By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 19, 2009 at 7:27AM
Knowing is an intense, smart sci-fi thriller that stops just short of being great. Australian director Alex Proyas, the mind behind The Crow, Dark City and I, Robot , makes several questionable choices--among them ominous Jim Jarmusch lookalike lurkers and and a derivative ending-- but they don't derail the movie. If anything they might enhance its mainstream playability.
Producer Jason Blumenthal developed the project for ten years, and Proyas was on board for six; distrib Summit should make a mint on this smart sci-fi doomsday thriller with elements of Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, Steven Spielberg's The War of the Worlds and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Danny Boyle's Sunshine. Shot with the new Red digital camera, the movie looks swell, changing its pallette as it moves from the saturated 1959 Boston-area prologue, when a Boston-area school places pictures and one little girl's series of numbers in a time capsule to be opened 50 years later, through the aftermath of what happens when the son of an MIT professor (Nic Cage) brings the same piece of paper home in 2009. The astrophysicist discerns an alarming pattern in the numbers sequences.
The numbers predict disasters that occurred over the 50 years and two more that Cage witnesses with horror, as a jet crashes right next to a local freeway, killing 81--as predicted-- and in New York, a subway derails with horrific consequences. Both sequences are masterfully executed (VFX were mainly handled by Weta Digital and Animal Logic). Cage wanders through the wreckage of the plane in a single take--there wasn't time to do another.
At Wednesday night's Australians in Film screening, Rose Byrne confessed that it was a challenge to return home to Melbourne, where much of the film was shot, and still have to muster an American accent. "I was surrounded by Aussies," said the actress, who during her Damages hiatus squeezed in the role of a woman whose mother and daughter hear whispers telling them what to do. Cage was also happy to be back in Australia, where Ghost Rider was filmed, Byrne said. Proyas and his d.p. Simon Duggan took a trip to Wellywood to get advice from Peter Jackson on how to get the most out of the digital cameras. The results should encourage other filmmakers to follow Jackson, Proyas and Steven Soderbergh's lead.
originally posted on Variety.com