Posted : 4 years, 5 months ago on 20 March 2010 11:30
Il classico esempio di "poche idee ma confuse". Non mi aspettavo niente da questo film e sono stato accontentato. L'inizio sembra interessante, anche se già si capisce che di film così ne sono già stati fatti troppi. Ma promette un po' di mistero, condito a un po' di fantascienza. Quel tanto da farti dire "vediamo cosa succede".
Purtroppo i tasselli del mistero portano a qualcosa che non c'entra niente con i tasselli stessi. Tutto è gratuito, la ricerca porta a qualcosa di cui tutti si accorgeranno al momento opportuno, ricercatore compreso, senza che sia possibile fare niente. Il finale, poi, non è degno di legare le scarpe nemmeno all'ultimo Indiana Jones, un film di cui produttore, attori e regista dovrebbero vergognarsi.
Nicolas Cage non aggiunge niente, anzi sembra sempre il solito personaggio visto ultimamente, quello del Mistero dei templari, della Ricerca delle pagine perdute, di Next, ecc. Vorremmo rivedere l'attore di Via da Las Vegas, o quando meno quello di Face Off, ma con una sceneggiatura del genere non è possibile.
Piuttosto minimal l'utilizzo degli effetti speciali, e questo è un bene. Anche se la voglia di far vedere una metropolitana deragliare e spazzare via una stazione di Manhattan è stata irresistibile.
Abbastanza incomprensibile, infine, la scelta della fotografia. Colori artificiali, tramonti cittadini che trasformano la scena in un quadro impressionista. Bella, per carità, ma completamente fuori luogo.
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Posted : 5 years, 5 months ago on 2 April 2009 07:45
"I know how this sounds, but I've mapped these numbers to the dates of every major global disaster from the last 50 years in perfect sequence. Earthquakes, fires, tsunamis... The next number on the chain predicts that tomorrow, somewhere on the planet, 81 people are going to die, in some kind of tragedy."
"What happens when the numbers run out?"
Knowing is Alex Proyas' take on the typical end-of-the-world disaster movie formula, infused with an intriguing assortment of additional genre elements, including ghost stories and conspiracy thrillers with a dash of science fiction. Director Proyas (back on the sci-fi chain gang, following Dark City and I, Robot) has taken what begins as a fairly straightforward sci-fi premise to heights of psychological and visceral bravado. However, Knowing is a classic case of a movie that's crammed with interesting ideas but is unable to explore them in an overly satisfying fashion. It undertakes too many genres, resulting in a unique mishmash which never quite gels satisfactorily. For its first two thirds, Knowing is a riveting M. Night Shyamalan-esque thriller capable of engaging a viewer on account of Proyas' masterful storytelling and the outstanding premise. The final third, however, gives into lazy genre clichés before imploding during the ultimately unsatisfying closing minutes. A lot transpires during the film's two-hour duration, and while not all of it may hold up under careful scrutiny, Knowing stands up as a solid escapist cinematic experience enhanced by its chilling symbolism, and filled with tension, thrills and marvellous visual effects.
In 1959, an elementary school in Massachusetts commemorates its official opening by burying a time capsule underground which will remain sealed until the school's 50th anniversary in 2009. Students are asked to submit a drawing for this time capsule; a drawing of their vision of the future. Troubled young Lucinda Embry (Robinson) scrawls down a series of mysterious numbers for her submission to the time capsule...
Half a century later, the time capsule is exhumed and the current students of the elementary school are each given a drawing to study. Young Caleb Koestler (Canterbury) receives Lucinda's seemingly random succession of numbers. This sheet of paper triggers the interest of his father, widowed astrophysicist John Koestler (Cage), who examines the numbers and realises a pattern of chilling historical relevance: it's a cryptogram that faultlessly lists all the world's worst disasters for five decades in consecutive order...and three future catastrophes are also listed.
appears to be in standard Hollywood sci-fi or psychological mystery territory - and even this ambiguity is enthralling. The elementary school's fifty-year time capsule is opened, and one is already uncomfortable due to the behaviour of little Lucinda who - instead of a drawing her vision of the future - has almost obsessively written out a full page of numbers. Gibberish or code? If code, of what? Why? Proyas' filmmaking competency is on full display here, provoking a never-ending stream of further questions. Who are the enigmatic whispering men in black? Why is the temperature climbing so high? What is the importance of black stones? Proyas makes us care about and ponder all these things. Questions become building blocks of tension as the narrative thrusts into second gear and all the small touches of extraordinary begin to amass into a tsunami of mysteries.
The central question of Knowing
is whether the universe is deterministic: are we here because of a meticulous grand scheme, or is our existence on Earth pure chance? For a while, Knowing
deals with some fascinating concepts, including questions about fate, chance, and predestination. Also, there's the perception that numbers form the ultimate underlying foundation of the universe - a belief shared by a number of mathematicians and spiritualists alike. Unfortunately, despite the screenplay spending an inordinate amount of time with numerology and questions about destiny, these elements aren't relevant to the narrative's final trajectory. They are, to quote James Berardinelli, "tangential obfuscations" - that is, ways to mislead a viewer and make the resolution "surprising".
Without spoiling much, the final occurrence listed on the numbers sheet is an interesting beast. To the typical movie-goer it may come across as downright terrifying and thought-provoking. To real astrophysicists it may come across as silly and impossible. As this reviewer is uneducated in astrophysics, I am unable to make an educated comment, but would be very interested to hear a professional opinion.
The two (heavily promoted) disaster set pieces of Knowing
, in which John's frantic decoding takes him to the sites of a plane crash and a subway accident (events he's attempting to prevent), are the two key components that make this film worth seeing. Alex Proyas - a meticulous visual stylist - knows how to the turn up the tension knobs with proficient camerawork and a blaring Herrmann-esque score from composer Marco Beltrami to complement the mayhem. The disaster sequences are extremely well staged, especially the plane crash which is filmed in a single tracking shot that trails John as he wanders through the wreckage; both thrilling and haunting. These scenes connect (even with a few special effect blunders, like fire touching John's limbs but leaving no burns) because they plug directly into the film's cracking premise as a chest-tightening disaster picture. However, the heavy reliance on CGI is evident. Make no mistake, the visual effects look decent, but they appear to lack a definitive polish and consequently come off as incomplete. The train crash is the worst offender; it's less convincing than, say, Die Hard: With a Vengeance
(wherein practical effects and traditional stunt-work was employed to remarkable effect).
was filmed in Australian locations (mainly in Melbourne) to double for Boston. Believe it or not, the Melbourne locations are quite convincing (this is arguable, though, as Boston's inhabitants may find Melbourne a poor substitute).
For the disaster sequences, tone is the one area where this movie excels. The crashes are deeply disturbing (how this got past the MPAA with a PG-13 rating is a mystery), and it will remind people of 9/11, but Proyas isn't exploiting these sequences for fun or action. Proyas' intention is to make you as shaken as John is, and he succeeds. Knowing
is also frequently chilling. When John searches the home of Lucinda (author of the time capsule numbers sheet), the revelation uncovered may be fairly obvious, but it's tremendously creepy. Likewise, the inclusion of mysterious, pale-skinned men in black coats is wringed for a couple of disturbing moments on account of their iris-free eyes and unblinking stares. If Knowing
had fulfilled its potential, Proyas might have made one of the year's best sci-fi films as well as one of 2009's best horror films in one fell swoop.
The reliance on CGI grows more detrimental as the picture progresses, concluding with an unnecessarily spectacular FX sequence where something simpler and less ostentatious may have been more poignant (the final 60 seconds should definitely have been removed). During the final third, the tonal change is jarring. What begins as an intriguing mystery/thriller transforms into Close Encounters of the Third Kind
combined with Deep Impact
before culminating in an unsatisfying conclusion. Alex Proyas and three
additional writers reportedly worked on the script, but creativity is at a minimum during the final third. After the meeting with Lucinda's daughter (Byrne), the writing suddenly becomes too lazy, Hollywood and conventional. The problem with such a superb premise is simple: how the hell do you end it? Not enough talent was involved in the creation of the screenplay, unfortunately, and the picture all in all is merely good when it had the potential to be excellent. Tragic, really.
Nicolas Cage is in manic, pseudo-action hero mode. Cage looks the part, but his acting is fairly wooden and he never radiates a genuinely profound sense of humanity. We recognise that his character loves his son because the screenplay spells it out, not because Cage sells it. Nevertheless, Cage is acceptable in the role even if he isn't outstanding. For the most part, he and young Chandler Canterbury make a terrific father and son team, and the picture relies on this equation for much of its emotional punch.
Rose Byrne has an appealing screen presence as Diana Wayland, the grown up daughter of the troubled Lucinda. Believe it or not, it's actually easier to empathise with Byrne than with Cage. Fortunately, the film doesn't attempt to force an inappropriate romance between Cage and Byrne. Youngsters Chandler Canterbury and Lara Robinson (doing double duty; playing Abby and young Lucinda) both have a natural presence despite a few wooden moments, and their uncluttered performances assist in keeping the film grounded. However, the characters occasionally do stupid things. The protagonists leave their cars with the engine turned on and the keys in the ignition at least three times, for instance.
All things considered, Knowing
is a solid science fiction thriller with a lot on its mind. By daring to not explicitly answer its various questions regarding destiny and free will, it allows for debate and discussion. Alex Proyas is brilliant at the helm; injecting immediacy, artistic imagination and a looming sense of foreboding into the flabby, disappointingly generic screenplay. What could have been a tight, exciting 100-minute thriller is inflated to 120 cumbersome minutes, force-feeding a sub-standard climax that doesn't fit the tone at all. A broad, leisurely hodgepodge of Hitchcock-style suspense architecture, M. Night Shyamalan-style atmosphere and overblown Michael Bay-esque special effects, Knowing
is an adequate apocalyptic thriller which had the potential to be better.
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