Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Road To Damascus Is Paved With Good Special Effects

Knowing(2009) directed by Alex Proyas

I should have KNOWN better. Alex Proyas, who's amazing Dark City was overshadowed by the latter Matrix films, was first ahead of the gun, and now he's behind it. He pastiches, "Signs", "The Number 23", "Next"(which Cage starred in also), "Final Destination", "The Mothman Prophecies", and the "Left Behind" series, into Apacolyptic drivel linked together by spectacular catastrophe scenes and images of "Revelation". The effects are great, better than most disaster movies, but the plot is an athiest in a foxhole conversion scenario, dressed in post millennial paranoia. Cage is an astrophysicist whose wife died in an accident, leaving him to beleive life is meaningless. His father is a pastor, whom he hasnt spoken to in years. His son ends up with a 50 year old, paper from a time capsul, written by a psychic which predicts 50 years worth of disasters. Cage tries to stop them, but what can stop what the Lord hath written? His son speaks to "the whisper people", who want to take him away, "THEYRE HEEERRREEE?" Numerology and Astrophysics, are similar in their both obscure math only a few can understand, that tells us the true radical secret nature of reality. Thats not to say Astro-physics or Quantum Mechanics are the same as numerology, or as valid, just that the effect is the same. Cage's conversion isn't as forced and late in the game, as "I Am Legend", it's stetched longer and comes on thicker. Theres alot of just tired scenes, speaking in a classroom about determinism vs. randomness(which they KNOW next to nothing about), when asked which he thinks is true, he pauses lost in contemplation and sudden sadness, "its meaningless, shit happens". There's the up all night discovery montoge, the freind who thinks he's crazy, "youve been working to hard, your wifes death blah blah blah". A woman who thinks he's crazy(the daughter of the psychic who left the note), but who comes to beleive him, sort of.
The final scene was beautiful, reminiscent of the most visual elements of "Dark City" and Dr. Manhattan's Martian Glass Palace, in "Watchmen", but became laugh out loud with how cornball the "whisper people", with their trenchcoats and blank stares were.The kids with their bunny rabbits(a fertility symbol, I guess implying the kids along with some other chosen ones, will fuck the new world back into civilizations). But the rest is just God awful sermonising, that had me laughing at all the wrong moments, "Weve got to Save THE CHILDREN!!!!"
I give it a half star, for nice effects, a plane crash and subway derailment, which were visceral and knetic, though immediately following the subway attacks while people rise covered in ash, Proyas does a slow pan over an American flag blowin in the wind(cue eyeroll).
This movie is divine violence incarnate, the great judgement (though its never said why the world has to end, theres some shit about the solar flares, but thats not the "why" I'm talking about.) which intends to make believers of us all. I could never have KNOWN how bad this movie would really be. Im sure it'll make a ton of money though. Nick Cage on the road to Damascus, blinded by CGI special effects, caught literally between the Garden Of Eden, and the flames of Hell.

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