New on DVD: Knowing

If every fatal disaster in history occurred based on a cryptic schedule, is there a way of preventing them from happening?

In 1959, Lucinda Embry’s (Lara Robinson) class created artwork for a time capsule. Instead of drawing a flying car, Lucinda wrote a series of seemingly random numbers. Fifty years later, the time capsule is opened and Lucinda’s contribution ends up in the hands of single-father and astrophysics professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage). Unsure it means anything at all, John puts it aside. Then by chance, an awkward glance reveals the numbers 0109012996 – September 11, 2001, 2996 victims. Further examination reveals an accurate list of major disasters resulting in loss of life around the world and three that have yet to happen. John decides he has been given the list because he is meant to stop the impending doom that faces humanity.

Knowing is a sci-fi thriller with a very intriguing concept that does not develop very compellingly. The appearance of creepy yet similar men in black gives away the origin of the messages early on but their motivations are never explained. Additionally, the imminence of the future does not carry the emotional weight it should.

The leading female in the film is Rose Byrne, who plays Lucinda’s grown daughter and John’s only connection to the prophet. She believably struggles with the barrage of information John unleashes on her, but once convinced she rides her emotions on the brink of hysterics. Cage is casted well as the science professor, as he has that vague oddness about him (stereo)typical of science-types. However, the delivery of many of his lines is quite inappropriately over-the-top. While everyone else in the film is playing the script straight, Cage utters the phrase “How am I supposed to save the world?” with such false intensity, it’s laughable.

The one shining light in the film is the special effects. A plane crash and its aftermath, which includes burning victims; a subway that derails and crashes into the platform, steamrolling riders; and a fire that consumes everything in its path – each are stunning and horrifying.

The DVD special features include commentary by director Alex Proyas, which is relatively informative regarding technique and storytelling style. “Knowing All,” the making-of featurette, reveals how the major special effects were created and “Visions of the Apocalypse” is an expert discussion about the role of the world’s end in history and faith.

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