Action Comics Annual #4, Deathstroke the Terminator Annual #1, New Titans Annual #8, Hawkworld Annual #3
As I noted in #83, I have 9 cousins in total. Add my sister and I and there’s 11 of us. I place at #5 on the list.
Cousin #3 was the first of the cousins to have children. When he married he became a stepfather and if I recall correctly, he had already sired his son at that point too. That was like ten years ago.
I became a step-dad about 18 months ago, and in a little over 3 more months I’ll be a full-fledged pappy. I just learned on the weekend that cousin #6 is pregnant, though I’m not sure how far along she is.
Quite a drought between the first and second babymakers.
Burrito Banditos makes an awesome burrito. Their quesadilla, decent but not nearly as wonderful as their burritos.
Roger Ebert dropped a 4-star rating on Knowing calling it “among the best science-fiction films” he’s seen. I’ve been reading Ebert for a very long time, and I know he’s seen a lot of science fiction movies, more than I’ve seen for sure, so I can’t really figure why this film, which would rank in the lowest quadrant of sci-fi movies I’ve seen, would place so highly in his. The acting is bad (outrageously so), the direction and camerawork is at times exceptionally shoddy, the dialogue is choppy and the story itself fails on so many levels.
Director Alex Proyas, whose career-launching The Crow I recently saw again and still liked (see “anew #53″), also made Dark City and I, Robot; one of which was cerebral and audacious, the other not even trying to raise itself above Michael Bay-level brain dead summer blockbuster. Knowing I was hoping was going to be more of the former, and for about a third to even maybe half the film it seemed to be, but then it betrayed its concepts and characters for conceits and cliches. It became abundantly clear that this sci-fi mystery was angling more for 1950’s end-of-the-world disaster movie, logic and good storytelling be damned. Had it only angled for that sort of feel, focusing on the human story, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But it turns away from its central character’s initial contemplation of predetermination versus randomness, it segues into a tenuously conceived (and poorly explored) science versus faith analogy and injects a boringly predictable alien involvement, both feel shoehorned in and out of place… not with the story necessarily, but certainly the characters. Is there a potentially good movie in here? Possibly, but Proyas failed to find it.
The film opens in 1959, with the impending opening of a new grade school. Replete with unnaturally orchestrated child acting, the kids all draw pictures to put in a time capsule that will be opened in 50 years’ time… all except one, who scribbles two pages of numbers obsessively. Which brings us to today, where astrophysics professor John Koestler and his inquisitive and intelligent son with a hearing condition, Caleb, are at the 50th anniversary ceremony, where each kid is to receive one of the drawings. Naturally Caleb receives the sheet of wacky numbers, later John finds the pattern in them and then goes a little nutty over what they mean (essentially the end of the world). That this all happens is either coincidence or predetermined (John had a lecture on this early in the film), but which is it? I dunno. It’s never really resolved (I suppose it’s left up to the viewer to decide? It’s an ambiguity the film doesn’t earn).
Most movies would spend time with the unfurling of the numbers code while exploring the concepts that John teaches in his class and his emotional transition from “shit happens” to being a believer in a higher order, but here the film resolves the numbers mystery almost immediately and Cage provides little nuance to John’s transition (it seems forgotten for the bulk of the film). The most we get is John’s friend questioning whether the numbers actually represent what he thinks they represent, or whether they represent just what John wants them to represent. The film barrels towards it’s inevitable conclusion, complete with mysterious, malevolent (or so John believes) alien beings (looking like Spike from Angel) that are after his son. It tries to carry forth further mystery, in the numbers and the “whisper people”, but once the ELE is revealed, the drama is kind of sucked out of it.
Ultimate calamity films like The Day The Earth Caught Fire and When Worlds Collide were quite the rage in sci-fi 50-ish years ago. But Knowing doesn’t just stick with this one type of homage, it mashes that with the alien intervention aspect of This Island Earth or The Day The Earth Stood Still and is the poorer for it. 1950’s sci-fi, with the public’s less tenuous grasp on even rudimentary physics made for a less questioning audience. These days, it’s a lot harder to get that buy-in from your audience. With a film like this, where it’s trying to establish a real world setting, it too quickly lets go of logic to keep the audience invested. For me it was lost completely when Cage’s character walks amidst the wreckage of a just-downed plane. What should have been a terribly potent scene of death, destruction and chaos instead winds up focusing on John Keistler’s heroism, presumably to show his hopelessness in the face of disaster, but more like not letting a big effects sequence steal the spotlight from Cage.
Ultimately the film tries to be about one man, it tries to relate his internal dilemma as his own belief system crumbles before him, it wants to be about his faith versus his logical mind, his anger and grief, but all too often it just wants to make it a hero instead of someone real. It tries too hard to inject meaning into everything, and it comes off either hamhanded or obvious.. you can hear the script as it comes out of the actor’s mouths. It tries to focus on a deep character, but is portrayed by an actor who seems about as into it as a 14 year old valley girl at an RPG convention. It tries to focus on one man’s personal dilemma when there’s really bigger fish to fry. It tries, it tries, it tries to be many things but only succeeds at being a lacklustre film. Place it somewhere between Spielberg’s retread of War of the Worlds and the recent rehash of The Day The Earth Stood Still.
See Don McKellar’s Last Night instead, a much better film about the end of the world.
In response to trying to figure out if I actually liked any Nic Cage movies, my brother-in-law has composed the following:
I’m using my break right now to fire out all the reasons why “The Rock” is a kickass action movie. I know it wont sway your already lame opinion but it’s just something I feel I have to do. haha.
- Lamborghini and Hummer car chase through the streets of SF
- Navy SEAL insertion team
- Rogue Army General willing to do whatever it takes for his men’s memory and honour
- Dr. Cox as an actual badass and not just a badass doctor
- Take down of a military installation in order to acquire chemical weapons
- Brutal death by chemical weapon
- chemical weapons in general
- use of cruise missiles with chemical weapons attached
- the take down of Alcatraz
- SEAL team breaking into Alcatraz
- ex-British intelligence officer locked away without trial for decades
- man being held over balcony by towel in escape attempt
- F18 fighter jets ready to blow up Alcatraz
- killer fire fights
- overly dramatic score
- geeky scientist who wants to get home to his fiancee
- explosions of all sorts
I’m sure there’s plenty more I could come up with if I rewatched it but I think that’s enough for now. Yes, the story is ridiculous and implausible and the humour can barely be classified as ‘humour’ but none of that matters when dealing with the “action” genre.
Next: an email from Aden’s cousin, a Nic Cage fanatic, on other good Nic Cage movies…
Followed by: Why The Rock is a kickass action movie star…