I’ve been a fan of natural disaster flicks ever since I was a kid. I think this stems from the fact my parents made me watch EARTHQUAKE at a young age. I was then subjected to other disaster films like THE TOWERING INFERNO and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. These old school classics are a lot of fun, and they have paved the way for newer favorites, such as 2012 and SAN ANDREAS. I recently had the pleasure of watching an excellent disaster film called THE WAVE. Just like its predecessors, this movie is a gut-wrenching look at what Mother Nature could potentially release upon civilization at any time. But whereas its brethren focus more on the disaster itself, THE WAVE uses the disaster as a backdrop and instead looks at the people it damages, both mentally and physically. The result is a gripping and powerful film that is rife with tension and terror.
If you are not familiar with THE WAVE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Magnolia Pictures:
Nestled in Norway’s Sunnmøre region, Geiranger is one of the most spectacular tourist draws on the planet. With the mountain Åkerneset overlooking the village — and constantly threatening to collapse into the fjord — it is also a place where cataclysm could strike at any moment. After putting in several years at Geiranger’s warning centre, geologist Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) is moving on to a prestigious gig with an oil company. But the very day he’s about to drive his family to their new life in the city, Kristian senses something isn’t right. The substrata are shifting. No one wants to believe that this could be the big one, especially with tourist season at its peak, but when that mountain begins to crumble, every soul in Geiranger has ten minutes to get to high ground before a tsunami hits, consuming everything in its path.
Those ten minutes are some of the most nerve-rattling you’ll experience in any movie this year, but as The Wave continues the stakes only get higher. Ace director Roar Uthaug keeps things hurtling forward in a state of high anxiety until the very end. Giving Hollywood a run for its money, the film’s canvas is broad, its effects eerily realistic, and its scale immense. Here comes the flood.
It’s been a while since a film literally made me hold my breath because of its intensity. I did just that during the ten-minute countdown, as the wave makes its way to Geiranger. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I exhaled a long, ragged breath. The way the film sucks you in is almost intoxicating.
THE WAVE is shot very well and contains some of the most beautiful visuals of any film I’ve seen so far this year. The HD picture of the Blu-ray captures the scenery with vibrant detail, and the camerawork captures the breathtaking landscape for a truly mesmerizing onscreen image.
The acting is also very good. I have never heard of any of the cast, however they all do a fine job in their roles. Kristoffer Joner plays the lead, Kristian, and he is supported by Ane Dahl Torp, who portrays his wife, Idun (horror fans will recognize Dahl Torp as Sara from the awesome zombie flick, DEAD SNOW). I love the onscreen chemistry these two share, as it is very evident and believable. They are joined by a great cast that includes Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Edith Haagenrud-Sande, and Fridtjov Saheim.
The special effects are excellent, and they help to enhance the intensity of the plot. I don’t think this film would be as powerful if the effects were not so good. Thanks to Dolby Atmos Sound Technology, the wave crashes to life in ear-shattering full surround sound, lending more credibility to the realism of the film.
THE WAVE is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. The film is from Norway, therefore be ready to read subtitles (I would steer clear of the English dubover…it’s not very good). But don’t worry: the subtitles do not take away from the film at all. Strap in for this one, and be ready to enjoy yourself.