Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review - THE WAVE

The Wave.
Director: Roar Uthag.Writers: John Kåre RaakeHarald Rosenløw-Eeg.Actors: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Fridtjov Såheim and Edith Haagenrud-Sande.

Disaster movies have this very American slant to them. There's something about the gratuitous destruction of a city or a building that feels ridiculous in that big MURICA kind of way. But Mother Nature doesn't just pick on the land of the free.

The Wave explores the very real threat of huge waves caused by rockslides that threaten the people living the fjords below. Beyond being interesting as a concept, The Wave is a very human story told on the background of a large disaster.

The movie follows Kristian, a geologist who monitors the mountains for seismological activity. At the beginning of the movie, he is in the process of leaving his position for a more lucrative job at an oil company and uprooting his family. His family is all trying to adjust to the move, but they're all supportive if not a little sad about leaving their home.

On the last day, however, there's strange activity with two sensors within the mountain indicating that something is not quite right. It's probably not too hard to guess what will be coming next, but the dread and anticipation are still nerve-racking up until the point the wave hits.

For one, the cinematography is gorgeous thanks to the shots of Norway's landscape. They're all shot in a way that makes them seem imposing and beautiful with an otherworldly vibe. All of this makes the fact that the mountains are fragile and could come down and wreck havoc on the town at any moment. The special effects of the movie are surprisingly good and would make Roland Emmerich happy. There are tons of wide shots that give you a good sense of the scale of the wave and how small the town and the people in it look by comparison.

There's something about the relatively smaller scale that makes the movie unique. Since we're following the one family everything feels much more tense. A big staple of disaster movies is getting big shots of anonymous extras dying. In The Wave, that's not quite the case, and it makes any of the deaths that you see on screen actually carry weight and mean something.

As far as performances go, the MVP of the movie is Ane Dahl Trop who plays Idun, Kristian's wife and, through a series of events, is paired up with the oldest son, Sundre (Oftebro). As the manager for the only hotel in Geiranger she must be a calm leader and try to save as many lives as she can all while dealing with her role as a mother and having to make some really tough decisions along the way.

The Wave is a great entry in the disaster action genre. It features great lead performances, top shelf special effects and a story that's small in scope but it has a lot of heart.

The Wave screens again on Monday, September 29th at 9:00 pm

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