening day, when I pulled up the Rotten Tomatoes site to see how the flick was faring among those who'd seen it. I was chagrined to see that it had a 24% rotten-tomato rating. In a word, most who saw it hated it. "Crackpot", "bizarre", etc. were the adjectives used to describe the movie. It was compared unfavorably to M. Night Shyamalan's work. But notably -- for me, anyway -- a common complaint was that it was "religious". The reviews were almost enough to dissuade me from seeing the film. Again -- I'm not a film buff; can't stand to sit through most of them. (Invariably fall asleep whenever my kids put a Lord of the Rings DVD into the player at home.)
But, the critics used that word "religious", which for me was like my parent's telling me I wouldn't like something in a lame attempt at reverse psychology. Religious? Nicholas Cage? Really? So I took the plunge, plugged in my credit card and bought two tickets (later three, because I had to buy one for my 14 year old who wanted to see it too.)
So how was it? Unbelievably good. And remember -- this is a non-movie fan talking here -- I'd much prefer browsing the internet to seeing the usual latest Hollywood blockbuster. Full of suspense, it kept me on the edge the whole way through. Excellent -- best movie (faint praise, I suppose) I've seen in years.
But not for everyone, it seems.
I saw more than one person who got up and walked out before it was done. (One group of teenaged kids yelled loudly as they exited, "This movie sucks!") Why? I asked my wife the same question later. She thought it was the subject matter. I think she's onto something. The movie's not necessarily a rosy scenario, for sure. And it did involve massive death and destruction. (I know? So, what's not to like? Go figure.)
I think that some of the reaction has to do with the fact that most people just do not want to contemplate what the Church calls the Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell -- a rather different "Final Four", if you will. "Give me fluff, give me sexual intrigue, give me madcap comedy -- just don't make me face reality", society seems to say.
Sigh. Oh well, yet another example of my not fitting in with the times. But you? If you'd enjoy a stem-winding doomsday thriller, I'd highly recommend it. Good stuff.


  1. It's true that most movie-goers want escapism. Heck, I do too, most of the time. Reality is challenging enough, so what I often want from the movies is a break from that reality. Madcap romantic comedy with a happy ending sounds good to me! I tend to get my intellectual meat through reading, rather than movie-going. That being said, I recognize that sometimes this art form can deliver something transforming. I'll make it a point to see "Knowing."

  2. Can't afford the theater but if I could I would be interested in this film.

  3. MarkMerenda: Thanks much for the comment. I didn't mean to condemn escapism -- certainly there's nothing inherently wrong with a little mindless entertainment once in awhile.

  4. Owen: Thanks for stopping by the site; hope you get the chance to check out Knowing soon enough. Worthwhile.