Knowing (2009) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Drama / Thriller|
|Summit Entertainment || PG13 - 120 minutes - $34.99 || July 7, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-05|
Writer(s): Ryne Douglas Pearson (story), Ryne Douglas Pearson and Juliet Snowden & Stiles White (screenplay)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson
Theatrical Release Date: March 20, 2009
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Plot: John Koestler (Nicholas Cage) is an M.I.T. professor who deciphers a coded message with terrifyingly accurate predictions about every major world disaster. Looking to protect his son and prevent future calamities, he enlists the reluctant help of Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), daughter of the now-deceased author of the prophesies. His quest to understand the messages and his own family’s involvement in them becomes a race against time as he faces the ultimate disaster.
2009 has thrown a lot of curveballs at me from a couple direct-to-video flicks surpassing expectations to a couple duds (Transformers 2, Terminator Salvation); but add Knowing to the list of pleasant surprises. The film goes beyond being a mere end of the world drama and instead involves a semi-complex story with an emotional core.
First, this is easily Nic Cage’s best performance since Leaving Las Vegas and it’s heartfelt without going overboard. He plays the widowed father quite well and opposite a talented child actor who, for once, doesn’t get on my nerves; I get annoyed with children in movies who act much older than they are, and this one is no exception, but it worked within the story. In any case, Cage gives a great performance that almost makes you forget about some of his early 21st century stinkers (see: The Wicker Man)... almost.
The supporting cast is fine lead by the lovely Rose Byrne in a small but significant role as the single mother of a precocious daughter. It’s unfortunate that Byrne didn’t get more to do with a limited role because she is a talented young actress on the rise. I first noticed her in the Josh Hartnett/Diane Kruger romantic-drama, Wicker Park and then FX’s “Damages”, so it’s nice to see her get more work and I can only hope she gets juicer parts in the future (not to say the Diana character is one-dimensional but it is a limited role that takes a back seat to Cage).
I don’t want to give away the secret or “twist” of the movie but if you didn’t see who directed it, you would swear M. Night Shyamalan was behind it (you will get a sense of Signs in the movie) but unlike Shyamalan, director Alex Proyas knows how to tell a compelling story. Of course, Proyas isn’t a stranger to the modern “Twilight Zone”-esque storytelling especially the amazing Dark City and while this doesn’t quite reach that level of creativity, Knowing certainly is a distinguishing project in his still young career. Although I wasn’t a big fan of I, Robot, I thought it had some interesting elements of the future but despite the topic of technology and life, it never propelled much in the way of discussion afterward, but no matter which side you fall on for Knowing it should open up communication with friends and family.
And that’s one of my key criteria when rating a movie: does it entice discussions or even inner perspective when the credits role. For me, Knowing did just that. I know many didn’t like the final couple minutes which, while it did feel tact on and the film could’ve – maybe should’ve – ended before that scene (again, I don’t want to give anything anyway, so sorry if I’m vague), but I didn’t have a problem with it and it never detracted from my overall satisfaction with the movie.
Knowing, it seems, will split audiences on their enjoyment level and perhaps where their philosophies lie. For me, I loved it. This is a great and utterly chilling thriller with excellent action sequences (only three of them, but they carry the story), visual effects and a performance from Cage that reminded me what he can do given the right script.
Knowing is the brainchild of Ryne Douglas Pearson (author of "Mercury Rising") with screenplay work by Pearson, Juilet Snowden and Stiles White (Boogeyman?!?!? and a Poltergeist remake).
Unfortunately Summit Entertainment did not include much in the way of features...
Feature Commentary – Producer/Director Alex Proyas sits down for an interesting commentary, he’s prompted by a (presumably) DVD producer asking questions about the project. I wish someone like Nic Cage was in there as well but Proyas was interesting enough of a guy to carry it until the end.
Knowing All: The Making of a Futuristic Thriller (12:36; HD) is a pretty ordinary ‘making-of’ featurette going through how the concept came to be (started eight years ago) to casting and introducing each actor with comments from the cast and crew about the project. It also covers shooting the major airplane crash sequence which was difficult to get done because of the weather. Interestingly Nic Cage is absent from the featurette.
Visions of the Apocalypse (17:15; HD) is about the idea of the end of the world featuring interviews with philosophers, psychologists and authors on the subject of the apocalypse and the end of life.
There is also a BD-Live portal.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Knowing is presented with its original 2.35 aspect ratio, 1080p, and on a single 50GB Blu-ray disc (MPEG-4 AVC codec). In a word, the picture looks incredible. There isn’t a single sighting of any imperfections like dust or scratches, which is expected from a newer film, but it’s also free of noticeable grain or noise. This is a pristine picture with some wonderful detail from the characters’ faces to background objects. Colors also look brilliant and well balanced including skin tones and the occasional yellow-orange in the explosions.
The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is nothing short of amazing. My subwoofer was going crazy during the action sequences, dialogue levels were very good and the overall sound effects were incredible and effectively utilized every available channel. It’s easy for a movie to be “loud” but when one give the best theater experience at home you can’t help but be excited. The only other Blu-ray that I’ve experience that came close to this was The Incredible Hulk, which to this day remains a demo disc.
If not for a lack of special features, this Blu-ray would’ve been one of the best discs to ever come out, but even so the video and audio are both incredible and it doesn’t hurt matters when the movie itself is amazing as well. Obviously some may not have an immediate taking to the philosophy of the story, but there’s no doubt this sci-fi/thriller goes beyond just the National Treasure/The Da Vinci Code blueprint many, myself included, thought this would be.