Knowing (2008)

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Released 28-Jul-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary-Audio Commentary by Director Alex Proyas
Theatrical Trailer-Theatrical Trailer for Push
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 156:55
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up ?
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alex Proyas
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Nicolas Cage
Chandler Canterbury
Rose Byrne
D.G. Maloney
Lara Robinson
Nadia Townsend
Alan Hopgood
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Marco Beltrami


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English dts 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   With the insulting washing-machines-as-minorities CG-epic Will-Smith-vehicle I, Robot, and now the completely moronic Knowing, it seems more and more like Dark City was a fluke. The only thing saving Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas from being a one-trick-pony at this point is cult favourite The Crow, but neither can save the train wreck that is his directorial career, with his latest sadly an early contender for worst film of 2009.

   Some silly 1950's shenanigans involving a time capsule and an insane preteen girl preface the modern-day adventures of John Koestler (Nicholas Cage, dreadful), an MIT professor who fluffs the definition for "determinism" then unearths a piece of paper covered in numbers. Happenstance leads him to cracking the cipher revealing these numbers are in fact the dates of disasters and the number of casualties (and sometimes the location coordinates, the film isn't really clear on that) and then puts him in the exact location of various future disasters. Further investigation of the magical A4 leads him to distraught single mum Diana (Rose Byrne, unwatchable) both who come to realise that hopelessness is the order of the day as the end of times approaches.

   You know, it takes a special kind of awful to make the gorgeous Rose Byrne look ugly, yet she spends the running time of this tripe looking like a dude. Opposing lead Nicholas Cage ruins his Adaptation and Leaving Las Vegas goodwill delivering a Ghost Rider performance that phones in all of the phenomenally terrible lines (and, to be fair, no one in this thing was really given anything to work with - his character actually needs to Google "9-11-01" to know the significance of those numbers) whilst appearing as shocked as possible (like his eyes are propped open by girders) by the inconceivable events and the inconceivable CG. That CG, of which all the disaster scenes are constructed, is deeply unconvincing and spectacularly insipid - it seems like no one making this film had any idea what they were doing. TV's Lost and 24 both delivered more realistic and intense plane crash scenes (despite a crap Children of Men-cribbed unbroken shot, in which our idiot protagonist runs from victim to victim achieving nothing but drawing attention to how fake this all looks) and a later never-ending subway derailment is actually the highlight of the film because it's so incredibly funny. (There's even a series of shots from the train's point of view as it mows down people - fantastic!)

   So the film is stupid, poorly conceived, ineptly written, terribly acted and horribly staged, but it's the aggressive anti-intellectualism that really throttles me. That it all makes zero sense is a no-brainer, with its truly absurd left-field finale that'll leave any intelligent person scratching their head, but the film passionately embraces a "knowledge is useless" creed that leaves no room for hope unless you're, uh, chosen by aliens. To be fair, it goes so far off the deep end that the conclusion is kind of stunning, and certainly not the usual Hollywood route, but it doesn't make up for the prefacing heap of amateurish garbage. So it goes that Knowing is a mess, destined to be forgotten by all but Roger Ebert and inevitable MST3K treatment.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   Knowing was one of the first big budget studio films shot on the amazing Red One hidef digital camera, and the image here looks excellent. It'll be no surprise to HD aficionados that there are no artefacts at all, but what is more pleasing is that the unpleasant grain and low level noise that usually comes as part of the HD package is very low, often unnoticeable here. Penultimate scenes in the darkness could very easily pass for film stock - it looks that good. Minor grain does affect early scenes (around the 5:00 mark we see some ugliness outside of John's house) and the whole film is graded in daylight scenes to appear brighter, though this is what was intended.

   I'm very impressed with this transfer. There's no interlacing or any other errors that I noticed, and it is excellent.

   The English subtitles I sampled were accurate and readable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1.

   Knowing defaults to the Dolby Digital 5.1 for reasons I didn't understand until I tried the DTS - even in the most frenetic and over-the-top sequences I found little difference between the two options except that the DTS was louder. Unfortunately I didn't find a lot of depth in the surround, although everything was audible with few problems (like the poor mixing of various effects and dialogue in some sequences) this seemed very workmanlike. Sadly I may have been influenced by the poor quality of the film itself, but I am only human.

   The musical score by Marci Beltram is not notable but sounds fine here. At least it's better than I, Robot.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

   The menus here feature a cut of that score alongside some scenes from the film and a whole lot of scrolling numbers.

Audio Commentary with director Alex Proyas

   Alex Proyas prefaces his awful commentary jiving that he's not great at this, and he's completely right; taking an interview structure with an unknown he ums and ahs about "the big ideas" in the film whilst praising the characters, the acting, really absolutely everything about this misfire, and in the most disinteresting way possible. Consider it rambling fanboyism, climaxing early when he talks about the "inevitable conclusion of the film", leading me to believe that he's insipid. We're invited to an insane discussion on the "psychological impact" of the disaster sequences in which no one seems to understand the difference between a "single take" and an "unbroken shot" and all seem to be under the impression that everything here is deeply affecting. They're wrong. Lots of nauseating plot description and discussion of the character motives (what motives?!) undermines anything actually interesting - like very brief discussion of the Red One - and at some point Proyas gets defensive and becomes somewhat insulting to the poor woman interviewing him, even though she seems to like the film, making him come off as a jerk.

Theatrical Trailer Push (1:33)

   Also forced to play when the DVD starts up, the theatrical trailer for Push here interested me enough to put it in my upcoming rental queue.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The R1 versions of this particular package (and also BD) includes two featurettes that we miss out on:

- "Knowing All": The Making of a Futuristic Thriller
- "Visions of the Apocalyspe" Featurette


    The drawback is that all reports I've read of the R1 declare that the video and audio transfers are not very good, which suggests to me that it's a toss up between getting the extra features or having a more watchable film. Maybe hang out for a superior BD release?

Summary

   Knowing is a film that is not very good.

   The video transfer is excellent and demonstrates the power of new exceptional HD technology; unfortunately the audio transfers do not share this high quality.

   The only extra here is not worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using Component output
DisplayPhilips 47PFL9732D 47-inch LCD . Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX.
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
DVD review - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED
Chill Pills - david REPLY POSTED
Yup it's crap and had to be said - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Ryan's review - NewcastleBoy (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
one of the WORST films of the year for sure - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Fair Go... It's not THAT bad. - Gavin Bollard (bio - updated 9 Nov 2005) REPLY POSTED