Sunday, July 24, 2016

Now on Netflix Instant: The Wave (2016)

The Wave (2016) - Directed by Roar Uthaug; Written by John Kare Raake, Harald Rosenlow-Eeg; Starring Kristoffer Joner, Thomas Bo Larsen, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Otebro.

By Kenny Howell

Sometime in the mid-1990s, disaster movies started doing this thing where the movie focused as much as possible on the disaster destroying things we know.

Independence Day was the first one I remember, the White House blowing up, as well as many other great American landmarks. I am assuming that the reason was to make people connect with the disaster more. The I know what that is, so therefore this is affecting effect.

But it wasn't really. That thing has not really been destroyed, the viewer knows it is still there, so it seems more fake than if you never pointed it out at all.

The better way to do it would be to obviously focus on the actual thing that is doing the destroying and the people that are being destroyed. Norwegian director Roar Uthaug understands this. The titular wave in this film doesn't happen until well into the film, nearly an hour, because Uthaug takes his time setting up the characters and the situation which causes the disaster.

The Wave follows a family of four. The father, Kristian, is the man in charge of watching the mountains around Geiranger, a Norwegian town in a fjord that could be in danger if the mountains collapse into the sea. He starts seeing indications that the mountain may give way at any time, causing a tsunami that will destroy the whole town. Problem is, he is on his way out the door, off to take a job with an oil company in another town. That, and his soon to be former coworkers don't believe his assessment of the mountain, because they think it is just a problem with the sensors. Of course, the wave comes, and Kristian gets separated from his family. He spends the last half of the film trying to find them, while they try to survive the aftermath of the tsunami.

From the description, you can tell that The Wave is cliched. However, the good thing is that it doesn't matter. Roar Uthaug knows that this is a popcorn movie through and through, and he just makes sure he hits all the right notes. And he does. Uthaug has been picked to bring back the Tomb Raider franchise, and you can see why. He is working with the equivalent of about $6 million US dollars, and the movie looks and plays better than 95 percent of the $100 million-plus films made in the US. The only bit of CGI used in the film is the wave itself, and everything else seems to be done on sets, in water tanks and so forth. Uthaug doesn't hold back either, showing what people will have to do survive in a situation like this. Even if the film does fall back on those popcorn cliches, Uthaug is good enough to make you forget.

The Wave is currently streaming on Netflix Instant.

Rating: ***

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