The Films of Alex Proyas #6 – Knowing (2009)

b53fa2bc9b717799074f51bf704bc8885711cee9_knowingIs director Alex Proyas to sci-fi what my favorite horror director John Carpenter is to horror, as I have heard on more than one occasion from several different sci-fi junkies, whose opinions I all strongly respect? There’s only one way to find out; by watching all of Proyas’ films in chronological order. My take on his sixth feature, Knowing, after the jump.

three-stars15Alex Proyas‘ return to dual duty screenwriter and director is a visually impressive one that tries to be a lot smarter than it actually is, to no fault of the film’s lead, Nicolas Cage, mind you.

Imagine you’re about to go on the date of your dreams. With flowers in hand you arrive at her house (or him, if you prefer), knock on the door, and await anxiously to look into the eyes of your Scarlett Johansson, or whomever your version of a dream date might be. As she answers the door you notice it. A colossal penis-shaped pus covered wart smack dab on the tip of her nose. Not cool, right? You, not being the shallow person you are and determined to have a good date regardless, decide to make the best of it. You proceed with the date, have a great time, share fulfilling conversations, and find yourself having one of the best dates of your life. Still, through it all, not a minute went by where you weren’t forcefully oppressing the thought of “Damn, what the hell is that godforsaken thing doing on your face?!”

Now in applying the above paragraphed analogy with the movie Knowing, the dream date is the prospect of seeing Nicolas Cage as the lead in a science fiction genre fan’s fantasy. There are aliens, prophecies, global disasters, and best of all, the promise of seeing the perfect mixture of excellent CGI (plane crashing) being blended with classic practical effects (actors on fire) in a spectacular single take shot well deserving of comparisons to both Alfonzo Cuarón‘s famous Children of Men sequence, as well as Joe Wright‘s beach scene sequence in Atonement.

Now, as for the penis-shaped pus covered wart; this is the unescapable nonsensical logic that we are forced to go along with. Logic that doesn’t even make sense within the film’s reality, yet alone our non-fiction ones.

SPOILER ALERT I can get on board with the concept of aliens communicating through whispers to children. I can even go along with aliens predicting a global disaster by way of solar flares crashing into Earth in 50 years time. However, I can not get on board with aliens predicting something as specific as the exact coordinates and death toll of a particular plane crash in 50 years time. The first example of solar flares would be akin to an advanced race or superior technology predicting weather patterns (hence good sci-fi), whereas the latter example would seem to suggest a God so hellbent on micromanaging his/her/its creations that it has predicted with grave detail the outcome of a plane crash some 50 years in the making (hence sloppy religious propaganda disguised as sci-fi). END OF SPOILER

I like the idea of science fiction posing questions of universal randomness with creative design. This however is one of the sloppiest efforts of doing so. Thankfully, a good and always impassioned performance by Cage (I would expect nothing less) and some interesting visual ideas excellently executed were enough to make this film the slightly above average watch that it is. However, anything plot related (a big part of movies, I know) just fell horribly flat.

Up Next: Gods of Egypt (2015)

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Categories: Director Spotlight, Reviews

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