DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Anton Bitel's film review of Knowing

Commentaries are better as one-to-ones, with a feed voice keeping score. Here we have producer/director Alex Proyas, with an unnamed helpmate interjecting every once in a while with intelligent questions. This should be good, but isn’t, not really, because Proyas wraps himself in knots attempting to put a serious slant upon a plot that is so far off the wall it’s in free fall. He talks of a quest for meaning when what we want to know is why he chose to make a movie from the sci-fi reject box and give it a sheen of importance. Aliens are a problem for any director and Proyas (I, Robot) knows about the difficulty of making the future look feasible, even realistic, once techno magic takes over and machines have human emotions. Knowing is “about families,” which isn’t strictly true, because it’s about Nic Cage coming to terms with a world of random catastrophes and having no control. His young son sees strange men in the woods and hears voices. Spooky, or what? Or what? Proyas talks a lot but doesn’t say much. He likes shooting digitally and explains why. That’s interesting. In a minor key. What about the apocalypse? “I wanted to make it as authentic as possible.” Nice try, but no cigar. The effects on the two big action sequences, the plane and subway train crashes, are magnificent. Proyas doesn’t elaborate. He’s more interested in the deeper psychological thrust of the storyline. Talking of Cage’s character, he says, “He doesn’t realise that his purpose in the movie is to be a father and nothing more than that.” Wow! All that angst and searching for meaning is wasted when he should have been signing the boy up for tennis lessons, or learning to skateboard.

The Making Of segment features just about everyone who worked on the film, with the odd exception of its star. Chandler Canterbury, who plays Cage’s son, says nice things about him, as does Rose Byrne, but the man himself is missing, probably on location somewhere else. The best part of this sound-bit exercise in positive vibe talk is when they describe in some detail how they did the plane crash, or rather its aftermath. The single shot of Cage running into the disaster zone and helping injured people out of the fuselage was rehearsed for a whole day. The result is impressive by anyone’s standards. All this was filmed on and beside an almost completed freeway in Melbourne. In fact, the movie was made in Australia, doubling for Boston and Massachusetts, because that’s where the director lives.

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Visions Of The Apocalypse has eight eminent professors and the like discussing aspects of the end of the world throughout history, especially as they affect religion. The Book of Revelation is the holy grail in this regard. The scientists are particularly chilling as they describe, with infinite charm, the possibility of being swallowed by a black hole and the life span of the sun, while the theologians expand on the devil’s work towards the inevitable destruction of human kind. Although educational, this featurette is a conventional talking heads endeavour that leaves you in a mild state of hysteria.

Reviewed on: 04 Aug 2009
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Knowing packshot
A boy finds a time capsule containing deadly predictions, leaving his professor father in a race to avert disaster.
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Product Code: SUM5 1358

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Audio commentary by producer/director Alex Proyas; Knowing All - The Making Of A Futuristic Thriller; Visions Of The Apocalypse; trailer

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