Saturday, March 28, 2015

Knowing (2009)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

WARNING:  While I don’t give away specific details, reading this movie may spoil the ending.  If you’re not into that sort of stuff, now’s a good time to stop reading.

There are a few things that make a movie worth watching.  First, you need characters that you can empathize with.  Second, I think it helps if you can come away from a movie with a few questions, or at least caring what happens afterwards.  Knowing provided neither of these for me.  If you’re saying that it’s a bit harsh, you probably haven’t seen the movie.

The movie starts out in the 1950s with a class making drawings for a time capsule.  The assignment is for each child to draw what he or she thinks the world with be like in the future.  When the capsule is opened five decades later, people will be able to compare reality with the children’s predictions.  While most of the kids are drawing rocket ships and lunar bases, one is simply writing out a string of numbers.  The teacher stops her before she can reach the end of the page.

Cut to present day.  Caleb Koestler is a student at the same school.  Each student in his class gets a paper to look at.  Wouldn’t you know it, but Caleb gets the paper filled with numbers.  Against his instructions, he takes the paper home where his father, John, can look at it more closely.  Being that it’s just numbers, John doesn’t think much of it.

It isn’t until he witnesses an accident that John realizes that there’s something to the numbers.  If he breaks the numbers up in to groups, each group has a code giving the date and time of a major accident.  The thing is that the planet is a big place and the time alone doesn’t do much good.  After seeing a GPS unit, he realizes what the remaining numbers in each group represents.

The whole thing is confusing.  How could a little girl 50 years ago give the exact time, latitude and longitude or every major disaster since then, especially given that GPS wasn’t in widespread use back then?  Even knowing what he knows, how is he to stop the few remaining disasters that are predicted?  For that matter, why are there only 2 or 3 more disasters predicted?

It turns out that stopping the disasters is hard to do, especially considering that he lost fifty years because of that darned time capsule.  Yes, there were other children that made predictions, but no one listened to them.  (I guess spitting out a bunch of numbers was a bit too ambiguous.)  It even gets to the point where John has to ask why he was given the predictions if it was so hard to prevent any of them.

The movie is entertaining to a point and that point comes very early in the movie.  After about thirty minutes, I was just watching the movie to see how it ended.  John knows that Armageddon is coming, but how do you stop something that big when you don’t even know how it will happen?  This is where it’s difficult for me to empathize with the characters.  Once you realize that the main character is essentially powerless there’s really no point in caring what happens.

I wanted to see how the movie ended.  The problem was that the more I watched it, the more bizarre it got.  By the end of the movie, it was just like, “Uh… What the f___?”  For someone that doesn’t believe in God, it comes across as a bit too preachy.  It’s the writer’s way of telling us that The End is Near and there’s very little that we can do about it.  When the end finally did come, it left me with very few questions other than, “Why did I watch the whole thing?”

With most movies, I can usually recommend that you watch it if it comes on TV or you can rent it for free.  With this movie, I can honestly say that you’d be wasting your time and money if you got it for free.  I really felt like I wasted two hours of my life.  (At least I got this review out if it.) 

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