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Knowing (**)
directed by Alex Proyas
by Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, Stuart Hazeldine, and Alex Proyas
Principal Cast
Nicolas Cage -- John Koestler
Chandler Canterbury -- Caleb Koestler
Rose Byrne -- Diana Wayland
D.G. Maloney -- The Stranger
Lara Robinson -- Lucinda Embry / Abby Wayland
Nadia Townsend -- Grace Koestler
Alan Hopgood -- Rev. Koestler
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Knowing is a dumb movie. The special effects are good, but you can catch most of those in the preview.

Nicolas Cage plays an M.I.T. professor. I flunked out of M.I.T., and I can testify that the character Cage plays couldn't pass for an M.I.T. professor at a senior prom, much less in a classroom.

spoiler warning

As in many films, the writers confuses intelligence with a quick recall of facts. As one example of the character played by Cage lacking intelligence, he takes the existence of benevolent aliens as instant proof that there is an afterlife. Sorry. No connection.

Digging a little deeper into the dumbness, we hear Professor Cage, in front of a class in astrophysics, say that deterministic Newtonian physics would prove that life has meaning (everything has a purpose), but that the randomness of quantum mechanics proves that life is meaningless (shit happens). No. When physicists consider the question at all, and some (Roger Penrose for example) do consider the question, it is Newtonian physics that makes life meaningless (everything is predetermined) and quantum mechanics that gives a little wiggle room (maybe we have quantum free will).

The dumbness of the plot is painful to sit through. A little girl has the ability to predict future disasters, so what does she do with the proof of her ability? She buries it in the ground for fifty years. On purpose! Then destiny or God or the mysterious aliens make sure Cage gets the proof. Why go to so much trouble and wait fifty years? Why not just hand Cage the proof in the first place?

The benevolent aliens decided to save -- well, we can't be sure, but it looks like two of every kind of animal. Why does each huge spaceship take just two pairs? The one we see takes humans and rabbits. Don't ask. And, benevolent though they are, they won't make an exception and take three.

Are the aliens God? No. In the immortal words of James T. Kirk, what does God need with a spaceship? But as soon as Cage sees the aliens, he runs to tell his pastor father that he's gotten religion.

There are many coincidences in the film, and I could never figure out which were supposed to be precognition, which were aliens acting mysterious for no good reason, and which were divine intervention. Why did the aliens want to land their spaceship at the precog's cabin? Why does everyone who knows anything keep it a secret? Because the plot would fall apart if they didn't, that's why.


Did I mention that the special effects are nice?

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Copyright © 2009 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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