For movie #5 of Cageathon 2013 (sponsored by Red Bull), I selected Knowing, the 2009 sci-fi/drama/thriller starring that maestro of insanity, Nicolas Cage. I immediately regretted this choice. Featuring horrible dialogue, a head-slappingly idiotic plot, and one of the best actors of our time in another mind-boggling career move, this is the kind of movie you want to forget... but can't. You would think that this film would be right up my alley, seeing as it is inventive sci-fi, starring Nic Cage, and directed by Alex Proyas, who gave the world one of my favorite guilty pleasures-- I, Robot. But unfortunately, this movie is not just bad, it's terrible. Fortunately, Cage's career can seemingly withstand any blow at this point... but Proyas has hardly worked since this atrocity. And, I have to say, for good reason. This thing is unwatchable.
Knowing is the story of an astrophysics professor whose son discovers a seemingly random list of numbers in a time capsule at his school. This innocuous discovery holds some deeper meaning, of course, because this is a Nic Cage movie. The numbers correspond to the exact date and location of numerous terrible events. But this is where the plot (already) falls apart. The list isn't very long, but it was supposedly written in 1959. So what qualifies these events as entries on the list? One of the events is a plane crash (that conveniently happens right next to Cage). So what about the hundreds of other plane crashes that have occurred over the fifty years in between the writing of the list and present-day? I'm calling bullshit-- this list cannot possibly have every single horrible event. Because if we could cram all of humanity's horrible moments onto one list... well, the world would be a far better place.
Anyway, Cage tracks down the descendants of the girl who made the list, and they tell him that the girl who made the list had prophetic visions and heard voices. This is disappointingly bland, as the movie basically begins to rip off The Sixth Sense here. Apparently, everything revolves around Cage's family and his son... for some fucking reason. The whole thing tries to have the feel of some kind of suspense/horror movie, but it just isn't intense enough to merit that kind of reaction to it. It's got style, sure, but there's not much else in the way of a plot or characters. Really, I don't know why this movie was made.
Then there's a startling revelation: The last two numbers (33) are actually two backwards Es. They stand for "Everyone Else." Why are they backwards? Because Plotline. Cage realizes that, because all of the other disaster predictions were so precise, this final disaster must wipe out everyone on Earth. But this brings me to a massive plot hole. Why were all of these numbers even written down in the first place? If they were just going to be put in a time capsule anyway, what's the point? She wasn't trying to warn people about them, because if she was, she would have, I dunno, FUCKING TOLD SOMEONE ABOUT IT! But she didn't, because fuck logic. Anyway, through the whole movie, these creepy guys called "Whisper People" had been coming up to the kids and, well... whispering. Now they are revealed to be (you guessed it) ALIENS! They take the kids with them, but Cage's wife flips shit and says "THEY'RE TAKING THE CHILDREN, WE HAVE TO SAVE THE CHILDREN!!!" This is probably the corniest line of dialogue ever, and the delivery doesn't help. But I shouldn't nitpick at this point, because really, the whole movie fucking sucks.
Fortunately, the aliens turn out to be benevolent, but the mom doesn't know that. She wants to take the kids and hide away in a cave. Cage, for some reason, tells her not to. Yeah, sure, it probably wouldn't help. BUT WHY IN THE FUCK WOULDN'T YOU AT LEAST TRY? Has he just given up on all possible hope of living? Why wouldn't you at least ATTEMPT to avoid an imminent death at the hands of an enormous and scientifically inaccurate solar flare? I guess he just doesn't give a fucking shit. Anyway, this is apparently one of the rare disaster movies that doesn't really have a happy ending. The wife dies, Cage meets up with his estranged stepdad, and the Earth is incinerated in an enormous solar flare. This is the one redeeming scene in the entire movie, as the destruction of Earth has never been done better in film. Unfortunately, this spectacular special effect is immediately undercut by the worst CGI of all time-- and the worst ending. The end features the kids running around in a field on an alien world to a 'Tree of Life' or whatever. The grass they're running in looks SO FUCKING FAKE, fake enough to make you wonder whether or not the special effects budget just gave out at the end. It's pretty bad.
Knowing isn't ATROCIOUS, I suppose, but it's hardly an entertaining film. Cage doesn't do anything crazy, which is never a good sign, and the rest of the cast doesn't hold the movie up either. The science of it is just ludicrous, almost on the level of The Core. A solar flare couldn't possibly reach the Earth, and if it did, it would never cause that much damage. It's almost as if the writers confused solar flares with the predicted expansion of the sun in a few billion years, which will wipe out all of civilization. Key words: IN A FEW BILLION YEARS. But I suppose I shouldn't be looking for accuracy in a movie like Knowing. The thing is, I don't really know WHAT I'm supposed to be looking for. It's not intelligent, it's not funny, it's not involving, it's not entertaining, it's not well-acted, it's not well-written, and it's certainly not original. So why was it made? And why did anyone bother to see it? The answer is beyond me.
Final Score for Knowing: 2/10 stars. This movie is bad, but not even in a "So-bad-it's-good" way. If you were to have a bad movie marathon, The Core would be a fun choice, because at least ITS scientific inaccuracies lead to fun and ridiculous things. But Knowing isn't even fun; it's just mind-bogglingly self-important. It seems to think a lot of itself, even though what it's doing isn't really very new or intriguing. I think Cage is a good actor, I really do... but if he would just stop picking such terrible movies to be in, maybe the rest of the populace would see eye-to-eye with me on this. Until that day, we'll have to be satisfied with movies like this to showcase his considerable talent.